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Advertisement The fact of the matter is, Americans don't trust anyone
by Dan Brawner Times Columnist · March 16th, 2017


Americans don't much trust the news media. According to the latest Gallup poll, the proportion of Americans who approve "quite a lot" of television and print media news is around 13 percent. That sounds pretty low until you consider that only 21 percent approve of the Supreme Court, 16 percent approve of banks and only about six percent like Congress quite a lot. (That six percent must be on some very effective medication.) So, maybe it's not so much that we don't trust the media. We don't trust anybody. And for good reason.

Recently, NBC News reported that state Sen. Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa claims that he holds a business degree from "Forbco Management" school. But they could find no such institution. It turns out that Forbco is not a school at all, but a business that operated the Sizzler steakhouse in California. Ed Failor, the spokesman for the Iowa Senate Republicans, tried to set the record straight for NBC, saying that Senator Chelgren had a "certificate" from Forbco, not a degree. "Kind of like Hamburger University at McDonald's," he said. (Note: I have eaten at Sizzler and their steaks are really good and their salad bar is terrific. So I personally have a great deal of respect for the senator's academic credentials.)

Asked about the discrepancy, Chelgren dismissed it as "semantics." Furthermore, he went on to claim that he attended UC Riverside for three years (a university spokesman said it was one year).

The, um, alternative facts Sen. Chelgren offers regarding his own education are particularly troubling considering that he recently sponsored Senate File 228, which would regulate the number of registered Democrats and Republicans teaching at Iowa's state universities until the balance stands within 10 percent of each other.

Was NBC stirring up trouble by spilling the beans on Senator Sizzler? And have reporters just become a bunch of jerks in general? Americans are fed up with negative news and are particularly weary of the news saying bad things about President Trump. Recently, on CNN's "Reliable Sources" program, Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway commented that the news media have become "hysterical" about the wiretapping claims of Mr. Trump, who, she admits, "...is so imprecise, who says things without proof." This set off New York Times columnist Charles Blow (yes, that's his real name), who countered, "We have to dispense with euphemism. The president is actually lying and we have to continuously say that the president is actually lying."

Hemingway argued that the media shouldn't attempt to interpret the news. "I think for journalists it is just to report what was actually said."

"Our business is truth!" sputtered Mr. Blow.

Of course, truth is not the sole possession of journalists, thank goodness. Truth is like gravity: unless everybody participates, the whole thing falls apart. But something must be done to restore our trust in, well, everything. A local Sizzler restaurant would be a good start. It would be a real public service if Sen. Chelgren gave up politics and managed the place. I, for one, would like that. Quite a lot.
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