Over the holiday season I made time see the movie Frost-Nixon, a dramatic look at the making of the Nixon interviews back in 1977.
It’s an historical look at a tumultuous period that was presented in an entertaining way. But the movie was disturbing to me.
Some on the Frost team saw this interview process as a way to give Nixon the trial he never had – to, in effect, serve as de facto prosecutors. In their own words, only one side would “win” while the other would “lose.”
Is that the purpose of a journalist who interviews a subject? I thought our function was to “inform” wider audiences on important issues?
That’s not to say that we let important questions go unanswered or that we do not pursue uncomfortable avenues. The goal is to get to the truth and to not to try and dehumanize another person. In fact, it’s this over-reaching – the “Watergate under every rock” mentality -- that has backfired and become so pervasive and destructive.
It’s not enough to debate the policies. The “loyal opposition” first must vilify the other side before the media begins to pile on. It began with Nixon. But it’s also haunted every president since and especially Clinton and Bush 11.
It’s no wonder people tune out and view politics in a jaundiced way. In simple terms, it’s more tantalizing to follow the Tiger Woods saga than the energy reform efforts.
But journalists must parse through the dogma and the sound bites and start feeding readers with essential information in the most digestible format. An audience must remain keyed in and leave smarter than before.
Frost-Nixon left me wanting to know more. But it also left me more determined to be a thorough, yet fair, reporter. ###
Subscribe to EnergyBiz Insider at www.energycentral.com
Follow Ken on Twitter at Freehand1200