Ken Stern, former CEO of NPR, decided to bust out of the liberal media bubble over the past year to encounter an America he hadn’t quite seen before, concluding that “most reporters and editors are liberal” and that the media have “failed us.”
Stern, who recorded his surprising experiences in a recent NY Post op-ed as well as a new book titled, “Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right,” explained how he came to experience evangelicals, Republicans and other mainstream Americans in a light the media doesn’t typically portray.
“Spurred by a fear that red and blue America were drifting irrevocably apart, I decided to venture out from my overwhelmingly Democratic neighborhood and engage Republicans where they live, work and pray,” Stern wrote in a recent op-ed. “For an entire year, I embedded myself with the other side, standing in pit row at a NASCAR race, hanging out at Tea Party meetings and sitting in on Steve Bannon’s radio show.”
As he went to evangelical churches and spent time in a culture that was unfamiliar to what he was used to, the media expert said that he came to realize just how deep the divide is between everyday Americans and the press.
“I found an America far different from the one depicted in the press and imagined by presidents (‘cling to guns or religion’) and presidential candidates (‘basket of deplorables’) alike,” Stern wrote.
In the end, he expressed deep worries over the way in which President Donald Trump has chosen to attack the press and called such antics inappropriate considering Trump’s role as leader of the free world.
That being said, Stern was open about the deep problems he sees inherent in the media sphere.
“It’s not that media is suppressing stories intentionally,” he wrote in the Post. “It’s that these stories don’t reflect their interests and beliefs.”
Stern appealed to his own experience at NPR, where he said that most reporters and editors tend to have left-of-center politics — and explained what happens when one ideology dominates a newsroom.
“When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be,” he said.
The media’s disconnection from mainstream Americans, thus, has created an opening for critique and its “loss of reputation,” though Stern also blamed “effective demagoguery from the right and the left” and from Trump.
But he said that anti-media sentiment wouldn’t have been as effective “if our media institutions hadn’t failed us as well.”
Read the stunning op-ed in its entirety here.