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Truly Right View » Government Corruption, Government Waste, Main Stream Media Bias, Political Campaigning, Politics, Problems of Big Government, Restoring America » Bob Schieffer: “We’re No Longer Basing Our Opinions On The Same Data”

Bob Schieffer: “We’re No Longer Basing Our Opinions On The Same Data”

JOHN DICKERSON, FACE THE NATION: And we’re back with the one and only Bob Schieffer. He is a CBS News political contributor and the author of a new book “Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News.”

Welcome back, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

DICKERSON: So you set out with this book to figure out whether we are better informed or just overloaded. You talked to reporters and news editors. And so where did you come out at the end of this?

SCHIEFFER: We’re overwhelmed. We’ve never been through anything quite like this, probably since the invention of the printing press.

You know, we talk about the invention of the printing press, how it improved literacy, it caused the reformation, the counter reformation. But there was also 30 years of religious wars that followed the printing press. And it took about three decades for the world to finally reach equilibrium.

We’re at the very beginning of what’s going on right now in — in this digital age that has taken the place of print. It’s affected nothing more than the way we get the news and our politics.

Let me just give you one little stat here, John. In 2004, one reporter in eight lived in New York, Washington or Los Angeles. That number is now down to one in five live in those three places.

In a lot of parts of the country right now, it’s not a question of bias news or too much news, it’s a question of no news. Sixty-two percent of people are now getting their news from social media, from FaceBook. And while those are great vehicles, they don’t exactly follow the same standards that we did in the mainstream media and still do.

DICKERSON: Right.

SCHIEFFER: And that is, we don’t print or broadcast something unless we check it out and find out if it’s true.

So there’s all this news out there right now. You don’t know who to believe. Is it true. Is it not true. And that’s what we’re sorting our way through right now.

DICKERSON: And so the new medium is shakier in terms of standard and also fewer reporters out in the real part of the country. In other words, everybody’s in their bubble now.

SCHIEFFER: Yes. And we’re no longer basing our opinions on the same data. If you listen to one channel, you get one set of facts. If you listen to another channel or read another publication, you get another set of facts. So what’s different now is we’re basing our opinion on different data. It’s not the common data that in the old, more orderly days of what I call the gatekeeper era, where you had three television stations and one newspaper in every town. Maybe you didn’t agree with the editorial policy, but you took pretty much for granted that what was on the front page or what Walter Cronkite said was true, that he had gone to the trouble of checking it out. Now there’s 700 channels out there. We’re bombarded with so much information, we simply cannot process.

DICKERSON: And so it’s — the facts are more in question. And also you — you have a great quote at the start of the book about attention span. I mean that’s another huge challenge of our current moment.

SCHIEFFER: Well, it certainly is. I mean when we’ve gone to 30- second commercials on television, that — that has reduced our attention span. It’s also reduced our patience. It’s also made us less patient with things. It’s made us, I think, ruder and a different kind of society.

You know, we talked — you and I have talked about this, about the dialogue in the 2016 campaign and how crude and rude it was. I think a lot of that has to do with social media because the dialogue in politics this year was much like the thread on a blog post. Somebody posts a blog and then somebody else says, no, that’s stupid. And then somebody else says, no, you’re stupid. And then it’s blankety-blank stupid. We go from the inane to the profane. But I’m not sure that we have improved our knowledge.

DICKERSON: What can we do in the press — if you’re giving advice to a young journalists, what’s your advice right now about how to navigate all of this?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I think you have to remember what the role of journalists is, and that is basically, we are not the politician. The politician’s job is to deliver a message. Our job is simply to check it out and find out if it’s true or if it’s false and then report the results of that. We’re not here to run the government. We’re not here to run politics. We’re here to report on the people who are involved in politics and government.

And if we do that right, we have performed a service that is crucial to democracy as the right to vote. We can’t have a democracy like we have unless citizens have access to independently gathered information that they can compare with the government’s version of events. And when they do that, we’ve done our job.

DICKERSON: So we have about 30 second left. What then is the consumer’s job here in looking at this whole swarms? Is there something they can do better?

SCHIEFFER: Buyer beware. Trust the sources. Depend not on one source, but as many source as you can to come to your own conclusions about what’s going on here.

DICKERSON: All right, our trusted source, Bob Schieffer. Thanks very much, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you, John.

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Filed under: Government Corruption, Government Waste, Main Stream Media Bias, Political Campaigning, Politics, Problems of Big Government, Restoring America

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