Victoria Gaither with National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne and Dr Ian CouttsVictoria Gaither with National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne and Dr Ian Coutts

Reluctance to admit mistakes also contributes to erosion of faith in journalism claims US Broadcaster Victoria Gaither

Viewers are becoming increasingly confused about those they see on television. “Is the person a pundit, a contributor, a reporter? Asked United States broadcaster Victoria Gaither speaking to the National Press Club.

“Who exactly is what?” Miss Gaither followed up noting the growing disaffection of what she described as the “disempowered” voters, the ones who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency.

“All these new jobs crept into television news,” she observed, “and in the end, like the pollsters, they got it all wrong.”

Miss Gaither with US broadcaster Patricia Sexton

Miss Gaither with US broadcaster Patricia Sexton

The underpinning flaw in the media coverage of the presidential election and its aftermath was simply that the “quietest segment” of the population, the one far away from the coastal elites, had become “activated” and the media failed to realise it.

The mainstream’s failure to make corrections when rumour was put forward as fact, and later disproved, further contributed to the diminishing trust in the media.

There are frequent references to “fact checkers” observed the Washington National Press Club stalwart, but never is there a candid admission to the effect “we messed up.”

Instead, there is an attempt to “gloss over” the incident.

This behaviour constantly “erodes” the quiet segment of the electorate’s “faith in journalism,” as does the mainstream’s continuing to ignore these same people

With media lawyer Graham Holmes

With media lawyer Graham Holmes

In her no-notes address and commenting on president Trump’s role as an agent of change Miss Gaither urged the US mainstream to accept the shifts that the “unfiltered” president had wrought in this activation of the hitherto quiet segment, as she described the demographic.

This portion of the electorate will remain “activated” regardless of whether the mainstream approved of this state of affairs.

The closure of newspapers in the Midwest of the United States was a contributor to this sense this new quiet constituency had of “losing their voice.”

Miss Gaither who is a radio entrepreneur in the Central Districts of New Zealand had returned to this country only days before reported the strong current media interest in several recent events here.

Printer Jeff Beaumont with Melody Criglington and Gail Isaac

Printer Jeff Beaumont with Melody Criglington and Gail Isaac

One was the pick up on the picaresque holidaying family of gypsies or “travellers” from Britain strewing their refuse over beauty spots, standing over any locals seeking to challenge them, and generally behaving like an outlaw band.

Another was the coverage of prime minister Jacinda Ardern giving birth while in office and then taking Baby Neave with her to proceedings at the United Nations.

Earthquakes were routinely covered.

She noted the heavy coverage about the United States in New Zealand, which contrasted with the paucity of news from and about the United Kingdom, notably about Brexit.

Emmy-award winning Miss Gaither began her career at ABC with Ted Koppel and worked throughout the United States, notably in Baltimore and the Midwest.

The speaker displayed a selection of Beltway accessories

The speaker displayed a selection of Beltway accessories

Conceding the continuing unease in Washington due to the presidential unpredictability and the between- tweets-apprehension she also discounted the slew of inquiries, especially the long-running one conducted by Robert Mueller as an example of investigation overload.

Beyond the beltway and the political classes there existed an investigation fatigue in which investigation communiques “went in one ear and out the other.”

Contrary to the impression radiated by the US media, president Trump’s base “Hispanics-you-name them” still held firm.

Neither, as the mainstream had predicted, had president Trump “fractionated” the Republican Party.

Recalling that her great great grandmother had been a slave, Miss Gaither clarified overseas impressions about racial allegiances, notably one prevalent in the Commonwealth to the effect that it was the Democrat Party that was historically tied to the emancipation of slaves.

In the historical event it was the Republican Party under President Lincoln that had been responsible for ending slavery.

It was the Democratic Party’s failure to see that loyalties it had subsequently built up were fraying that was still another still only partially recognised factor leading to the Trump ascendancy, she commented.

Central Districts visitors Brian and Carole Jackson with Martin Jenkins

Central Districts visitors Brian and Carole Jackson with Martin Jenkins

New Zealand she concluded was a victim of the US mainstream media’s being dazzled by the Beltway- coastal enclave elites and political classes and their corresponding inability to peer into the middle of their own country and thus analyse what was actually going on.

New Zealand media feeds came exclusively from this self-same mainstream media with its deliberate narrow opinion and news gathering catchment.

Thus New Zealand and without understanding it became the passive victim of this restricted coverage, confined as it was, and is, to news and opinions derived from unrepresentative socio-geographic zones.

In place of taking an objective analysis of events, and learning from them, the mainstream instead was wringing its collective hands and asking itself “How did all this happen?”