In arguing for 'truth,' NBC anchor justifies bias

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Steve Jordahl (

Lester Holt moderatorThe news anchor for a major broadcast network says journalism has a responsibility to the truth more than to fairness – but that news outlets get to determine what's true.

In a recent speech accepting a journalism award from the University of Washington, Lester Holt (pictured) – anchor of NBC's Nightly News – said there's not always the need to give both sides to a story:

Holt: "I think it's become clearer that fairness is overrated …. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention."

Then he warned:

Holt: "Providing an open platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want – especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake – can be quite dangerous. Our duty is to be fair to the truth, holding those in power accountable is at the core of our function and responsibility."

But not all truth is as evident as the sunset. "Misinformation" and "public health and safety" have become shorthand for the controversial 2020 elections and the hotly debated COVID restrictions.

Dan Shelley of the Radio Television Digital News Association maintains it's up to news organization to make that call. "I think it's imperative for journalists – to quote Watergate-era Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein – to 'seek and report the best obtainable version of the truth,'" he argues.

But Don Irvine of Accuracy in Media says the mainstream press has often been unable to overcome its liberal bias when it comes to seeing the truth – and he cites just one example.

"Particularly with this Georgia voting law, in terms of truth, we're not seeing a lot of truth," Irvine tells One News Now. "There's no interest whatsoever in reporting the truth on that particular issue." argues Holt didn't urge journalists to "ditch objectivity," describing an Internet headline saying that as "misleading" and contending his remarks were "misconstrued":

Snopes: "… Context showed that he was referencing the rising dangers of misinformation online, and that always giving equal weight to two sides of an issue can be dangerous if those sides aren't rooted in facts. He also warned of confusing opinion-oriented cable programming with newscasts that honor journalistic integrity and look to the facts."

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