GOSSIP & RUMORS: ‘They print the narrative, they don’t print truth’
Comedian Bill Maher went toe-to-toe with “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane on Friday over whether journalism is to be trusted in an age of social media and extreme partisanship.
On his show, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the host brought up social media and how some states are cracking down on the negative influence it has on society.
The conversation quickly turned to the reliability of modern journalism after MacFarlane took aim at comments left on articles posted to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
“The second you start reading the comments, your initial impression of that article is radicalized one way or the other,” MacFarlane said, noting that journalists go through a rigorous process before publishing a story, unlike random internet commenters, who espouse opinions.
Maher interrupted to ask, “What if it’s just slanted? What if it’s not wrong? It’s just slanted?”
“Then write a letter to the editor! Do your research and formulate your argument coherently,” he said.
Maher said a letter to the editor takes some time to be published and then it’s too late because nobody remembers the original story.
MacFarlane clarified his view: “It’s like there’s this thing we take for granted, now that the journalist who did the work gets to have their piece put on the same shelf as everyone else’s spur of the moment bullshit.”
“You seem to trust journalists more than I do,” Maher said.
“Trust certain journalists. Yeah,” MacFarlane shot back.
Maher said that while he trusts certain journalists, he largely doesn’t put a lot of stock in what he reads.
“Everything I read. Whatever source. It’s only half the truth,” the host said. “They print the narrative. They don’t print truth.”
MacFarlane called that point of view a “generalization,” to which Maher said: “Well, it is, but it’s because it’s generally true.”
He added that journalists print one side of the story before MacFarlane interrupted: “By the way, that’s exactly what Donald Trump wants. What you just said is exactly what he wants.”
Maher rejected MacFarlane’s Trump parallel, saying: “Hitler was a vegetarian. Doesn’t mean I’m like [him]… But they print the half that they want their — that is going to make people like you who are a partisan, very partisan. You want to read something that. Oh, that that makes me feel good.”
“They’re in the audience stroking business,” Maher concluded. “That’s what the media does, that’s what.”
The debate concluded on MacFarlane saying that’s a generalization that might be overly broad, before Maher shut the back-and-forth down and went on to the next segment.
The topic of trust and the media has been a recurring hot-button issue on Maher’s show. Recently, conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan got into a heated debate with MSNBC host Ari Melber when the scribe claimed that the left-leaning network pushes “propaganda all the time.”