The former head of ABC News laments that scandals like the one at NBC undermine public perception of the entire news industry. “Every time this happens, it takes away a little of the credibility of everybody in the news business,” he says.
David Westin: Every time there is one of these problems with reporting at a major news organization, and sadly this is not unique. Brian Williams is not unique, he’s not close to unique. He’s not even unique over the last ten years. You can go back not too far and see the New York Times and the Associated Press and CBS News, you can see so many instances of this. Every time this happens, it takes away a little of the credibility of everybody in the news business. One of the mistakes some people make is they think “Oh, that’s bad for them but it’s good for us.” I never believe that, I always believe that most people, sadly, will say “Oh, that’s probably what they all do.” And so I think it takes something away from all the news organizations. And the hard part is the only way to gain it back is over a long period of time proving day in and day out that you’re getting it right. You can have one big incident take down your credibility, there’s no one big incident that will bring it back up. It takes years to overcome that perception. But I think it’s bad for all of journalism when something like this happens. There’s no room, I don’t think, for gloating at all. It’s a mistake.