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I cringe whenever I hear President Donald Trump go after the media. The constant drumbeat against the press is alarming, coming from the White House.

Yet there’s a reason Trump keeps repeating these criticisms -- many Americans think he’s right.

While the press isn’t the enemy of the people, it can be its own worst enemy when it comes to maintaining the trust of readers in the fairness and objectivity in its coverage.

Case in point: A reporter at the Huron Daily Tribune in Michigan was fired Monday for an egregious error she made last Wednesday. Brenda Battel called the John James campaign looking to set up an interview post-election with the Republican Senate candidate. After leaving a pleasant, generic message, she thought she had hung up, but she didn’t do so successfully. So some mutterings she made to herself  got caught on that recorder.

 

And they weren’t very nice:

"Man, if he beats her...Jesus! F******* John James! Whew! That would suck. I don't think it's going to happen though."

Battel was fired when the message came to light. And she apologized on Twitter, saying, “My apologies to @JohnJamesMI. I am human. I made a mistake. While I did my best to be a fair, objective, professional journalist, what I said reflected none of those traits. For this, I am truly sorry to all of those who have been affected by my mistake.”

The apology showed a lot of class. But it’s incidents like this that most undermine the media — and confirm that bias is real among reporters who are supposed to put their personal views aside when gathering the news.

A Gallup poll from June found that U.S. adults believe 62 percent of the news, whether in newspapers, on TV or the radio, is biased. They also estimate that  44 percent of what they see is inaccurate.

If journalists wonder why so many Americans don’t trust them, they can’t just look at the White House for the answer. They have to take a hard look at themselves.

ijacques@detroitnews.com 

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