I know that this is hard, what I’ve chosen to do at ABC is hard, and for ABC it was a leap to bring me on board. But when you believe in something and you’re prepared to put yourself on the line and you’re prepared to take the slings and arrows and the criticism, all you can do is do your best and do what you believe in. That’s what I’m going to do and that’s what I am doing.
Objectivity is constantly being tested today by new technologies like blogs and Twitter, which encourage reporters to communicate directly and can then punish them for it, which is what happened with Helen Thomas and Octavia Nasr at CNN. Is there a new line that journalists have to be aware of in guarding their objectivity?
I don’t want to comment on Octavia because all of that happened after I left CNN, and I don’t [want to comment on] Helen either, other than to say… In general, we have to be doubly careful and redouble our ordinary journalistic efforts in the face of these massive and exploding platforms. And I think people make a choice these days. They choose either to remain objective and within the fact-based reality and the realm of objective journalism. Or they choose to bring more of their personality, more of their ideas, more of their opinions. I belong to the first group, and when I talk beyond objective journalism it’s basically to analyze [issues] based on my reporting experience—whether it’s about Iran, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq, whatever it might be.
I do think we have to be doubly careful, most particularly because I think two things are going on. In some instances, those people who stick cameras or tape recorders under our noses are not always doing it with the best of intentions. There’s a huge amount of “gotcha!” going on out there. But there’s also an immediate reactive mechanism happening so that what one says is doubly, triply, to the power of ten, magnified and amplified, and it becomes a huge crisis. I think that’s the unfortunate reality of the whole world we live in right now, including the world of journalism. We do have to be careful; we do have to remember who we are and what we represent, and where we fit into this exploding platform landscape. For me, it’s still about the content, it’s still about the journalism, and it’s still about the people. It is a profession, it does have rules, and it does have a framework within which we know our boundaries.
Some people want to jump on whatever comment is made and use it for their own political ends. We have to be careful about that too.
What’s the biggest story that we’re neglecting at the moment?
Mexico is a huge drama right on the border of the United States. There’s a narco-trafficking sub-state that’s taking over, it’s corrupting officials, it’s killing journalists, it’s killing civilians. This is a huge problem and it’s combined with the immigration issue and it’s an area where we can do a lot more work. But it’s very dangerous.