Destroying trust in the media, science, and government has left America vulnerable to disaster

From The Brookings Institution (non-profit, deeply sourced factual writing; has been accused of both conservative and liberal bias; is cited in Congress about equally by conservative and liberal politicians; leans a bit left in terms of loaded language):

American institutions are not perfect, of course. We all should want to improve scientific practices, remove bias from news coverage, and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of government. But a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic highlights the exorbitant costs of undermining trust in media, science, and government for political gain.

People must believe the health advice that they are getting from the CDC and other government agencies who are fighting the crisis. People must receive (and trust) accurate information from major news organizations, rather than rely on rumors and news from fringe websites that their friends might share on social media. Even as states eventually lift stay-at-home orders, people will need to follow expert guidance, transmitted through the media, in order to prevent a resurgence of new cases.

This need not be a partisan topic. Many Republicans and conservatives over the years have been deeply respectful of government professionals, the findings of science, and non-partisan national journalists. But from the beginning of the conservative movement’s takeover of the Republican Party, which started with Barry Goldwater’s nomination in 1964, many in that movement have seen discrediting these institutions as a useful political strategy—a good way to win votes and gain media market share. But this political strategy can have catastrophic consequences when those very institutions are the key to protecting public health and saving lives.

Calling out this long-running, cynical, and ultimately corrosive approach to politics is long overdue. Politicians and media personalities can pursue conservative policies without undermining the public’s trust in the media, science, and government agencies. Now more than ever, they should do that. —

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