REMARKS from former President Gerald Ford at the National...

Salmagundi

June 08, 1995

REMARKS from former President Gerald Ford at the National Press Club (reprinted courtesy of the Federal News Service):

. . . I would like to say a few words about the relationship between the news media and public trust. The viewpoints of news-makers and news reporters are often -- as we well know -- in conflict.

But, for the most part, the press and the politicians in our nation's capital co-exist reasonably well in what some people like pTC to call friendly tension. Others refer to it as creative tension. In the perfect world, I would hope it could be defined as cooperative. But in Washington's words, "Skepticism and distrust are often, too often, present."

I have a growing concern that centers on the media's investigatory skills. These skills will always be matched by a sense, I hope, of honesty and responsibility.

In my opinion, there is a growing tendency to sensationalize some stories. Responsible reporting sometimes gives way to a desire. And I understand the competition to first disclose some kind of a possible scandal. Hurried reporting or over-simplification of events can cast doubts, or even destroy unblemished records or careers of dedicated people in public office.

Life, as we all well know, is often complicated -- more complicated than the stories we try to draw from it. The press is well protected -- as they should be -- by the First Amendment. It has the right to be very, very inquisitive -- perhaps, and sometimes it happens, cantankerous.

But it also has an obligation to be responsible, an honest press that does not run rough-shod over the lives, and even the rights, of organizations and individuals . . .

All I would say is, we should not over-simplify. We should not over- sensationalize. We have an obligation -- those of us who participate -- to respect the right of the First Amendment. A vigorous free press plays a very important role in our healthy democracy.

I believe the press on the other hand has an enormous responsibility to use its power in a constructive and a responsible way because all of us on both sides of the issue are caretakers of this great country . . .

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