Scott Pelley on Why Media Should Stop "Reacting" to Trump

Miguel Angel
Scott Pelley at the Texas Medal of Arts Awards in Austin on Feb. 22

"The president is the president and he can say what he wants to say," said the CBS News anchor, honored at the Texas Medal of Arts Awards, adding, "Our job is to continue to do our jobs the way we always have."

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley has never seen a president “attack the media the way this president has,” he said Wednesday at the Texas Medal of Arts Awards in Austin, adding that the importance of a free press cannot be overstated. “There is no democracy without journalism, and the quality of our democracy is tied directly to the quality of our journalism,” he said.

Recalling President Donald Trump’s comments last week labeling the media “the enemy of the American people,” Pelley speculated about how Trump might define his terms: “What is the media? It is the conversation of 300 million people who have the right to speak and have the right to be heard.”

The Texas native, who was honored (alongside fellow Texans including Kris Kristofferson and Hamilton star Renee Elise Goldsberry) for his contributions to journalism, explained that Trump’s comments can serve to galvanize the profession. “I think it’s a great time to be a reporter, but a time to be doing our very best work,” he said. “I don’t think we should be reacting to the president. The president is the president and he can say what he wants to say. Our job is to continue to do our jobs the way we always have. Ask ourselves: Is our story right, is it fair, is it honest? And then just keep going.”

For aspiring journalists, the veteran offered hope and a little advice. Explaining that people expect honesty whether they get their news from a phone screen or a TV screen, Pelley added, “The rules of content don’t change. We need to make sure that our values and our principles don’t change.”

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