Lester Holt, anchor of NBC’s Nightly News, said Tuesday that journalists should be more active in communicating what they see as the “truth” on any given issue, giving the cut-and-dried example of informing readers that “the sun sets in the west” and disregarding any contrary claims.
One goal of media organizations should be to expunge “misinformation” from their reporting, Holt said. The NBC host made his remarks during his acceptance speech after receiving the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism.
“I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated,” Holt said. “Before you run off and tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention.”
Holt added, “Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda, in fact, it’s just the opposite.”
The anchor urged journalists to pursue the truth in their reporting, and also touted the responsibility of journalists in the midst of times of crisis.
“Imagine, if you would, what the pandemic would look like without the media holding leaders to account for vaccines rollouts or countering harmful misinformation or why some communities are being left behind,” Holt said.
Holt was promoted to anchor of Nightly News in 2015, following the departure of Brian Williams. Holt also host’s NBC’s Dateline, and has moderated presidential primary debates and town halls.
NBC recently launched a so-called “disinformation” desk, whose goal is to root out online purveyors of contrary political narratives.