“Relations between the president and the media are going to be bad”

Relations between the president and the media are going to be bad. The role of the press in covering power is adversarial, and it should be adversarial. My working rule is: The more power, the less pity. I think the media has some self-reckoning to do about the astonishing gift of free media to Donald Trump during the campaign. And the other thing they have to think about is the religion of data, and the reverence for numbers and polls. Because something went badly wrong. So they have a cheshbon [accounting] to do.

But they also have a job to do, which is to cover the new president as obnoxiously and relentlessly as they can, which, by the way, was their job in covering Obama. The obligation remains the same. The media has to be pitiless about every powerful individual in our society, because power has to be held accountable. And one of the main instruments of our accountability is public opinion, and public opinion will only be as good as its sources of information. Journalism plays a central role in that. And so, in order for Americans to have a shot at correct, knowledgeable and factual options, they need the institutions and the people that govern them to be covered ruthlessly.

Leon Wieseltier, as quoted in Danielle Berrin, “Leon Wieseltier on Jewish Journalism: ‘Investigate and Analyze Jewish Identity’”, Jewish Journal (27 January – 2 February 2017), 45.