Schweizer on Broken Media: 'I Finally Cancelled My Subscription to the NYT'

Show Notes

Sports journalist Michelle Tafoya joins Peter and Eric on the Drill Down, but not to talk football. The Emmy Award-winner, who was a sideline reporter for eleven years on NBC’s Sunday Night Football and ABC/ESPN Monday Night Football before that, walked away from sports journalism and is now a podcaster, deeply engaged in current issues and politics.

She now hosts a podcast called “Sideline Sanity” that explores these issues and joins the Drill Down to discuss the state of journalism, and how she has seen it change over her career.

Michelle Tafoya

“I’m a history buff, and the more I read, the more I realize that politics has seeped into journalism for a very long time,” she says.

“It’s all so agenda-driven. They can’t even mask it anymore. Now when I pick up a newspaper or magazine, I have to ask, ‘Where is this writer coming from? How should I interpret any publication and get to the truth?’”

Eric mentions the documentary GAI helped produce about social media and asks her if the change is because reporters have become addicted to the they get feedback on social media.

Tafoya recalls, “I remember when Twitter started and at ESPN we were encouraged to tweet, tweet, tweet.” But she had misgivings about the immediacy of doing that. “I so wanted to get stuff right. Opinions are what are tweeted out now, and people start repeating that stuff. It’s amazing how much stuff gets out there that has no substance to it,” she said.

Peter mentions the old idea, embodied by older newsmen like Walter Cronkite, and the false notion that news was more fair in the old days. This was never really true, but the relative scarcity of competition among news outlets made it appear to be so. Following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016, the New York Times declared itself to be part of “the resistance” to Trump’s presidency, a shocking change for a major newspaper that is supposed to cover news honestly.

“After Trump’s election, I remember that reporters started framing all their questions by assuming their subjects would agree with them, and I couldn’t stand that,” she says.

Michelle Tafoya has called Minneapolis home for many years, and Eric asks her what it was like to be there in 2020 during both the George Floyd riots and the Covid lockdowns.

“I remember sitting outside, eating string cheese with the neighbors. And I remember some guy at CNN telling me the protests were “mostly peaceful” while a fire blazed away behind him! It’s sad what’s happened to the city, and I avoid that part of town now,” she says.

Tafoya has become active in politics in her home state, and worked in 2022 for Kendall Qualls, a black Republican candidate for governor. Qualls lost on a controversial vote at the state’s Republican convention after one defeated candidate told delegates that Qualls had promised to make him his Lt. Gov. candidate and reneged on the promise – a claim Qualls stoutly denied.

“To see that happen was so sleazy and dishonest, I felt grimy afterwards. I lost faith in politics in general,” she said.

“We deal with this at GAI, too,” Peter tells her. “People see what we expose they get disheartened and want to get out of the political process. We say, ‘Don’t do that! That’s what the corrupt people want you to do. Because then all the decent people leave, and all you’re left with is the corrupt parts,” he tells her.

Tafoya and the hosts close on a note about Republicans and the most hot-button social issue.

“Republicans need to figure out a different position on abortion, or at least a better messaging strategy. They say that every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings. Well, every time a Republican talks about abortion, someone leaves the Republican Party and joins the Democrats. I’m pro-choice, to an extent, but I tend to support Republicans and their messaging on this subject has just been terrible. It needs to get a revamp in a big way,” she says.

Eric and Peter agree, but Peter points out that the national Democrat position on abortion is basically abortion-on-demand all the way through nine months, which is an extreme position – and extremely unpopular with most Americans as well.

Catch Michelle Tafoya’s “Sideline Sanity” podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and elsewhere.