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Barnes and... A Conversation with Sir Harold Evans

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HELLO EVERYONE AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US. AT THE AGE WHEN MOST AMERICAN LADS ARE GETTING THEIR FIRST MOTOR CAR, AN ENGLISH LAD GOT HIS FIRST JOB IN JOURNALISM. 23 SHORT YEARS LATER, HE WAS NAMED EDITOR OF THE PRESTIGIOUS SUNDAY TIMES WHERE HE HELD FORTH FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, 14 TO BE EXACT. HE WOULD LATER GO ON TO THE TIMES OF LONDON WHERE HIS TENURE WAS A BIT SHORTER. HARRY EVANS -- HER OLD EVERYIANS IS CREDITED WITH -- HAROLD EVANS IS CREDITED WITH BRINGING GREAT JOURNALISM TO GREAT BRITAIN TO A PLACE THAT DOESN'T REALLY ENCOURAGE SERIOUS JOURNALISM. UNDER HIM, THE PEOPLE OF UNITED KINGDOM LEARNED OF THE TREACHERY, FOR EXAMPLE, OF KIM FILBY AND THE TRAGEDY OF FELIDOM, D. HE AND TINA BROWN CAME TO THE UNITED STATES. MISS BROWN HAD AT THE NEW YORKER AND VANITY FAIR AND TALK. HER HUSBAND, TENURED AT U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT AND THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS AND RANDOM HOUSE, AMONG OTHER VENUES. THOUGH HE WAS AN OCEAN AWAY, HIS NATIVE COUNTRYMEN HAD NOT FORGOT MR. EVANS. ONLY LAST YEAR, IN RECOGNITION OF HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND AT THE TOUCH OF THE SCWEN'S SWORD, HE BECAME SIR HAROLD EVANS. SIR HAROLD, YOU ARE A GOOD DISTANCE FARTHER THAN BIRMINGHAM THAN YOU WOULD BE EVEN IF YOU WERE IN NEW YORK. WELCOME VERY MUCH FOR MAKING THIS TIME AVAILABLE.

THANK YOU, STEVE.

Steve Barnes: YOU, AFTER 20 YEARS ON THESE SHORES, HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THIS COUNTRY CHANGE?

WHEN I FIRST CAME WAS IN THE 50S. AND WHEN I ARRIVED IN THE 50S, I WAS IMMENSELY IMPRESSED BY THE PROSPERITY OF THE COUNTRY. I HAD COME FROM A COUNTRY THAT WAS ENDURING THE ENDS OF RATIONING AFTER WORLD WAR II. I HAD BEEN IN AIR RAID SHELTERS AND LISTENED TO WINSTON CHURCH HILL AND FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT. THE FIRST THING THAT AMAZED ME WAS PROSPERITY. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. AND THE SECOND THING, HOWEVER, WAS I WAS WORRIED ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF DISTURBANCE IN THE SOCIETY. JOE MCCARTHY WAS ON THE RAMPAGE. THE SOVIET MENACE WAS ACTUALLY VERY, VERY REAL, MORE REAL THAN MANY PEOPLE REALIZED AT THE TIME. BUT A LOT OF INJUSTICES WERE BEING DONE. AND THEN THE THIRD THING WHICH IMPRESSED ME WAS THE QUALITY OF THE NEWSPAPERS. THE AMOUNT OF INVESTIGATIVE WORK THAT THEY DID. IN SMALL TOWNS AND CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I SAW STANDARD OF JOURNALISM WHICH ACTUALLY WAS FAR AHEAD OF THE BRITISH STANDARD OF JOURNALISM BECAUSE IT WAS INVESTIGATIVE. IT HAD A PUBLIC CONSCIENCE. IT DEALT WITH THE COMMUNITY. SO WHEN I WENT BACK TO THE UNITED KINGDOM IN 1950, THOSE WERE MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS. WHEN I CAME BACK IN THE 80S RLTS VERY DIFFERENT SITUATION.

FOR A SUSTAINED 20-YEAR PERIOD.

IN THE 20 YEARS I LIVED HERE SINCE I CAME THIS TIME. FIRST OF ALL, THE WORLD HAD SOMEWHAT CAUGHT UP WITH AMERICAN PROSPERITY. BUT SINCE I'VE BEEN HERE IN THE 20 YEARS AND I'VE WRITTEN A BOOK ABOUT AMERICAN INNOVATION, I'VE BEEN STUNNED BY THE ACCELERATING STATE OF AMERICAN INNOVATION, THE INVENTIVENESS AND CREATIVITY OF THE UNITED STATES IS WITHOUT PARALLEL. NOW, THERE'S SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER IT'S BEING MAINTAINED. I THINK THE ART IS SLIGHTLY LEVELING OFF AT THE MOMENT. SO THAT VERY MUCH INTERESTED ME. I GOT DEPRESSED BECAUSE IN THE 20 YEARS SINCE I'VE BEEN HERE, THE QUALITY OF THE JOURNALISM HAS DECLINED. PARTLY BECAUSE ENTERTAINMENT VALUES HAVE TAKEN OVER. CON GLOT RATS WITH SHORT-TERM VIEWS HAVE ELEVATED ENTERTAINMENT OVER NEWS. THE TV NEWS THAT I USED TO ADMIRE HAS BEEN GREATLY DIMINISHED FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS. AND SO THIS TIME, ALTHOUGH I'VE LOVED LIVING HERE FOR 20 YEARS, BECAUSE THE THING ABOUT THE UNITED STATES, WHICH MANY PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE, IS HOW WELCOMING IT IS TO STRANGERS. I MEAN I SPOKE THE LANGUAGE AFTER A FASHION, YOU KNOW. SO IT WAS A LITTLE EASIER FOR ME. BUT I DOUBT WHETHER IN MY OWN COUNTRY, WHICH IS A VERY TOLERANT SOCIETY, I NONETHELESS WOULD HAVE HAD QUITE THE WARMTH AND WELCOME THAT A NEWCOMER GETS HERE. THERE ARE NO DOORS CLOSED BECAUSE YOU'RE A FOREIGNER.

Steve Barnes: HAVE YOU SEEN THE POLITICAL CHEMISTRY OR THE TEMPERATURE OF THIS COUNTRY CHANGE, THOUGH IN, YOUR 20 YEARS?

I HAVE, THOUGH. I HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE 50S AS MY REFERENCE POINT TO COVER HALF A CENTURY. WHEN I CAME IN THE 50S, I RATHER LIKED ADD LIE STEVENSON. I WAS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO. I WENT DOWN TO SEE EISENHOWER LAND AT AN AIR FIELD IN ILLINOIS. AND I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE CAMPAIGNING FOR STEVENSON. AND I WAS CHEERING EISENHOWER BECAUSE HE WAS SUCH AN EMBLEMATIC PRESIDENT. AND THE DEGREE OF POLITICAL TOLERANCE OF DIFFERENCE WAS VERY STRONG. SO IT WAS MUCH MORE FRIENDLY. NOWADAYS, THE DEGREE OF POLITICAL ANIMOSITY IS SO INTENSE IT'S MORE INTENSE THAN ANYTHING I'VE EVER SEEN IN ENGLAND AND MORE BITTER AND VINDICTIVE AND PERSONAL THAN ANYTHING I'VE EVER SEEN BEFORE IN THE UNITED STATES. I MEAN THERE WERE STRONG ARGUMENTS IN THE 50S AND THERE WERE VERY STRONG ARGUMENTS IN THE 70S AND THE 80S AND THE 90S, BUT TODAY ENTERING THE NEW MILLENNIUM, IT'S A DANGEROUS SITUATION, THE POLARIZATION OF THE COUNTRY. I DON'T THINK THE BLOGS HAVE HELPED, ALTHOUGH EVERYBODY KEEPS SAYING HOW WONDERFUL THE BLOGS ARE. YEAH, BUT THEY ALSO SPREAD A HELL OF A LOT OF MALICE AND ILL FEELING.

Steve Barnes: ON THE WAY OVER HERE, I WAS THINKING AS A NATIVE SON, IT SEEMED TO ME THAT THIS COUNTRY IS WITHOUT NUANCE ANY LONGER.

THAT'S A VERY GOOD WAY OF PUTTING IT HAVE.

Steve Barnes: THANK YOU. BUT WE ARE SO POLARIZED. I THINK AS YOU PUT IT, IN AMERICA TODAY, THERE ARE GOOD GUYS AND THERE ARE BAD GUYS. WHETHER YOU'RE GOOD OR BAD DEPENDS ON WHICH SIDE OF THE QUESTION YOU'RE ON. BUT THAT TOLERANCE HAS SUFFERED SUBSTANTIALLY. AND WE'RE AT ONE ANOTHER'S THROATS POLITICALLY.

YEAH.

Steve Barnes: IS THAT REFLECTED, SIR HAROLD, IN OUR JOURNALISM TODAY?

I THINK THE TONE OF THE JOURNALISM TODAY, I MEAN I'M A GREAT BELIEVER IN THE JOB OF THE JOURNALIST TO TRY AND FIND THE TRUTH. IT ISN'T SIMPLY TO SAY: HARRY EVANS SAID THIS, STEVE SAID THAT. I THINK WE HAVE A DUTY, AS JOURNALISTS, TO TRY AND GET BEHIND THE OFFICIAL STATEMENTS, GET BEHIND WHETHER THEY'RE FROM TRADE UNIONS OR STATE BUREAUCRATS OR BUSINESS LEADERS AND BE FAIR, OBVIOUSLY, BUT DON'T SIMPLY THINK YOU'VE DONE YOUR DUTY BY SAYING, ON THE ONE HAND, ON THE OTHER. SO I THINK A KIND OF BLANDNESS HAS TAKEN OVER AMERICAN JOURNALISM SO THAT THE INVESTIGATIVE ENERGIES ARE NOT WHAT THEY WERE WHEN I CAME IN THE 50S BY NO MEANS. PARTLY THIS IS BECAUSE YOU GOT A GREAT COMPANY LIKE KNIGHT RIDDER OR YOU GET THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, THEY GET TAKEN OVER, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES TAKEN OVER BY THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE COMPANY. YOU GET THESE BIG CONGLOMERATES TAKING OVER IN TELEVISION AND IN NEWSPAPERS AND WHAT'S HAPPENING IS YOU'RE GETTING A BLANDNESS, A CONCENTRATION ON THE SHORT-TERM BOTTOM LINE, WHICH IS VERY BAD FOR JOURNALISM AND THE COMMUNITY. LET ME GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE. WHEN THE KNIGHT RIDDER, ABOUT FOUR YEARS AGO, THE NEW CHAIRMAN CAME IN, HE SAID WE HAVE A GREAT OBJECTIVE FOR THESE NEWSPAPERS. A FANTASTIC OBJECTIVE WHICH WILL INSPIRE EVERYBODY. WHAT WAS THE OBJECTIVE? WE'RE GOING TO WANT TO GET OUR PROFIT UP FROM 23 TO 27%. AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE JOURNALISTS. WE CAN GET BY. WELL, OF COURSE WHAT HAPPENED WAS THAT THEY STARTED CUTTING BACK ON THE JOURNALISM. SO THE PAPER STARTED TO SUFFER. AND NOW THEY'RE UP FOR SALE. SAME THING HAS HAPPENED IN LOS ANGELES THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE COMES IN, DON'T WORRY, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE THIS A MORE EFFICIENT ENTERPRISE. SO THEY START CUTTING BACK ON THE QUALITY OF THE ENTERPRISE. NOW, THIS IS A DANGEROUS FEATURE NOW IN THE UNITED STATES, WHICH IS THE GOING FOR SHORT-TERM PROFIT INSTEAD OF INVESTING IN THE FUTURE ALL THE TIME. INVESTING IN THE FUTURE IN EDUCATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE, INVESTING IN ENTERPRISES AND NOT SIMPLY TRYING TO TURN OVER AND MAKE A QUICK TRADE. WALL STREET TODAY IS OBSESSED BY TRADING RATHER THAN BY INVESTING. AND I DOUBT WHETHER SOME OF THE GREAT AMERICAN ENTERPRISES THAT WERE STARTED WITH A LONG-TERM VIEW COULD FLOURISH IN SOME OF THE ATMOSPHERE TODAY.

Steve Barnes: YOU STILL, NO MATTER WHAT THE PROBLEMS OF THE LAND MIGHT BE, YOU SEEM TO RETAIN, IN YOUR RECENT WORK FOR THE BBC AND IN YOUR RECENT WRITING, MAY I SAY AN IMMIGRANT'S AWE AND WONDER AND EXUBERANCE AT WHAT YOU SEE IN THE UNITED STATES. ARE WE FAILING TO COUNT OUR BLESSINGS?

OH ABSOLUTELY. I MAKE THESE POINTS ABOUT CHANGES WHILE FEELING ENORMOUS, HOW CAN I PUT IT? FAITH, BASICALLY, IN THE UNITED STATES. BECAUSE THE FREEDOM IN THIS COUNTRY, WHICH PEOPLE VERY OFTEN FORGET, THE FRAMEWORK OF FREEDOM, THE RECEPTIVITY FOR NEWCOMERS, THE RECEPTIVITY FOR NEW IDEAS AND THE WARMTH ARE ALL AMAZINGLY CREATIVE AND ENCOURAGING. SO I HAVE ENORMOUS FAITH. IN FACT, THE WORD I USE MOST OFTEN IN DESCRIBING THE UNITED STATES WHEN I GO BACK TO ENGLAND, I SAY RESILIENCE. DON'T UNDERESTIMATE AMERICAN RESILIENCE. THAT'S WHAT THE JAPANESE DID. PEARL HARBOR. THEY FORGOT THE ENORMOUS POTENTIAL STRENGTH OF THE UNITED STATES. THIS LEVIATHON STIRS ITSELF, IT CAN DO ALMOST ANYTHING. NOW, THAT MIGHT TAKE US INTO A DISCUSSION OF IRAQ. BUT I DO FEEL, WHEN I WAS WALKING THROUGH THE STREETS OF WASHINGTON WHEN I CAME BACK IN 1981, AND I REMEMBERED WHAT IT HAD BEEN LIKE IN THE 50S, I THOUGHT "HOW MARVELOUS IT IS TO BE BACK IN THIS COUNTRY, THE SUNSHINING, NEW THINGS ARE HAPPENING ALL THE TIME. NOTHING'S IMPOSSIBLE. THAT WAS WHAT I THOUGHT. I STILL THINK THAT. NOTHING'S IMPOSSIBLE. LOOK AT THE THING AMERICA'S GIVEN TO THE WORLD IN JUST RECENT YEARS: THE INTERNET, WHICH IS GOING TO BE TRANSFORMING EVEN THINGS LIKE THE IPOD, CELL PHONES, MRI MACHINES. FINDING WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR BONES. BIOTECHNOLOGY TO CURE DISEASES. I MEAN, THE BLESSINGS THAT HAVE FLOWN FROM THE UNITED STATES' CREATIVITY AND ENTERPRISE IS UNBELIEVABLE. AND THERE'S NO WHERE TO TOUCH IT. AND IT'S NOT BECAUSE OF THE RESOURCES OF THE COUNTRY IN TERMS OF RAW MATERIALS, COAL AND IRON AND WHATEVER. IT'S BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE. BECAUSE YOU GOT THE SOVIET UNION JUST HAS GREAT RESOURCES, YOU'VE GOT GREAT COUNTRIES LIKE ARGENTINA. NOW YOU HAVE CHINA COMING ALONG. BUT SEE WHAT THEY DO, THEY'VE BECOME A MANUFACTURING BASE, BUT SO FAR THEY HAVE NOT BECOME AN INNOVATIVE BASE. I DON'T WANT TO GET COMPLACENT ABOUT CHINA. I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT. I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO THE UNITED STATES. WE SHOULD REGARD THEM WITH A CERTAIN FRIENDLINESS AND DOESN'T TRY TO MAKE WAR WITH THEM.

Steve Barnes: YOUR PREVIOUS BOOK, A SORT OF CELEBRATION OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ITS INNOVATION, THE AMERICAN CENTURY, REFERRING TO THE 20TH. WILL THE 21ST BE BELONG TO A STATE AS MANY OF US SEEM TO THINK THAT THE 20TH BELONGED TO THE UNITED STATES?

THE 20TH CERTAINLY BELONGED TO THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE NOT ONLY DID IT ENLARGE ITS OWN FREEDOMS BECAUSE WE HAD DISCRIMINATION WHEN I FIRST CAME HERE, AND STILL WE'VE GOT MAJOR PROBLEMS. BUT NONETHELESS IT ENLARGED FREEDOM IN THE UNITED STATES AND LARGE FREEDOM AROUND THE WORLD. SO THAT WAS THE STATE, AS YOU SAY. A STATE ACHIEVEMENT. I THINK THE UNITED STATES HAS THE POTENTIAL IN THE NEXT CENTURY, WHICH WE'VE NOW TAKEN THE FIRST STEPS INTO, TO DO SOMETHING SIMILAR. BUT THE OMENS ARE NOT PARTICULARLY GOOD AT THE MOMENT. I MEAN, I THINK THE UNITED STATES WORKS BEST WHEN IT WORKS TO SUMMON OTHER FRIENDS TO ITS IDEALS, WHICH IS WHAT IT MAG NIF NIF -- MAG SIF SENTLY WHAT IT DID IN WORLD WAR II. IT WAS THE FREEST COUNTRY WHEN IT CAME INTO WORLD WAR II. SO I THINK PEOPLE WERE INSPIRED BY IT. CAN WE STILL DO THAT? I DON'T KNOW. I HAVE SOME DOUBTS.

Steve Barnes: YOU MENTIONED THE SITUATION IN IRAQ. CLEARLY IT WOULD SEEM TO HAVE ISOLATED THE UNITED STATES FOR MUCH OF WESTERN OPINION, ANYWAY.

YEAH.

Steve Barnes: WHAT'S NEXT? IS IT POSSIBLE TO FORESEE?

I WAS SUPPORTIVE OF GOING INTO IRAQ. AND I THOUGHT -- WHAT DISMAYED ME WAS THE FACT THAT VERY CAREFUL PLANS WERE MADE BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT FOR THE EXECUTION OF THAT ENTERPRISE IN TERMS OF STOPPING LOOTING, IN TERMS OF KEEPING A LOT OF THE ARMY AND POLICE, IN TERMS OF GOING IN WITH PLANS TO PROTECT THE NATIONAL TREASURER YOURS. SO THE INSURGENCY WOULD NOT HAVE GOT GOING WITH AN ARMY OF 400,000 GOING IN. AND WHAT DISMAYED ME WAS THE WAY THOSE PLANS WERE THROWN AWAY BY THE PENTAGON, BY DONALD RUMSFELD, ALL THE STATE DEPARTMENT. A BIG THICK DOCUMENT LIKE THIS. I MEAN THE BEST EXAMPLE OF AMERICAN IMAGINATION AND PLANNING WAS THROWN AWAY. AND TO GO IN THERE, I REALLY GET MAD ABOUT THIS, TO GO IN THERE WITHOUT DECENT ARMORED VEHICLES AND TO TAKE SO LONG TO PROTECT OUR TROOPS THERE. AND HERE'S SOMETHING THAT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY AT THE MOMENT. YOU KNOW, WHEN THESE GUYS GET WOUNDED AND MAIMED, BLINDED IN IRAQ FIGHTING FOR US AND AGAINST, REALLY AN PAULING, BRUTAL INSURGENCY, THEIR COMPENSATION IS ABSOLUTELY INADEQUATE. IF YOU LOSE A HOLE LEG, AN ARM, IT'S SOMETHING LIKE LESS THAN $2,000 A MONTH, I THINK. IT'S NOT ENOUGH. WE SHOULD RAISE THE LEVELS OF COMPENSATION. SO THAT THESE THINGS IRRITATE ME. I'M VERY PRO WHAT WE TRIED TO DO. AND I THINK THAT THE IRAQIS ARE LUCKY TO HAVE THE UNITED STATES THERE. BUT THE TOLL IN TERMS OF WORLD WAR II IS NOTHING, OF COURSE, BUT IN TERMS OF WHAT IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN, IT'S MUCH GREATER THAN IT NEEDED TO HAVE BEEN. WE COULD HAVE HAD A BRILLIANT SUCCESS THERE NOT IN TERMS OF FLOWERS IN THE STREETS BUT IN 12 MOSS WE COULD HAVE GONE IN WITH ENOUGH. THERE'S A VERY GOOD BOOK BY GEORGE PATAKI-- NOT THAT, GEORGE PACKER, CALLED ASSASSIN'S GATE. GEORGE PACKER. WHICH IS PRETTY AUTHENTICATED OF SETTLING OUT THE PLANS THAT WERE IN PLACE. AND IF THEY HAD BEEN EXECUTED, WE'D BE IN A FAR BETTER SITUATION. WE PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE LOST ANYTHING LIKE THE NUMBER OF LIVES THAT WE'VE LOST.

Steve Barnes: CAN YOU FORESEE STILL AN ACCEPTABLE OUTCOME TO THE --

I CAN, ACTUALLY. I TELL YOU WHAT I DON'T BELIEVE. I DON'T THINK IT'S -- CONGRESSMAN MERTER'S POINT IS THE ONLY VALID ARGUMENT I'VE SEEN FOR WITHDRAWAL, WHICH IS THAT WE'RE IDENTIFIED AS OCCUPIERS AND THAT'S INCITING INSURGENCY. THAT IS THE BEST SINGLE ARGUMENT THAT I'VE SEEP. BUT I THINK IT WOULD BE A BIG MISTAKE TO PULL OUT PAL MEL. NOT ONLY IN TERMS OF WHAT IT MIGHT DO THE IRAQI. SOME PEOPLE MIGHT SAY WHAT THE HELL WE DON'T CARE ABOUT THEM. BUT ALSO WHAT IT MIGHT DO IS ENCOURAGING THE IDEA THAT AMERICA IS WEAK AND PULLS OUT THE FIRST SIGN OF DIFFICULTY. YOU KNOW THE OSAMAS OF THE WORLD AND SO ON. SO WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SAY TO THE PRESIDENT. AND THE NEXT TIME I HAVE A CHANCE, I WILL, IS THIS: WHY DON'T YOU DEAL WITH THIS INEFFICIENCIES WHICH ARE THERE? THE SUPPLY INEFFICIENCIES? I'D GO ALONG WITH JOHN MCCAIN. I'M CLOSER TO JOHN MCCAIN IN MY WAY OF THINKING. I WOULDN'T BE TALKING ABOUT TAKING TROOPS OUT. I'D BE TALKING ABOUT STRENGTHENING WHAT WE HAVE.

Steve Barnes: YOU CAME, AND STILL TODAY VERY MUCH IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, IN LONDON, I DON'T THINK ANYBODY'S EVER LEFT ON FLEET STREET, ANYMORE, HAVE THEY? THEY'VE ALL LEFT FLEET STREET, BUT THERE IS A VIGOROUS AND RAUCOUS AND ARGUMENTATIVE PRESS.

YEAH. MUCH BETTER THAN HERE. MUCH MORE DIVERSE.

Steve Barnes: EX ATLY. BUT IT'S ALSO A PARTISAN, I MEAN READILY IDENTIFIABLE LOYALTIES. WHICH YOU RAN AFOUL OF, I THINK, AS THE LOYALTIES OF ONE PUBLISHER SHIFTED. MR. MURDOCK, WITH WHOM YOU HAD SOME DISAGREEMENTS, IS NOW UBIQUITOUS, BY THE WAY. I'M NOT SURE WHETHER HE FOLLOWED YOU TO SHEZ SHORES OR WHETHER HE ARRIVED BEFORE YOU DID, BUT NOW HE HAS FOX CHANNEL, HE HAS NEW YORK POST, A NUMBER OF OTHER PRINT PROPERTIES. DOES IT CONCERN YOU OR SHOULD IT CONCERN AMERICANS THAT THERE SEEMS TO BE -- AFTER IT HAD BEEN DEPRESSED FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, THAT THERE'S A RETURN TO SORT OF A PARTISAN PRESS IN THE UNITED STATES? IS THAT HEALTHY?

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, I LIKED THE WALL STREET JOURNAL VERY MUCH BECAUSE I LIKE THE SEPARATION THERE BETWEEN OPINION AND FACT. ON THE FRONT PART OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, YOU GET VERY GOOD INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING AS YOU DO IN THE WASHINGTON POST AND SOMETIMES IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, TOO. AND BOTH OF THOSE, ALL THREE OF THOSE PAPERS SEPARATE OPINION. AND I THINK THAT'S A VERY GOOD THING. BECAUSE THE WALL STREET JOURNAL I FIND I AGREE WITH ABOUT 30 PERCENT OF IT. BUT I DON'T TAKE A NEWSPAPER TO READ WITH WHAT I ALREADY AGREE WITH. I DON'T WANT TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR HERE. I WANT TO BE TO SAY HEY YOU MAY BE WRONG ABOUT THIS. SO I ONLY OBJECT TO A PARTISAN PRESS. THE NEW YORK POST IS PARTISAN IN THIS SENSE, WHEN THE OPINION IN THE NEWS GET MIXED UP. SO YOU KNOW FOR A FACT THE LINE THAT'S GOING TO BE IN THE NEW YORK POST IS GOING TO BE -- WHATEVER THE NEWS IS GOING TO BE, IT'S GOING TO BE HEAD LINED AND PRESENTED IN A PARTICULAR WAY. NOW THE DAILY NEWS IN NEW YORK, WHERE I USED TO WORK, WHICH IS OWNED BY ZUCKER MAN, HAS THE SEPARATION BETWEEN NEWS AND OPINION, WHICH I THINK IS PRETTY IMPORTANT. SO THAT YOU KNOW WHEN YOU READ THE NEWS IN THE NEWS, THAT YOU'RE NOT GETTING AN ANGLE. NOW, THE POST JUST HAPPENS TO BE A MARVELOUSLY EFFICIENT, A BRILLIANT TABLOID. BUT NONETHELESS, AS YOU SAY, IT'S PARTISAN. I MEAN, IT'S A FREE COUNTRY, SO ANYBODY COULD HAVE A PIECE OF PARTISAN JUICE IF HE WANTS TO. THE READER HAS A CHOICE. HE CAN GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. HE CAN GO TO THE WEB OR COME TO TELEVISION OR THE RADIO. WHICH IS WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO PRESERVE A PLURALITY OF SOURCES SO THAT YOU'RE NOT DEPENDENT. BUT I'M NOT ALL THAT EN AM ORED, AS EVERYBODY SEEMS TO BE SAYING THE ANSWER IS THE WEB. YOU KNOW, HALF THE STUFF ON THE WEB IS -- WELL NOT HALF, THAT'S AN EXAGGERATION. NOBODY CAN COUNT IT. BUT A SIGNIFICANT PROPORTION IS FALSE, IS WRONG. SO WHAT CAN YOU RELY ON? IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA MAINTAINS THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF INTEGRITY.

Steve Barnes: SIR HAROLD, THERE ARE ANY NUMBER OF AMERICANS THAT BELIEVE THEY ARE ALREADY GETTING A PARTISAN PRESS OR AT LEAST AN IDEAIO LOGICAL PRESS, THAT THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA, THE TELEVISION NETWORKS, THE MAJOR DAILIES ARE COMING AT THEM FROM THE LEFT, THAT THERE IS NO WALL, THERE'S NO CHURCH/STATE SEPARATION THERE. ARE THEY ACTING ON REALITY OR ARE THEY ACTING ON PERCEPTION?

WELL, IT'S HARD TO SAY. IF YOU LOOK AT FOX NEWS, IS THAT PART OF THE IDEOLOGICAL LEFT? I DON'T THINK SO. I HAVE TO THINK IT'S A VERY GOOD NEWS SERVICE. AND WHEN PEOPLE SAY IT'S ON THE RIGHT, IT DOESN'T BOTHER ME BECAUSE ACTUALLY I THINK IT'S THE PLURALITY THAT MATTERS. I COULD UNDERSTAND THE SUSPICIONS. AND I COULD UNDERSTAND WHAT IS CALLED THE LIBERAL BIAS, BUT I DON'T THINK IT'S REALLY THERE. I THINK ULTIMATELY THE BOOK "WHAT LIBERAL PRESS" AND YOU WENT INTO GREAT DETAIL INTO STORY INTO STORY INTO STORY. I DON'T THINK IT'S A QUESTION OF IDEOLOGY. I THINK IT'S INVESTIGATIVE ENTITY THAT'S THE REAL ISSUE. TRYING TO FIND OUT WHAT THE HELL GOES ON. WHAT THE HELL GOES ON, WHY DON'T WE HAVE A BETTER SYSTEM FOR DETECTING THE BAD EFFECTS, THE OCCASIONAL BAD EFFECTS OF DRUGS BEFORE SOMEBODY'S HURT? WE DON'T HAVE A SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY BECAUSE THERE'S NO ORGANIZED WAY OF REPORTING SIDE EFFECTS. WHY WAS THERE SO LITTLE -- WHY DID THE PRESS GET IT SO WRONG ABOUT IRAQ BEFORE WE WENT IN LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE DID, INCIDENTALLY? WHY? WE DIDN'T -- WE JUST LOOK WHAT WE WERE TOLD BY THE ADMINISTRATION AND PRINTED IT. WHAT KIND OF IDEOLOGY WAS THAT? IT'S NOT A QUESTIONED OF IDEOLOGY. IT'S A QUESTION OF ENERGY. I DON'T THINK -- NOBODY COULD SAY TO ME, I READ A HUGE NUMBER OF NEWSPAPERS AND WATCHED A HUGE AMOUNT OF TELEVISION PRE THE IRAQ WAR. I DIDN'T FIND MUCH SKEPTICISM IF THE LEFT. I DIDN'T FIND MUCH SKEPTICISM FROM ANYBODY. WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY KIND OF QUESTIONING OF THE KIND WE SHOULD HAVE HAD. AND WE OUGHT TO HAVE MUCH MORE DISPUTATION. MUCH MORE FACTFINDING. MUCH MORE ENERGY.

Steve Barnes: HOW TO GET THAT BACK? THE TRENDS?

I THINK IT MATTERS IN SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION. AND WE'RE IN THE UNIVERSITY. I THINK THAT THAT'S IMPORTANT. AND I THINK THAT CANDOR, NEWSPAPERS AND MEDIA AND TELEVISION MUST RECOGNIZE THEIR FLOORS. I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT, CONTINUAL ATTEMPTS TO DESTROY PUBLIC TELEVISION AND RADIO, I THINK THAT IS APPALLING BECAUSE THERE MUST BE SOMETHING IN THE BOTTOM LINE MENTALITY BECAUSE IF YOU LEAVE EVERYTHING TO THE BOTTOM LINE, THERE WILL BE NOTHING LEFT, BASICALLY. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO TELEVISION. TELEYOOGZ USED TO COVER THE WORLD. USE DO AMERICANS WAKE UP SURPRISED WHAT'S HAPPENING AROUND THE WORLD? DO YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT TOLD. THEY'RE ONLY TOLD WHEN SOMETHING BIG EXPLODES. ALL THE FOREIGN BUREAUS HAVE BEEN PULLED BACK. SO WE'RE TAKEN TOTALLY BY SURPRISE BIO SAM AN BIN LADEN WHO HAD BEEN DOING HIS BLOODY MISCHIEF IN FACT IN AFGHANISTAN FOR YEARS. AND THESE STORIES COME AND THEY DISAPPEAR. IT'S THE JOB OF A PRESS TO TELL US ABOUT THESE THINGS BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE.

Steve Barnes: ARE THEY, THOUGH, SORRY I'LL JUST RESPOND TO MARKET FORCES? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT CAME FIRST, CHICKEN OR EGG? IS IT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, CAN IT BE DEMONSTRATED THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT A FOREIGN REPORT?

I THINK THAT WE DON'T LIKE TO BE TAKEN ON SURPRISE BY 9/11 OR THE PENTAGON OR WHATEVER. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SHOULDN'T BE UNDERESTIMATED. AND IT'S THE OLD "NOBODY WENT BROKE UNDERESTIMATING THE AMERICAN PUBLIC." SAME GOLD WITHIN. I THINK THAT'S A FALLACY. PARTICULARLY AMONG THE YOUNG TODAY WHO WILL GO TO WEB A LOT. FIND SOME TRUTHS AND SOME HALF TRUTHS. SO WE REALLY MUST DO A BETTER JOB. I THINK THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WOULD WANT IT. I DON'T ACCEPT THIS IDEA THAT THEY ARE ALL COUCH POTATOES. AT LEAST THE LEADERSHIP IS NOT IN MANY COMMUNITIES.

Steve Barnes: WE ARE, THEN, A SERIOUS PEOPLE.

YOU'RE A SERIOUS PEOPLE. AND AS SERIOUS PEOPLE, WE'RE ALSO A PEOPLE WITH IDEALS. AND WHILE THE AMERICAN STATES THESE IDEALS IN THEIR CON CITY TUG, THIS IS WHAT I WROTE IN THE AMERICAN CENTURY. THERE'S HOPE FOR ALL OF US.

Steve Barnes: SIR HAROLD EVANS THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME.

THANK YOU.

Steve Barnes: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME. WE'LL SEE YOU NEXT TIME.

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