S8 / CHRONICLESngress only as a revocable privilege),nand almost nothing remains of the oldnrights of sanctuary or the privilege ofnthe confessional. But when a ministerngoes to jail for refusing to betray hisnsources, don’t expect it to make thenheadlines: the Fourth Estate is jealousnof its privileges.nThe establishment of the FourthnEstate as priestly class might benacceptable—or at least bearable—ifnmost Americans thought newsmenncould be trusted and respected. But wenhave never especially esteemed journalists,nand in recent years public regardnfor newsmerl has reached all-timenlows. A survey reported last year innU.S. News & World Report found thatnthree out of four Americans regard thenpress as exploitive and that the countrynas a whole ranks journalists just abovenused-car salesmen in honesty. A 1984nNewsweek survey discovered that onethirdnof Americans feel strong confidencenin the country’s newspapers andnonly one-fourth in the television networks.n(Even our chaotic publicnschools received a stronger vote ofnconfidence.) At a seminar of medianleaders sponsored last year by the Centernfor the Study of Democratic Institutions,nBurton Benjamin of CBS observednthat during his 30 years with thennetwork he had never before seen suchn”intense unrelenting hostility towardnNot KoshernLIBERAL ARTSnCanaan Banana, the Rev. President ofnZimbabwe, is baek in the news. Readersnof Chronicles will remember Rev.nBanana’s efforts to liven up the ,nglicannCliLirch with a few Zimbabwanneerenionies, i.e., voodoo. The Archbishopnof Canted)ury didn’t seem tonmind, but now he’s gone too fiir.nAt a dinner party gi’en to honor thenvisiting President of Iran, .Mi Kliamenein(also a reverend), Mr. Banana invitednnot only his wife and a woman eabinetnminister (both uneilcdl but also a ])aeknof journalists. The Economisi, in defendingntlie lionor of its lormer colony,ninsists that “there is no prohibition innthe Koran against eating with journali.sls.”nThat inay be true, but it doesn’tntake a nmllah to know the Moslem viewnof an animal that ”parts the hoof butndoes not ehew the end.” centelevision news. . . . [W]e are perceivednas arrogant, as elitists, as selfappointednpeople setting a nationalnagenda.” Ellis Cose, director of thenInstitute for Journalism Education atnBerkeley recently conceded: “Nevernhas there been such widespread questioningnof journalism and journalists.”nThis public hostility is not hard tonexplain. Many of us recall the grossndistortions in media reporting on Vietnamn(now well-documented in PeternBraestrup’s The Big Story). Nothingnsince Vietnam has increased our confidencenin media coverage of militarynoperations: newspapers rush into printnthe compromising and illegal disclosuresnof disaffected Pentagon employeesnand renegade CIA agents; reportersnvie with each other to see who canndisclose the most sensitive details ofnclassified space shuttie flights; Navyncommunications are disrupted fornweeks because of a leak in Newsweekn—even a special test last year in CentralnAmerica of arrangements fornmedia presence during military actionnwas quickly sabotaged by leaks thatncould have proved fatal had the operationnbeen the real thing. No wondernmost Americans approved of PresidentnReagan’s decision to exclude the pressnfrom Grenada. (When Daniel Schorrncomplained to one Pentagon officialnabout the media ban, the officer responded:n”Listen, the next time wenhave an invasion, we’ll put the reportersnin the first wave. Just reporters, nonsoldiers.”)nIf the press behaved badly over Grenada,ntheir conduct in the aftermath ofnthe space shuttie disaster was revolting.nCarrion crows like Sam Donaldsonnand the harpies on NPR did not wastena minute before condemning NASAnand calling the entire manned flightnprogram into question. We know whynthey don’t like the space program—itncontributes to national defense, stimulatesntechnological innovation, andngives us something to be proud of. Butnthere was something ghoulish in the “Intold you so’s” which started even whilenpieces of debris were still falling intonthe Atiantic.nBut perhaps even more fundamentalnas an irritant in the public mind isnthe privileged status that journalistsnhave arrogated to themselves. In tryingnto sort through the reasons for publicndisaffection with the media, Newsweeknnnnoted that “there is a strong publicnsense that [the media] sometimes seenthemselves as exempt from the normalnresponsibilities of citizenship.” Fournyears ago. The Christian Century complainednthat some reporters have maden”deception an accepted part of investigativenreporting” while others frequentiynabuse the use of confidentialnsources. “The First Amendment,” thenCentury argued, “should not meannthat journalists are absolved from responsibilitynas citizens and as membersnof the community.”nA few media leaders now belatedlynacknowledge that their reckless aloofnessnfrom the American public mustnbe remedied. Tom Johnson, publishernof the Los Angeles Times, conceded inn1983 that “many in our professionnhave been guilty of conflicts of interest,nhave been guilty of presentingnoutright fiction as fact, have beennguilty of irresponsible and prejudicialnreporting.” Professor Cose of Berkeleynsays that “it is time for those of us innjournalism to admit what many of ourncritics have long maintained. As angroup, we are self-righteous, often inaccessiblenbrats, considerably more exclusionarynthan we care to acknowledge.”nNBC’s John Chancellor is nowneven willing to contemplate the unthinkablenpossibility that newsmennmay have to—at least for a timen—voluntarily drop their claims to FirstnAmendment privilege and obey thenlaw like everybody else.nMost journalists are not willing tonadmit the truth. They blame the publicnfor demanding perfection. At lastnyear’s seminar at the Center for thenStudy of Democratic Institutions, anjournalism professor suggested thatnmost popular resentment against thenmedia is the result of “littie things” likenmisleading headlines or tastelessnphotographs—errors he attributed tonthe small dailies and not the blamelessn”national networks and big metropolitannnewspapers.” But another confereenobserved: “We come across as a highnand mighty profession. We do notncome across as what we are, folks whonentered journalism to perform a genuinenpublic service.” The image-makersnhave an image problem.nAlmost no one, apart from ReednIrvine, is willing to take on the media,nperhaps because they are too powerful.nRemember Richard Nixon? He wasn