Journalists discuss how media can rebuild trust with American public at WBUR town hall

NPR political correspondents Ron Elving, Asma Khalid, and Tamara Keith discuss the impact and takeaways of the 2020 election with WBUR's Tonya Mosley on Tuesday night. Screenshot by Hyerim Seo/BU News Service

By Hyerim Seo
BU News Service

“People’s trust in the government and the media has eroded significantly in the last four years,” NPR White House Correspondent Tamara Keith said during a virtual town hall Tuesday night.

The virtual event, titled “Now What? The Impact Of The 2020 Election,” was hosted by WBUR CitySpace, and was moderated by Tonya Mosley, co-host of NPR and WBUR’s Here & Now.

The panel included Ron Elving, senior editor and correspondent for NPR’s Washington Desk and Asma Khalid, a political correspondent and co-host of The NPR Politics Podcast.

The YouTube live stream reached more than 360 viewers who asked a wide range of questions and engaged in a vigorous discussion about what comes next after the 2020 election.

“The Biden campaign has tried to emphasize the fact that they are trying to create an administration that looks like America,” Khalid said as the panelists debriefed about the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

She added that the “extraordinarily broad team” created by the president-elect might complicate things for him.

“There has already been a lot of jockeying for power amongst different coalitions calling for specific acts that just aren’t realistically sustainable,” Khalid said. “And one of the challenges … is that he will potentially be working with a Republican-controlled Senate.” 

When asked about the legal options to extricate President Donald Trump if he refuses to leave office, Elving said that if Trump refuses to leave office, there are a number of options available.

“There is one simple legal option, which is that you inform him he is no longer welcome in the building and he can literally be escorted out at that juncture,” Elving said.

Elving said he doubted that physical confrontation is on Trump’s agenda, but did point out the president’s “norm-busting” time in office.

“[Trump] may push it to the brink of that in many respects that would fit the overall scenario,” Elving said.

Regardless of whether Trump eventually concedes or not, Khalid said she believes the country will continue to be politically divided and that NPR as a news organization needs to re-examine its coverage.

“Covering Trump feels secondary to the urgent need as a network to continue to better understand what really feels, to me, like a cultural civil war in this country,” Khalid said.

Mosley asked the panel how media institutions can rebuild trust with the American public.

“I hope that it is a short-term problem that will be rectified,” Khalid said. “It’s going to take a lot of deep soul-searching on behalf of all of us to figure out what to do.” 

The town hall is available for viewing on YouTube

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