REMARKS from former President Gerald Ford at...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

REMARKS from former President Gerald Ford at the National Press Club (reprinted courtesy of the Federal News Service):

. . . I would like to say a few words about the relationship between the news media and public trust. The viewpoints of news-makers and news reporters are often -- as we well know -- in conflict.

But, for the most part, the press and the politicians in our nation's capital co-exist reasonably well in what some people like pTC to call friendly tension. Others refer to it as creative tension. In the perfect world, I would hope it could be defined as cooperative. But in Washington's words, "Skepticism and distrust are often, too often, present."

I have a growing concern that centers on the media's investigatory skills. These skills will always be matched by a sense, I hope, of honesty and responsibility.

In my opinion, there is a growing tendency to sensationalize some stories. Responsible reporting sometimes gives way to a desire. And I understand the competition to first disclose some kind of a possible scandal. Hurried reporting or over-simplification of events can cast doubts, or even destroy unblemished records or careers of dedicated people in public office.

Life, as we all well know, is often complicated -- more complicated than the stories we try to draw from it. The press is well protected -- as they should be -- by the First Amendment. It has the right to be very, very inquisitive -- perhaps, and sometimes it happens, cantankerous.

But it also has an obligation to be responsible, an honest press that does not run rough-shod over the lives, and even the rights, of organizations and individuals . . .

All I would say is, we should not over-simplify. We should not over- sensationalize. We have an obligation -- those of us who participate -- to respect the right of the First Amendment. A vigorous free press plays a very important role in our healthy democracy.

I believe the press on the other hand has an enormous responsibility to use its power in a constructive and a responsible way because all of us on both sides of the issue are caretakers of this great country . . .

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