Kara Swisher: In 2017, journalists ‘have to be tougher on everybody.’


“We allow them to lie, we allow them to say things that are false, we don’t question things as much as we should.”

For the penultimate Recode Media with Peter Kafka of 2016, we did something a little different: Kafka put the boss — Recode co-founder and executive editor Kara Swisher — in the hot seat.

Swisher discussed writing about the consumer internet at its inception, making the jump from newspapers to blogs, and why she and Recode co-founder Walt Mossberg sold the company to Vox Media. But she also critiqued how journalists at Vox and everywhere need to change in the era of Trump and “post-truth” politics.

“I think we should really call people out on things,” Swisher said. “We have to stop being quite as cooperative. We sort of suspend disbelief when these companies get money — this is just in tech, but it’s everything,” she said, referring to credulous articles about tech companies raising huge funding rounds.

“We allow them to lie, we allow them to say things that are false, we don’t question things as much as we should — for lots of reasons,” she added. “In our case, when we do that, we’re trying to be fair.”

Kafka noted that, according to Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei, Trump’s America eyes the media with suspicion and resents being told that their opinions about same-sex marriage and transgender bathroom rights are wrong. Too bad, Swisher replied.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “People said the exact same things about interracial marriages. They’re wrong. I don’t want to reach across the aisle on that issue. They’re 100 percent wrong, and history will bear this out.”

“We always tend to try to ‘get along’ when we should be asking questions, at the very least,” Swisher added. “We don’t ask enough questions.”

You can listen to Recode Media in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and Soundcloud.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and Soundcloud.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

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