First Amendment Award

This award honors an outstanding individual or organization which champions the First Amendment and press freedoms.

Meet the Press
Chuck Todd, Moderator, accepting

 


Acceptance Remarks

Is it ok if we use the…if the staff here uses the bowl, kind of like the Stanley Cup? We’ll all have our glasses of wine out of it on there.

Andrea Mitchell once again proving she is the hardest working person at NBC News- not up here once, but twice! Thank you, Andrea, you, you’ve, I always say you’ve easily become one of my great friends and mentors, and partners in so many ways. First and foremost I want to thank the RTDNA for the devotion to the industry, for your commitment to what you’re trying to do tonight, and for honoring “Meet the Press.” And so let me say this: on behalf of Martha Rountree, Ned Brooks, Lawrence Spivak, Bill Monroe, Roger Mudd, Marvin Kalb, Chris Wallace, Garrick Utley, Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw and David Gregory, myself and that great team over there, thank you! I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve always sort of taken the freedom of the press and the idea of freedom of the press for granted least in my lifetime. There has never been a question of the press’s sanctity, its importance, its place in our democracy, what it means, why it matters. And yeah, we’re having a robust discussion about that of these days.

First and foremost I want to thank the RTDNA for the devotion to the industry.

What’s interesting is the most frequent feedback I’m getting lately from viewers is this concern for our profession, for our classification as “fake news,” for undermining the truth.

But I do want to underscore something that David said: this isn’t new. The criticism’s just a little bit louder and a little more noticeable. The truth is, what “Meet the Press” was built upon – now more than 70 years – the broadcast sets the stage for holding public figures accountable and what’s kind of nice is when you think about “Meet the Press,” the idea of a press conference, asking questions in front of a camera, now we do it – we take it for granted – we do it every day, but that’s the thing I’m most proud of being involved in “Meet the Press.” Because it’s the cornerstone of what modern political journalism the great journalism that’s being acknowledged tonight got started, especially when it comes to holding leaders accountable.

And the beauty is I’m not an idiot. I know that it can’t be just a Sunday show, so we’ve decided, you know, if it’s a day, it’s “Meet the Press.” Except Saturdays. We decided to only work on Saturdays and take all the Saturday nights away from my great staff.

There has never been a question of the press’s sanctity, its importance, its place in our democracy, what it means, why it matters.

But we’re “Meet the Press,” we don’t want to think of it as a Sunday show per se. It is an idea. An idea that is evolved from radio to television, from a 1/2 hour to an hour, under the guardianship of those 12 moderators that I humbly accept this award on their behalf.

The idea that Americans deserve answers from their leaders, that the First Amendment must not only be defended but championed, it’s an idea that has never wavered. So I as I look out on the room, I am reminded of our collective power, and as a press corps, we are not only each other’s allies, we are the American people’s ally. That’s ultimately what we’re here to do.

I love that phrase, “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” There’s some truth to that. One thing we’re not is the opposition. We’ve never tried to be part of the political debate, but people want to drag us into it. We shouldn’t take the bait.

We’re simply a voice of truth. There’s no balance, there’s just fairness and truth. And a true voice and the truth is what we all need to hearing right now: a voice that no matter how many disparaging tweets or calls of “fake news,” we can’t let it be silenced. So to quote the great wisdom Uncle Ben to Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

The idea that Americans deserve answers from their leaders, that the First Amendment must not only be defended but championed, it’s an idea that has never wavered.

And this is something I think we all need to be mindful of it. It wasn’t that long ago that a…that the American public lost a little faith in us when it came to our coverage of the Iraq war. We can debate among ourselves about the coverage of it, but the public…the public decided we didn’t do a good job covering the Iraq war, and it is…it is hard to push back at them that on that. This, this time, we can’t mess this up. This is, what we’re doing now, this is our Iraq war and, if we blow this, if we lose more, if the public loses more faith in us because of, if we don’t cover this moment correctly, then we will have a problem when it comes to the press, and we will have a problem when it comes to our own credibility.

So for the future of journalism to thrive, we are all accountable and all responsible for each other’s reputation and there’s no doubt some want us to fail. We can’t let them. Our collective conduct, our collective reporting, all of our sourcing, all of our tweets: they are reflective of not just me as an individual, NBC News, or “Meet the Press,” but of the entire press is an institution.

Neilson cannot be our senior producer and viral can’t be our… and, and the idea of “Mr. Viral” can’t be a guiding light either. Rather, it must be our high standards that David talked about so eloquently for fairness and credibility. It’s all we got into this business to do. So let’s continue to set that high standard let realize that we each have each other’s reputations in our hands. And so when you’re thinking about that moment of whether to be a little snarky remember that that tweet could end up being…we’re all gonna be judged by it. Or we’re going to be judged by that snarky comment you made, and it only hurts all of our collective credibility, so if there is one thing that I wanted to leave you with a message tonight it’s that, because I think there’s plenty of people trying to undermine what we do for a living. There’s plenty of people that are motivated to undermine us for their own gain, political, financial or whenever. Just keep that in mind. We just need to be fair, credible, honest and most importantly transparent.

So for the future of journalism to thrive, we are all accountable and all responsible for each other’s reputation and there’s no doubt some want us to fail.

So for the future of journalism to thrive, we are all accountable and all responsible for each other’s reputation and there’s no doubt some want us to fail, and I think if people people see how hard we work, see how hard we try to make sure that whenever we’re airing is the truth as we think we know it at that moment – not to say we don’t make mistakes – but to the best of our ability that we’re telling you everything we know. And maybe the best thing we can do is show our work a little bit more, because, hey we are in this day and age of social media and I think there is an expectation that they see everything. So let’s show our work. Let’s prove to the world what we all know in this room, which is there some tremendous journalism happening and taking place right now. Let’s let it flourish. Let’s support it. Let’s let it thrive. And let’s keep protecting that First Amendment.

Thank you very much.

Let’s prove to the world what we all know in this room, which is there some tremendous journalism happening and taking place right now.


Moderated by NBC News political director Chuck Todd, who will accept the award, NBC’s “Meet the Press” is the longest-running show in television history, currently celebrating 70 years on the air. “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” is where newsmakers come to make news — setting the political agenda and spotlighting the impact Washington decision-making has on Americans across the country. It was the #1 most-watched Sunday public affairs show across the board for the 2016-2017 season, reaching more than three million viewers every Sunday and millions more through social, digital and on-demand platforms. “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” brings its authority and influencer interviews to MSNBC with “MTP Daily” weekdays at 5 p.m. ET and to the “1947: The Meet the Press Podcast.” The broadcast launched its first-ever film festival in collaboration with the American Film Institute in November 2017.

First Amendment Award 2018

Updated on 2019-01-11T17:14:06+00:00, by firstawards.