Who is Ari Melber? Ari Naftali Melber is an American lawyer and journalist for NBC News and host of MSNBC’s The Beat with Ari Melber. The show premiered on July 24, 2017 and now averages 1.8 million viewers, far more than CNN at 6 p.m. and “MSNBC’s highest rating for the period,” according to Forbes.
The COVID-19 pandemic put additional pressure on journalists and news anchors to verify the president’s lies. Trump stood on the podium in the White House briefing room and spread misinformation about the disease’s potential treatments, the number and availability of tests, and his predictions for the death toll. How can journalists communicate accurate information to their audience when the most powerful person in the world is doing the exact opposite? Rolling Stone spoke with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, who interrupted the president’s live press conferences to inject corrections and facts to discover.
“It is more important than ever that we provide accurate information and that we are confronted with any attempt to provide erroneous information,” says Melber. “Everyone knows that this happens often in politics. It is much more important when it happens in a way that can literally endanger people’s health and safety. The stakes are obviously extremely high. And I think most people understand that now. »
While some have criticized cable news networks for leading the briefings in the first place, Melber believes that while the topic deserves to be debated, he believes his role is to provide viewers with what is happening, rather than getting ahead of the president and not broadcasting the briefings at all.
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“I try to give viewers very clear and direct facts and context for what is going on,” he says, adding, “These are all clearly understandable debates, given the type of president in office. Therefore, I am not diminishing the fact that I have an open debate on all of this. But at the end of each day, when I come on the air, my job is to be clear with you about what happened, not to make things disappear. “
Melber, a lawyer turned journalist, believes that his responsibility is to present the information as it happens, and then to add context, including by calling in experts. Often during his recent broadcasts, he has had medical experts such as emergency physician Dr. Peter Tippett, UCLA epidemiologist Dr. Anne Rimoin and Brown University emergency physician Megan Ranney who responded in real time to the president’s misinformation.
“My first obligation is to tell you, well, here’s what happened, and here are the facts that surround it. And if anyone’s lying and we can prove it, let me show you why and let me call on the experts to show you why. And if someone says something that’s probably not true, but we’re not scientifically certain, and we don’t know if he’s deliberately lying,” he says, adding that he prefers to give his audience nuances instead of “branding” someone ‘like lying:’ Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get into all these nuances while clearly presenting the facts rather than taking a black-and-white position. “
He is also cautious when choosing guests, saying that he “seeks a diversity of ideas and experiences, but not a diversity of empirical truth”.
While Melber has always focused on fact-checking, the current public health crisis has only raised the stakes, Melber says. “This pandemic reminds everyone that none of this is an exercise, that you choose to lead the government. How we treat information as a society, our ability to struggle with different ideas while understanding the difference between what is challenged and what has been established empirically or factually. None of this is an exercise. “
Ari Melber in the studio.
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