The top editor at the New York Times, A.M. Rosenthal, hit Agnewesque notes in a 1969 internal memo from which Pressman quotes:
I get the impression, reading the Times, that the image we give of America is largely of demonstrations, discrimination, antiwar movements, rallies, protests, etc. Obviously all these things are an important part of the American scene. But I think that because of our own liberal interest and because of our reporters’ inclination, we overdo this.
Pressman exits the freeway a couple of stops before reaching the conclusion that I think his historical evidence points to: That is, the evolution of the press into an adversarial—sometimes activist—institution may have played a role in the declining trust in news media reflected in polls. It’s not just the perceived liberal slant in journalism that puts some readers off. The subject matter of the beats the press now swarms that they once ignored—race, sex, class, inequality, for example—distresses some readers. They blame the messenger for their anxiety by telling pollsters they no long trust the press. It also stands to reason that the press corps’ steady defiance of authority has produced disquiet in some corners. And as political science professor Jonathan Ladd has noted, the proliferation and splintering media into its various ideological flavors have made criticism of the press a staple of the national conversation.