10th District candidates dispute Trump's assertion that news media are 'enemies of the people'
Both candidates for Illinois' 10th Congressional District seat disagree with President Donald Trump's repeated accusation that news media organizations are enemies of the American people.
Bennett and Schneider, both of Deerfield, will face off Nov. 6 for the post, which serves parts of Cook and Lake counties. They discussed Trump, the media and other issues in a joint interview with the Daily Herald.
Trump has frequently labeled news organizations with whom he is displeased as "sick," "fake news" and "the enemy of the people."
Last month, hundreds of newspaper editorial boards unified to defend the press against government assaults.
Schneider, who is seeking his third term in Congress, strongly disagreed with Trump's assessment of the news media as the enemy of the people.
"It is the press, going to the very founding of this country, that has served as the watchdog on our government on behalf of the American people," Schneider said.
With its reporting, analysis and sharing of opinion, the news media "create an informed public," Schneider said.
When subsequently asked if he thought the U.S. actually has an informed public, Schneider said people are informed about issues because they're getting information online, through social media and from teachers. But he also raised concern about people being "misinformed."
Schneider said people once got news from a limited number of sources that tended to be balanced because they had broad audiences.
"Today, too many people are getting their news from very narrow channels," Schneider said. "Rather than being challenged in their assumptions ... people are getting news that reaffirms their own beliefs and assumptions."
He cited Fox News and MSNBC as examples.
Bennett, a computer consultant, also denies the press is the enemy of the people.
"They are presenting a view and information and they're trying to be as honest and straightforward, generally speaking, as possible," he said.
Still, Bennett insisted reporters should acknowledge their own biases when doing their jobs.
"Everybody has a bias whether they know it or not," Bennett said. "You have to know what your bias is when you're reporting so you can understand and ask the question, 'Is that really true?' And that's a hard question to ask if you think you don't have (a bias) at all."
Bennett blamed some media outlets for marketing themselves toward people with one set of beliefs or another.
"There's a bifurcation in the press themselves where they're targeting, very narrowly, a group of people they want to be talking with, and it creates this echo chamber effect," Bennett said.
Bennett disagreed with Schneider's comment that people are misinformed.
"I rarely find that," said Bennett, who has made three unsuccessful runs for lesser offices since 2012. "I think everybody is smart. I think everybody is bright and they have their reasons for what they're doing."
Bennett also said there's a proliferation of voices on the internet, and people must learn "how to separate the wheat from the chaff."
"It's on us as citizens to do that work," Bennett said. "Some people are really good about it, some people less so."