Is Our Journalists Learning?
By: Mark W Adams

If So, Halleluja.

Maybe it's the season for epiphanies, or maybe it's just the trendy thing to do. But in the wake of Friday's episode of Fox and Friends anchor Brian Kilmeade walking off the set and Chris Wallace calling the other two stooges out on their nonsense masquerading as news coverage that I noted yesterday, there's been a rash of maturity (or at least attempts at grown up behavior) throughout the Village.

Court TV's Catherine Crier fired a salvo at HuffPost
We are in one of the most critical presidential races in our lifetimes. The issues are monumental; a collapsing economy, the never-ending war in Iraq, global climate change. Yet we watch as the networks loop Rev. Wright sound bites (with not a single one offering up the easily accessed sermons in long form so viewers can form a reasoned opinion about the man and his agenda), or maybe they debate the phrase 'a typical white person' ad nauseam. I have no problem challenging Barack Obama on his association with the minister, but as with most stories, a few phrases from Wright's career do nothing to inform people about the man or his mission. It is the duty of the media to offer the big picture on this (and so many other stories) so viewers can make a reasoned decision, but unless I've missed it, no news organization has tried. The purveyors of news must bravely offer information that may challenge the audience despite the backlash from time to time.

The press knows how influential it is in shaping attitudes and opinions. However, the mind-numbing drivel most of us subject ourselves to serves only to polarize and solidify preconceived positions; so much so, that when actual facts slip into discussion, they are dismissed as mere partisan ammunition. There are exceptions to this rule, but that equation should be reversed.
Also at Huffington Post read the interview with veteran WaPost reporter Walter Pincus, who never forgot what it really meant to be a journalist. He suggests not only what the media is doing wrong and what it could do right, but also what they could not do that would make them less wrong.
While seeking to "be neutral, unbiased and objective, presenting both or all sides as if they were on the sidelines refereeing a game," the print and electronic media have relegated themselves to the role of "common carriers, transmitters of other people's ideas and thoughts, irrespective of import, relevance and at times even accuracy," Pincus contends.

At this stage, Pincus suggests, a relatively simple courageous act for the media would be to stop printing non-news:

"A new element of courage in journalism would be for editors and reporters to decide not to cover the president's statements when he or she--or any public figure--repeats essentially what he or she has said before. Journalistic courage should also include the decision not to publish in a newspaper or carry on a television or radio news show any statements made by government officials that are designed solely as a public relations tool, offering no new or valuable information to the public."
No doubt if there was less of this vapid he-said/she-said business the blogosphere would be a far less interesting place since so much of what it does would be taken care of by the people paid to wear suits and tell us what is happening, what is truth and who's trying to sandbag us folks staring at our monitors in our PJ's. It certainly would make places like Media Matters, Fact Check and Crooks and Liars less essential, and reading Bob Somersby what you do when looking for interesting bar-b-que recipes.

Somerby's recipe for journalistic malpractice this week included a critique of BrianRoss, ABC’s top “investigative reporter” who stunned us all with the "astounding" news this week that Hillary was in the White House the day Bill stained Monica's dress.
Mainstream press conduct of the past sixteen years raises a fundamental question: What kind of creatures are we really? As of (let’s say) 1992, who could have imagined that grown men and women would stoop to the nasty, sheet-sniffing, thigh-rubbing inanity found in Ross’ “report?” We’ve long told you this: Washington’s modern mainstream press corps displays an utterly broken-souled culture. Have you thought that was a bit hyperbolic? If so, read Ross’ “report.”
No wonder The Editors are hibernating until primary season is over.

But there is a glimmer of hope. As Blogenfreude documents, over at Slate the meme of the day is "How Did I Get Iraq Wrong" by six "liberal" Bush Apologists. Of course, John Cole's up front, no-excuses, " I was wrong about ... everything. Every Damn Thing," article is really the only way to go on this subject -- unless you're a former weapon's inspector and can say without a shred of guilt: "You were all wrong, I was right. Why the hell didn't you listen."

1 Comment:

Justice is not a White Man said...

This Rev. Wright distraction is silly and ironic. Silly because the worst it could possibly be is racist preaching. Ironic because the racist prosecution, and non-prosecution, of famous persons based upon their race and politics is far worse, far more dangerous, and a far more relevant topic for any genuinely legitimate journalist to cover. Take Eliot Spitzer, a lily white male, who did business with organized crime as he slept with thousand dollar hookers for at least the last 10 years. Spitzer has not been charged with any crime. Then look at Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, charged with a crime for sleeping with another woman who was not a prostitute. Spitzer clearly violated the Mann Act - but there is no prosecution as the white media spins that the law is "too vague". Yet the very same Mann Act was good enough to incarcerate successful black men Chuck Berry and Jack Johnson. Spitzer was so caught, yet his only punishment is his voluntary resignation and his family and the public learning the tip of the iceberg's crimes. We need a Special Prosecutor to examine Spitzer's decisions as a Federal and State prosecutor who clearly protected the organized crime family with which he admits being associated, ignored crimes such as death threats against corporate fraud whistle-blowers, and targeted the insane 15 year mandatory sentence for one ounce possession Rockefeller marijuana laws against blacks and minorities. Rev Wright is not the story, but his message of continuing racism is as clear as black and white. The media refuses to report the protectionism of white male officials and lawyers who employ perjury, fraud, and organized crime on a daily basis. The failings of Baseball stars, movie stars, rock stars, blacks, women, now that is news. Are "professional" journalists getting paid by white supremacists? Or does it just look that way?