Some time ago I penned that there was an ongoing crisis in the liberal non-print media. At that time I noticed that the scandals at CBS, NPR and CNN were all examples of a recent welling up of liberal ethical failings where these “news” organizations put their own influence and access to news sources ahead of their ethical obligations to present objective and honest reporting to their viewers and listeners.
The more recent events of the past month require a revisiting and updating of this on-going problem. The most recent to fall from grace are the NY Times, Reuters and the British Broadcasting Company.
While these organizations were also bastions of liberal bias, I would never have thought that they would also be caught so red-handed or quite so openly.
Of course, the scandals engulfing these institutions are quite different, but all fit the modus operandi of sacrificing honest traditional reporting to further their ability to further liberal policy.
Hall of Shame. To recap for those who may have been sleeping or otherwise missed it:
CBS Dan Rather interviews Saddam Hussein on the eve of the war and fails to ask any of the hard questions;
NPR admits to bias in its program selections;
CNN is caught muffling negative stories on Saddam to keep access in Baghdad;
NY Times Reporter Jayson Blair is caught writing ficticious stories;
Reuters rewrites reporters story to include gross political bias;
BBC misreports a respected scientist's Iragi views and pressures cause him to commit suicide.
This is an impressive list of erstwhile credible sources which have embarrassed themselves and their professions in the past few months.
There are a couple of questions here which must be asked - first, why is journalism failing now, second, why is it that only liberal institutions seem to be falling?
At first blush it would seem that with all the great communications connectivity of the modern Internet centric world, that journalists would know that they should check their facts before others do. It is much harder to push pet positions past an informed public. And today the media has no corner on truth - there are even web sites which are dedicated to debunking falsity when it dares appear in the press.
When I was in college and attended journalism class, the professor always stressed that reporting was always to be objective and opinion was to be saved for the editorial and op-ed writers. The days of yellow journalism were over and buried by modern journalistic integrity formulated by the schools of journalism and passed onto all the young new reporters as they passed through the campus.
Obviously, this is no longer the case. All the above “news” sources are known for their political points of view, particularly NPR, the Times, Reuters and the BBC.
What stands out for those of us who notice such things is that all of these scandals involve “news” organizations with a slanted liberal point of view. Missing from this hall of shame are the conservative institutions such as the Wall Street Journal.
I believe there is a relationship between this over-reaching and the political left.
The current leaders of these organizations were all educated during the volatile 60s when liberal ideas had captured most of the campuses in the US and the Vietnam War had spurred us all to action. Students were alined against an unjust war which our political leaders were determined to fight but not win. Tens of thousands of innocent young men were dying and we were defending a corrupt regime.
This view was ingrained in the students of that time (the leaders of this time) and can be readily seen by the constant use of the word “quagmire” when referring to the war just past. These student/leaders saw the power of massive citizen involvement in a cause and had in large part followed it through the Great Society and Affirmative Action.
And they view that the ends justify the means - that we should always push the ignorant public towards enlightenment and that it was worth stretching objectivity to see that we all form the correct opinion on the great issues of the day. This belief brought about the Political Correctness that plagues free thinkers today.
We are now free to demonstrate, to interfere with government or private goings on, as long as its in the name of a politically correct cause. It is also ok to shout down others and even commit to violence against those who do not possess these same views.
The result of these feelings and beliefs shows up as journalistic over-reaching. It shows up when every foreign conflict is Vietnam. It also shows up when a minority refuses to even allow the majority a vote on other important issues. In short, an entire generation of politicians and journalists have been scarred by the Vietnam experience and the scars are visible in their professional character today.