Jewish World Review May 18, 2005 /9 Iyar,
It was perhaps appropriate that Dan Rather received the
prestigious Peabody award in journalism at the same time when Newsweek
magazine was finally backing away from its false story about Americans
flushing the Koran down the toilet at the Guantanamo prison.
At least Dan Rather's forged documents didn't get anybody
killed, as the phony Newsweek story did. What is even more revealing and
appalling about the mainstream media is that they are now circling the
wagons around Newsweek, to protect it from criticism, just as they circled
the wagons around Dan Rather last year, and now give him an award this year
to put the frosting on the cake.
If the forged documents at CBS and the phony story at Newsweek
were just isolated mistakes, that would be one thing. But media liberals
have made themselves accessories after the fact, by springing to the defense
of such indefensible misconduct.
In a sense, that is good. It makes it easier for the public to
see that the forged documents and the fake story were not just odd things
that happened to a couple of people but were symptomatic of a mindset among
many others who sprang to their defense.
Someone referred to the story about George Bush's National Guard
service as "too good to check." In other words, it fit their vision so well,
and scored a point that they wanted to score against President Bush, that it
hardly seemed worthwhile to check out the facts.
That is almost certainly what happened with the story about
Americans flushing the Koran down the toilet at the Guantanamo prison. It
seems unlikely that Newsweek simply made up the story out of whole cloth.
But, once they heard it, it was "too good to check."
All this goes back to a more fundamental problem with the
mainstream media. Too many journalists see their work as an opportunity to
promote their own pet political notions, rather than a responsibility to
inform the public and let their readers and viewers decide for themselves.
It is not a question of being "fair" to this or that side but of
being honest with their readers and viewers.
Columnists and editorial writers are expected to offer opinions
but reporters are expected to report facts. However, that distinction is
increasingly blurred, with the front page of the New York Times often
providing classic examples of editorials disguised as news.
What happened to Dan Rather last year and to Newsweek this year
is that the disguise fell off when the "news" that they were trying to sell
turned out to be fake and all that was left exposed was their animosity
toward the Bush administration.
The Peabody award to Dan Rather drives home the point that the
mainstream media have learned nothing and are thumbing their noses at their
critics and ultimately at those readers and viewers who are looking for
enlightenment, rather than spin.
Abraham Lincoln said that you can fool all the people some of
the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the
people all the time. The steady erosion of the audience that watches CBS,
ABC, and NBC television news, and the declining circulation of the leading
newspapers, all indicate that more and more people are unwilling to be
A reader recently suggested this formula: Monopoly plus
discretion minus accountability equals corruption. That kind of corruption
can be found not only in the mainstream media but also in two of our most
important institutions, the public schools and the federal courts.
Both the schools and the courts flatter themselves that their
job is to change society. So does much of the media. But what qualifies
these people to be world-changers? They are usually poorly informed about
science, uninformed about history and misinformed about economics.
And who elected them to change the world while pretending to be
doing something else and betraying their trust?
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