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November 12, 2008

So Much for "Journalistic Ethics"

Tim Graham points out yet another example of media hypocrisy:

One way to discern journalistic ethics is to ask journalists if they would apply the same standard of scrutiny to themselves as they apply to national politicians. Would that be fair? For example, the media was flagrantly attracted by anonymous McCain aides spinning ridiculous fairy tales about Palin as a "diva" and a "whack job," going "rogue" and disobeying the campaign bosses. She was a vicious, paper-throwing princess, a geographically challenged idiot who thought Africa was a country, and some sort of Desperate Housewives character who answered knocks on her hotel door wearing nothing but a towel.

...Let’s remember Katie Couric, and the harsh unauthorized biography written about her by Ed Klein that came out in August 2007. She was a seriously vicious diva in between those covers. Klein used anonymous sources to make claims like Couric was so calculating that cynics at NBC took bets on how long it would take her to exploit her husband Jay Monahan's death. "Some said 72 hours; others just 24 hours," he wrote. He asserted Couric had an affair during her time at CNN in the 1980s with a married man who could advance her career. ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC all predictably passed on that one. They don’t always skip out when Kitty Kelley manufactures trash against the Reagans or the Bushes, but they passed when the target is a journalist.

It's not hard to find other examples of "Do as I say, not as I do" in the journalistic community. The media studiously ignored reports that John Edwards was cheating on his wife for months on end, yet didn't scruple for a second before going public with even more thinly-sourced rumors that John McCain might have had an improper relationship with Vicki Iseman. What standard was at work there?

For months during the presidential campaign, pundits and correspondents alike labeled any attempt to ask questions regarding Barack Obama's associations with the Reverend Wright, Tony Rezko, or Rashid Khalidi as "guilt by association". To hear them tell it, such tactics were despicable and dishonorable; the telltale signs of a campaign willing to stoop to base means in order to win.

And yet the media have never found guilt by association a morally objectionable tactic when used against conservatives. In fact, the press have found guilt by association so useful that they continue employing the desperate, despicable tactics that moved them to sputtering fits of outrage when they were used against Barack Obama.

Apparently, casual or one-time contact by a Republican (such as making a single speech) is far more incriminating than associations which extend over several years and involve the transfer of large sums of money or the cultivation of political influence.

And then there's the matter of the media's role in holding public figures accountable (or what the Associated Press likes to call "Accountability Journalism"). Seen through the lens of party affiliation, "accountability" plays out in some interesting ways:

"You know what?" MSNBC's Chris Matthews said last week. "I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work." Asked by morning host Joe Scarborough whether that was his job, Matthews said: "Yeah, that's my job, because this country needs a successful presidency more than anything right now."

Funny -- it's hard to recall many journalists saying they wanted to make Ronald Reagan's or George W. Bush's presidency work.

If not asking hard questions is what journalists do when they want to "help" a presidency succeed, it would appear that what the media thought this country needed most during the last 8 years was an unsuccessful presidency.

Posted by Cassandra at November 12, 2008 07:29 AM

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I look at it like this. Do terroists value the lives of their hostages and that is why they keep them safe until the ransom is paid or when the prisoners (Israel) are exchanged?

No, terrorists don't give a fauk whether the hostages live or die. They only care because they know that we care.

Democrats only care about standards and guilt by association because they know we care.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 12, 2008 10:25 AM

Well, naturally journalists will justify their fellow scriveners' lower than a clam's butt -- ummmm -- highly-modified standards of veracity. It's that whole "professional courtesy" thing.

It's like when all us military types circled the wagons in defense of Scott Beauchamp's inalienable right to fearlessly lie about US atrocities he saw in Iraq. I mean, Kuwait. Uhhhh, actually, I think it happened in Chicago while he was in Germany.

Posted by: BillT at November 12, 2008 02:14 PM

"You know what?" MSNBC's Chris Matthews said ast week. "I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work."

I'm OK with that. Obama needs all the help he can get.

And then some.

Posted by: ZZMike at November 14, 2008 04:04 PM

Too much leg-tingle goes to your head...

Posted by: BillT at November 14, 2008 04:30 PM