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  • Journalists, Suppressing Important Truths

    Posted by David Foster on July 21st, 2010 (All posts by )

    Recently divulged information indicates that many journalists went to considerable lengths–individually and collectively–to downplay then-candidate Obama’s relationship with the odious Reverend Jeremiah Wright. For those who follow politics and media closely, it’s not exactly news that most old-media journalists have a strong bias to the Left, and often allow this bias to influence their work. What is a bit of a surprise is the degree to which collective orchestration–as opposed to “mere” social pressure–seems to have played a part. Much more on this affair from Robert Avrech.

    It should now be pretty clear that for a considerable number of journalists, the promotion of their personal political beliefs comes ahead of their obligation to honestly and objectively inform their readers.

    There are certainly many citizens who, had they been aware of the full story on Obama and his associations with Wright and other dubious characters, would have refrained from voting for him. Those among them who trusted the media were denied the information which they had a legitimate right to expect.


    There may also be a question of fiduciary responsibility. Most major media outlets are publicly-traded corporations, or subsidiaries of publicly-traded corporations. It would seem that in many cases, the employees and/or executives of these companies not only put the promotion of their personal beliefs ahead of their responsibility to their readers/viewers, they also put such promotion ahead of their responsibility to their shareholders.

    In aviation, when an instrument is giving faulty indications, good practice requires that it be covered up in order to prevent the pilot from inadvertently paying attention to their faulty information. Even when an instrument is believed to be functioning properly, it should be cross-checked when possible against the indications of other instruments.

    Going forward, no rational individual should take action or form opinions based on the unchecked assertions of media outlets implicated in the above information-suppression. At a minimum, anything they say must be carefully cross-checked: in many cases, it will be advisable to just put the instrument cover on and ignore them completely.

     

    14 Responses to “Journalists, Suppressing Important Truths”

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The one-party media is Pravda and the blogs are the Samizdat.

    2. David Foster Says:

      Extremely disturbing story here about journalists and professors calling for government censorship of thoughts of which they do not approve.

    3. Joseph Somsel Says:

      The publications that these “journalists” worked for should be widely disseminated so that citizens can know which ones are not to be trusted or even read.

      I’ve seen the obvious ones, NYT, Nation, but there are many more.

    4. Vader Says:

      “It should now be pretty clear that for a considerable number of journalists, the promotion of their personal political beliefs comes ahead of their obligation to honestly and objectively inform their readers.”

      What obligation?

      No, seriously, think about it. Doesn’t the freedom of the press enumerated in the First Amendment pretty much mean that journalists aren’t answerable to anyone, except for the most blatant libels? If the press aren’t answerable, they do not have any obligation in any meaningful sense.

      Of course this makes you and me uncomfortable. We are paying the journalists’ salaries, either directly through subscriptions or indirectly through allowing ourselves to be bombarded by advertisements. We want to believe this creates some kind of fiduciary obligation on the journalist to give us the straight dope. But the truth is that this fiduciary obligation is unenforceable and therefore does not exist.

      My only recourse is to stop paying the subscriptions and looking at the advertisements. Which, it seems, is the recourse increasing numbers of citizens are turning to, if what I’ve seen about struggling newspapers is true.

    5. david foster Says:

      Vader…journalists do not have a *fiduciary* responsibility to their readers: they are not managing money for them. They do, however, have an *ethical* responsibility as far as reporting goes, given that these media organizations portray themselves as *news* organizations and not as straight opinion-purveyors.

      Fiduciary responsibility comes into play when shareholder money is involved: re this aspect of the issue, see JournoList as a Management Problem.

    6. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Extremely disturbing story here about journalists and professors calling for government censorship of thoughts of which they do not approve.

      I especially like the part where the law professor suggest they should have the FCC shut down Fox News by refusing to renew their license. This is a law professor who does not know that the FCC does NOT grant licenses to cable.

      The left is always telling us how brilliant they are. Do they speak “Austrian” in Austria ?

      I could go on and on.

    7. renminbi Says:

      Busineses have been hurt by this administration which, likely would not have been put in office without the active aid of the MSM. Why do they support, by their advertising, the people who condone the harm being done to them? Why support the enemy?

    8. J. Scott Says:

      “Why support the enemy?” This vernacular is disturbing, for these MSM outlets are Americans; although they have a odd method of expressing. Think about it: “enemy.” Lines are being drawn, and pressure is building, and I believe the left couldn’t be happier. It is getting easier by the day to know “who” the enemy is—which should make elections a no-brainer…but I’m not holding my breath.

    9. david foster Says:

      Thoughts on this by Roger Simon, who manages to work Marx (Groucho, not Karl) into his post.

    10. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Professor Zasloff, who opined that the FCC should shut down Fox News, has the perfect CV. Yale, Yale, Harvard and a stop at Cambridge for a bit of polishing.

      Jonathan M. Zasloff
      Professor of Law
      B.A. Yale, 1987
      J.D. Yale, 1993
      M.Phil. International Relations, Cambridge, 1988
      M.A. History, Harvard, 1990
      Ph.D. Harvard, 2000
      UCLA Law faculty since 1998

      Do they not teach common sense at Yale and Harvard ?

      I had two daughters who considered UCLA Law. One applied and didn’t get accepted as she was the wrong ethnic group. The other is now in Library Science at UCLA. The first, who works as a senior agent for a well known government service, has been trying to recruit her sister as the latter speaks four languages including Arabic. I am so glad they avoided idiots like Zasloff.

    11. bgates Says:

      Think about it: “enemy.”

      They want to dance and laugh while they watch people they disagree with die in front of them.

    12. J. Scott Says:

      Michael Kennedy said: “Do they not teach common sense at Yale and Harvard ?”

      My guess is you know the answer to the question:)) Of course they don’t teach common sense—for they want nothing to do with “common.”

    13. Vader Says:

      David Foster,

      I stand corrected. I should have said “contractual” rather than “fiduciary.” To thus rephrase the key graph: Of course this makes you and me uncomfortable. We are paying the journalists’ salaries, either directly through subscriptions or indirectly through allowing ourselves to be bombarded by advertisements. We want to believe this creates some kind of contractual obligation on the journalist to give us the straight dope. But the truth is that this contractual obligation is unenforceable and therefore does not exist.

      To elaborate further: We speak of “ethical” obligations only when we are desperate, having discovered to our dismay that more enforceable obligations don’t exist. Ethical obligations tend to be loosely defined and are enforceable only by peer pressure, which it turns out is a pretty weak means of enforcement for anyone out of adolescence. This is in part because a community, such as the journalist community, tends to insulate itself from ethical standards other than its own, and its own ethical standards (unsurprisingly) tend to support behavior journalists like whether or not the rest of the world does. In other words, insular communities tend to breed deviant ethics, almost by definition. I believe another contributing factor may be a selection effect, in which journalists who survive in the profession are those already inclined towards the deviant sense of ethics. In other words, deviants attract similar deviants.

      My point in all this is that appealing to the “ethical obligations” of journalists is pretty weak tea.

    14. Steve Skubinna Says:

      Vader, the publishers of the media organs have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, and are responsible for actions taken by their employees that harm the shareholders’ interests. I think there could be very solid grounds for class action lawsuits on that basis, so long as one could convince a jury and judge that the journalists’ actions are reducing shareholder value.

      On the other hand, a business like the NYT is so obviously rotten from the top down that any such suit is likely to begin and end with Pinch Sulzburger. And I believe the Times is majority owned by the Sulzburgers so it may be difficult for anyone else to establish standing.