The Big Think

October 21, 2009

Fairness

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:19 pm

A conversation between me and a friend about this article by Mickey Kaus.

I continue to be in awe of the contortions that many left-leaning advocates will go through to implicate Fox in some punishable right wing conspiracy when the majority of news organizations lean just as heavily (or moreso) to the left. It’s been breathtaking to witness defenders of “real” journalists totally ignore the evidence of the Jayson Blair’s, Dan Rathers, and countless other examples of the MSM defending the bulwarks of liberalism while at the same time come up with tortured arguments that see Fox as being worthy of censure. It’s like they live in a universe where they can choose or ignore facts at their leisure.

I don’t watch Fox (or much TV, for that matter), but the occasional story that I read on Fox News’ websites seems generally to present well researched data with at least an attempt at fairness (excluding their opinion stuff, which I think some people disingenuously view as “news” and then attempt to paint Fox News with the brush of bias). This past week I have read many columns from a few lonely newspeople who attempt to defend Fox’s right to continue to publish. The gist of what I’ve seen boils down to this: most of the stuff on Fox is well researched news done by professionals (who are every bit as accredited by J-schools as CNN’s reporters, and they take just as many pains -and occasionally more- to have a fair hearing of the other side of an issue as the MSNBC/CNN/ABC’s of the world. Just because the current administration doesn’t like the heat doesn’t mean that they should try and get their critics silenced (or merely ignored). For me, it’s illustrative to imagine a world where the Bush administration declared that CNN wasn’t a “real” news organization because they didn’t like their slant on the news. Can you imagine the justified carnage and rage following such an announcement? So why is the current administration getting a pass? Because the current MSM believes in it’s agenda. The MSM damns itself by silent complicity and implicates itself in the very sin it attempts to expose in FOX.

It’s sobering to me that Mickey Kaus’s article can essentially claim “yes, our side does it, too, but FOX needs to be punished because they’re not doing it… independently“, and then offer for evidence nothing more than his “faith” that the whole network must be in the tank for the Republicans because it’s owned by Roger Ailes- and not get the irony that one can make the same argument about CNN because it’s owned by hard leftists. I think he needs to go back and re-read the First Amendment. Doesn’t say anything in there about political parties or owners’ biases. If I recall my history, at the time of the Constitutions’ writing most papers were nakedly partisan- and the Framers still felt it important to protect their right to be heard. They knew that a messy, occasionally over-reaching media that was free of political pressure was better than a news organ of the state, which is where many people fear this current precedent could lead.

Further thought: I see these current battles as ultimately hurting the left-leaning media a lot more than they do FOX (that is, in addition to FOX’s 20% viewership increase in the past week). Much has been said about the MSM being biased while they claim impartiality. There seems to be the feeling that if only the MSM would come out from behind the disguise and say “YES! We’re Liberal! We have an agenda!” then somehow it would be okay, because at least everyone would know the bias existed. As nice as it would be to have some truth in advertising (“CNN… the most liberal name in news” ha!), I think the current issue w/r/t FOX makes it even less likely that the other networks will “come out of the closet”. They will continue to claim that they’re unbiased and non partisan -you know, unlike that FOX outfit. With contrary evidence on display nightly, and the ease of getting original source information from the Internet, the toothpaste was left the tube a long time ago. But if CNN, et al, suddenly confessed to bias tomorrow they would have an awfully hard time supporting a censure of FOX while at the same time admitting to bias themselves.

The greater danger in this is the precedent it sets. Do we really want the President of the United States to decree that a certain news organization “isn’t really news” and should be ignored or reduced? What happens in 4 or 8 years when the shoe is on the other foot? Do we want to live in a country where the dominant political power has control over which media outlets get heard? There’s a very good reason for the protections of the first amendment, and I am ashamed that reporters in the WH press pool aren’t up in arms right now. This is a GIANT precedent and they’d have to be stupid not to see the future implications of it, but for some reason (fear? complacency? unwillingness to make waves and lose a cherry gig?), they’re remaining shamefully silent (with a few good exceptions, of course).

You probably won’t be surprised at any of my feelings, or at this: even though I’m appalled at how FOX is being treated, I still hate the fact that even they are biased (and yes, they seem to lean Right- just as much as the others lean Left). I just want the whole bunch of them to shut up and quit trying to relive the 60’s with cherry picked stories and a rather obvious desire to effect change through advocacy journalism. Shut up and REPORT THE FACTS. And get off my lawn.

But I had the ultimate vote when I shut them all off a few years ago. If anything, I feel more informed because I’m going to the raw(er) sources and trying to determine what happened in issues without the intervening “interpretation” of any one news organization.

The fact that I’ve been forced to find the news for myself is perhaps the most damning thing of all.

Paper or Plastic?

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 11:31 am

10 packaging fails. Ha.

Fire in the Hole!

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:35 am

Launching anvils. ANVILS, people! I love this country!

The Boing

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:31 am

Website boingboing has taken on Ralph Lauren and its lawyers in a hilarious battle over free speech and fair use. You can read the details here. Today, boingboing upped the ante significantly when it posted that Ralph Lauren’s lawyers could “sue and be damned”, and that they would continue to post the lawyer’s threatening letters with a healthy helping of very public laughter.

Boingboing intends to keep this ugly behavior in the public eye and “publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery, so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart.”

Take that, meanies.

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 9:03 am

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