The Big Think

February 3, 2014

Fit to Print

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:10 am

What has happened to the New York Times?:

“One might expect such a thin story from, say, the National Enquirer, but The New York Times? And one might wonder why the newspaper didn’t ask the very first question nearly anyone else would ask when presented with such a claim: ‘Uh, OK, you say you have evidence, can we see it?’ Then, if said evidence didn’t pan out, it’d be Spike City for the big scoop.

But no, The Times ran with the piece, which made the follow-on media follow on the story throughout the day. But few noticed the way the lede was changed — in less than 20 minutes…

So, in the end, The Times ran a thin story with an unsubstantiated claim of “evidence” directly linking Mr. Christie to the lane closures because it didn’t need a “smoking gun” — or any evidence at all. The allegation alone was enough to put the governor in a “no-win situation.”

Again, I say it: fix the media and you fix the country (or a big chunk of what is wrong with our Democracy). I’m not saying that they NYT shouldn’t print stuff that’s damning to one side or the other– the news is the news and we need the straight truth, honorably reported– but I think it’s fair that a journalistic outlet adhere to normal journalistic standards when they do go to print. Extraordinary claims demand evidence, after all, and in this case they claimed that they had the evidence, then didn’t say what it was. Then later went with the vague “he was linked to knowledge” wording. Then later “softened the lede”. And then finally turned the story into a non-event through retroactive editing. Does this seem responsible?

If they decide to print something like this w/o evidence to back it up, and then later softpedal and backtrack, doesn’t that put their objectivity and claims of neutrality into doubt? Shouldn’t that cast suspicion on other things they report?

Fairness and (at least a semblance of) objectivity should not be too much to ask from our media outlets. On both sides. Personally, I would like the truth with as little bias and slant as possible so that I can make up my own mind. It’s no wonder people don’t trust them any longer (as evidenced by rapidly declining viewership and the rise of alternative sources). I don’t like being fed bias while being told that it’s truth. That’s not the job of the media.

Fair enough?

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