Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just The Facts, Ma'am.

The small story, which is getting the attention: The argument about whose story is correct between Rush Limbaugh and Media Matters doesn't strike me as enormously important. Each side claims to give the full context for his "phony soldiers" remark. Rush's goes back farther in the transcript but leaves something out. Media Matters's version is a continuous transcript that picks up later in the story. The matter is much simpler than the debate. The right and the Republicans got some mileage out of denouncing the "General Betrayus" ad. It was silly of them to bother, and was just political posturing. Now the Democrats want one back and jumped on this. No one in his right mind thinks that Rush Limbaugh believes that soldiers who disagree with the prosecution of the war are necessarily bad soldiers. However, if they can make it sound that way they might get some juice of their own. Is there anything in this matter that bears on national security?

Two other issues are getting less ink, but strike me as more important. Jon Stewart edited a comment of George Bush to make it look like he said something ridiculously stupid. Stewart is a comedian - we give a lot of leeway to people who are doing satirical or comic pieces, for good reason. Watching the whole segment, however, it is clear that Stewart is presenting this quote as true. Stewart went to W&M, and even the densest of us know without question what the meaning of the president's quote was. There isn't the slightest reason to think that George Bush was claiming that Saddam Hussein had killed Nelson Mandela. People who are already predisposed to think Bush an amazing idiot will gleefully claim that is what he said (I already know who is going to try this one on me at work), but as one progressive Bush-hater reluctantly admitted at pajamasmedia, one would have to have "the brain of a jellyfish to think that was what Bush meant."

So we are left with the single possibility that Jon Stewart, who doesn't have the brain of a jellyfish, intentionally misrepresented what he knew to be the truth. Just shameful.

The next issue goes to even deeper matters. A Spanish official leaked a pre-Iraq communique between Bush and President Aznar. The MSM reporting of this information has been framed to give the opposite impression of what the text says. The news is supposed to be the news. We might all fall into bias, but professional journalists should not be putting in effort to make things appear a certain way. They are supposed to endeavor to discover the truth, not see how they can make things appear.


Woody said...

They are supposed to endeavor to discover the truth, not see how they can make things appear.

Yet, when you ask some student why he is majoring in journalism, he smugly and proudly responds, "To make a difference," and college journalism professors encourage that rather than teach ethics. If an accounting student gave that answer, he wouldn't have a future in providing objective information on companies. No one should call journalism a profession until it has an ethics code and lives by it.

jackscrow said...

Good idea, Woody.

Why not a code of ethics for Journalism?

Too much to hope for, I know, but there are so many so-called Journalists trying to make news, instead of report it. And there seem to be any number of professional (paid) "bloggers" out here that are in the biz of spinning for one side or another.

BB-Idaho said...

..and why not a code of ehtics for accounting students?