03 September 2008

Hypocrisy, thy name is Media

Welcome to the 'so fast a turn-around-in-ethics-it-will-make-your-eyes water' era of the MSM. The MSM has always been biased, just read any news account from the 19th century from two or three different sources and you will find that out very, very quickly. Yet, in that day and age, the individual media organs had a clear and up-front policy of stating their biases, who they supported and why, and generally backing a set of ideals or principles. The vaunted NY Times was supposed to change that but, as they wandered into sole-ownership and that ownership has devolved into pure partisanship, they have lost their way. What did P.T. Barnum call this idea of detached reporters reporting the news? 'A new angle' I believe it was, and 'it just might work' was the follow-on. Yes, 'an angle' and that from the 'a sucker is born every minute' man!

Yes, I have covered this ground before, ad nauseum. They are, as I call them, the Volunteer Fifth Column: doing the work that no one else would do. Probably need some illegal aliens to take their jobs and up the ethics content...

Regardless of which 'side' of the political 'spectrum', that apparently has only black and white making it an either/or concept which makes the idea of a 'spectrum' ludicrous, is that the organizations, themselves, have ethical responsibility to their reading public. As I looked at before in the Jamil Hussein insanity (and, from what I can tell, there is no real individual who will go on record as being 'Jamil Hussein') the AP had its own stated ethics policy to go by:

APME Statement of Ethical Principles
(Adopted 1994 as revision to APME Code of Ethics)

These principles are a model against which news and editorial staff members can measure their performance. They have been formulated in the belief that newspapers and the people who produce them should adhere to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct.

The public's right to know about matters of importance is paramount. The newspaper has a special responsibility as surrogate of its readers to be a vigilant watchdog of their legitimate public interests.

No statement of principles can prescribe decisions governing every situation. Common sense and good judgment are required in applying ethical principles to newspaper realities. As new technologies evolve, these principles can help guide editors to insure the credibility of the news and information they provide. Individual newspapers are encouraged to augment these APME guidelines more specifically to their own situations.



The newspaper should strive for impartial treatment of issues and dispassionate handling of controversial subjects. It should provide a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism, especially when such comment is opposed to its editorial positions. Editorials and expressions of personal opinion by reporters and editors should be clearly labeled. Advertising should be differentiated from news.

The newspaper should report the news without regard for its own interests, mindful of the need to disclose potential conflicts. It should not give favored news treatment to advertisers or special-interest groups.

It should report matters regarding itself or its personnel with the same vigor and candor as it would other institutions or individuals. Concern for community, business or personal interests should not cause the newspaper to distort or misrepresent the facts.

The newspaper should deal honestly with readers and newsmakers. It should keep its promises.
The newspaper should not plagiarize words or images.

That is from the Ethics code: Associated Press Managing Editors 1999 updated 04 MAY 2004. When AP is called into account it should be 'mindful of the need to disclose potential conflicts' and 'It should report matters regarding itself or personnel with the same vigor and candor as it would other institutions or individuals'. Let me know when you see that, please. But they aren't alone in this endeavor of not being held accountable to standards! Far from it, as Reuters has demonstrated amply, and some organizations, like The New Republic, appear reticent to publish any standards of ethics the public can easily get to. And when you actually try to get the MSM, any organ of it, to do the sort of thorough look at itself that they do to others?

Surely, you jest.

Just the short list of Walter Duranty, Eason Jordan, Peter Arnett, Dan Rather, the reporters covering 'Jamil Hussein', or just understanding that the Geneva Conventions ALSO cover the press coverage... nope! Not one bit of that sort of 'investigative journalism' that the MSM so regularly applies to the other part of the 'spectrum'. Even worse is that there is a segment of the population that believes that there *can* be infallible reporting and that reporters should be unquestioned prima donnas with frail little egos that should be held unaccountable.

Yes, my disdain is obvious. That is honest and transparent reporting: my views are my own, they slant my coverage and I damn well will not slant my ideas towards some greater 'political truth'.

The power of the press is given to the People, not to those who own printing presses. Through technology the one got associated with the other, but now, in this era of DIY reporting and journalism, the absolute right of the People to report on items of interest, be they one's cat or on the nature of the universe, or to offer political commentary and thought, or to put their skills to work confirming information others have reported, are protected. Those who put the MSM together also put accountability in to those large organs, and when those accountability methods are no longer utilized in a robust way, the organs rot from the inside out. We no longer need heroic figures in media, please, just the ordinary working Joe that reports what they see, no frills, and no 'added comment' of a 'human nature' variety.

No such place has appeared as it would kill most of the other news organs around us, today, as it would be unique. Just like the NYT was back in the late 19th century... although it didn't take long for them to get their own 'slant' on the news.

So this brings us to the modern time, and the state of reporting that pronounces itself 'journalism' today. Over at AoSHQ Ace brought this up, yet again, reminding us about the absolute, 180 degree turnaround the MSM has been performing of late. Do you remember the affair of John Edwards and how the story was broken? Was it by the NYT, WaPO, LAT, NY Post, Washington Times, or, indeed, any major magazine or standard MSM news outlet? Remember, it had first been reported long, long months prior to its breaking... by the National Enquirer.

My attitude towards the National Enquirer, as an outlet of news, is that it makes good bird-cage liner. That said, outside bigfoot, UFOs, sightings of Elvis, mutant du jour, and the days when bigfoot runs off with a mutant to be married by Elvis on a UFO, the actual 'real reporting' in politics (and not the latest Kennedy 'scandal', although one does tend to believe those, too) is that they are dead-on accurate. Their reporting in that sort of area of scandal/celebrity/politics is their specialty and they have so inured the populace to the Kennedy scandals that the Kennedys no long make waves with them. But when they aren't extremely outlandish, the National Enquirer tends to prove deadly, and in this case it was not just John Edwards but the rest of the MSM that got the dagger into the back, protruding through the heart, coming out the chest and having a Mayan Priest giving incantations over it.

Ok, maybe not like that, exactly, but the MSM just saw all their 'journalistic integrity' fly the coop because a scandalsheet had just pointed out that the cover-up that was going on was aided and abetted by the MSM. The non-reporting going on and the later attempts to 'protect Elizabeth Edwards' who then gets implicated in the actual affair and cover-up and is, thus, part of the story, is incredible. Yet the scandal sheet has its sources, backs them and has had this wonderful problem of being dead-on *right* in all instances so far, to date, while every MSM organ has been on the *wrong* side of it. Unwilling to investigate the facts, they cover up the news, and when the news breaks, they try to protect someone implicated in the direct story and cover-up, thus showing that they are still covering-up for John Edwards and attempting to downplay the story. That for a man who campaigned as Vice President and was campaigning to get the Presidential slot in his party this year around.

What was that about 'vetting' a candidate?

Not happening, is it?

Apparently the National Enquirer does a better job of THAT than the MSM can do. Maybe they should look at Sen. Obama, considering the piss-poor job the MSM has done with him, so far, in that 'vetting' category. He is more 'protected' than the mistress' love child is.

So, if Elizabeth Edwards was 'innocent' and worthy of 'protection' and the mistress' love child was likewise 'innocent' and worthy of 'protection', then what about Gov. Palin's daughter who just announced she was pregnant and the father of the child is stepping forth to do the right thing and marry her? Isn't she, by not being in politics, by not being involved in the campaign, by being a late-teen adolescent still in the category of 'minor' by age, that being 17, due to be 'protected', also?

Remember, if you are the mistress of a popular politician to the MSM your child can get 'protection'.

And then there are the deluded rantings of those putting forth that Gov. Palin's last child with Down's Syndrome really isn't hers... that she wore some sort of maternity belly to cover for her daughter. Really? Do you have anyone as reputable as the National Enquirer to fact-check this? Because THIS is THEIR territory, save you left out bigfoot, UFOs, Elvis and a scad of photoshopped images of Elvis/Jesus/Virgin Mary/Klaatu appearing in the mist/burnt toast/corn chip/heavenly vision/etc.

Hey! I know who I can trust on 'fact checking' these things, and it sure, as hell, isn't the MSM. If they can't figure out that the vaunted Geneva Conventions apply to THEM, and explicitly so and backed by federal laws, then getting something like who the actual birth mother is of a child might be just a bit too much for them. They are way out of their league, here, if they can't even get the sophisticated stuff right that they crow about so very often.

Next thing you know there will be folks stating that she is on the Cthulhu Ticket with the Alaskan King Crab in her office serving as an altar.

That's my territory and I'm having none of it! Everyone knows *that* position goes to Nyarlathotep...

Gotta staunch those rumors fast!

Which what the MSM is reporting when they can't get 'facts', 'opinions' or 'analysis', not that they ever differentiate between the three these days. Now we can add 'rumor', 'innuendo' and 'making stuff up' into that category of equality of 'truthiness' worthy of reporting... and that they 'protect' only those that might hurt those they support politically or economically.

In doing that the MSM has sunk far, far below the category of 'yellow journalism'.

And even below the National Enquirer which, when they get something 'hot' that requires fact checking and backing, they actually know how to do. Which they are doing, although with more of an eye towards the 'scandal' side of it. Someday, all news will be at the level of the National Enquirer: doing good when they can put their minds to it and concentrate on the 'scandal'. We should be so lucky, huh?

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