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  •  Trying to "get" this. (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho, roses, Dallasdoc, Fabian, corvo, quaoar, Timothy J

    So, let's say I'm a reporter.  I write a story about cats that's published.  In that story I write:

    Cats are mammals.  Domestic cats are kept as pets.  Cats are carnavores.  Lions are a type of cat.

    Even though I'm a very poor writer, I keep my job.  Oh, and everything I wrote was about as objective as can be.

    Then, sometime later, I speak at some kind of public function.  And this is part of what I say:

    I don't like cats.

     Now, excuse me, but what difference does it make about my reporting, even if I don't like cats?  Now, if there is some kind of true, sustained, provable bias found in my reporting about cats that cat lovers can find in my reporting, then that's one thing.  But otherwise, what's the big deal.  

     And, while we're at it, shall we compare this -- and Ms. Greenshouse -- to Brit Hume and all the other members of the Fox Reich who during their 'reporting', lace virtually every line with praise for Bush and snarls at or lies about Democrats?

     BenGoshi
    __________________________________________________

    We're working on many levels here. Ken Kesey

    by BenGoshi on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 04:59:32 AM PDT

    •  Fox News (0+ / 0-)

      Fox News a perfect example. How many of us are ever going to take Brit Hume seriously as a journalist again, now that we know so clearly where he stands politically? When you hear him report a story about ant political figure, don't you automatically assume he's shaped it to be favorable to the conservative point of view?

      Journalism only has a real value as a source of information if the audience is able to trust that the reporter is providing all the relevant facts and not selecting or omitting things that favor one side. And now that Ms. Greenhouse has made it so clear in a public forum how she feels about controversial issues, it's going to be harder for her to do that.

      By so openly catering to the right, Fox has put itself into a box now so that no matter how supportive its right-wing audience may be, it's never going to be seen as credible outside of that group.

      Doc Sarvis is exactly right. Journalism demands reporters to put their personal feelings aside about controverisal topics they cover. Most of the criricism I read in the original post and most of the comments here suggest that not many people really understand why this matters, but it does.

      •  A reporter who does this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Canadian Reader, BenGoshi, corvo

        Journalism demands reporters to put their personal feelings aside about controverisal topics they cover.

        Writes nothing of value to anyone.

        Nobody goes into journalism to be a stenographer.

        Gunter glieben glauchen globen

        by quaoar on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:25:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not a stenographer (0+ / 0-)

          You miss my point. Of course reporters should do more than just regurgitate what was said, and that includes fact-checking and truth-squadding. A lot more of that should happen than does.

          BUT, the reader has to be able to be trust that the fact-checking is not one-sided. And now, if Ms. Greenhouse writes an article about Guantanamo, it won't matter how accurate and factual it is, because the right wing will be able to say "She's biased, look at what she said earlier about Guantanamo."

          They won't even have to prove that the article is inaccruate; it doesn't even have to be inaccurate ... she has compromised her ability to report on that topic. Anything she writes about it now can be dismissed more easily by the right.

          I don't even think journalists like David Gregory should double as pundits on Sunday morning. The viewer watching Gregory question Bush at a press conference should not have any idea whether Gregory privately loves or hates the man. The viewer should only know that Gregory will ask a cogent, intelligent question and press for an answer.

          I'm not saying reporters don't or should not have strong opinions. But reporters should not be too open about expressing those opinions on topics they cover. It sucks sometimes, but it is a part of the job and people who can't do it should look into other lines of work.

          •  You suggest (5+ / 0-)

            BUT, the reader has to be able to be trust that the fact-checking is not one-sided.

            You suggest that the reader can trust the fact-checking as long as he/she does not know how the reporter feels about the subject he/she is writing about. That's ridiculous.

            You don't gain trust in a newspaper or a reporter by being ignorant of how journalists feel. You gain that trust by reading it day after day and seeing how the stories stand up to challenge and actual events. People who write bullshit don't last very long unless they have compromising Polaroids of the publisher.

            Gunter glieben glauchen globen

            by quaoar on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:57:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  problem is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BenGoshi, Fabian

        most news stories select and omit facts. it's a matter of space, or what the reporter or editor feels is relevant to the story, or what they feel we as readers need to know. does that selection/omission take place purely along the lines of ideology? most times no, but does that make it any better? the answer is to read as many news sources as possible and read as many analysis pieces as possible to get a fuller picture.

        Only Americans can hurt America

        -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

        by missreporter on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:29:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Another point worth mentioning (9+ / 0-)

          is that if the reporter is already on record about their bias, then we as informed readers are better able to judge whether or not their ideology is shaping their reporting.

          I guess I'd be a little more sympathetic to Flash's "concerns" if Linda Greenhouse were the only reporter working the Supreme Court.

          But she's not.  If we just take the major tv and cable networks, the national dailies, the local DC dailies, the radio networks, and we're already up to least twenty reporters covering the Court.  Do all those reporters share Greenhouse's bias?  Will they all include and omit exactly the same information as Greenhouse does?

          Personally, I'm glad to have a reporter in the Supreme Court who has demonstrated her commitment to the rule of law.  I wish I had a hundred senators who shared her commitment...

          •  Diplomatically stated, litho (0+ / 0-)

            I guess I'd be a little more sympathetic to Flash's "concerns" if Linda Greenhouse were the only reporter working the Supreme Court.

            When we take back the WH, I would like to nominate you to join the foreign service - how does Ambassador to [Tr]Holland strike your fancy?  

        •  Got no problem or argument with that. ( nt ) (0+ / 0-)

          We're working on many levels here. Ken Kesey

          by BenGoshi on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:46:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Cats (0+ / 0-)

      The cats example is just silly. "Cats are mammals" is a plain statement of fact, as is "Guantanamo Bay is in Cuba." That fact isn't changed by whether you like cats or not.

      But if you wrote a long article about why dogs are far superior to cats, and you quoted scientists and animal trainers and theologians to support your point, and then proudly told an audience how much you hate cats, people would be right to question the objectivity of your pro-dog reporting and wonder whether you talked to scienists and trainers and theologians who found cats to be superior, but just didn't include them in your article because of your anti-cat bias.

      •  Greenhouse's bias here (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BenGoshi, Fabian, corvo

        is in favor of the rule of law.  Are you saying that's a bad thing in a court reporter?

      •  You prove my point. Thank you. (5+ / 0-)

        That's right:   reporters write plain statements of fact; analysts turn facts over and inside out to provide perspective; columnists and pundits use (or should use) facts to support an argument or particular point of view.

        You dodge the point, though:  if a cat-lover can find (I'll repeat this to see if you can grasp it the second time around) any consistant, sustained bias in my reporting of the facts, then that's one thing and I should be taken to task for it.  Otherwise, it's so much b.s. (bad statements) to squeal that I'm reporting on cats.  

        And, indeed, this is what is going on today, but with a double twist:

         1  The Right Wingnuts are screaming and squealing about the reporter being a Democrat or otherwise 'biased' when such reporter reports that Bush did nothing to thwart what would become the "9.11 attacks" after he received the Aug 6, 2001, PDB (the equivalent of reporting "Cats are mammals" -- objective fact).  And, at the same time . . .

         2  The Right Wingnuts staunchly defend Brit Hume as an anchor on Fox, when he unabashedly editorializes and advocates throughout his delivery of what is supposed to pass as "straight news reporting".

        BenGoshi
        __________________________________________________

        We're working on many levels here. Ken Kesey

        by BenGoshi on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:44:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  P.S. -- by the way, I actually like cats. nt (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          roses, corvo

          We're working on many levels here. Ken Kesey

          by BenGoshi on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:45:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, that IS the point (0+ / 0-)

          You dodge the point, though:  if a cat-lover can find (I'll repeat this to see if you can grasp it the second time around) any consistant, sustained bias in my reporting of the facts, then that's one thing and I should be taken to task for it.  Otherwise, it's so much b.s. (bad statements) to squeal that I'm reporting on cats.  

          But if you're making public statements about how much you hate cats, the bruden of proof really doesn't matter. You've given your cat-loving opponents a cudgel to use against you.

          Yes, in an ideal world. they would have to show that your reporting is influenced by your personal feelings, and if they couldn't show that, they wouldn't have a case.

          But all you have to do is look around and see how rabidly the right believes allegations of "liberal bias" in the media in the absence of any real evidence whatsoever to see that those standards don't count for much in the real world. They should, I agree, but they don't.

          All I'm saying is, if you're reporting on controversial issues and you have a well-known and strong opinion in favor of one side's argument, it is that much harder to convince your critics that you're playing it straight in your coverage. Why hand them ammunition if you don't have to?

          •  You continue to miss the point. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Canadian Reader, Fabian, corvo

            And I'm not jumping on you, here, I'm just sayin' . . .  

             a  if the squealers with 'cudgels' can find any bias, any misstatements of fact, any opinion put forth as fact,   in.   the.   actual.   reporting. , then bring that out into the marketplace of ideas and let same be debated; otherwise,

             b  said reporter, and reporter's editors and publisher, should tell the Shrill Ones to go pee up a rope and, as long as they want to play Bias Police, start with Fox, clean it up and clear it out, then stop by and discuss any problems they may have with Ms. Greenhouse.  In other words:  remove the log from their collective eye, before wigging-out over the mote in Ms. Greenhouse's.

            BenGoshi
            ____________________________________________________

            We're working on many levels here. Ken Kesey

            by BenGoshi on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:58:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, I get the point (0+ / 0-)

              I don't think you're appreciating the reality here.

              a  if the squealers with 'cudgels' can find any bias, any misstatements of fact, any opinion put forth as fact,   in.   the.   actual.   reporting. , then bring that out into the marketplace of ideas and let same be debated; otherwise,

              In principle I agree. In practice, all the critics of the media need is an appearance of bias to convince their followers of it.

              Look, does anyone here take a report on Fox News or in the Washington Times as straight and objective? Fox could produce the most even-handed, fair and truthful report in the history of journalism, with claims checked, facts unearthed and reported and evidence shown, and most of us on the left would still suspect it of being tilted, because that is their reputation.

              You should have to show the bias affects the actual reporting for it to matter, yes. But sadly, it doesn't work that way.

              b  said reporter, and reporter's editors and publisher, should tell the Shrill Ones to go pee up a rope and, as long as they want to play Bias Police, start with Fox, clean it up and clear it out, then stop by and discuss any problems they may have with Ms. Greenhouse.  In other words:  remove the log from their collective eye, before wigging-out over the mote in Ms. Greenhouse's.

              Again, I agree. But I also believe that media outlets that really want to be taken seriously all across the political spectrum, rather than wanting to cater to one side or another, should set their standards higher than "less biased than Fox."

              Because really, that ain't saying much.

    •  Better analogy --- (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      roses, joanneleon, Fabian

      Cats are mammals, blah, blah, blah.

      Cats hunt.  Cats kill birds. (All facts)

      Now if in my neighborhood I see the cat population growing and the bird population declinining, I might say "Cats are decimating the bird population".  That is an interpretation of objective facts that I have observed.  Not quite the same thing as saying I like cats.

      That's what this reporter seemed to do.  To say that the Bush administration is assaulting women's reproductive rights is not just an opinion, but an interpretation of reality.  What if she said "Bush is doing all he can to protect women's reproductive rights."  Is that an opinion, or a bald-faced lie?

      Or how about if she had said "The Iraq war is going badly."  Is that simply her opinion, or is it a logical interpretation of objective facts?

      •  What if (0+ / 0-)

        To say that the Bush administration is assaulting women's reproductive rights is not just an opinion, but an interpretation of reality.  What if she said "Bush is doing all he can to protect women's reproductive rights."  Is that an opinion, or a bald-faced lie?

        What if she said, "Bush is doing all he can to protect the lives of the unborn?"

        If a reporter made that comment in a public forum, how many of you defending Linda Greenhouse would also defend that hypothetical reporter?

        •  I would have no problem (0+ / 0-)

          With someone claiming that "Bush is doing all he can to protect the lives of the unborn", since that is a reasonable interpretation of facts that we can observe.  

          Of course, another logical interpretation of these statements is that Bush cares more about fetuses than women of reproductive age....

          •  You got it! (0+ / 0-)

            Of course, another logical interpretation of these statements is that Bush cares more about fetuses than women of reproductive age....

            That's the point! By choosing which of the two to emphasize -- women's rights or fetus rights -- you are revealing where you personally stand on the issue.

            When a reporter makes a public statement about how Bush is trying to dismantle women's rights, then she can't really report credibly on anything to do with abortion. People on the anti-abortion side will have a hammer at their fingertips to deride her as clearly biased against their point of view.

            Look, having a certain amount of circumspection about how much of your own personal views you reveal is just part of the job. If a reporter can't live with it, there are other lines of work to go into.

            I don't care that the right wing "journalists" get away with being openly biased, that's no excuse. And they really don't get away with it, because everyone who doesnt agree scorns their reporting as clearly biased.

    •  carnIvore, btw. Bad copy editor, no bisquit. nt (0+ / 0-)

      We're working on many levels here. Ken Kesey

      by BenGoshi on Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:50:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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