>> Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Last night Cnn's Candy Crowley defined exactly how the media and the press denfine their job. They make it all about balance. They put out one sides version and the other sides version and say, now you can decide. Here is her performance.
There are many things wrong with this. As Mark Halperin notes the lies of the McCain campaign are more central to his candidacy than are the misstatements and fact stretches of the Obama campaign. What Halperin is citing is called context. Everything has a story behind it that allows people who hear it to understand what really is going on and why it matters. The media generally does not want to do this. They do not want to place the context and tell the viewer, reader etc that there is an objective reality and that not all sides are equal. They claim that that is not their role.
We do not accept this defense in a western enlightened society. This is the media equivalent to "just following orders". It is a process defense. by focusing on the formalistic process and not on the substantive process, the people in the media are allowed to abandon any moral or ethical duty to assert the truth. As long as the rules are followed then everything is legitimate. A soldiers actions are justified so long as he is just doing what he was ordered to do. This has the major flaw of taking into account the realities of the situation. If you have inequality or flawed input the process is not going to simply erase that, it does not make it all better. This type of thinking is all but obsolete in anything other field. Formalism has been replaced by pragmatism.
Media pragmatism should hold the view that because it is their job to inform the viewers any objective truth to a situation should be the foundation of that report. The story should not be what was said but rather that what is being said is not the truth. There should be no doubt in cases where objective truth meets lie. The lie and by extension the liar, should be spotlighted and denounced.
People rely on the press and the media to make sense of things they dont have the time for. Despite sharp declines, partly because of how poorly a job they do with it, in the trust people place in media sources big media ooutlets still have an important role in our society. they wield a legitimacy and not to account for and understand that in reporting should be a crime like "just following orders" is to a soldier.
A duty to report on and serve the truth.