“Fair and balanced?” Not likely
What the Shuk?
People like to discuss their jobs, so it’s
no surprise journalists like writing about journalism. I guess
the next logical step as a journalist is writing a column about
journalists writing about journalism — but now I’m
so confused I need a nap and possibly a hot toddy.
In any case, Jayson Blair is currently getting his 15 minutes
of fame. Blair is a former New York Times journalist fired
last summer after it was revealed he plagiarized and even outright
fabricated some of his news stories.
In the way that a good investigative reporter is called a “real
Carl Bernstein,” a good sports writer is called “a
regular Red Smith” or a flying reporter is called a “new
Clark Kent,” Blair’s name has become synonymous
with lying. Blair claims he was driven to plagiarism by the
pressure he felt as a black man trying to prove his worth in
a high-profile role at a major newspaper.
I’m sure if you asked other black journalists, they’d
agree with Blair... no, wait, they’d call him a disgrace
to the profession and a disgrace as an African-American for
trying to hide behind his ethnicity.
No legitimate news organization could be expected to give
Blair’s wafer-thin excuse any credibility, and none have — except
the Fox News Channel. Bill O’Reilly, host of the super-conservative
O’Reilly Factor, used Blair’s appearance on his
program to bash the Times, which is not surprising considering
the Times’ reputation as a “liberal” newspaper.
Blair was more than happy to comply, since he’s currently
promoting a book about his life — no word on whether
Chapters will stock it in the fiction or non-fiction section.
This is just the latest shot across the bow of the S.S. McLuhan:
the medium is truly bigger than the message. The debate over
which media outlets are and aren’t biased (even The Gazette
is sometimes accused of this) obscures the central fact that
NO media outlet should be biased. If you’re Fox News
and you openly flaunt your conservative ties in order to provide “fair
and balanced” journalism against the so-called liberal
media, then you’re automatically robbing yourself of
any journalistic credibility. Countering an alleged bias with
a very definite bias is like claiming everyone hates birds
singing, and then releasing your own remixed version of chirping
under the name DJ Worm Eatah.
I’m not just picking on conservatives. The proposed “Liberal
Radio Network” featuring shows hosted by Janeane Garofalo
and Al Franken will no doubt be just as partial. Geez, they
could at least change their name so their political bias isn’t
hanging out in the open.
Picking an ideological side and pushing your news to promote
those values is a slap in the face to freedom of speech and
insults those thousands of journalists who try to do their
jobs properly and present all sides of an issue. Different
writers will naturally have different viewpoints, but one opinion
should not be favoured over the other just because of who is
signing the cheques. Any news outlet that yields this bias
is no better than Jayson Blair.