Monday, April 18, 2005

Conservatives? BIASED! Liberals? MISUNDERSTOOD!

Conservatives? BIASED!

Fox's Sandstorm

By William Raspberry
Monday, April 18, 2005; Page A17

The in-your-face right-wing partisanship that marks Fox News Channel's news broadcasts is having two dangerous effects.
The first is that the popularity of the approach -- Fox is clobbering its direct competition (CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, etc.) -- leads other cable broadcasters to mimic it, which in turn debases the quality of the news available to that segment of the TV audience.
The second, far more dangerous, effect is that it threatens to destroy public confidence in all news.
The latter, I admit, is more fear than prediction, but let me tell you what produces that fear. Fox News Channel -- though the people who run the operation are at great pains to insist otherwise -- is deliberately partisan. It is as though right-wing talk radio has metastasized into cable and assumed a new virulence.
The main difference is that radio's Rush Limbaugh, for instance, doesn't pretend even-handedness. As he has said, he doesn't seek to be balanced but to balance the rest of the media, which he sees as generally dominated by left-of-center attitudes.
Part of the FNC approach, on the other hand, is to promote itself as "fair and balanced." I suppose it does so with a wink and a nod to its far-right audience, who must know it isn't balanced. Certainly those near the center of the political spectrum know it…


Nonexistent Mission
Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer wrote last week that the Bush administration dispatched "self-appointed morals czar" William Bennett in 2003 to tell Vatican officials that the invasion of Iraq would be a just war. This was news to Bennett, who says he never took such a trip and can't understand why Scheer never called him.
Scheer says he was "sloppy" in picking up the tale from the Houston Catholic Worker. "I should have been more careful," he says. Says Times Opinion Editor Michael Kinsley: "I guess I would wonder why a story this juicy would have only been in some Catholic newspaper. That would make me want to check it out."

Premature Journalism
Barbara Stewart, the Boston Globe freelancer dropped over her story about a Canadian seal hunt that had not yet taken place, says she never meant to deceive anyone. She just never checked back to learn that the scheduled hunt had been delayed by bad weather.
"The whole situation, while resulting from an egregious, massive, stupid [screwup] on my part, unbelievable carelessness, was nevertheless not malicious fabrication as in: pretending I was there and deliberately making up a whole scene and attempting to pass it off," Stewart says by e-mail.
"It was stupider and more boring and more flat out dumb on my part. Quite dumb. Remarkably dumb. But not vicious and not really a scandal, for heaven's sake."


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