Sunday, January 16, 2005

Thoughts on the media

Kizmet made a comment here, and I'm responding here, because it's easier for me to think out of the comment box. I thought her comments on the integrity of news reporting and the validity of reporting were interesting. I think it goes without saying this is a liberal blog (g), and my second bias, which most of you don't know about is my strange affection for Dan Rather on the basis that I think he looks like my dad -- even though no one else thinks this. I've always watched Dan Rather because of that; so now you know -- I'm totally shallow about the way I chose my news media.

I used to be a journalist in a past life, so I understand just how important it is to hold on to your integrity and make sure you're reporting the facts. I am not saying in any way that Dan Rather and CBS didn't make a huge mistake in putting this story on the air and people got fired or resigned (and I believe Rather's departure in the spring is related to this story as well, no matter what CBS et al say). Still, CBS isn't the only organization to get their facts wrong -- it happens every single day in every single media because in the end, regardless of bias, media organizations are still human. I understand what feels like to think you have a scoop in your hand, the big story, and the adrenaline -- the idea you have something no one else has and what it will mean when you spill the news. It's a fast-paced environment and you have to run with it, because after all, being first to the wire can often be your media's selling point.

The report on the story from an independent panel says there was no political motivation behind the report, just the aforementioned adrenaline rush. Of course, there is no way any pro-Bush supporter (which I am not, obviously) will believe this. Just like no pro-Kerry supporter (like I was, obviously) will ever believe the Swiftboat Veterans for the Truth was anything but politically motivated.

Which, in the end, still does not excuse the media's softness on Iraq and the lack of WMDs. If the media is truly the watchdog it is, it should have gone after the administration harder, questioned harder about why we were over there; human lives ought to not have bias of any kind. The media's softness is one reason why so many people still believe Iraq was behind 9/11 -- before this war, no American had died at the hands of an Iraqi.

But here's the thing -- it doesn't matter who reports what or how often, because we, as consumers of media, will always take our information from sources we inherently agree with. We liberals (me included) will always read and believe Newsweek and the NY Times and we'll running screaming from the likes of Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, etc., and the conservatives will always stick with FOX News and believe that Dan Rather et al are out to get the President. Just like there's no freedom of speech, there's no unbiased media. If CBS has to take hits for left bias, it's only fair FOX News be held accountable for its conservative slant.

On a lighter note, I am also heartily sick of the Aniston-Pitt marriage collapse. You know the media's gone overboard when there are now stories appearing talking about just how many stories were put on the break-up. If there was anything to knock a human tragedy on the scale of the tsunami off the front page, you know it'd have to be something with the far reaching consequences of Yet Another Hollywood Marriage Going Bust (tm). ::snore::

Also, did you all hear me squee last night? Michelle Kwan wins record-tying ninth title.

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