Posted on 13-11-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

A cautionary tale about Ashleigh Banfield, one of the few reporters who did not peddle the Bush administrations spin and actually did her job, journalism and questioning war coverage.  The speech in question is linked here.  For that she lost her job.  Its another example of why cable news in the United States is generally unwatchable and why it is probably a good idea in the Internet age to diversify news sources to include other countries.  Al Jazeera is often dismissed as propaganda here, but they sometimes cover issues and trample over sacred cows in a manner the so called free American media does not always do.  If anything, it provides perspective for why everybody abroad does not always attribute the noblest motives to American actions.

When Walter Cronkite died recently the talking heads on TV and in print gushed about his editorial report on Vietnam on February 27, 1968.  Sadly with the corporatization of main stream media where the profit motive trumps the duty of the Fourth Estate to report the news accurately, Cronkite today would have been drummed out of a job as quickly as Banfield.

It is probably summed by by the otherwise respected David Gregory’s defensive burden shifting last year when he essentially said that the media’s job is to mindlessly report what the administration is saying and not to challenge them when they peddle bullshit.  Quoted from the link above:

From the May 28 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews:

CHRIS MATTHEWS (host): Let’s take a look at what McClellan had to say here about the media.

Here he is, faulting the press. He wrote, quote, “If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war should never have come as such a surprise. In this case, the,” quote, “liberal media,” close quote, “didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”

David?

GREGORY: I think he’s wrong. He makes the same kind of argument a lot of people on the left have made. I tried not to be defensive about it. I’ve thought a lot about this over a number of years, and I disagree with that assessment.

I think the questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the president. I think not only those of us in the White House press corps did that, but others in the rest of the landscape of the media did that.

If there wasn’t a debate in this country, then maybe the American people should think about, why not? Where was Congress? Where was the House? Where was the Senate? Where was public opinion about the war? What did the former president believe about the prewar intelligence? He agreed that — in fact, Bill Clinton agreed that Saddam had WMD.

The right questions were asked. I think there’s a lot of critics — and I guess we can count Scott McClellan as one — who thinks that if we did not debate the president, debate the policy in our role as journalists, if we did not stand up and say, “This is bogus,” and “You’re a liar,” and “Why are you doing this?” that we didn’t do our job. And I respectfully disagree. It’s not our role.

This attitude also sums up why traditional media outlets are faltering before blogs and internet based journalists who do show the same deference to power and why John Stewart of Comedy Central may be one of the most trusted newsmen in America (cautionary disclosure, it was an unscientific online poll).

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Randy Pena on 13 November, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, I


ajay on 16 November, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

interesting piece…apparantly according to wikipedia she is now working for truTV–not exactly the bastion for high-quality journalism but then again like your piece said…the options are pretty slim…


[…] elected officials are peddling bullshit.  Yet when confronted with this issue Gregory’s previous response was to pass the buck on people misled by the prevarications […]


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