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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ethics in News

      I can’t remember a time when there were so many debates for the nomination of a political party’s presidential candidate. I’ve lost count as to just how many debates we’ve been exposed to, but I think it’s something like sixteen.

The other night the latest debate had a very interesting start when the debate host for ABC News, John King, opened the debate with a question to Newt Gingrich concerning his ex-wife.

“As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview with The Washington Post and this story has now gone viral on the Internet. In it she says that you came to her in 1999 at a time when you were having an affair. She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage. Would you like to take some time to respond to that?” asked King.

“No, but I will,” snapped Gingrich, who was visibly angered by the question. “I think the destructive, vicious negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that.”

The response from the audience was immediate. The chorus of boos drowned out Mr. King’s continuing question. As soon as Newt responded, the crowd cheered loudly and during the course of the next few minutes gave the former Speaker of the House of Representatives several standing ovations.

One of the things that struck me most by this was not so much the support which Newt Gingrich received from the audience, even though it was substantial, but the clear disdain and disgust the audience displayed toward the media, which was personified in John King’s “yellow journalism” approach to heading up this debate.

As a conservative, I am no longer surprised when the MSM (Main Stream Media) shows its political preferences which are clearly left leaning, attempting to play the “gotcha” game with conservative politicians, most noticeably in these debate forums.

I know little more than any other observer of the political process, but it sure seems evident to me that news reporting is a lost art. I’m not interested in listening to news that has the personal biased political slant of the reporter. I don’t care about your views, or adroitness with words. I want you to tell me what you know to be fact – then I will decide for myself how to interpret the information.

News and newsmakers have been attempting to twist events and stories for as long as man has been walking this earth. However, if a person is going to enter into the arena we call the news industry, then at least have some moral convictions and ethical standards so as not to immediately discredit yourself and your profession.

How many more Dan Rather stories are we going to be subjected to? You remember the Dan Rather story. Back when President Bush was running for his second term in 2004, there was a story released that implicated “W” in some documents about his military service in the Air National Guard. The documents had not been authenticated by either CBS or Dan Rather, something he was known to always do before presenting a story. However, on September 8, a mere two months prior to the 2004 election, it was simply too enticing to bother checking for validity. Dan opted to run with the story on air in an obvious attempt to embarrass the president, hoping to damage his reelection chances.

When the story was challenged, experts were called in to substantiate the documents. An embarrassed and disgraced Dan Rather was summarily dispatched from his vaunted position with CBS.

It is a sad day for our nation when we can no longer trust the people who are the “Fourth Estate,” a term used to identify the news media. All Americans would be well served if those providing us with the news would check their personal biases at the door, and then provide us with the facts.

Yes, I know politics is a dirty business, and the media seems to delight in wallowing in the mire. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It only takes one person to say no.

I’m still hopeful (some might say “Pollyannish”) that there will come forth those in the media who will cease with the bombast and lampooning and do what is right. “We the People” deserve no less.

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