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Posted by on Oct 1, 2010 in Media | 0 comments

Quote of the Day: On Ideology Based News Shows

Our Quote of the Day comes from CNN’s Rick Sanchez, putting MSNBC on “the list you don’t want to be on” due to White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton praising MSNBC for reflecting progressive values and being helpful to the White House, in reference to Barack Obama’s comments about Fox News:

Since when is news supposed to have a limited point of view? Only progressive? Oh that’s right. I just remembered. Ever since Fox decided to give mostly the conservative, Republican side, then MSNBC followed suit with mostly the liberal, Democratic side. I guess I forgot.

And there you have in a paragraph what has indeed occurred in the news business.

it isn’t just that “fact based journalism” is not as popular as it once was. It’s that the trending is for many people to seek to get their facts only from prisms that reflect what they feel and believe ahead of time — and to encourage news sources seeking ratings and readership to cherry pick certain facts, down play some that don’t fit a political view, disparage some that don’t fit that, and in effect become overt cheering sections for a party or ideology.

Sanchez also said:

“I wasn’t necessarily liked by the Bush White House, and I don’t think I’m particularly liked by the Obama White House as well,” he said. “And you know what, that’s the way I like it.”

And, indeed, to many who were trained in journalism and worked on publications (and TMV has several) they will attest to this:

It would be the kiss of death on a beat on most newspapers or some broadcast news organizations if a government or political figure went to a top editor started praising a reporter to the hilt and said as in this quote slightly alterteng Burton’s comments:

“And if you’re you’re somebody like John Jones or Sarah Smith or one of the folks who helps to keep our government/city/state/marketplace [circle one] honest and pushes and prods to make sure that folks are true to [fill in the person’s ideology] values,” Burton continued, “then the Mayor/Governor/Senator/Our CEO thinks that those folks provide an invaluable service.”

Service, shmervice: most editors would hear that a source is praising someone as help to them? The reporter would get switched off the beat since reporters are not supposed to be doing public relations or spin for news sources unless a story that is favorable just happens to fall that way.

Note on this score the Rupert Murdoch owned New York Post’s refusal to gobble up Tea Party hero and GOP Senate candidate Carl Paladino’s unsubstantiated charge that his opponent in the New York Governor’s race, Andrew Cuomo, may have had an affair. Not only did the paper not swallow it but Paladino almost got into a fight (widely carried on You Tube and blogs) with the reporter and the paper’s editor stood by the reporter’s tough questions. In this case, the paper, its editors and reporter refused to pull a Sean Hannity and become a mere transmission device for politically motivated assertion. It demanded facts to back up the assertion.

The irony is now in watching Paladino retract his statement amid negative feedback from conservatives and an indication that he may have burned one of the few big New York newspapers owned by someone sympathetic to him. He was seemingly trying to cut-his losses on that one. But he could find the Post won’t give him the slightest pass on his charges in the future.

Sanchez is right on the dime: a “good job” in news — if it is supposed to be really news — is not how well you defended people with whom you agree. It’s how well you comprehensively cover a story or lay out a case and ask the questions of officials so they can elaborate on their assertions.

Of course in this instance the administration was probably trying to praise progressives after criticisms aimed by Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the Democratic party’s progressive base. But in this instance it also gave ammunition to Fox News fans and others who dismiss the network as the anti-Fox even though MSNBC does have some excellent political programs and reporters, just as Fox News does have some excellent newspeople not associated with Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity et.al.

The issue isn’t “point of view.”

A case can be made that that is how news is evolving.

The issue is whether cable channels or programs become “points of propaganda” — real or perceived as such.

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