Monday, July 26, 2010

Freedom of the Press

In a commentary, published in the Washington Post, this morning by E.J. Dionne Jr., wrote “The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing  the traditional journalists that “fairness” requires treating extremist rants as “one side of the story”.

My posted response to his commentary was:

Mr. Dionne, why do you (and others) accuse Fox of “persistently forcing propaganda as news” as if they are the only ones doing it.  Yesterday as I was listening to CNN, I heard a panel make essentially the points you did in your article.  It appears that both you and CNN want to make FOX the story and not the trigger happy administration.  What was interesting was that no one on the panel expressed any viewpoint other than this was all a conspiracy by FOX News.

Let’s review some actual facts.  First, for the record, on my post last Thursday, I made it clear that I have sympathies for Ms Sherrod.  This was a clear case of recklessness where the guilt is borne by many.  However this is not the way CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and New York Times are reporting it. 
Fox, on the other hand, is the only major network that is presenting a true vibrant debate in which advocates harmonious with your position are interviewed along with others who defend conservatives and new media.  For example, yesterday on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, both Howard Dean and Jesse Jackson were interviewed and, in the case of Howard Dean, he accused FOX News of being “racist”, on FOX News.  I thought that interesting and remarkable that he made many of the same points you did in your article on the very network that was broadcasting it.  Jesse Jackson made similar arguments and there is a full spectrum of commentary that is expressed by many on the network.  I am not sure that I see your point about FOX news, especially when, a telling of the full story does not appear to be expressed on the other networks/newspapers.

For example, where on MSNBC was it reported that FOX news only ran the video AFTER the administration had fired, Shirley Sherrod?  Where on CNN was it reported that O’ Reilly not only made a mistake, but then confessed to the mistake and apologized for it.  Where, beside the Huffington Post, was it reported that Sheppard Smith said “"We here at Studio B did not run the video and did not reference the story in any way for many reasons, among them: we didn't know who shot it, we didn't know when it was shot, we didn't know the context of the statement, and because of the history of the videos on the site where it was posted, in short we do not and did not trust the source."

Where on MSNBC was it reported that Fox News president cautioned his staff to “go slow” with the story and make sure that all the facts were straight before running it.  (Advice ignored by Bill O’Reilly and according to him, Bill O’Reilly alone.)  Finally, where in the New York Times was it reported that in spite of the poor judgment overall that Bill O’Reilly displayed, he only ran the story AFTER Ms. Sherrod had been fired by the Administration?

I enjoy listening/watching many sources.  This “Freedom of the Press” gives me a way to view/hear many points of view.  (It is one of the reasons why I read the Washington Post and commentaries such as your own along with MSNBC, PBS and CNN.)  I value this rich diversity of opinion.  It saddens me a bit when the so called mainstream media does not present all sides of the story, but appears to have an agenda of its own.  It seems that MSNBC, CNN and you are guilty of the very thing you accuse FOX News of.

With Fred Barnes recent story that suggests collusion in the liberal media and an organized effort to discredit the source(s), I keep coming back to the power that is embedded with the notion of racism.  It appears that whenever things don’t seem to be going the way the left wants it to go, a “let’s make this about racism” seems to crop up, over and over.

Once again, I assert that the true issue that we should all be fighting for here is FREEDOM!  In a free society we CAN have a vibrant debate.  Freedom deserves to be nurtured and protected.  I for one will strive to keep this focus and avoid, if I can, this attempt to distract from this main message.
Let Freedom Ring.

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