Sunday, October 29, 2006

Editors And Reporters - Whores Are More Honest

In "Evita," Eva Peron goes on the Rainbow Tour of Europe, and in Italy:

Did you hear that?
They called me a whore!
They actually called me a whore!

But Signora Peron--
It's an easy mistake
I'm still called an admiral
Yet I gave up the sea long ago

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Much as Eva Peron was called a whore long after she foreswore the profession, in recent news stories we find the main stream media is careless with labels. And unlike whores, they profess virtue while making a practice of vice.

A case in point. All the main stream media refer to Mark Foley engaging in inappropriate e-mailing and instant messaging with pages. However, when I read the stories I find the facts only indicate he did such with former pages.

Is this a significant distinction? Most certainly. It is a distinction a competent news editor would honor and indicate. Mark Foley did his disreputable acts with former pages, young men who were no longer government employees and were no longer in positions of subordination and servitude to him, and no longer living in the Washington, D. C. area. Saying that he was communicating with pages implies they were still in those positions, and were vulnerable to his attentions while still living in the Washington, D. C. environs. None were.

The reporters and editors also persisted in calling the young men “boys.” As Gerry Studds and his Democratic supporters made quite clear when he confessed to having had sex repeatedly with a seventeen-year old page, the age of consent was 16. Therefore, the page was not a minor, and was not a person that an experienced and scrupulous editor would allow a reporter to label a boy.

When the Gerry Studds issue was linked to Mark Foley, editors scrupulously pointed out that Studds and the page considered their sex consensual, and no one’s business but their own. The editors gave the impression that Studds was right, and that he was a victim of right-wing persecution of gays. Somehow the fact that Studds’ seduction of the page involved plying him with liquor, when the page was underage for legal consumption of alcohol, was overlooked by experienced and scrupulous main stream media reporters and editors.

Similar sloppiness in reporting and editing was rampant in the Valerie Plame imbroglio. Main stream news organizations persisted in labeling her a “covert” agent, even though these self-same main stream news organizations were parties to a “friend of the court” filing that proved conclusively that Ms. Plame did not meet the legal definition of “covert” when her CIA affiliation was disclosed.

To compound their errors, the main stream media continues to report that Valerie Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson, had documented that Iraq had not sought “yellow cake,” a uranium ore, from Niger. However, the media in their articles fail to disclose that the Senate investigation into the matter concluded that Iraq had indeed approached Niger about purchasing yellow cake, and that Joe Wilson had attested to that fact in his report, the report he presented to the CIA before he wrote his New York Times article saying the Bush administration had lied about Iraq’s intentions.

So what we have are reporters and editors that persist in reporting errors as facts, and who avoid reporting other facts that conflict with their treatment of the news. We could get the same from professed partisans, but in those cases we would at least be alert to their biases.

PS - I am happy to note that bad journalism is being properly rewarded. Daily and Sunday circulation of virtually all the major newspapers is down sharply, and CBS News has fallen to the bottom of a very shabby pile.

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