The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, September 08, 2003
 

Objective journalism - still alive after all these years...


As discussed here more than once, this peculiarly American conceit was what allowed the risible claims of Sen Joseph McCarthy in his infamous Wheeling, WV speech in February 1950 to gain national coverage [1].

The Columbia Journalism Review has a piece inspired by Uraniumgate - the apparently fictional efforts of Saddam to buy the stuff in Africa - on the doctrine in action in 2003.

It does little to drag the reputation of the hack off the floor:
As part of its reverence for objectivity, journalism esteems balance. A reporter can demonstrate objectivity by quoting two opposing sides of an issue equally. In America's two-party system, the Republican and Democratic positions conveniently serve to demarcate those sides. Democratic claims receive every bit as much credence as Republican claims, and vice versa, and for a reporter to suggest otherwise is seen as joining the partisan fray.

Just like giving science and creationism equal airtime in school classrooms.

So, it seems, one's choice of journalism lies between the relentless partisanship of the old American press (William Randolph Hearst, Colonel Robert McCormick and their like) - and its present-day British heirs - and the variety that prizes accurate measurement of equidistance above all things....

  1. Joe McCarthy's spurious lists in the longer term helped feed something of liberal Big Lie: there had indeed been plenty of Communists in the US for a good long while - guys like Rep Samuel Dickstein, supposedly codenamed Greedy by his NKVD handlers!


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