Tuesday, September 16, 2003

No, No Bias Here. Nuh-Uh.

It started with a Peter Johnson column in USAToday on Monday. Well, it started before that, with Tina Brown's television show, Topic A With Tina Brown, but no one watches that show, so Christiane Amanpour's comments might have disappeared but for his snagging them and putting them before the millions who read USAToday.

Normally, I'm pretty dismissive of Johnson. He's so...so... pre-blogosphere it's sad. As recently as a few years ago, his sage, serious, journalism professor tone might have been taken seriously, upholding the news as a solemn and hallowed profession of great gravity peopled by folks who take their sacred duty with great responsibility. Breaches of the profession he takes as great, but isolated, failings that are scrutinised by the watchdogs of journalism to make sure they are stopped.

Not any more. He sounds past his sell-by date. Thanks to blogging, and also to conservative talk shows that have fact-checked the journalists and pulled together the kinds of information that otherwise would never have been made public. Any number of bloggers have a more realistic approach to journalism, akin to the kind of reporting that once took doctors off their pedastals. Johnson, to continue the metaphor, still adheres to the old paradigm, and it just looks silly.

His reporting on television news is so CNN-centric it's an embarrassment. CNN is impartial, "hard" news, without bias; FOX is always described with adjectives that emphasise its conservative nature. I'm not sure he'd admit to it, but it's very, very clear. Read this post of mine and follow the story link to see it in action.

Ahhh...anyway. Enough rant. In the most recent column, Christiane Amanpour, Johnson's darling, says this:
Said Amanpour: "I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

Brown then asked Amanpour if there was any story during the war that she couldn't report.

"It's not a question of couldn't do it, it's a question of tone," Amanpour said. "It's a question of being rigorous. It's really a question of really asking the questions. All of the entire body politic in my view, whether it's the administration, the intelligence, the journalists, whoever, did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."
What a giant pile of ass-covering, self-serving, apologetic CRAP! Yeah, you know, those military and political people just made us feel...um, afraid! Yeah, that's it! With their dismissive manner and rude answers and intimidating looks and the hypnotic hand-waving and the golden tongues, yeah, that's it. And those flunkies at FOX, those fifth columnists making it hard for us to break out of the pack, we just couldn't ask the real questions and get the real truth.

All those hundreds of reporters out in the field? Yeah, they were only shown what the military wanted them to see. All that rah-rah patriotism that the networks engaged in? Yeah, that too. All their fault.

Amanpour seems to think that since things went the "wrong" way despite the media's best effort it must be the military and government's fault. After all, the people are too stupid to think other than what they tell them and since they don't believe what we do, they must have been given bad information. That can't be our fault, so it must be theirs. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Well, the story's now gone larger. The Drudge Report took it up, along with more links, including this one about Amanpour's dressing down for her remarks. Her boss says that Amanpour "speaks for herself," but that's the problem. She obviously has an agenda; she has a prominent reporting role in that region of the country. Are we supposed to believe it doesn't show in her reporting?

Yeah, right.

Even Chris Muir's Day By Day comic strip gets into the act.

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