Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Gaggle of Journalists


Today's Saturday Weekend Edition began with it's hourly summary describing the death of Tony Snow. The summary featured a clip of Tony Snow on the Colbert Report where Colbert is congratulating Snow on being a "journalist" because of his years at Fox News. Apparently the sarcasm went right over the heads of the NPR folks because Linda Wertheimer opens the show's segment on Tony Snow by saying, "...former White House press secretary, journalist Tony Snow...."

I'd suggest that Wertheimer and crew brush up a little on the ethical standards of journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists has a few criteria of what journalists should do:
  • Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
  • Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
  • Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
  • Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
  • Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
Let's just say that Snow's career doesn't even come close. But what about the coverage of Snow's dishonest (very dishonest) work for the Bush administration. NPR hands the job over to David Folkenflik who tells us how Tony Snow "played a raucous blues flute....lived life easily, enjoyed it too," had a "genial presence" and was "a conduit for the President to conservatives, but also to his former peers in the press corp." Clearly Folkenflik was taken with the personable Snow.

NPR's feature really is an odd, and rather shameful piece - unable to distinguish between partisan hack and journalist. Even when we are given a sound bite of Snow saying that Valerie Plame "wasn't a covert agent, she wasn't compromised," no comment is made about this being a blatant lie. The only revealing bit of news in the piece is that after Snow's work as a speech writer (journalist?) for Bush senior, he "then became a newspaper and NPR commentator."

1 comment:

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Oh yes - blurring the lines of qualification; for NoPR, it's job security!!