CNN and NBC’s Journalistic Irresponsibility

–Richard E. Vatz

I have taught a course in Media Criticism for about 15 years, and I have always enjoyed CNN’s Reliable Sources, a show entirely about media criticism.

It is difficult to find an equal number of guests on the political right to face off against the inexhaustible legions on the left, but Reliable Sources, with its usually fair moderator, Howard Kurtz, usually manages to do so.

This, however, was Democratic Weekend on that show and on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, a satirical show with a disproportionate number of left-wing comics but produced by centrist Lorne Michaels.

On Reliable Sources today Howard Kurtz had discussions of media handling of Sarah Palin, and the guests were in descending order of detestation of Republicans: Anne Kornblut, the literate and bright reporter for the Washington Post, Julie Mason, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, and Frank Sesno, CNN Special Correspondent.

There was no significant disagreement that Charlie Gibson conducted a fair and even-handed interview, despite many people’s perception that he was condescending, playing “gotcha” and more aggressive than in other political interviews: Sesno said, in fact, the questions “could have been tougher,” and Kornblut bizarrely opined that Gibson was “actually trying to help her out.”

The guests laughed (literally) at the suggestion that the mainstream media have demonstrated “anti-religious” hostility. Kornblut called complaints about Obama’s use of the phrase “lipstick on a pig,” days after Palin had given the term “lipstick” new salience, just “Republican talking points.”

No one later in the show had any trouble with Saturday Night Live’s debut last night in which Tina Fey skewered Gov. Palin (with a dead-on impersonation, BTW) and the news “Update” segment which confined 100% of its election satire to attacks on Republicans.

CNN and NBC: bad show. It is not hard to be just a little imbalanced in journalism and satire.

Dr. Vatz teaches Political Rhetoric at Towson University






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