What has happened to the 4th estate? As a retired member of the electronic press, broadcast journalist, and former news director, I hardly recognize the profession I was trained in.
I watch as ABC’s Brian Ross suggests on national TV after a Google search, that a man by the name of James Holmes in Aurora Colorado, who recently “joined the Tea Party” “might” be the killer who butchered 12 people and wounded 70+ others in a Colorado movie theater… He failed to mention that the same Google search will bring up James Holmes OWS participant or any number of other men named James Holmes. No, he chose the Tea Party guy, because those Tea Party people have been going on so many killing rampages lately (sarcasm intended).
I watch as Harry Reid slanders Mitt Romney on the Senate floor by insinuating that Romney has evaded taxation for 10 years, a felony, simply because he got a phone call from someone who says so.
Then the Washington Post’s, Ed O’Keefe jumps on it and through your newspaper perpetuates a rumor without a shred of evidence simply because in Mr. O’Keefe’s mind it “resonates” with people. Mr. O’Keefe is listed as a political reporter, not a pundit, or editorial contributor. Reporters report facts backed with multiple sources and preferably both sides of the story. When did those rules of reporting, objectivity, and responsibility to “seek truth and report it.” change into what we see all too often today. http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
What makes Mr. O’Keefes work even more disturbing is the fact that he reported on a similar story but with a 180 degree shift. The headline should refresh your memory.
“McCain defends Clinton aide accused by 5 in GOP: Senator decries letter linking Abedin to Muslim Brotherhood.”
In that piece O’Keefe gave a scathing rebuttal to those “fringe voices” on the right spreading “conspiracy theories” without any evidence. Please Mr. Pexton, help me understand the difference in overall context between these two “reports” and I use that term loosely.
In both cases unproven accusations were made. In one case O’Keefe called out the accusers, in the other he supported him. In both cases the parties being scolded or held up for ridicule are conservatives.
I’m sure neither you nor your colleagues see what I and millions of Americans see in the daily press, where 85% of reports on Mitt Romney are negative while the opposite is true for the President, and rumor is reported as fact or at the very least reported with a caveat at the end of “we not sure yet”. But Americans are starting to see the mainstream media for what they are, clueless, biased, and elitist. So much so that even some of those who’ve spent careers in the news industry with admitted liberal political ideologies are getting fed up.
A former Network TV News Producer after seeing Andrea Mitchell’s poorly edited Mitt Romney remarks blogged:
“Forget it. I’m done. You deserve what they’re saying about you. It’s earned. You have worked long and hard to merit the suspicion, acrimony, mistrust and revulsion that the media-buying public increasingly heaps upon you. You have successfully eroded any confidence, dispelled any trust, and driven your audience into the arms of the Internet and the blogosphere, where biases are affirmed and like-minded people can tell each other what they hold to be true, since nobody believes in objective reality any more. You have done a superlative job of diminishing what was once a great profession and undermining one of the vital underpinnings of democracy, a free press”
I must echo his sentiments and it pains me to see my former profession sink so low.
The only news in the Reid vs Romney story is either Reid is a liar and slanderer or Romney is a felon. Perhaps Mr. O’Keefe could do some actual journalistic research, interviews, and reporting to tell us which is true. Only one can be, so it shouldn’t be all that hard.
UPDATE: On August 6th I received the following email from Patrick Pexton, Washington Post Ombudsman concerning the Ed O’Keefe article discussed in my letter. Here is his response.
“Thanks Doug, I am disturbed by this too, I’ll have to look into it a bit more before I write, but my initial reaction is that this should never have been printed, no substantiation at all.”
Patrick B. Pexton
Washington Post Ombudsman