The increasing polarization of our political discourse continues to drag those that supposedly cover these issues into the muck. The latest embarrassment came from Yahoo’s News Bureau Chief David Chalian. While on a live mic at the Republican National Convention he said that the nominee was, ‘happy to have a party while black people are dying.’ He was referring to then Hurricane Issac’s affect on the Gulf region.
(You can hear the comment at this link, you have to listen closely http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUjeH8FIclQ&sns=em )
Yahoo rightly quickly canned him. This incident serves as a clarion call to those looking to label the media as liberal. You know what, they are right! When you are tuned into MSNBC you are treated to Lib-fest. If this is not your thing hang a right on the dial and tune to FOX News, the home of conservative bias, Con-fest. The problem with all of this is we have become a journalistic Hack-fest. The public has come to believe that journalism is being conducted at their Hack-fest of choice. It is not.
What is happening is the cultivation of people who entered journalism and have been seduced by the bright lights of television. The best way to be called to sit in front of the camera or microphone is to say something controversial. Be opinionated. It is all about what you think. A journalist relies upon what he knows and can verify before putting anything out to the public. A journalist gives consideration and opportunity for comment from both sides of an issue. None of which happens in the Hack-fest environment.
This problem has increasingly seeped into our main line news institutions. NBC created MSNBC, which is a drag on the NBC News brand. In fact, NBC News is now creating an online presence separate from MSNBC. As things stand now, we can consider Brian Williams a journalist. Chris Matthews not a journalist. Scott Pelley is a journalist, Bill O’Reilly, not a journalist. Wolf Blitzer is a journalist, Rush Limbaugh is not.
This confusion has created a situation where people, both in and outside of the media, increasingly are having a difficult time separating fact from opinion and/or fiction. We are well on our way to being an opinion based society, seemingly the facts don’t matter. It has all become noise. We can no longer agree what the facts are! Opinion based entertainment has its place in the media, but it is past time to strengthen the levee between journalistic pursuits and opinionated hot air. Failure to do so will mean an age of dis-enlightenment.