Bob Schieffer, Ron Paul and journalistic ‘objectivity’

Glenn Greenwald writes: CBS News‘s Bob Schieffer is the classic American establishment TV journalist: unfailingly deferential to the politically powerful personalities who parade before him, and religiously devoted to what he considers his own “objectivity,” which ostensibly requires that he never let his personal opinions affect or be revealed by his journalism. Watch how thoroughly and even proudly he dispenses with both of those traits when interviewing Ron Paul last Sunday on Face the Nation regarding Paul’s foreign policy views. In this 7-minute clip, Schieffer repeatedly mocks, scoffs at, and displays his obvious contempt for, two claims of Paul’s which virtually no prominent politician of either party would dare express: (1) American interference and aggression in the Muslim world fuels anti-American sentiment and was thus part of the motivation for the 9/11 attack; and (2) American hostility and aggression toward Iran (in the form of sanctions and covert attacks) are more likely to exacerbate problems and lead to war than lead to peaceful resolution, which only dialogue with the Iranians can bring about:

You actually believe 9/11 was America’s fault? Your plan to deal with the Iranian nuclear program is to be nicer to Iran? This interview is worth highlighting because it is a vivid case underscoring several points about the real meaning of the much-vaunted “journalistic objectivity”:

(1) The overarching rule of “journalistic objectivity” is that a journalist must never resolve any part of a dispute between the Democratic and the Republican Parties, even when one side is blatantly lying. They must instead confine themselves only to mindlessly describing what each side claims and leave it at that. Their refusal to label Mitt Romney’s first campaign ad as dishonest — even though it wildly misquoted Obama — is a perfect example; so, too, was their refusal to call torture “torture” on the ground that Bush officials called it something else. This is also what The Washington Post‘s Congress reporter Paul Kane meant in his widely disparaged attack this week on those who condemn the media’s “cult of balance”; when Kane defended the political media’s trite, reflexive both-parties-are-at-fault coverage of the Super Committee’s failure by saying “news coverage should always strive to present both sides of the story,” what he means is: whenever Democratic and GOP leaders say different things, it’s the job of opinion writers — but not us objective reporters — to say what the truth is; our job is simply to faithfully write down what each side says and go home.

To these types of journalists, “objectivity” compels that lies and truths be treated equally and never resolved — that is, when the dispute is between the two parties (they allow themselves exceptions to this mandate — their overt swooning for George Bush and contempt for Al Gore in 2000 was probably the most blatant example, and they also eagerly seize every opportunity presented by sex scandals to self-righteously rail against a political figure because sex is apolitical and thus entails no danger of being accused of political bias — but, in general, mindless neutrality in disputes among the two parties is the prime commandment of their objectivity religion).

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One thought on “Bob Schieffer, Ron Paul and journalistic ‘objectivity’

  1. DE Teodoru

    Schieffer is an old crow with poorly fit false teeth trying to keep up with the young studs competing for corporate approval. His whole life had little to it and now he’s trying to be memorable to anyone who’ll keep him going. Ron Paul will be long remembered after Schieffer is dispersed dust. Don’t worry, Paul is admired by youth, left and right!

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