Thursday, June 25, 2009

And That's the Way It Is

I grew up as a child watching the most trusted man in America deliver the evening news. Walter Cronkite obviously had his biases and faults, but he understood that it was the job of the journalist not only to report the news but to hold the people he reported on accountable to the Truth. Truth with a capital T. There was such a thing then. I still remember watching the reporting out of Vietnam and it was clear that no matter what LBJ or Nixon was saying about the war, the pictures on the screen were telling the real unpretty story. Cronkite reported the Truth about the war.

The MSM long ago lost its belief in the Truth, or at least its belief that it is part of the media's job to dig for the truth and hold officials accountable to the truth. We make fun of Fox News' 'fair and balanced' moniker but only because it is so unabashedly brazen about the fact that what matters on Fox is not the Truth but that their 'truth' outshouts everyone else's truth. It's crude post-modernism on display every night on Fox.

But everyone else does it too now. The media's job is not to report the Truth but to report what competing interests say the truth is. Let the listener try and figure out the Truth if they dare, or care.

Even NPR is apparently too cowed by its corporate sponsors. Is waterboarding torture? When the North Vietnamese were doing it to American soldiers it was torture. By every known human rights convention waterboarding is torture. When Jack Bauer does it on 24 it is torture, vitally necessary to save the free world of course, but still torture. But when the Bush administration does it suddenly it isn't torture. Now it all depends on who is doing it and why they are doing it and whether they have lofty motives. So NPR bars its reporters from using the word 'torture' when they are talking about what the Bush Administration was doing to terror suspects. That would be telling the Truth and reporters can't do that any more.

Glenn Greenwald has a lot more to say about this here.

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