Cut back to the CNN studio where anchor Wolf Blitzer noted how enthusiastic the delegates seemed, although he also noted there were one or two items the fact-checkers might want to come back on. He had, he said, made a list of "seven or eight points" that might be contentious, but didn't mention what they were. Cut to a panel discussion for instant reaction, cut to Ryan and family looking pleased, cut back to the studio. Still no specifics on those pesky facts.
Back in the CNN studio, Blitzer finally felt comfortable listing the points where Ryan had clearly created a misleading impression, noting that "emails and Twitter" had raised such questions, rather than producers and correspondents. For the viewer, it was puzzling.
A major news network that doesn't say, even as the ovation continues, "hang on a minute", is surely falling short. The reluctance of American journalists to tackle the substantive issues raised by politicians, lobbyists, pressure groups and others for fear of being seen as "biased" forms part of a culture of "neutrality" that is essentially driven by economic forces but which is presented as an ethical touchstone.
"The view from nowhere" is a phrase coined by philosopher Thomas Nagel, which was applied to American journalism by academics and commentators like Jay Rosen and James Fallows. It describes a flawed process of delivering "unbiased" reporting. The "neutral" journalist conveys two sides to an argument without forming a judgment. The theory sounds fine until you try it out: "some scientists believe in the Darwinian theory of evolution, but many other people believe that God created men and monkeys from different pieces of magic clay'. An extreme, and absurd example perhaps, but one which illustrates the fundamental bankruptcy of "the view from nowhere".
The culture that favours "neutrality" over "truthiness" was illustrated by Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's now infamous assertion that "legitimate rape" carries almost no risk of pregnancy, when his interviewer Charles Jaco allowed it to slip by unchallenged. Again, this local interview rapidly found an international audience through the hyper-connected web of consumers and commentators, making the journalistic failure to tackle this at source even more egregious.
The existence of a "fact-checking movement" which runs parallel to, but is not part of, the press shows how disjointed the process of informing the public has become. So much so that a former public editor of the New York Times attracted some ridicule earlier this year when he asked if it was the job of journalists to be "truth vigilantes".; given the prevailing conditions, however, one can see why he was asking the question even it if was phrased in a rather unfortunate way.
Every one of the 15,000 editors, correspondents, producers, gofers and commentators who packed into the convention last week should be asking themselves the same question. If the job of journalism is to strengthen democracy, and if you can't move in downtown Tampa for accredited press, why did Ryan and his team of speechwriters produce something so wilfully misleading? The ugly truth is, they did it because they could.
Help Us Transmit This Story
Add to Your Blogger Account Put it On Facebook Tweet this post Print it from your printer Email and a collection of other outlets Try even more services
Fatally Flawed: The Pursuit of Justice in a Suspicious Election
Voices of Opposition
Opposition to War, Racism and Oppression.
Basic Statistics for U.S. Imperialism
All Items Produced In House
The World Reacts...
See Hillary Clinton Make Fun of Gaddafi's Murder
Here is Israel's Crap Treatment of an American Jew
People participate in movements when that particular movement
(1) meets their concrete and tangible needs, (2) offers individuals real experiences in the movement's outcome (3) provides a sense of community, (4) makes available ongoing education and skills training and (5) shows direct and effective ways for people to take further action.
A loose interpretation of a message sent on Sunday, October 4th, 2009 by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy
A worker walks out of a factory building outfitted with nets, installed to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths, at a Foxconn factory, in Langfang, Hebei Province August 3, 2010. There have been nearly a dozen suicides at Foxconn plants around China this year alone, prompting calls for investigations into poor working conditions at the plants that make parts for customers such as Apple, HP and Dell. (REUTERS/Jason Lee) #
Portland 9/11 Truth Meetup Group and the Smell of Bacon
You can't have peace for the sake of peace. Peace is a consequence of an equitable arrangement.