You have to laugh…

16 06 2009

…to keep from crying about the upcoming ABC White House Broadcast Experience.  I’m not sure what’s more pathetic: the fact that ABC will still attempt to call itself an objective news outlet during and after this, or that this kind of behavior isn’t really surprising at this point.

Oh, and I saw the story before all the grown-up blogs and talk radio covered it, I’ve just been too busy doing manly things (fixing a tailgate and cleaning) to write anything about it.

I can scarcely believe this madness!

I can scarcely believe this madness!

Wherever grand ideas you have about the future of health care, you have to at least admit that a week of relentless  hawking of a deeply flawed government plan with an echo chamber town hall “discussion” on the issue as the climax cannot be called responsible journalism.  It can’t even really be called irresponsible journalism, either.  It’s not really journalism at all; it’s cheerleading.

Granted, any alternative that Republicans have to offer will probably suck only marginally less than the ill-begotten, utterly ineffective monstrosity currently on the platter, but for appearance’s sake, couldn’t we at least fake a debate?

Actually I noticed that this dropping of any pretense of media objectivity is frighteningly widespread these days.  Most of us probably don’t even notice it, or we tune it out if we do.  Late the other night, when every other channel was plagued by ExtenZe commercials, I was watching PBS.  It’s one of my guilty secrets, along with listening to NPR.  Anyhow, the show I was watching (on classical sculpture) ended, and my leg was asleep, so I decided to watch NOW on PBS, which I had never seen before.

The subject was the recent murder of abortionist George Tiller.  Abortion, especially late-term abortion, is one of those issues that raises feelings so strong that rational debate is almost impossible.  I don’t intend to justify what George Tiller did or attack abortion on principle at this point; the reality is that his brutal murder (at Church, of all places) is impossible to justify—like it or not, what he was doing was legal.  If you want to change that, do it with laws; otherwise, you’re no better than little Billy Ayers.

What I want to point out is that during the half hour of hard-hitting investigative reporting done by a painfully earnest Maria Hinojosa, there was plenty of time spent interviewing Tiller’s colleagues as well as other abortion providers.  Excerpts from radical anti-abortion websites were highlighted and read; Bill O’Reilly was accused of murder; Janet Napolitano’s ridiculous DHS report on Right Wing Extremism was vindicated, etc. etc.

I could almost taste the smugness through the TV screen.

I could almost taste the smugness through the TV screen.

No rational anti-abortion viewpoints were given any screen time.  There was no attempt at balancing the segment, which ended up being mostly a justification late-term abortion (were it purely about the murder of Tiller, I could understand why no pro-lifers were interviewed).  Even if you wanted to fake objectivity, you could have found a really dull pro-life supporter and interviewed them.  You know, set them up to trip over their own argument, or whatever.

Imagine how angry pro-choicers would be if a FOX segment on abortion focused entirely on pro-life arguments, portrayed all abortions as being as common and brutal as late-term abortions (which apparently represent only 1% of abortions performed annually), and showed a bunch of pictures of aborted fetuses to finish the program off.  There would be outrage and accusations of bias.  It would all be very predictable.

Then again, I realize that there’s probably very little outrage over the overt, shameless bias of NOW on PBS because I’m probably the only person who actually watches it.  But a lot of people still watch ABC, and those people deserve unbiased information about what our government is cooking up—not Pravda-style press releases.

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