Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bringing shame to a noble profession

I grew up with a great admiration for the profession of journalism. People like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid were early heroes of mine. Later, the dogged investigation of Woodward and Bernstein in trying to crack the Watergate case and drag all those dirty little secrets into the light was a source of inspiration to me. Later still, I married a journalist and, nearly thirty-seven years later, I am still married to him, so you can take my word for it that I do respect and even revere the profession of journalism. It makes me very angry to see it misused and abused. Andrew Breitbart, who died today, was a prime example of the most serious kind of abuse and misuse.

Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger and activist who used undercover video to bring discredit and disgrace to his liberal targets, died Thursday. He was 43.
Mr. Breitbart was as polarizing a figure as he was popular. Hailed by the political right as a truth-teller who exposed bias and corruption, he was derided by many on the left as a provocateur who played fast and loose with the facts to further his agenda.
The New York Times is ever-respectful and restrained in its reporting, particularly in reporting on a death, but "playing fast and loose with the facts" hardly even begins to cover what Breitbart did in the practice of his "journalism." What he did was to lie. Repeatedly. He took videos of his targets and edited them in such a way as to tell the story that he wanted to tell, invariably one which furthered the right-wing agenda. He showed no regard for the truth.

In single-mindedly pursuing his crusade to destroy his liberal targets, he paid no attention to who was being hurt by the process. Particularly when those who were being hurt were the poor and disenfranchised, as in the Acorn debacle. In that instance, he used video shot by the execrable James O'Keefe, video that was later proved to be completely false, to destroy Acorn which had long been an advocate for the poor.

He tried the same tricks again with Shirley Sherrod, an employee of the Agriculture Department. But in Ms. Sherrod, he met his match. She fought back and proved him to be the liar that he was. At the time of his death today, she was suing him for defamation.

When someone dies, the convention is to try to find nice things to say about them. It was a convention to which Breitbart notably did not adhere, particularly when the dead person was a liberal. The most frequently cited instance was his public reaction to the death of Senator Kennedy when among the mildest things that he called him were a "villain" and a "duplicitous bastard."

Breitbart had a family who, I'm sure, loved him and are devastated by his untimely death. One can easily empathize with the grieving widow and four children. I cannot find it in my heart ever to rejoice over the death of a fellow human being, but I also feel no need to whitewash what Breitbart did in his life. He hurt many innocent people with his lies and he brought shame to a noble profession.

4 comments:

  1. I must admit to deliberatly avoiding people and networks (read FIX) like this. I don't need indigestion.

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  2. Journalism was my minor in college. I loved it. I taught it in high school for a few years. Many times I have wanted to take a red ink pen to the news and X through the obvious bias statements in both the broadcast and print news stories. It was drilled into me that the reader should never be able to detect your personal view. Evidently that isn't the case anymore! Of course confirming facts was also required!! I think they now call those qualities " a liberal bias" !

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    1. The truth has a well-known liberal bias, Anonymous, and many so-called journalists are terrified of being called biased if they point out the truth. Edward R. Murrow must be spinning in his grave to see what has become of his profession.

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