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Journalistic objectivity and veracity

Many television journalists attempt to project an image of being objective, dealing in facts, as seekers of the truth, and of providing fair and balanced journalism. But contrary to what they would have us believe, they are transparently biased. They make allegations of all kinds about issues that they want to destroy for political and personal reasons. They present these allegations as if they were already established as factual. And they do not offer concrete proof of any kind to make them valid.
Television journalism, then, takes on this air of daytime soap opera melodrama. And, I think these "journalists", their producers and directors and the bigwigs at the media corporations really expect the American public to listen to what they are saying and take it seriously.

The other night I was doing cardiovascular exercise on a machine at a gym and was under a tv that was on a "news program" on MSNBC that was hosted by someone named Joe Scarborough. This was my first viewing experience of the Joe Scarborough television show. The program was already in progress when I got on the machine and Mr. Scarborough was reviewing "fan mail" from "democrats" who praised him for doing such a fine job of presenting a fair and balanced reportage. There were two of those letters. Mr. Scarborough seemed to be happy to present himself to the world as a fine, impartial, balanced, truth proferring(?) agent of the press. And, I guess that he assumed that those letters that he presented did, in fact, validate him as a fair, unbiased, balanced reporter. Well, my opinion was that all he succeeded in doing, really, was to pat himself on the back and he was telling himself and his viewers what he wanted them to think and feel about him. Which is fine. But, it doesn't really mean that he is in fact, balanced, unbiased, fair, or that what he is doing is presenting truthful information in a search for the truth. It didn't do that at all. But, Mr. Scarborough seemed to be satisfied that it did.

The topic that evening was John Kerry's response to the Swift Boat Veteran against John Kerry ad. John Kerry in the campaign speeches that he gave that day included a reference to the fact that President Bush was not condemming the ad and that therefore the Bush campaign was letting this monied republican group "do his dirty work." Personally, I am glad that John Kerry responded in this way. Everything about this smear ad is illustrative of the character of George Bush and his administration. It's negative and mean-spirited. As I see it, it's a tactic that is employed in dirty fighting, which is what this president's administration has been all about from it's first day on. Mr. Scarborough seemed to react to John Kerry's response with incredulity. He seemed to take it very personally that John Kerry would refute the contents of the ad and mention the complicity of the Bush administration with the content and the airing of the ad. Mr. Scarborough visibly took offense to all of John Kerry's actions and words. He did not seem to be able to separate his emotions out of what he was doing. And, he took an adversarial tone and was definitely in an attack mode when it came to the Kerry response. Then, Mr. Scarborough said, "This is what John Kerry had to say" and showed the 90 second clip extracted from John Kerry's campaign speech. After the 90 second clip, Mr. Scarborough presented what seemed like it must have been the entirety of the 25 minute telephone interview that he had had with one of the men interviewed in the against Kerry ad who had apparently contradicted himself. Again, the telephone respondent spent his time on national tv attempting to iron out his story, fix it, make it sound plausible, while all the time attacking Kerry's actions in a maneuver that took place 30+ years ago. His speech had several objectives: to attack John Kerry's character, to put into question John Kerry's receipt of a medal of honor, to present his perceptions as reality and truth, and to present John Kerry as some kind of an antiwar hero. The interview was so twisted and full of rhetoric it was like listening to a debate coach/student but none of it seemed factual as it was all based on subjective feelings and perceptions of something that happened over 30 years ago. After the 25 minute telephone interview, Mr. Scarborough "dialogued" with several other "journalists" and it really had the air of being more of a pep rally against John Kerry than anything else. They spent approximately 10 minutes in this "dialogue". The entire episode was nothing more than an outright attack on John Kerry for his having pointed out a truth about the Bush presidency, which, in my opinion, is a fair thing to do in this campaign.

In this "news" report there was much talk of John Kerry's medals, which were rightfully deserved, questions were raised as to which of his medals may have been obtained that were questionable. There was a lot of discussion about the seriousness of John Kerry's injuries and about the length of his stay in Viet Nam which I think is absolutely meaningless. In the end, I thought, what really matters to me is that John Kerry served for 4 months in Viet Nam and saved, not one, but several of his fellow soldiers from death. In my opinion, that is a war hero. I did not serve in Viet Nam for even one day. And, I certainly never saved anyone's life there. Some questions I have for the men who made the anti Kerry Swift Boat ad are: How many men's lives did you personally save? And, was your service there any more commendable than his? Or, is your action right now simply political because you don't like or feel threatened by the politics of John Kerry?

This "news program" made me even more certain that the only way to get at the truth is to continue an independent investigation of it, free of the allegations, perceptions/thoughts/rhetoric/semantics of these people who present themselves as "journalists". I thought journalism was supposed to present fair, unbiased, balanced, varied, and the whole array of available viewpoints. That is what journalism is supposed to be in my mind. What I see on television doesn't meet any of those criteria.