Friday, April 16, 2010

A Better Press Corps: Episode 1

A series in which I take journalists and media pundits to task for their acts of commission and omission.

Let's start with my biggest pet peeve. The annoying tendency of so-called journalists to bend themselves out of shape in a vainglorious pursuit of balance really sticks in my craw. Their job shouldn't be to seek balance, but to provide enlightenment. There are matters of fact and then there are opinions. We can quibble over opinions, but we establish or refute facts.

If Shaquille O'Neal states that he's 7ft 1in tall, we don't find a lunatic willing to claim that he's only 4ft 11in. We don't commission a survey to find out what basketball fans believe. What basketball fans believe is irrelevant in this matter. Shaq is either 7ft 1in or he's not. What evidence indicates he's 7ft 1in? What evidence gives credence to a contrary view?

There are plenty of issues in public discourse without clearly discernable facts, but there are plenty of others where debate is unwarranted.

President Obama was either born in Honolulu, Hawaii or he was not.
Evidence for: birth certificate, newspaper announcements, factcheck.
Evidence against: racism?

David Gregory, host of "Meet the Press", believes discerning facts is an audience responsibility.

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