30 October 2009

Fox News and journalists lack of pride in their profession

U.S. President Obama's "war" with Fox News is a hot topic in American media circles these days. That there would be tension between a president and a news network that is out to destroy his administration isn't surprising. What is surprising is the lack of concern among American journalists about the way Fox demeans their profession.

I referred to Fox as a news agency out of generosity. It is in fact a propaganda agency in both news and opinion. Its news is biased and highly selective; if necessary it creates its own news for the purpose of Obama-bashing; and its pundits, "barking mad gasbags" according to John Doyle in the The Globe and Mail, routinely resort to bullying, distortion and outright lying. The network has brought journalism down not just into the gutter but into the sewer.

Yet few journalists in the U.S. seem concerned, although some, such as Jacob Weisberg in Newsweek, have spoken out. If a doctor behaved with the same irresponsibility toward his profession that Fox journalists do toward theirs, he would be struck off the register. A lawyer would be disbarred. Doctors and lawyers take pride in their profession. They set high standards and if any of their fellow practitioners can't meet those standards, they don't want them around.

I understand that journalists can't strike their malpracticing fellows off the register or disbar them, but they can defend high standards and excoriate those who fall to the level of Fox. Most, it seems can't be bothered. I'm not suggesting they don't strive for a high standard in their own work, but rather that, unlike doctors and lawyers, they seem to have no concern about the reputation of their profession as a whole.

It shouldn't be up to the president to do their job for them, but apparently it is. Even in response to Obama's lead, they seem more interested in circling the journalistic wagons than accepting journalistic responsibility.

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