Ever-Diminishing Journalistic Integrity

The national attention had barely been drawn to Aurora, yet for one newsman—a term used loosely in his case—the speculation abounded. Brian Ross of ABC had done “research;” he had found a James Holmes in Aurora who was a member of the Tea Party. Keep in mind that the story was only a few hours old at most, and he was attempting to draw a connection. Of course he was wildly wrong: the James Holmes of the Tea Party was over fifty, not in his twenties. ABC had to write an official apology for this erroneous reporting. What led Ross to do such a thing? Might I speculate as well? Could it be that he has an agenda? That he desires to link the Tea Party to violence? An identical scenario played out in the Tucson shooting back in January 2011. Conservatives, Tea Partiers, and in that case Sarah Palin personally, were accused of fostering a climate that led to tragedy.

Yet there has never been any evidence of Tea Party violence. No one can legitimately say the same thing about the Occupy Movement, yet that phenomenon goes largely unreported. Ross has outed himself as a biased journalist. If ABC had any integrity, he would be gone.

This incident, though, is only the latest in an unremitting string of biased reporting. Andrea Mitchell of NBC recently outdid Ross, yet she’s still a “respected” reporter. She, or her team for which she is responsible, selectively edited a statement from Mitt Romney. In an apparent attempt to make Romney sound out of touch with the world at large, she showed a video of Romney being amazed by how you could order a sandwich on a touchscreen at a Wawa store. The only problem is that wasn’t what earned Romney’s amazement. The full video revealed that he was commenting on how private sector initiative could create such innovations.

In a later report, under pressure from those who clearly knew this was a hit job, Mitchell ran more of the video showing the entire context, yet there was no apology on air. It was presented simply as a response to a request from Republicans to show more of the video. No mea culpa because, in Mitchell’s mind, there was nothing wrong with what she had done.

I’ve used the Mallard Fillmore comic strip many times to illustrate the dishonesty of the media. The strip picked up on this distortion rather handily. Here is a four-comic sequence about it that I think hits home:

Journalistic integrity has never existed to the extent that people in the profession believe it has, but it is suffering now more than ever.