Perspective

Honest Journalist

Why are the phrases “honest journalist” and “free press” so often greeted with a snicker?  Of course, everyone exempts his own columnist or talking head from the general condemnation, but most Americans also exempt their own congressman from the universal condemnation of Congress as a body made up of toadies and swindlers.  To see the American press in action, simply tune in a program like The Capital Gang.  Whatever the question that divides the group—the veracity and competence of Condoleezza Rice, the payments to Haliburton for supplying oil to Iraq, the voting record of John Kerry—the response almost always breaks down along party lines: Bob Novak, Sean Hannity, Tony Snow, Kate O’Beirne, shilling for the Republicans; Mark Shields, Al Hunt, Alan Colmes doing the same for the Democrats.  Occasionally, a speaker wanders off the reservation, usually because he is loyal to another reservation like the conservative movement or Marxist ideology, but such exceptions are rare interruptions in the smooth flow of thoughtless chatter and fact-free propaganda.

I do not know why anyone bothers to watch the show—or, rather, I do know, but the knowledge is dispiriting.  Party loyalists watch, talking over the enemy and applauding “our side.”  Listen to talk radio.  Not all of the callers can be party activists, yet most of them have memorized...

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