If "opinion journalism" is now regarded as something to be avoided, how about beginning the purge at the broadcast networks. On the CBS Evening News last March 31, Dan Rather suggested that American civilians had volunteered to work in Iraq because "In this economy it may be, for some, the only job they can find." Is that opinion, or reporting since no source was cited or interview conducted with anyone who said such a thing?
In December, 2003, Peter Jennings told the ABC World News Tonight audience, "Iraqis keep telling us life is not as stable for them as it was when Saddam Hussein is in power." Viewers might have concluded that Jennings had slipped in his personal opinion because no survey was presented and no person interviewed to justify such a conclusion.
CNN's Aaron Brown delivered what a fair-minded viewer might have concluded was a personal opinion on his Nov. 10, 2004 "NewsNight" program. He referred to criticism of John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans and whether Kerry deserved the three Purple Hearts and an early out from Vietnam. Brown said, "Look at this picture here (in the Stars and Stripes military newspaper), if you can. 'Troops' Bravery Honored in Iraq.' These are all Purple Heart winners. Some day, one of them will run for president and someone will say they didn't earn the Purple Heart. Welcome to America."
Commenting, not reporting, on the number of moderate speakers at last summer's Republican National Convention in New York, CNN's Judy Woodruff wondered, "Can the Republicans get away with putting moderate speakers up there?"
During past Republican conventions, the networks have questioned whether Republicans could "get away" with having so many "right-wing" speakers. One might reasonably draw conclusions that for these reporters and anchors, it isn't the wing, so much as the Republican Party itself that troubles them. They make no similar remarks about the ideology of speakers at the Democratic conventions.
The problem for the mainstream media (which isn't mainstream anymore) is that its denial of its own biases has caused the rise of bloggers and cable news, especially Fox. If they had been truly reporting and not indoctrinating, there would be no Fox and no bloggers to study.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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