These were real journalists who came to broadcast network news mostly from newspapers and wire services. They could write. They believed journalism was a calling and a public trust. Their agenda was to report facts as they discovered them. Probably most were Democrats, but compared to what passes for contemporary journalism, their politics and opinions were mostly kept out of their reporting. The cynicism created by Vietnam and Watergate began to change journalism and compromised many journalists and the ethical standard by which they once lived.
Today's "opinion journalism," which is a contradiction, has eroded the public's trust in networks and newspapers, as reflected in declining ratings and circulation. People today tune in to programming that only reinforces what they already believe.
Still, Keith Olbermann should not have been disciplined, if that's what a two-day suspension can be called. Instead, each time he makes a political comment, a disclaimer should be put on the screen which states which politicians he favored with donations. The same holds true for all the others. Silencing people does nothing for the credibility of a network. Every network "performer" and newspaper political reporter should have information about his or her actual and in-kind contributions available to the public, including any speeches given that endorse a specific candidate or political group.
We in the media demand full disclosure from politicians. If more of us were transparent about our political "contributions," perhaps the public would trust us more. Or not. Either way, what we demand of others, we should also demand of ourselves and show the way by example.
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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