Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Insulting Our Intelligence

So the meltdown at CBS News just glows hotter and hotter. I'm sure I am just one of multitudes who have gone from raised eyebrows startlement, to amusement at the circus this has turned into, to rapt fascination, and finally to slack-jawed astonishment. Now it's become officially established that when a rabid Bush hater wanted a high level contact in the Kerry campaign, CBS acted as a go-between in order to get their phony documents. And I'm not even surprised. But this is ridiculous. From the NY Times:

"It is obviously against CBS News standards and those of every other reputable news organization to be associated with any political agenda," the network said in a statement.

Now come on. Everybody has an agenda. Because everybody has opinions about how the world should work, and everybody would like to see them reflected in reality, and unless they're hopelessly apathetic, everybody does something to see them put into action. By definition, that's an agenda. In my case, I vote, I write letters to newspapers, and rather to my surprise, I now seem to be blogging.

Organizations can have agendas as much as individuals can. The political agenda of CBS has become painfully clear. Fox News has an agenda too, but a somewhat different one. The thing is, they're just a bit more honest about admitting they have an agenda. Yeah, yeah, they report, we decide, but just like everybody else they decide what to report, and how, based on what they believe. Based on their agenda.

As Jeff Jarvis has been saying forever, having a political agenda, even if you're a news agency, is not necessarily the worst thing in the world. Having one and not admitting it, having one and pretending you're as apolitical as the dictionary, that's another matter entirely.

And if you think a dictionary can't have a political slant, just ask a dictionary editor. Be prepared for an earful.

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