Daily newspapers subscribe to the notion of objective reporting, and newspaper editors are always eager to defend this foggy notion. Which makes it all the more curious that New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane recently asked readers whether “news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”
WTF! Brisbane, whether he knew it or not, was calling attention to the facade that the mainstream media constructed long ago to guard against the charge that their main function is to defend the status quo. In doing so, he chose a good example to illustrate what’s wrong with the mainstream mindset:
…On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches “apologizing for America,” a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a December 23 column arguing that politics has advanced to the “post-truth” stage.
As an Op-Ed columnist, Mr. Krugman clearly has the freedom to call out what he thinks is a lie. My question for readers is: should news reporters do the same..?
Note that Brisbane quickly jumps back behind the facade, ignoring the question of whether Romney’s accusation against Obama is based on fact. He says reporters have been trained to not ask this question, even if evidence exists that could answer it. However, it’s OK for a columnist to ask and even answer the question, because columnists merely state opinions. As if opinions and facts necessarily dwell in different realms.