Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A high moment for Fox Newz...

I hesitate to spell the name right because that would be giving them some legitimacy.  I can see them sitting around after this whole deal saying to themselves, "well, it was worth a shot."  Or are they really just that freakin' incompetent?

CNN Correspondent Goes Ballistic Over Fox News Libya/Human Shield Report (VIDEO) Brian Beutler | March 21, 2011, 7:00PM

The fact that Fox did send someone makes this feel like it was an intentionally manufactured attempt to count coup on the other news organizations.  I am not saying that CNN or the others do not have their flaws, but at least they aren't pulling crap like this.  Hell, beating on CNN anchors is a veritable hobby of mine on Facebook, especially the dopey daytime ones.  But I think that they do have a real reason to be calling foul on this one.

From the article:
CNN correspondent Nic Robertson has a bone or two to pick with Fox News, which reported today that he and other journalists were used by the Libyan Ministry of Information as human shields, in a successful bid to block a coming, second attack on a compound in Tripoli, supposedly controlled by Qaddafi.

"[T]his allegation is outrageous and it's absolutely hypocritical. When you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship here," Robertson told Wolf Blitzer. "You don't expect it from the other journalists."

Fox claims their own correspondent, Steve Harrigan, declined to accept the invitation from the Libyans for fear of being used as a propaganda tool, and perhaps a human shield. But Robertson claims Fox did indeed send an employee on the trip -- not a regular news guy -- and that Harrigan has been asleep on the job since hostilities began.

"I see him more times at breakfast than out on trips with government officials here," Robertson said. "So for them to say and call this -- to say they didn't go and for them to call this and say this was government propaganda to hold us there as human shields when they didn't even leave the hotel ... is ridiculous."

Fox is staking out high-ground here, claiming they were above being used by the government. Nonsense, says Robertson. "They sent a member of their team. He was not editorial. He was nontechnical, not normally a cameraman."
Fox Newz has retracted their statement that they did not participate in this media event.

Fox Reporter Retracts Claim That Fox Did Not Participate In Reported Libya/Human Shield Excursion (VIDEO) Brian Beutler | March 22, 2011, 10:59AM

So Fox is essentially saying, my words, mind you, that their guys were too scared, ur, busy, to go, so they sent a non-journalist security guy in their place, with a camera, to do their job for them.  All right.  Go, Fox!  The scales are tipping towards incompetence.

Essentially, in her retraction, Griffin's excuse is that she was ignorant of the facts, and using her ignorance to take swipes at her colleagues, those, my words, mean journalists who think they're, like, all so professional, and keep picking on us.  Yep, incompetence is definitely ahead on this one by several lengths.

It has always been my impression that professional journalists, either while on camera or in print, probably shouldn't be presenting their assumptions as facts.  Of course, I am doing some of this right now, but I am just a lowly blogger writing an editorial piece.  I am not a professional journalist on a national broadcast.

From the article:
On Monday, seasoned Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that the Libyan government was using journalists from competitor organizations as human shields, while Fox declined to participate in a propaganda mission.

Now, "seasoned" correspondent Griffin is still clinging to the idea that the main point of her comments was that Qaddafi's people are using journalists as human shields and that the British had to wave off an airstrike because of these trips.  That may be true, maybe it is not.  After this stunt, I cannot take her words seriously, she has blown her credibility with me.  If she does not know what is going on with her co-workers, how the hell am I supposed to believe that she knows what is going on with the RAF?

 Strange Perk Of The Job Brian Beutler | March 21, 2011, 8:14PM

 Still, I also have to wonder about the wisdom of Robertson going off on air like this.  Sure, call Fox on it, but maybe it would also be a bit more profession to leave the name calling, red meat baiting to people like John Stewart.  Don't worry, Nic, I have faith that The Daily Show will defend your honor, they live for these moments.  We can all see from the way this went down that the Fox Newz staff probably is a bunch of "lazy liar[s] who never [do] any reporting," but you probably shouldn't say it on air. Now you've fed red meat to their team.  If I am not going to cut them any slack for their unprofessional comments, I can't really cut you any either, Nic.

Beutler makes some solid points in the editorial linked to above.  Mind you, this was published before the retraction:
I'm not in a position to evaluate all of this on the merits just yet, but here's the thing: Fox's guy in Libya didn't break the story about the scuttled missile attack -- their long-time national security reporter, Jennifer Griffin, did. So this isn't on its face a CYA situation. And structurally, an outlet like Fox that's been, I think it's fair to say, sympathetic to recent war efforts, is just bound to have very good military sources in both the U.S. and allied countries. Like the U.K. Not saying it's good -- just saying that's how it is.
This still raises plenty of questions: Is CNN's criticism of Fox's reporting from Libya legit? Why didn't Fox disclose in their story that, as CNN's Nic Robertson claims, Fox did send an employee on the excursion? Have they verified Libya's intent here? Or is the term "human shield" a loaded one they're borrowing from military sources?
While we do know more about what happened with the Fox "journalists," the other questions above are still valid and should be answered by people we can trust.  Unfortunately, Fox has lost their credibility on this story.

Finally, I cannot agree more with his closing sentence:
In the meantime it'd be easy to let existing biases (about Fox or CNN) guide people to hasty conclusions, and that would be unwise.
Those biases, those divisions that keep the right and the left from seeing eye to eye are one of the biggest threats out there to our democracy today.  It lets news agencies get away with shoddy journalism which then prevents the people from making informed decisions about their candidates and the issues effecting their lives.  It also prevents many people from developing a true understanding of how the American political system operates in the first place.  At worst, it even is perverting the American political system into something that resembles the cartoonish caricatures that the worst on each side uses to portray the other side.

And, to me, the most disturbing part of all of this?  If the journalists are really becoming this incompetent, than who is keeping an eye on things around here anyway?  Who is keeping those in power honest?

This almost makes me feel bad about calling Fox "Newz" instead of "News."  Almost.  They aren't the only ones to blame, but they seem to be the ones deserving blame the most often.

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