A new Gallup poll shows that the public’s trust in news media has plunged to discouraging new (but completely deserved) levels. One of the side effects of this, the inevitable and correct result of the incompetence, arrogance and bias of journalists and editors every single day, is that the public has begun to trust even less trustworthy sources. For example, a large proportion of twenty-somethings get their primary news information from the Daily Show, which is today’s equivalent of using Bob Hope’s monologues as a current events resource. This is foolish beyond words, because Jon Stewart’s professional obligation is to be entertaining, provocative and funny, not fair, accurate, or responsible. Indeed, if he has an opportunity to make a hilarious joke and doesn’t do it because it would require distorting the truth, he’s breaching a professional duty. He’s accountable to no one; he has no ethical standards to meet. It is unfair to rely on Jon Stewart for the news. He doesn’t want your trust: don’t trust him.
Others…older, but no wiser…go to public issue talk shows as their primary news sources. These people are not journalists either. They may be lawyers, former military men, spooks, authors, agitators, stealth political candidates, or pundits; they may also be comedians, satirists, blowhards, ignoramuses, idiots, misanthropes, radicals, cynics, phonies or bigots. Among their ranks are too many agendas to count, in addition to those they all share: they want you to listen to them and adopt their views of the world. Those agendas are not conducive to truth either.
Some of the talk show hosts are less trustworthy than others. Take Chris Plante, for example—a B-list conservative talk show host whose primary tools are smugness and mockery. He featured a story out of Indianapolis, in which the gay and lesbian community were protesting the actions of a bakery which refused to make a “rainbow diversity” cupcake for a gay group seeking to celebrate “National Coming Out Day.” In Plante’s telling of the tale, the controversy represented the height of foolish victimization-mongering, demonstrating how absurd gay and lesbian activists were and the lengths to which they would go to claim offense where there was none.
You see, the bakery’s name was Just Cookies.””The bakery is called Just Cookies!” mocked Plante. “They didn’t make the cupcakes because they don’t make cupcakes!” Indeed, the bakery told the group they didn’t make cupcakes and added that they didn’t have the sufficient materials to bake rainbow-colored confections Then he quoted the put-upon owner of the bakery to that effect. That certainly sounded like an injustice against the bakery, which is now facing media criticism and threats of boycotts. Plante liked the story so much—See how pushy and unreasonable those same-sex-seeking gays are?–that he used it on promotions for his show, all day long.
But Plante intentionally left out a key part of the story, though he alluded to it by saying, “Another one of the owners said something else. Just Cookies’ co-owner David Stockton said “something else,” all right. He explained to local channel Fox 59 that the decision not to make the cupcakes was based on a moral objection to gays. “I explained we’re a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not to [fill the order].”
So gays in the community were not being unreasonable to feel discriminated against and treated like second-class citizen by Just Cookies. Plante’s telling was tailored to make the gays and critics of the bakery look foolish, when in fact that bakery refused to make the cupcakes for the same reason blacks would be told there was “no vacancies” at almost empty motels. Bigotry.
Distorting the story as Plante did aids and abets that bigotry. It also misleads his trusting audience, many of whom were regaling their families at tonight’s dinner table about this stupid controversy started by a bunch of silly, grievance-seeking gays who were offended because a bakery called “Just Cookies” that only baked cookies refused to make their rainbow-colored cupcakes.
What Plante did was irresponsible and malicious, as well as dishonest. He is the kind of news source modern journalism has driven Americans to, with its miserable, bottom-feeding ethics. I don’t know who the public is supposed to trust to give them both all sides of news stories and undistorted facts, it sure isn’t Chris Plante and his fellow talk show hosts.