Here is a suggested rule of reason for integrity-challenged media organizations. If they are intent on being so venal and cynical as to hire high-profile low-lifes who inflate ratings at the cost of the organization’s credibility, they can at least make their new employees agree that in the event of the inevitable scandal or embarrassing revelation, the infamous/dubious quasi-journalist understands and agrees that his or her employers will cover the matter like locusts on a wheat field, and with just as much mercy.
Reason, however, like ethics, has very little place in American broadcast media these days. Even though Piers Morgan, the new Larry King on CNN, is awash in allegations of phone hacking from no less than the King Beatle himself, Paul McCartney, CNN itself is ignoring the story, using the pathetic excuse that it isn’t a story until there is smoking gun evidence or until Morgan actually has to testify in England.
Morgan, for his part, appears to be lying through his teeth. Once a British tabloid editor and no stranger to accusations of slimy journalistic practices, Morgan is denying accusations by ex-McCartney wife Heather Mills (Supported by Sir Paul) that Morgan hacked her phone, without explaining how he squares this with a 2006 interview in which he admitted to listening to a hacked Mills message. Isn’t it automatically news when the headline can read, “Paul Supports Ex-wife’s Claim that CNN Host Hacked Her Phone”?
Bloomberg News, msnbc.com, ABC, TIME, AP,CBS and over 2000 other sources have reported the story, but Morgan’s current employer, CNN, as of this writing, has not. Protecting its own. Protecting its ratings. Trying to bury a story that’s embarrassing to it and a key employer.
As James Earl Jones used to intone, “THIS is CNN!”
This is also old hat for CNN, as it recently managed to pretend that then-host Eliot Spitzer wasn’t on the list of famous sex-scandal-disgraced politicians when the Weiner story was hot. Strange, isn’t it? All those news talk shows, and yet Tom Snyder, Charlie Rose, David Susskind, Edward R. Murrow and the rest never seemed to become liabilities as the result of scandalous behavior in their past. Why is that, do you think?
Might it be because in those days, the news organizations were interested in trustworthiness, honesty, experience and reliability, not just buzz and infamy?