While much of the mainstream news media has been floating rationalizations and excuses for its failure to cover the Gosnell trial, a cynical process nicely dissected by James Taranto here, at least one liberal commentator has the integrity to admit the obvious. He is the Huffington Post’s Marc Lamont Hill, and on a live webcast, he said this:
“For what it’s worth, I do think that those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this trial because we worry that it’ll compromise abortion rights. Whether you agree with abortion or not, I do think there’s a direct connection between the media’s failure to cover this and our own political commitments on the left. I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s dangerous, but I think that’s the way it is.”
We are all biased: the ethical ones among us recognize our biases and try diligently to resist them. Hill is obviously an ethical and honest man. Now if some of his colleagues on the Left, which means the vast majority of reporters, editors and journalists in print, broadcast and internet news media, will admit their biases and do the right thing, there might be cause for hope. For the phenomenon that Hill describes is dangerous, and if it controls news coverage in this instance, we must assume that it does likewise in other stories and public policy controversies as well, not to mention political campaigns. If journalists’ “political commitments” warp their coverage of abortion-related events, then it is fair and reasonable to assume that they actively protect President Obama and his policy initiatives, bolster the Democratic party, undermine support for conservative positions, and, in short, do not practice objective journalism as they are professionally and ethically obligated to do, but disguised political advocacy instead. The admission of that truth, if significant numbers of the journalism establishment share Hill’s integrity (a huge ‘if’), should trigger a crisis intervention in the profession, with its members committing to reversing this undemocratic and sinister trend that they have denied for so long.
There is no reason to think so.
Pointer: The Blaze
Sources: Huffington Post, Washington Post
12 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Marc Lamont Hill”
Jack, I’ve only been a dedicated reader for a couple of months. I
have digested all of your EAs and agree with your insightful commentary. That is up to this post. Labeling Mr. Hill as an ethics Hero seems to me to be nothing more than gratuitous. I realize that admission (or confession) is good for the soul, but Lamont’s lament “that’s just the way it is” speaks volumes to me. I don’t grant hero status, that’s just the way it is.
Why not? It’s significant confession. Breaking ranks and a code of silence is the equivalent of whistle-blowing.
Considering Professor Hill’s past statements and conduct, his “oh well, them’s the breaks” style of confession doesn’t quite rise to the level I’d consider needed to be an ethics hero.
The statement is unusually candid in a profession that routinely denies its biases. His past is irrelevant. The statement, coming from any liberal-biased reporter, is welcome, valuable and courageous.
“I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s dangerous, but I think that’s the way it is.” In other words, “Our method of journalism is dangerous and bad but we’re not going to change.” My Webster’s defines “hero” as “any person admired for his qualities or achievments and regarded as an ideal or model.” Sorry Jack, this guy may be perceptive and articulate, but he’s an icon of “the ends justify the means” in journalism.
What can he do about it at this point, other than flag it? I don’t read him to mean that he’s going to keep doing it, and his statement is literally true, isn’t it? That is the way it is. Now that someone is admitting it (against interest, which is why it’s heroic), it’s up to others to take the next step.
He could write a piece explaning what objective coverage of the trial would entail and mean for the left’s take on abortion and have it published in his usualy outlets. He could express some second thoughts about abortion. He could publicly have some doubts. He could asky why do things have to be the way they are in the lefty world or journalism. Perhaps?
He could express some second thoughts about abortion. What does that have to do with this?
I dunno – Dr. Hill actually might not have meant what we easily could think he meant. But I do prefer to give him the benefit of doubt.
“For what it’s worth,…” is a ambiguous qualifier because of its multiple possible meanings. I have made the mistake of using it; I include among my mistakes the incidences of using the phrase when I was giving myself license to be wishy-washy, or when proactively pleading innocence despite my ignorance, or when apologizing unnecessarily as if I was butting-in unintentionally (or without justification), or when sarcastically “apologizing” (“Excuse ME!”) for butting-in.
How different would my previous, long sentence above have come across, if I had begun it with “For what it’s worth, I have made the mistake…”? Wouldn’t it have come across at least to some readers as if I was saying, “I do this [wrong thing], but, I don’t see why I shouldn’t do it, when it’s so convenient (as my examples illustrate) and it’s done by so many others”?
Following the opening qualifier, I do believe the rest of what Hill means in his remarks remarks up to and including “…I think that’s the way it is” could be interpreted more than one way – and in opposing ways. Again, I have observed Hill enough to give him the benefit of doubt. But I would be at a loss for arguing with someone who interpreted Hill’s meaning as a sophisticated rationalization (in Jack’s “school,” an exploitation of his Rationalizations 1, 3, 11 through 13, 18, 20 through 22, 25, 27, and perhaps others, in a “bundled” way).
So here I go: For what it’s worth, I agree that Marc Lamont Hill made a bold, “heretical” statement – whatever he really meant.
It was obviously off the cuff, and that makes it more trustworthy, in my book. It’s a ratioanalization, if he’s suggesting that its OK to be biased. The statement that it’s wrong and dangerous, however, means that he is giving us an explanation, but not saying that it’s OK.
Thanks, I’ll keep pondering the trustworthiness and off-the-cuff-ness.
Correction/apology: First sentence of my next-to-last paragraph in my Apr 18-11:20 am above, I meant to say, “…remarks up to and including…”