Unethical Quote Of The Month: Journalist Matt Pearce

“Journalism *is* activism in its most basic form. The entire basis for its ethical practice is the idea that a democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function. Choosing what you want people to know is a form of activism, even if it’s not the march-and-protest kind.”

—-Matt Pearce, national correspondent for the LA Times, tweeting his support for the definition of journalism endorsed by Rebecca Schneid, co-editor in chief of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School newspaper, as Brian Stelter, CNN’s fake broadcast journalism ethicist, silently stood by, since it is mean and bad form to tell teenagers dictating national policy that they don’t know what they are talking about.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Choosing what you want people to know.

Nah, there’s no media bias!

Yup…

“Enemy of the people.”

Res ipsa loquitur.

134 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions

134 responses to “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Journalist Matt Pearce

  1. Note that increasingly journalists are not even hiding their agendas, bias and unethical practices. And I confess: I am losing respect and patience for those who continue to deny the news media’s abandonment of their duty, and continue to extol journalists when they are abusing their position and power. They are undermining democracy too.

    • Aleksei

      The journalists of the Pravda were guiding their fellow comrades towards the “truth”. And so our incorrigible journalists are accepting the baton to carry forward this “truth” as well. All who disagree are just counter-revolutionary imperialist capitalist dogs. The dissenters shall be involuntarily committed, because they can only be crazy to object to bright future that shall be heralded with the aid of our journalistic betters!

      • joed68

        When you’re making omelets, you’ll inevitably have to break a few million eggs.

      • Aleksei wrote: ”The journalists of the Pravda were guiding their fellow comrades towards the “truth”. And so our incorrigible journalists are accepting the baton to carry forward this “truth” as well. All who disagree are just counter-revolutionary imperialist capitalist dogs. The dissenters shall be involuntarily committed, because they can only be crazy to object to bright future that shall be heralded with the aid of our journalistic betters!”

        How do you view and how do you explain, after having noticed this about Pravda, the American newsreel and the propaganda that was distributed to the public in theatres and such which, looked at now, is a blatant form of the same thing?

        [https://youtu.be/MaNTAUc-3tk]

        • Aleksei

          If you approach this issue from the point of view, that there is no objective truth, you will come out with the conclusion that both sides are just being antagonistic towards each other, kind of a zero sum game of information, if the other tells their story, my story would be told less, etc. If you take the approach, that one side is right and the other side is evil, misguided, wrong, etc. then it’s an ideological battle. I think the passing of time has placed the different ideas into the shelves of “works” and “doesn’t work”. I think to the benefit of the American side of the aisle, even though you had these newsreels and etc, you can still be able to get communist literature from your local CP of USA, while in the Soviet Union, you would just get the Pravda editorializing of how mean the West is, you won’t be able actually read Western news firsthand, unless you’re in the KGB, or something. To speculate a bit, I think our journalists have taken up the same zeal the former Pravda journalists had, and the zeal is for the same ideas the Pravda had. It is pesky that they still have to compete with conservative print, but it is easier when they have pop culture, Hollywood, and the education system on their side. In urban areas, where about 80% of US population live, leftist ideas are the standard starting point. I don’t think that is because “history bends toward justice” so to speak, but there are some other factors that made this happen. Our journalists have culpability here.

          • I see what you are trying to say. Largely, I agree with it. But I must confess that I conceive it possible, and also necessary, to define a position and hold to a position that looks critically at both poles. But I would not say that one can, or should, be empty of ideology, but I think I might define ideology somewhat differently than you seem to, at least in this instance.

            Once you have started a critique of ‘pop culture’ and ‘Hollywood’ and the ‘education system’ I think that you (one) will have begun on a fairly radical path that must confront very established institutions which largely define ‘America’.

            You can’t really have a ‘criticism lite’ when it coes to defining what has gone wrong and why.

            In any case, that is how I see things.

            Thanks for your comment, it was appreciated.

            • Aleksei

              I agree, I don’t think it’s possible to be 100% neutral. You’d have to be some kind of hard core rationalist and come to the conclusion that human rights and freedom are frivolous waste of time and energy.

              I’m not necessarily saying that those aspects of US society are all bad, but I think the thought leaders in those sectors align with the biases of our journalists, so you get a compounding effect, so to speak.

              I am glad that I was able to show you some of my logic. And in the first comment, I was being hyperbolic, by parodying some of the language the soviets would use in blasting their enemies, and some of the methods, like involuntary commitment of political dissidents as punishment under the guise of “treatment”, for the sake of dark humor.

              • If you take the approach, that one side is right and the other side is evil, misguided, wrong, etc. then it’s an ideological battle.

                My effort is just to try and approach a point where I might see clearly (the world) and might also be able to describe what goes on in that world.

                I think there is a further dimension, now, than there may have been in the Cold War era. I also think that — or I propose it is possible because I do not really know — that some people who write on this Blog, and even Jack to some extent, operate perceptually from a sort-of ‘Cold War’ interpretation of the world. In the most general terms, and terms which require elaboration, it is a perceptual order that was formed in the Second World War and in its aftermath.

                We have been under the influence of these rather simplistic and indeed binary descriptions of political realities for a long long time. Now, they are no longer adequate as descriptions.

                Now, to all appearances, there has taken place a crisis of confidence in which people, often, demonstrate that they do not think the ‘evil’ is ‘out there’ in some identifiable other, but rather ‘in here’. In us, within our system.

                Now, people that I can name pursuing another level of critical analysis. They have turned their attention to ‘liberalism’ as a sort of culmination of decadence that has afflicted the West. And it is not only that ‘liberalism’ (I prefer hyper-liberalism as a term) but political, industrial and intelligence groupings within our own system that are seen as ‘the enemy’.

                One level of this can be seen as ‘realistic’ and factual (though it is hard to get real facts and accurate data about such things). The other side of this equation is paranoid conspiratorial imaginings.

                It seems to me that in this critique of ‘journalists’ and what we all seem to notice about them, though we see it from different angles, is that something dark and dangerous is showing itself. I have no idea how to describe it in any complete sense. But when the NYTs begins to seem somewhat like a Maoist propaganda organ, and all sorts of strange activism is showing up in people, one struggles to find the words to describe it.

                And what is the ‘message’ in all that? That there is not really any ‘exterior enemy’ but solely an inner enemy: in ourselves obviously if we are victims of mindless or dangerous activism (socialistic communistic or what-have-you … maybe even neo-fascist if you really think it through)(and I am not speaking about the Alt-Right!), but within our governing systems and in their collusion with corporate entities and the military (intelligence).

                A few comments about this perception of mine would be appreciated.

                • Andrew Wakeling

                  Alizia you say : “My effort is just to try and approach a point where I might see clearly (the world) and might also be able to describe what goes on in that world.”

                  Good luck. I guess you know you will never fully get ‘there’ but our freedom to ‘search’ is our most valuable legacy from the Occident – and the one element really worth defending with our lives. (‘You’ll have to pry it out of my cold dead hands etc etc).

                  That ‘world’ is perplexing and ever changing, but the overall trend is still positive. I remain optimistic

                  You take frequent shots at ‘hyper liberalism’ as being ‘a culmination of decadence’ and quite reasonably you seem to be judging from the results : eg breakdowns of families and traditional structures of authority; addictions, pornography etc. You blame the ‘barbarians at the gate’ but there is no such easy enemy: it is within. Somehow or other I thought ‘we’ were chasing ‘freedom’ but when we caught it, it seemed to have the face of Dick Cheney! But to my mind we must continue the ‘chase’. There is no option to turn back to ‘traditional authority’.

                  I am not overly worried in the longer term by my children and grandchildren being brainwashed by the evil press. They are the true ‘resistance’; they are smart and always suspicious of authority.

                  But history is always instructive, and worrying.

                  • Andrew writes: ”You take frequent shots at ‘hyper liberalism’ as being ‘a culmination of decadence’ and quite reasonably you seem to be judging from the results : eg breakdowns of families and traditional structures of authority; addictions, pornography etc. You blame the ‘barbarians at the gate’ but there is no such easy enemy: it is within. Somehow or other I thought ‘we’ were chasing ‘freedom’ but when we caught it, it seemed to have the face of Dick Cheney! But to my mind we must continue the ‘chase’. There is no option to turn back to ‘traditional authority’.”

                    [When someone gives me the opportunity to clarify what it is that I mean when I write, or the philosophical background I worl from, I take it! And with this post you have done just that …]

                    For good or for evil (in a manner of speaking of course!) it is my fate apparently to be wrapped up in questions of this sort. Because that is so, a couple of things can be said about what you have written.

                    The first is that you, and we, would have to define what we mean by ‘traditional authority’. It is possible that you mean something like ‘the Catholic Church’, the classic example. But in my own view before one could make any statement against ‘traditional authority’ one would have to have come to some conclusions about the very idea of ‘authority’. I would suggest that ‘authority’ is really and ultimately metaphysical. Because ‘authority’ really means a range or set of guiding and controlling ideas. You mentioned the ‘legacy’ of the Occident and, to my mind at least, that legacy is strictly in Idea. And ideas are non-physical and extra-material: thus metaphysical.

                    So, I would make this statement: It is completely and thorough imperative, here and now and in all possible worlds, to discover and understand what ‘the authority of idea’ means and how it intrudes into life and, in this sense, dictates over it. By ‘dictates over it’ I mean over unconscious biological and material life: ‘the world’. The essence of the human idea, the metapysical idea, the very foundation of authority, is that it derives out of what is invisible and non-material and imposes itself on life and into life.

                    As you can likely sense I can find very many good reasons to try to define and refine what is ‘authority’ and then to make the conscious choice to submit to it.

                    When I use the term ‘hyoer-liberalism’ I am referring to an abberation, a perversion, a misinterpretation of both liberty and freedom. The term, in its essence, is referring to a mistake, an error of and in the will, which for a group of reasons cannot *see* nor appreciate ‘metaphysical authority’. The full and total exponent of hyper-liberal liberty is, according to my definitions, a being who has given him- or herself over to unconscious processessuch as for example unbridled sexual licence, ‘voluptuousness’ and sensationalism.

                    By abandoning guiding idea and also metaphysical authority, that person loses the steering mechanism of the rational self and ends up back in the chaos of undifferentiated nature (nature as tyrannical force) but at the same time the victim of certain mechanical and political forces that are potent and active in our present. These ‘forces’ have to be better understood and *seen*. But they can only be seen by ‘the metaphysical mind’, and theirin is the paradox: if the mind that can see and apreciate metaphysics (as I define it) is weakened and defeated, as it is when it gives itself back over to Nature and to unconscious impulse, it very easily and quickly avails itself to influence and control by the ‘mechanisms’ I refer to. These mechanisms are possessive and totalitarian and they seek to dominate human protoplasm and turn man into ‘Walmart Man’. This is a man who has no decisive power and who is a ‘victim’ of the forces and systems that surround him and in which he is subsumed.

                    Therefor, it is totally and definitively crucial, it is radically and undeniably relevant, to work to define Authority as a force or as a power that is, obviously, non-material and metaphysical to ourself and to Nature, where guiding idea lives. This is Logos. This is the essential ground of all conversation and any conversation and it is, rather obviously I think, the essence of what ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’ refer to. Spirituality implies engagement with Logos. And religion implies a group of decisions and choices about how that will be applied to life lived.

                    From this perspective, as you can see, the critique I have put together Of ‘hyper-liberalism’ clearly arises out of a reasoned position and one that recognizes and honors ‘authority’. The question becomes how to deal with the word and the concept of ‘traditional’. Traditionalism is an area within a branch of religious philosophy that explores this. The clearest example I have found is Rene Guenon’s ‘The Crisis of the Modern World’. Here is just one example and many quotes are available online:

                    This indeed is the most conspicuous feature of the modern period: need for ceaseless agitation, for unending change, and for ever-increasing speed, matching the speed with which events themselves succeed one another. It is dispersion in multiplicity, and in a multiplicity that is no longer unified by consciousness of any higher principle; in daily life, as in scientific ideas, it is analysis driven to an extreme, endless subdivision, a veritable disintegration of human activity in all the orders in which this can still be exercised; hence the inaptitude for synthesis and the incapacity for any sort of concentration that is so striking in the eyes of Easterners. These are the natural and inevitable results of an ever more pronounced materialization, for matter is essentially multiplicity and division, and this-be it said in passing-is why all that proceeds from matter can beget only strife and all manner of conflicts between peoples as between individuals. The deeper one sinks into matter, the more the elements of division and opposition gain force and scope; and, contrariwise, the more one rises toward pure spirituality, the nearer one approaches that unity which can only be fully realized by consciousness of universal principles.”

                    We define Authority to the degree that we define the metaphysics that stands behind it.

                    Now, a ‘final statement’ of the sort that seems relevant and imperative to me is that ‘Europe’ is being disintegrated and, seen in the light of the ideas just presented, America is in more critical phase of disintegration. But again: this can only bee seen and appreciated if one has and if one employs the ‘metaphysical perspective’.

                    For *us* and for people who see what we see, think as we think, we desire to be agents for the renovation and recovery of ‘Europe’, and with the quotation marks you will gather that I am speaking to a metaphysical idea and an ideal.

                    We either recover Europe and live, or we become subsumed in the chaos ond the dominion of dissolution, and die.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      CAN journalists legitimately try to hide their agendas from anyone with a functioning brain and ethical compass after they “cut loose” in 2016? The evidence of media bias has been getting bigger and bigger since 1992. The media’s running interference for Bill, attempt to swindle the voters in 2004 with a lie, and industry-wide push for Obama were all pretty damning pieces of evidence, but the open abandonment of objectivity in 2016 in an attempt to save this nation from itself irrevocably broke the scale. I think for a while they even had you persuaded, though not consciously so, since your thinking moved through the idea that Hillary would do less damage than Trump before you decided that Hillary was also unworthy of your support.

      It’s frankly time for the mainstream media to own up to the fact that it isn’t objective anymore and hasn’t been for some time, and that its job is to push the progressive agenda any way it can. It won’t though. It’s like a family member calling you up on Saturday morning and saying “I don’t want to take up your day, but the attic needs cleaning, the faucet’s dripping, and the hedges need trimming, so I was hoping…” What your in-law is really hoping is that you’re gullible enough to go along with what he says, and that, come 5 or 6 that evening, when all these tasks are done, before he pushes you out the door because it’s suppertime and “I only bought enough for us, I know you’ll understand” you’ll self-deceive and say it was no trouble at all. In reality, you got had, you knew you were being had, but you took the path of least resistance (of course maybe your wife implied or stated outright that your monthly sex night was in jeopardy if you didn’t do whatever her screwup brother wanted).

      If you have a spine and a brain, you won’t self-deceive, and you’ll tell your in-law he is hoping in vain, you already have plans, and he can do his own damn home maintenance, Chump’s Free Contracting is out of business. It’s time for the public to stop self-deceiving and not take anything the mainstream media says at face value.

      • Comment of the Day, Steve.

        I am frankly angry at this one—I’m seldom angry about issues I post on, because you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry, but goddamn it.I want to hear the tap-dancing and rationalizations from the readers who always run to the defense of these shills and hacks, and were horrified when TRump called them what they undeniably are. Yes—you know who I’m talking to–YOU are the reason political operatives with press credentials think they can get away with being propaganda organs and do. They know you have their back, and frankly, I don’t care whether its denial, or nostalgia, or if you are part of the conspiracy: it’s killing MY COUNTRY, and I an really tired of being told that I’m biased or delusional when insiders confidently write stuff like this, smirking all the while. When the progressives who have some integrity and respect for free thought and respectable political disputes take a stand against media bias, it has a chance of being addressed, and not before.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          Thank you very much. I guarantee when you repost you will hear LOTS of tap-dancing and rationalizations, and I bet I know who from.

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            P.S. The progressives who might actually believe in free speech and so on won’t turn on their fellow progressives, any more than the guy who saw his friend rough you up in high school will turn on him. Friendship and fellow-travelerism is often a lot stronger than ethics. I still remember in high school when one student who really had a problem keeping his hands off others decided on the bus home that he was going to work over another student who weighed maybe 110 pounds soaking wet by twisting his nose. Have you ever wrung the bubble wrap something came wrapped in to pop a bunch of the bubbles at once? I still remember hearing a similar popping and cracking from the cartilage in Jimmy’s nose as it was twisted almost 90 degrees, and him screaming and begging the bully to stop. I also remember the looks of dismay on the other students’ faces…before they turned away, just glad it wasn’t them, as the bully got off at his stop and left Jimmy sobbing in a heap. Needless to say when he got home with a nose swollen to twice its normal size and red as a beet his parents reached out to the school to ask what had happened. None of the other students would say word one, the code of silence, the fear that they might be branded as rats, and the fear that there might be hell to pay on the next bus ride home, was stronger than any ethics. So it is with progressives.

        • But what’s the solution?

          They will not police themselves. Their devoted listeners openly or tacitly approve of their manipulations.

          If there isn’t an active solution then the only answer is to sit back and let the country go to hell.

          Off topic, do you check twitter or merely post your articles to twitter? I’ve sent a few topics your way via twitter, but I’ll stop if you don’t use the medium for anything other than posting articles.

          • Chris

            Well, the solutions for enemies of the people is usually to execute them.

            Which is why it’s wrong to call journalists, even biased and unethical journalists, the enemies of the people.

            • Odd, I haven’t seen the statute that prescribes that solution.

              I know we execute those found guilty of treason, or aiding and abetting foreign powers we are formally in military conflict with.

              But being a mere “enemy of the people”…I’m not sure what law we have that actually punishes that… remember, we live in a free society.

              • joed68

                I think this falls short of an official declaration of emnity with the United States. Philosophically-speaking, it’s an appropriate label.

              • Chris is a socialist, so OF COURSE this is what he thinks we should do with ‘enemies of the people:’ what all good socialists eventually do (and communists start with) which is execution of dissenters.

                Not what America does with them. We are supposed to have the rule of law and the Constitution that prevents such abuses.

                Oh yeah, progressives don’t like those documents, and want to throw them out. So in a way, they are protesting their own protections.

                And the journalists are the FIRST executed when communists take over.

              • Chris

                If “enemies of the people” doesn’t mean people engaged in actual treason, then it doesn’t mean anything at all, other than “people whose politics I hate.” It’s the sort of rhetoric I’d expect to see at Breitbart, not Ethics Alarms, and it lowers this site. I understand why Trump likes it. I will never understand how it’s considered acceptable by an ethicist.

                • No, it means, in this case, people who are actively using their power to monopolize information flow with the intent to deceive the body politic in order to change the political outcome of the nation.

                  If they have to take action against the natural outcome of a fairly informed population, then they are behaving like enemies of the people.

                  It doesn’t match any legal definition of treason.

                  So, yeah, it means quite a bit other than “people whose politics I hate”.

                  • Chris writes: ”If “enemies of the people” doesn’t mean people engaged in actual treason, then it doesn’t mean anything at all, other than “people whose politics I hate.” It’s the sort of rhetoric I’d expect to see at Breitbart, not Ethics Alarms, and it lowers this site. I understand why Trump likes it. I will never understand how it’s considered acceptable by an ethicist.”

                    Again my impression is that ‘enemy of the people’ is highly charged and because so, dangerous (especially in today’s climate). But it is obvious that persons, groups and institutions, and also certain forms of behavior, certain activities, are seen and understood as being inimical to the good of the public and to people. But this issue and the question become entirely complicated because to make such statements and designations involve moral and ethical decisions and judgments.

                    It is very possible for some to locate and describe people and groups that are (indeed) ‘enemies of the people’. It is done all the time. For example, some might see a given corporation that has violated its charter and polluted, causing disease and such, but using lawyers to protect itself and avoid taking responsibility, as an act inimical to the public good and thus corresponding to ‘being an enemy of the people’.

                    It is entirely conceivable that a news corporation, as a corporation, might use the news channel it controls in order to further its own goals or corporate agenda. And this is activity ‘inimical to the public good’ and again it could be seen as being an enemy of the people.

                    There is an interesting book called ‘The Marketing of Evil’ which critizes a whole range of such activities by corporate entities that, according to Christian values, is ‘marketing of evil’. It becomes difficult to assess such things though because ‘evilness’ is a value-judgment and the law does not recognize ‘evil’ as far as I am aware.

                    The idea though of what is treason-like (as distinct from actual treasonous activity, which is defined tightly) is also something that has to be considered.

                    To designate a media outfit and specific journalists as ‘enemies of the people’ is problematic because it requires a specific definition of evil that is agreed on. But what is an “evil” for one is a “good’ for another, and this is more than obvious in our conflicted present!

                    The ‘rhetoric’ that you think is proper to Brietbart is simply common today and it is everywhere. These are the terms in which people are thinking. For example Hillary Clinton when she ‘exposed’ the Alt-Right and the ‘deplorables’. You cannot get much closer to defining evil than to label someone ‘deplorable’. And it is simply a fact that you, Chris, have given evidence time and again of seeing things in such terms. That is, reduced to your chosen definitions of what is ‘evil’ and distinct from ‘good.

                    It is really a curious problem and one that has to do with value-systems, spiritual and religious orientation (metaphysics obviously) and at the level where the ‘rubber meets the road’, in politics.

                  • Michael West: ”No, it means, in this case, people who are actively using their power to monopolize information flow with the intent to deceive the body politic in order to change the political outcome of the nation.”

                    That activity, according to some, defines journalism in the United States from the early days of journalism!

                    There is simply no point or period then where journalism has not been a tool of power, not in the US at any case (and not likely anywhere).

                    It is now, I gather, when certain of you are noticing it!

                    I read what you have written and is seems that I am observing a person with very little understanding of politics in general, of ‘power-systems’, and no grasp of what has happened to and in this Republic as it has been subverted by precisely the ‘evils’ that you name.

                    Don’t you read the newspapers?!? 😉

                  • Chris

                    No, it means, in this case, people who are actively using their power to monopolize information flow with the intent to deceive the body politic in order to change the political outcome of the nation.

                    Welp, that rules out Matt Pearce, at least on the basis of the quote highlighted by Jack which made him label Pearce an enemy of the people; Pearce explicitly said in that quote that he believes journalism is activism because“ The entire basis for its ethical practice is the idea that a democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function.” Pearce can’t simultaneously have “the intent to deceive the body politic” and believe that we need an informed citizenry; the two are mutually exclusive.

                    Of course, Pearce could be lying in his quote, but then if that’s the case we can’t use his quote as proof that journalists are intentionally lying to us.

                    “Choosing what you want people to know” isn’t necessarily deception, either.

                    My (very reasonable) guess is that neither Pearce nor the vast majority of mainstream journalists in this country have the “intent to deceive” anyone, even when what they write has the effect of deceiving the public (which isn’t even necessary to Jack’s definition of the term; he applied it to journalists the other day for running a true story that he believed shouldn’t be run because it was crewd and embarrassing to the president). Most want to reveal the truth. To the extent that the media is deceptive, it’s largely a result of confirmation bias on the part of journalists. This is why I disagree with Pearce’s quotes; activists thrive on confirmation bias, and to some extent, their job is to see things through a narrow philosophical lense. I think journalism thrives more when journalists make an effort to fight their confirmation biases and look at stories from angles they may not personally find conform to their preexisting beliefs. But people who do that aren’t my enemy.

                    Of course there are outlets on both ends of the spectrum that I believe are intentionally deceptive. Breitbart, Gateway Pundit and Hannity on the right, and Occupy Democrats, Shareblue and Louise Mensch on the left are some examples. But I still would not call them “the enemy of the people.” We already have a word that suits them just fine: “liars.”

                    So that part of your definition is out.

                    “Monopolizing information flow” is less of a danger now than it has been ever in our nation’s history. There are more sources of information than ever before. There used to be only three networks. So that part’s out, too.

                    The news media is improperly attempting to change the political outcome of the nation, but that’s not enough to get them branded “the enemy of the people.” For one thing, a large number of “the people” agree with them. You’ve seen many people in this very thread say they agree with Pearce’s quote. Labeling a group “the enemy of the people” suggests you are speaking for “the people” as a whole, which is incredibly arrogant, given how divided “the people” are right now.

                    So I maintain that the designation of “the enemy of the people” is basically meaningless other than a needlessly inflammatory way to signal one’s hatred of a group that offends one politically.

                    • There is a clear material difference between deciding what you want people to know versus evaluating what they have a right to know. And when picking what you want them to know based on your own political objectives against the backdrop of what they have a right to know about a wide range of topics, IS intentional deception.

                      There’s no way around that.

                      He’s merely make the claim that it is ethical to do such. He’s wrong about that.

                    • Chris

                      There is a clear material difference between deciding what you want people to know versus evaluating what they have a right to know.

                      What is that difference?

                      What if Pearce wants people to know everything they have a right to know?

                      What if you’re calling someone an “enemy of the people” over a simple misinterpretation of their words?

                      What if Jack called journalists “enemies of the people” the other day for covering a sex/corruption scandal involving the president without understanding the corruption angle, which has been widely reported?*

                      What if there’s a way to criticize journalists for letting their political objectives influence their ability to evaluate what the public has a right to know without labeling them the “enemies of the people?”**

                      What if labeling them as such is hysterical and irresponsible, and puts a target on the backs of journalists that helps others justify violence against them?***

                      *He did.

                      **There is.

                      ***It is and it does.

                    • “What if Pearce wants people to know everything they have a right to know?

                      What if you’re calling someone an “enemy of the people” over a simple misinterpretation of their words?”

                      Occam’s Razor beats Hanlon’s here.

                      If you’re incredibly generous interpretation is what he meant, then he sure picked a convoluted way of expressing it. Jack’s interpretation is the most sensible, given the words chosen by Pearce.

                      “What if Jack called journalists “enemies of the people” the other day for covering a sex/corruption scandal involving the president without understanding the corruption angle, which has been widely reported?

                      What if there’s a way to criticize journalists for letting their political objectives influence their ability to evaluate what the public has a right to know without labeling them the “enemies of the people?”

                      You cannot evaluate the violations of journalistic ethics in a vacuum. These actions are single pieces of a long litany of violations which demonstrates a clear pattern of misbehavior.

                      Now, either the entire MSM is colossally inept, or they are behaving intentionally. At some point, Hanlon’s razor runs out.

                      We’ve tried criticizing journalists. For years. Decades. They don’t want to listen. They have taken a stance AGAINST the journalistic imperative of informing the WHOLE people the FULL and BALANCED report of what the people have a right to know.

                      (and it doesn’t matter if a large section of the population agrees with them…they’ve picked sides and are undermining the Republic’s functioning)

                    • Wow, this is almost clinical denial. Did you miss the use of the word “activism”, Chris? Apparently so. Giving people information that is objcetively useful and important regardless of where it leads is not, by any definition, activism. Manipulating what information is conveyed according to the journalist’s personal agenda, and thus waht he wants, is activism, and not journalism.

                      I really didn’t post this despicable and arrogant quote to expose the leftists who support the distortion of the profession of journalism because it serves their ends to the detriment of the nation, but I guess it’s doing that.

                    • Chris

                      We’ve tried criticizing journalists. For years. Decades. They don’t want to listen. They have taken a stance AGAINST the journalistic imperative of informing the WHOLE people the FULL and BALANCED report of what the people have a right to know.

                      This must be some sort of rationalization. “These are not ordinary times,” perhaps?

                      And of course, calling journalists “the enemies of the people” is criticism. It’s just dumb, hysterical, and borderline-authoritarian criticism. Do you really think this will work better than more measured criticism?

                      (and it doesn’t matter if a large section of the population agrees with them…they’ve picked sides and are undermining the Republic’s functioning)

                      Every group thinks groups that differ from them politically “undermine the Republic’s functioning.” I think Trump undermines the Republic’s functioning. I don’t think calling him “the enemy of the people” would be appropriate or effective, though.

                    • It’s not unethical to label someone behaving like an enemy of the people as an “enemy of the people”, therefore, it isn’t a rationalization.

                      Measured criticism is not working, let us continue to try measured criticism…hm…

                      “Every group thinks groups that differ from them politically “undermine the Republic’s functioning.””

                      You’re going to need to prove that assertion. I don’t see it.

                      “I think Trump undermines the Republic’s functioning. I don’t think calling him “the enemy of the people” would be appropriate or effective, though.”

                      He certainly doesn’t bolster the Republic’s foundation, that is for sure. But he doesn’t have the decades-long track record that the MSM has. So evidence of intent is lacking, therefore it’s a bit hasty to label him as such.

                    • joed68

                      “Every group thinks groups that differ from them politically “undermine the Republic’s functioning.””
                      I never knew that the continued functioning of the republic was high on the left’s list of priorities. Didn’t a bunch of overprivileged white slave-owners give us that?

                    • Chris

                      Oh brother.

                    • joed68

                      Oh, are you one of those “classical liberals”?

                    • Chris

                      Wow, this is almost clinical denial. Did you miss the use of the word “activism”, Chris? Apparently so.

                      Had you read my comments in full, you’d know I did not.

                      Giving people information that is objcetively useful and important regardless of where it leads is not, by any definition, activism.

                      Had you read my comments in full, you’d know I agree with you on that, and am leaving open the possibility that Pearce does not agree.

                      I really didn’t post this despicable and arrogant quote to expose the leftists who support the distortion of the profession of journalism because it serves their ends to the detriment of the nation, but I guess it’s doing that.

                      Had you read my comments in full, you’d know that I do not support the distortion of the profession of journalism, and in fact criticized it.

                      I just didn’t criticize it by calling journalists “the enemy of the people,” because that’s no better than calling Trump a Nazi.

                    • I read them, Chris. Talking out of both sides of your mouth does not allow you to pick which side counts at will.

                      I know the term “enemy of the people” bothers you–I confess that it’s one reason I continue to use it. The only justification for the complaint is reading into it innuendo that isn’t there, like finding “Make America Great Again” offensive. Any major institution crucial to the functioning of our democracy that willfully breaches its duty is harming the nation, eg. “the people,” as in “We the People.” The institution of the news media is doing so intentionally, because why this is harmful is both obvious and well-documented. Those who set out to hurt The People are enemies of the people by definition.

                      Hence “clinical denial.”

                    • Chris

                      That’s not what’s happening here. I’m conceding that there is a problem with the media. I am also saying your reaction to the problem is hysterical, over-the-top, and damaging. In other words, my position on the media is identical to your position on Trump. And you’ve accused me of defending the media and being blind to its flaws in the same way you are often wrongly accused of being a Trump supporter.

                    • joed68

                      It seems to me that the reason for this impasse is a breakdown in communication. First of all, to a leftist, “enemy of the people” is an emotionally-laden term; don’t forget, these are the people that equate “hate speech” with murder, and can justify the chilling of speech that hurts their feelings thusly, whereas those of us with both feet on the ground can maintain a cool detachment, and accept or reject such words on their merit, and not by the intentions of the person speaking them. Also keep in mind that the leftists ends justify any and all means, and the principles and values in the DNA of this country, while sacrosanct and immutable to the conservative, are fluid, dynamic, and “living” to the liberal, depending only on their value in the moment. This justification is the driving force behind the impressive feats of standard-doubling, goalpost-moving, and rapid-cycling amnesia that we witness on a constant basis.

                    • Chris

                      Hilarious. “Enemy of the people” is an emotionally-laden term, period; my being a leftist has nothing to do with it, especially since you are describing a leftist who is nothing like me (I am strongly opposed to hate speech laws, for instance.

                      “Enemy of the people” does not make you sound like someone with a “cool detachment.” It makes you sound like the average Breitbart commenter.

                    • It’s accurate and true, Chris. How it makes me sound to someone who is determined to defend the press is of no import to me at all.

                    • Chris

                      I’ve explained well why it isn’t accurate and true. I am not “determined to defend the press;” I’ve criticized them for being openly biased. Hysterical is how “enemy of the people” sounds to objective, rational people.

                    • Among your many accidental or deliberate distortions, errors and fallacies on this point:

                      1. That was the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

                      2. As I have gone over and over with you, Donald Trump is a person, the news media is an institution. They are not equivalent in any way. There are institutional checks and balances on the President. There are none on the news media. The President was elected, and can be replaced. The news media cannot be replaced. The system polices the President, who is bound by the Constitution. The news media is not: in fact, it is excepted from the laws in many ways. The news media has a duty to be truthful as a core responsibility. The President’s job is to lead and protect the country. He may lie in the best interests of the nation as he sees it. The news media may bot lie, ever, by its own stated ethics rules. And on. And on. You keep defaulting to this false equivalency.

                      3. My objection to the press’s dangerous bias is not ideological or partisan in any way. My objection would be identical if the news media constantly bolstered Republicans. Your knee-jerk enabling of the news media, however, is blatantly partisan. You justify it, or minimize it, because of animus toward the President. That weird, because the problem predates Trump by decades.

                      4. President Reagan’s calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire” was attacked on the same basis as your attack on “enemy of the people.” It was a similar example, however, of attacking a problem, and weakening an adversary, by being brutally and diplomatically frank about it.

                    • 4. President Reagan’s calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire” was attacked on the same basis as your attack on “enemy of the people.” It was a similar example, however, of attacking a problem, and weakening an adversary, by being brutally and diplomatically frank about it.

                      I think this statement is evidence of a certain blind spot in the perception and the rhetoric of the American Right, the conservative post-war establishment. The statement has to be unpacked and time and energy devoted to dismantling it. When that is done, or I should say when it is done in accord with a certain method and also a certain level of integrity, a new perspective emerges.

                      The labeling of the Soviet Union as ‘the Empire of Evil’ is a form of classical political projection of the sort that is used in blatant propaganda. This usage, this technique, and such symbolism, derive from WWll and involve ‘primitive’ and ‘binary’ statements made about an enemy. If one were to condemn that particular usage (Evil Empire) it would not be because evil and not-good — dictatorial, totalitarian — are not genuine, proper and accurate descriptions, but because it leads to a dangerous area of self-deception about one’s own complicity. The one using the label of Evil against another is making a statement that the first is ‘Good’ and this allows self-deception because, in the political world, and in our world generally, all are enmeshed and all are complicit in dubious activities.

                      This is a truth that most people in the world seem to be able to recognize — except the Americans who have, according to their own self-description, a ‘special dispensation’. They live in a somewhat insular world where they fabricate a view of themselves that is resiliant and often hard-shelled. (When it is unpacked its elements can be seen and understood and the term ‘tenets of the American civil religion’ become more plain).

                      What I have come to understand is that it is very hard to reason with Americans who hold this view of themselves and their ‘historical role’. In order to understand the critical position of those who stand in the middle and in-between the Soviet Empire and the American Empire one is best off to refer to intellectuals and thinkers who quite literally stand in the middle. They can be found in Europe and their position, while definitely critical of the Soviet Union, is not therefor or as a result uncritical of the Americanopolis (as some have caled it).

                      But a great many Americans, beholden to certain crystalized forms of self-understanding and even arrogance, have a very hard time breaking through their own shell to see and understand why they are not viewed necessarily as ‘the Good’ but rather as simply a power-system serving its own interests (just like any other power-system). And when they are seen as directly engaging in open and outright ‘evil (the invasion and destruction of Iraq is the number one crime of the 2000s and is rather obviously a real example of ‘evil’ and harm) and when they are critiqued for it, they retreat into their shell of self-serving and self-protective rhetoric.

                      Is that ‘good, or ‘bad’ or is it, in its way, a sort of ‘evil’?

                      If one were to be truly ‘brutally and diplomatically frank’ in the way that one described adversarial politics, and the world-struggles for dominion and control, one would require a certain intellectual and also moral and ethical base within ‘intellectual honesty’; and to get to a place of such honesty (in my own opinion) requires a position from outside and also ‘above’ the fray. This requires a position of non-complicity which is hard to attain. It is also problematic because taking such a stance leads others to question one’s allegiances.

                      Is the one who critiques a ‘friend’ or an ‘enemy’? In American politics the first level of attack against dissenters is always that they are ‘not team players’ (Michael West used this one recently), that they are ‘anti-American’ or not ‘patriotic’. But consider for a moment the usage of the terms evil and good and ‘patriotic’ and ‘with us or against us’ in the aftermath of 9/11. And consider what happened when shadow powers, with dubious intentions, attacked and tremendously weakened Constitutional protections in the name of a ‘war on terror’?

                      The ‘evil’ that one condemns reflexively and defectively, has a strange tendency to pop up within one’s own ‘self’ and within one’s own system. That is the danger inherent in ‘political projection’ (but according to psychology any sort of ‘projection’ of the shadow).

                      It is easy to see that these designation (good and evil, etc.) allow people and institutions — and states — to shield themselves from both introspection and also inspection.

                      Reagan may indeed have been a great personage, a great politician, a powerful president, but I do not think he can deserve nor should be given the title of ‘The Good’ on the plane of human history as if he was some sort of Angelical Avatar. The policies that he set in motion — according to the critics of them — were not necessarily ‘good’ and many of them, according to these critics, resulted in destructive ends. And common people end up getting tricked and deceived by these sorts of views that some named other is ‘evil’ and must be fought against. And then they find out. Afyer great loss and damage to themselves and their community, that they were deceived by powerful forces that did not really have their interests in mind at all.

                      How do the terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’ apply to this?

                      So, to what level do we take our ‘brutally frank and diplomatic’ truth-telling about ourself, about the world we live in, about our own political and economic systems, our own corruptions, our own ‘complicity’ in deeds and ideas that are not that particularly wholesome?

                    • Chris

                      Among your many accidental or deliberate distortions, errors and fallacies on this point:

                      1. That was the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

                      If that’s the case, you use the No True Scotsman fallacy all the time—like the other day when you said “no one objective” believes the Stormy Daniels payment violates election law.

                      2. As I have gone over and over with you, Donald Trump is a person, the news media is an institution. They are not equivalent in any way. There are institutional checks and balances on the President. There are none on the news media. The President was elected, and can be replaced. The news media cannot be replaced. The system polices the President, who is bound by the Constitution. The news media is not: in fact, it is excepted from the laws in many ways. The news media has a duty to be truthful as a core responsibility. The President’s job is to lead and protect the country. He may lie in the best interests of the nation as he sees it. The news media may bot lie, ever, by its own stated ethics rules. And on. And on. You keep defaulting to this false equivalency.

                      It isn’t a false equivalency to say that neither should be called the enemy of the people, or to say that defending either from that label is the same as defending them from all criticism. I never implied that they had an equal obligation to be truthful—though it could be argued that Trump is failing at his particular obligations as much as the news media is failing at theirs. That they have different obligations, and that one has a built in system of checks and balances and the other does not, is immaterial to my argument.

                      3. My objection to the press’s dangerous bias is not ideological or partisan in any way. My objection would be identical if the news media constantly bolstered Republicans. Your knee-jerk enabling of the news media, however, is blatantly partisan. You justify it, or minimize it, because of animus toward the President. That weird, because the problem predates Trump by decades.

                      I’ve acknowledged the problem. That doesn’t make them the enemy of the people.

                      4. President Reagan’s calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire” was attacked on the same basis as your attack on “enemy of the people.” It was a similar example, however, of attacking a problem, and weakening an adversary, by being brutally and diplomatically frank about it.

                      Reagan was right, and this isn’t similar. The Soviet Union was a hostile foreign power. The media is made up of law-abiding American citizens. It is not OK for the President of the United States to call a group of law-abiding citizens “the enemy of the people.” That is how you get people killed.

                    • 1. Now you are using the “Nyah, nayah, so’s your old man” fallacy. I have read no objective commentary that supports your wacko theory. Ricard Painter likes it. Proving my point.

                      2. Comparing the ethical and society obligations of single individual and a continuing institution is a false equivalency. You have no argument.

                      3. You are not acknowledging the problem if you deny the consequences and the extent of the problem. If you don’t deny it, then you have to agree that the journalist are behaving as enemies of Democracy, as in “the people.”

                      4. Weak. The issue isn’t law, it’s ethics.

                    • Chris

                      I give up. We’re not going to agree on this. You see nothing wrong with portraying a law-abiding group of Americans as “the enemy of the people,” a designation which paints a target on their backs. This is unethical. I hope some day you’ll see that.

                    • I hope, in contrast, that if we continue to highlight their despicable, reckless and damaging conduct, they’ll decide to make our democracy stronger rather than working daily to weaken it—lawfully, of course, but only because they have an exemption from legal accountability, thus triggering the “because you can get away with it doesn’t make it right” rule.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              Sometimes it’s the truth. And that idea should come as no surprise given the talk of wanting to put climate change deniers in jail or silence anyone designated as guilty of “hate speech.” Charlie Hebdo overreached, a few whackos took matters into their own hands, and they will not overreach again. I am not saying it is all right to walk into a magazine office and kill the writers because they wrote something that offends you, but I am saying that when one side throws around the idea of locking up or otherwise punishing the other for saying something it disagrees with, it should come as no surprise that the other side also talks about excessive retaliatory measures when their turn in power comes.

              • Oh Good Lord! If anyone is going to seriously propose that the phrase ‘enemy of the people’ can be used in any sort of productive way in a political and social environment that is ratcheted up to an extreme point, then maybe I will check myself in for reindoctrination.

                But on the other hand if you and anyone else were to try to create a list of those who work against ‘popular interests’ or ‘the people’ or those who ‘subvert proper and good functioning of government’; or a conversation about what is good and what is bad for the body-politic, then one would essentially be engaging in a proper and more sophisticated level of conversation on the very good question:

                What is good, and what is bad, in our political and social world? And what entities and pwoers within our polity serve the god and which serve the bad.

                The issue has exactly to do with just that: competing visions about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and also what is ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

                • Andrew Wakeling

                  All speaking ‘English’ makes us dangerously overconfident that we understand each other. We don’t all speak the same language in spite of using the same words. ‘Enemy of the people’ is for me a rabble rousing call to throw bricks through the enemy’s windows and run him out of town. It is always inflamatory and a call to violence. For others it is no more than a strong protest that “what you are doing is against the public interest”. Misunderstandings are inevitable.

        • joed68

          You are apparently starting to feel the way I’ve felt for a while now about the left. I have 4 precious children and 2 grandchildren who will inherit the Hell on Earth that they’re trying their level best to create, and it really pisses me off!

          • No, I like and respect liberals—we need them, as long as they hold to basic ethical values. They moderate the worst impulses of capitalism and government by majority.

            • Steve-O-in-NJ

              You message me when you find more than a few who do. The American left is fast becoming Sodom and Gomorrah, where the Almighty Himself couldn’t find even ten good people.

            • joed68

              Those kinds of liberals are a rapidly dying breed.

            • I believe that this sort of liberal you are talking about (who cannot be a progressive by definition) either no longer exists, or keeps quiet for the same reasons moderate muslims tend to when radicals act out.

              First, they see gains for themselves in what the radicals did, yet do not have the (literal or figurative) blood on their own hands. Unethical and immoral

              Second, they know full well that the radicals will target them, should they speak up. Is self preservation unethical and immoral?

            • Paul W. Schlecht

              I’m privileged to know a few “Old School” Classical Liberals ala Claude-Frédéric Bastiat.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric_Bastiat

              Those dominating the narrative these days are yer garden variety (ala invasive/parasitic species weed) Post-Modern Neo-Lefty.

            • joed68

              Liberals DON’T want mob-ocracy? You and I don’t know the same liberals!

              • joed68

                Wait, I forgot; they want what they want, when and only when they want it. They change positions like people change socks and underwear. “The history of now”.

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            What generation ever made the world it had to live in? A man born in 1899 would have had nothing to say or do as a generation of neo-Victorians built the system of alliances guaranteed to turn regional conflicts into huge wars, but he would have been the one who had to don khaki and march into the trenches. A man born in 1920 would have had zero influence as a generation of appeasers turned their backs on the Finns and Ethiopians, let Hitler and Mussolini use Spain as a dress rehearsal, just let the Anschluss happen, and you know the rest, but he would have had to answer the call the day after Pearl Harbor. You and I were presumably not voting age as LBJ tried and failed to build the Great Society and bungled Vietnam, but we’re still living with the effects of those decisions now. It’s on us to try to make this world a better place now. However, while we worry about what kind of world we pass to the next generation, we might also think a bit about what kind of next generation this world is one day going to be entrusted to…

            • joed68

              I would think that goes without saying. Speaking for my wife and I, we’re certainly making every effort to see to that. Hell, we even have our kids in a parochial school that we can’t afford.

        • In a vacuum, I agree with the quote, and what Spartan said below regarding inherent bias simply from limitations of space and time. Looking at an ideal representation of journalism, the most important stories are probably those that people in power don’t want the public to hear. They are the facts that don’t fit nicely into the party narrative, the scandals that would tarnish the rising star who is promised to right all wrongs. These are the stories about the hypocrisy of those who promise a great service, but don’t deliver and treat their clientele as nothing more than a revenue stream. They are also the stories about the unsung heroes whose deeds no one else would ever know about. Thus comes the activism of journalism — striving to call to light the stories that people normally wouldn’t hear, to properly promote a cause that needs support but would otherwise be swept under the rug of the daily grind.

          This, then, is what I see as the failure of the current journalism. It is, to a large extent, the promotion of causes while abandoning objectivity and even truthfulness. I remember when I finally decided Fox News was not worth following. It was in the 2012 election, when all the pundits at Fox News had convinced themselves that Romney was sure to win after a long night of close counts. Then came the announcement — fairly early in the evening — that Fox News declared the election for Obama, and every pundit sat there for five or six seconds with dropped jaws and bulging eyes. When the entire news organization had dropped objectivity and delved deep into promoting a narrative at the cost of reality, its journalism lost all credibility. I presume a lot of people felt the same about CNN and other left-leaning organizations after the 2016 election.

          Part of the problem, I think, is that most, if not all, stories do not fit nicely into a package. We humans naturally like to find patterns in things (thus why conspiracy theories abound), and we like confirmation bias. We have a school shooting, and we want it to fit nicely into a narrative about school shootings. We gloss over the details that muddy the picture because we see an obvious pattern, and we want others to see the pattern, too. If we muddy the waters with details that run counter to our narrative, we we risk the pattern falling apart. Worse, we risk seeing a pattern that runs counter to our narrative.

          And this is where journalism needs take its activism seriously. Promoting a story contrary to facts can only hurt the activism in the long run. If an event doesn’t truly fit the narrative, journalism needs to honest enough to relay that truth. If the problem is racism, spinning every story in a story of racism cheapens the message, and in the long run convinces people that the opposite is true. It is the parable of the boy who cried wolf. If the cause is fighting anthropogenic global warming, it hurts the cause to bury the muddiness of climate science behind false “97% of scientists agree” statistics, and it does a grave disservice to the public to spin the cost and efficacy of renewable sources to a fairy-tale-like glamour. Yes, tell the public that the cost of renewables are coming down, but don’t distort the facts to make it seem that renewables are anywhere close to competitive. Help people understand the actual costs of solar panels and wind farms, and how inconsistent they are as power sources, and how crucial it is that we research new battery technology so we can store power when we don’t need. To make it seem that renewables are right on the cusp of displacing all fossil fuels actually kills the urgency among advocates of the cause, and further alienates skeptics of the cause.

          Lastly, if we accept the idea that journalism is activism, there needs to be the integrity to ignore dollar signs and ratings in order to convey those messages that people don’t want to hear. This also includes providing the depth to the issues for which few people have the patience to peruse. If the bottom line is all important, then journalism isn’t activism; it is just another business, where the buyer should beware.

          • joed68

            I DON’T accept the idea that journalism is activism. I want to know what’s going on, NOT how I should feel about it.

            • joed68,

              I want to know what’s going on, NOT how I should feel about it.

              Keep in mind that I’m training to be as charitable to the quote as I can be. But I do think it is possible that just reporting what is going on can be a form of activism, just by calling to light stories that people would otherwise know nothing about. There doesn’t have to be any punditry or any kind of interpretation. Presenting the facts alone can be enough to sway people.

              Let me ask, though: what is important about knowing about what is going on? Isn’t it so that we can make informed decisions on how we go about facing issues? Knowing the facts about my school system mean nothing if I have no vested interest in my school system. But if I’m concerned about how our kids are being educated, and especially if my kids are going into that school system, I would want to know the facts. And if someone sees a problem with the school system and reports the facts about the problem as a means to trying to call people to confront the problem, then I think that hits at the heart of why we have journalism in the first place.

              Also keep in mind that I’m not just talking about the big mainstream media. Journalism comes in many smaller forms in every topic there is.

              • joed68

                I’m not saying that news needs to be absolutely sterile, or that it’s even possible to avoid introducing the effects of personal bias to a perfect extent,. I can even understand that what a news outlet chooses to report will reflect the values of that agency. However, I think there’s a clear enough distinction between that, and intentionally lying, cherry-picking data and representing it as statistically valid. glaring lies of omission, and the sort of relentless character assassination that currently dominates the field. We don’t have news agencies anymore; we have propaganda mills and tabloids. They’re not trying to inform and awaken people’s social conscience, they’re brainwashing; nothing more and nothing less.

                • joed68,

                  We don’t have news agencies anymore; we have propaganda mills and tabloids.

                  I agree. But you’re talking about what is, and I was talking abstract, what I think “ought” to be. That’s the danger you run into when discussing matters with a mathematician…

          • Chris

            Excellent comment, Ryan.

            • Thanks, Chris.

              I’ve been busy and haven’t had much time for commenting, but now that I have moment, I wanted to express to you that I really appreciated your comments on the 3/22 warmup, regarding the quotas at Huffington Post’s op-ed section. I don’t fully agree with you, but you did give me a much different perspective on the issue that I hadn’t considered before.

    • What I find a little confusing about your position is that you have, and you often express, very specific and adamant ideas about what is good and necessary for people who live in this world to ‘leave behind’ to the ones that come after. You have expressed this in respect to women’s rights, to certain aspects of social justice (destruction of the South and ending slavery), to breaking up monopolies and other ‘actvism’.

      Also, I think you have a strong sense of Americanism and a specific American patriotism and that you are (how could you not be?) an activist for those values in what you write, in what you teach about ethics, and in your general view about the country. In this sense then: How could you not be seen as not having an agenda? If ‘agenda’ is taken to mean a) believing what one believes and b) deliberately living that in all different areas of one’s life.

      What you seem to take issue with is that people in general, and in collusion with media and government, are engaging in an activism which you feel is improper or incorrectly grounded. It is not then so much that they are activists for specific values and ideas, but that you find fault with their core ideas, the ones they are communicating and selling.

      (I see the media systems as becoming ‘Maoist’ and getting involved in a collusive enterprise between the State, media corporations, global corporations and concentrations of private capital through ‘social engineering’).

      You seem to imagine, and I cannot understand why and how you see things this way, that journalism should be or can be free of ideological assumptions and intentions. For a given journalist, and any particular citizen, you included, must have interiorized a whole range of different predicates and ideological positions to be able participate in the grand social conversation of a given country, in a given time.

      I cannot think of any journalistic writing that I read that does not express a given position and attempt to influence the readership to see the logic and good sense of that position.

      • What’s confusing? I’m not a journalist. I’m a teacher, an artist, an opinion writer and an ethicist.

        • I have read this thread and am trying to correctly digest and organize what is being said in it. I am beginning from a position that I have come to over time and that has to do with my sense that neither to ‘progressives’ nor the ‘conservatives’ can see their own selves very well. They are locked into a sort of codependency.

          Just like you (and others who write here), though perhaps for different reasons (because you take strong issue with a great deal of my deas, ideals and my general position), I have watched just over a few short years the NYTs transform itself into what I can only describe as a ‘propaganda organ’.

          And I have noticed, and hope I am not describing it unfairly, the rise of ‘Maoist’ activists and something verging on Maoist-like propaganda. So, if we can be said to share concerns, I assume we see something, from different angles perhaps, that is similar.

          But I am still working to understand what you mean by ‘journalist’ and ‘journalism’. You may mean ‘newspaper reporting’ as distinct from other forms of journalism which are in fact value-laden and are in fact ‘opinion-pieces, art-pieces (in their way) and which also represent ideology. There is no way around that and we would libve in a rather dead intellectual world if value and orientation (and opinion) did not enter into journalism.

          You also must be talking about the pseudo-journalism, what I call the Maoist-style propaganda, of CNN and MSNBC (which I only know in short YouTube videos since I do not watch the TV).

          But this sort of journalism has a ‘mirror’ as it will or an opposing pole: that sort of journalism seen on Fox News which, I have noticed, is similarly outrageous as the CNN/MSNBC material. Not much of it can be trusted really. It is moreover ‘cut from the same cloth’. It is a manifestation of ‘yellow journalism’.

          But what I basically am noticing is the divergence of opinion that for example is expressed within this blog by the different people who best demonstrate it: Chris for example contraposed to Steve in NJ. The journalism that Chris will read, and that which Steve will read and enjoy and respect, will be written by people with differing political visions. It is a simple as that in a way. The people they respect (the journalists they read and admire) will be those whose ideology most expresses their own ideology.

          There are ideological battles going on and they are becoming more polarized, not less so, in our present situation. But the only way to confront either of them is strictly through presenting counter-ideas. Yet you seem to be suggesting that people should not have an ideological position. Yet all do.

  2. joed68

    So few professions have sunken so low so quickly. The days of Edward R. Murrow are long, long gone. Truly despicable, disgusting people. These must be the “domestics” in that part of the oath that says “…against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

  3. AC

    “we need a *selectively* informed citizenry “. Fixed that for you, Matt.

  4. Zanshin

    In a review of The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand, I read the following:

    Rand eloquently asserts that one cannot create art without infusing it with one’s own value judgments and personal philosophy – even an attempt to withhold moral overtones only results in a deterministic or naturalistic message. Because the moral influence of art is inescapable, she argues, art should always strive to elevate the human spirit.

    • joed68

      Not NEARLY as bad as ” infusing your own value judgements” and playing it loose with the truth (“truth is relative, man!”) into the reporting of the news.

    • Chris

      Not sure if journalism is typically considered an art, though. If it is,85. One that requires more objectivity than most others. I’d agree that it’s difficult if not impossible to completely keep one’s biases out of reporting, but it’s still necessary to take steps to reduce that bias as much as possible.

  5. joed68

    “potent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
    C.S. Lewis

    • joed68

      “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

  6. adimagejim

    Ostracized, demonized, marginalized and bound for the Gulag. Get your tickets. Right this way (literal and figurative).

  7. DaveL

    I’m reminded of a quote from, of all things, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri:

    As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth’s final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

  8. Still Spartan

    This quote is true — of course it’s true.

    I still remember a class on bias/journalism in high school. This was an honors English class in a very conservative school/community. I remember our teacher explaining that it is impossible not to have bias in journalism. Even for journalists/editors who truly believe that their job should be “just the facts,” well, then what facts are you going to report? There is only so much room in a paper and your readers only have a limited time to read it. Imagine that you cover national politics, but the paper only has 3 pages devoted to the topic each day. What stories are you going to cover? You will always have to omit some, so right there you are demonstrating bias. And how about in depth reporting? Where are you going to dedicate those precious resources?

    • Luke G

      Don’t you think there’s a worthwhile distinction between selectivity and activism? The selective journalist makes choices about what news to cover, and those choices may determine what people think. The activist journalist makes choices about what he wants people to think, and those choices determine what news to cover.

      Of course, reporters have to pick and choose what gets coverage and how much. Of course their biases will have an effect on their choices. A responsible journalist, though, should be working to recognize those biases and reduce their effect, not embracing them. Pearce is particularly damned by the phrase “Choosing what you want people to know…” because that tips his hand, revealing that his goal is not to produce the most informative or useful news product but rather to use his platform to craft his readers’ view of the world to what he wants it to be.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Michelle Malkin called behavior like that “ideological streaking.” Most left-leaning folks drape their opinions in “diversity,” “inclusiveness” or other more acceptable terms. Building on what you said, most formerly respectable journalists would cloak their biases in “journalistic discretion” or some other plausible justification. Now they openly embrace their biases and say something like “when the choice is between the politics of kindness and inclusivity on one side and the politics of cruelty and exclusion on the other, there really isn’t a choice.” They won’t go so far as to say “I’m going to cover what I want to cover, dammit, and if you don’t like it, start your own publication,” buy they might as well.

        • Still Spartan

          Do I think it’s okay to say, “I am a journalist, and I have a [insert conservative or liberal or freakazoid] agenda?”

          Of course not.

          Do I think it’s okay to say, “I am journalist, and my agenda solely is to report the truth?”

          Yes, OF COURSE that is okay, but that comment still is worrisome. My point is simple — there is no objectivity when it comes to the truth. Even hard data can be interpreted in different ways. I wonder if the journalist in my first example is more honest — because at least that person is recognizing his or her biases. I think I would trust that person more than the second, even if I would not read his/her reporting as the “truth.”

          Everyone is biased. I try really, really hard not to be, but I would never state that I am neutral. I try to recognize my biases when I can. Self-knowledge is a wonderful, yet terrifying thing.

          Anyone who claims to be neutral or moderate on most issues is lying or deluded.

          • joed68

            The good journalist, like the good researcher, endeavors to minimize the effects of their bias (unless it’s an op-ed), while today’s unethical ones not only court their biases, but they actively deceive and conceal their motives, while claiming to be objective.

    • This is undoubtedly true. I’ve come around to the realization that because news organizations are made up of people, and people have inherent biases, that the product of news organizations will have some amount of bias, even if it’s only at the level of selection.

      That said… Just because we can’t mitigate bias completely doesn’t mean that we should embrace it with open arms. Was journalism ever unbiased? No. But I think that we can all agree that the caliber of what was seen as objective journalism was significantly better a generation or two ago than what we’re saddled with now. Arguing that because bias exists, we shouldn’t bitch about it has been a 20 year race to the bottom with the inevitable conclusion being an industry made up of Gawker clones. The press have specific protections in the constitution because the press were entrusted with a specific responsibility, and even though those protections remain, they have abdicated that responsibility.

      Do they need to be perfect? No. Do they need to be better? Hell yes.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Unfortunately, because of the protections, there’s very little in the way of a mechanism to force or even push them to be better. Why be E.R. Murrow when being Perez Hilton is just as profitable and a lot easier? Why do thoughtful analysis when slogans and profanity will get better ratings? Why try to get your readers thinking independently when getting them frothing with hatred will get them reading your every article with more consistency?

  9. Paul W. Schlecht

    In an all-too-rare moment of damning candor, the talented Mika Brzezinski kinda let it slip ~ 13 months ago:

    “(Trump) could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. AND THAT, THAT IS OUR JOB.” (bolds/caps mine)

    Like Dr. Freud said, there are no mistakes.

    • joed68

      Wow! That’s bone-chilling!

      • Paul W. Schlecht

        In all fairness, I believe Brzezinski (never to be confused with the Mensa Society) was merely showing a ditzy Marie “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” Antoinette type of cluelessness.

        • AH! Paul, you wrote “Let them eat cake” in French. I figured that out, using the lady’s name (Marie A), and knowledge of what she is famous for saying, for a clue. (Well, “mangent” and “brioche” kinda helped me along, too, but that’s only because I am a foodie, whatever the language.) I can only count to 10 in French. Your comments are all 11z (that’s “elevenz”) to me – spot-on comment about Ms Mika B!

  10. What is it you imagine that a newspaper or news show would look like that makes editorial decisions without “Choosing what you want people to know”? Isn’t that what an assignment desk or a news editor does by definition?

    • The combination of “activism” and what YOU want people to know is sinister and unacceptable. If you are deciding what you want people to know, then you are decision what you DON’T want people to know. A journalist’s wants should be irrelevant. The decision shouldn’t be made from his/her perspective, but from the public’s perspective. What do they want and need to know in order to make meaningful decisions about their lives? What do they have the right to know?

      In legal ethics, lawyers have a duty of candor and to inform clients of even even information that the lawyer knows will be disastrous TO THE LAWYER. The journalist’s duty is no different. Lawyers have to tell clients, for example, that they have screwed up.They don’t want to tell them.

      • Still Spartan

        Lawyers also have a duty to be adversarial and present their clients’s best case — even when they know their clients are in the wrong.

        • Right…. But the lawyer’s client isn’t the opposing counsel’s client. It’s kind of an interesting thought. Legal ethics requires that a lawyer act in the best interest of their client, to the detriment of other people’s client’s or even themselves.

          Who do journalists act like their clients are?

        • !!! But law is an adversarial system. Journalists aren’t like lawyers, they are like judges: they can’t have a “side.” And their clients are, always, the public. They are more like accountants: their job is to convey the truth, even if it hurts their employers.

      • “The decision shouldn’t be made from his/her perspective, but from the public’s perspective.”

        You’re still saying the journalist should decide what to tell the public. You say journalists should tell the public what the have a “need to know.” Lacking omniscience, he or she can’t do that. The best a journalist can do is tell the public what he or she thinks they need to know. It’s a judgement call, and journalists have to be aware of that.

        • But not based on what HE WANTS> A doctor may WANT to see a patient dead, but if he follows his ethical obligations, he saves the patient anyway. Words have meaning, and a professional’s “wants” represent an abuse of power. They work for others and the good of others, not themselves, or their own agendas.

    • Second reply: Why would you be willing to concede to a journalist the power to determine what you know about the world based on what HE wants? These are not, for the most part, especially astute, smart, educated, well-rounded, creative, deep or altruistic people. Very, very few of our best and brightest become journalists, and many who do are, frankly, dull people who have an unrealistic view of their own ability. Chris Cuomo, for example, has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is a fool. I resent having such people filter my knowledge of the world according to their “activism.” Screw their activism. They are deliverymen and women—they deliver the news, and their job is to do it clearly and objectively, using established principles without their “wants” being involved at all.

      • “Why would you be willing to concede to a journalist the power to determine what you know about the world based on what HE wants?”

        How could I possibly prevent any journalist from telling me only what he wants to tell me? That doesn’t determine what I know. It just determines what I hear from that journalist. Also applies to professors, parents, children, bloggers, and friends.

        “their job is to do it clearly and objectively, using established principles without their ‘wants’ being involved at all”

        I can’t imagine what you think that would look like. CSPAN’s congressional coverage? The phone book?

        • It would look like the journalism code of ethics in every newspaper and news organization says it should look like, and as every journalism student is taught to make it look like. It isn’t hard, to name one of a million examples, not to report every statement by female GOP VP candidate in the most negative manner possible while the Democratic VP candidate, with a long, LONG record of saying stupid things daily, is more or less ignored. Or making a large point of the GOP VP’s “lack of experience” when the Democratic Presidential candidate has even less experience. This isn’t benign bias, and it isn’t unavoidable bias. It’s deliberate bias, designed to deceive, and to manipulate the system.

    • I mean, really… How many examples have we seen this past year of things that were obviously newsworthy that “activist” mainstream media outlets declined to report on?

      I didn’t go to journalism school for six years, I don’t have the wherewithal to tell you exactly what the best decision making process would be. But I promise you that whatever that best practice looks like, we aren’t seeing it.

      • Chris

        I think there are rational ways to have a discussion about the best ways for journalists to make decisions about what to report without branding them as “enemies of the people.” That’s hysteria. You may as well scream at the sky.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          You mean like saying “The NRA is a terrorist organization?”

        • Chris writes: ”I think there are rational ways to have a discussion about the best ways for journalists to make decisions about what to report without branding them as “enemies of the people.” That’s hysteria. You may as well scream at the sky.”

          And this reveals the issue: it all depends on what person, and what group, is making those decisons about what to report. That means that a person or a group has a specific angle they are working. Say for example a periodical that provides information to businessmen, like the WSJ (and so many others). Or a periodical that has chosen as its readership and its readership-mission to inform common people. An example of that would be the myriad of periodicals that have come out of the American popular and democratic movements for well over 100 years. They all have an angle, a mission, a readership, and a responsibility to select stories that pertain to their readership. The list goes on. From something as non-political as knitting or cooking, all the way up to geo-political considerations (such as the private company that Michael West once referred to).

          There has been for a looooonnngg time in the USA a strain of journalism that has taken aim at (their words) ‘fat-cat capitalists’. I have reviewed a certain amount of this popular democratic literature. It was directed to working people, families, and also to religious. A good deal of it seemed in no sense ‘Marxist’ nor even particularly ‘socialist’: just common people who felt that their interests were not at the forefront (and they felt they could identify whose interests were usurping their own, a very good question, a necessary question).

          The other side of the journalistic coin would be those periodical directed to the manager class or the wealthy class whose interests and needs are different, peculiar, uncommon.

          The actual issue that is being referred to has not been made clear enough. Jack is complaining about something that he is not naming, or will not name, and perhaps cannot name. It is a very different issue than a given periodical catering to its readership. But what is it?

          It seems to be: huge, corporate media conglomerates, of global dimension, in collusion with government interests and what has been called a ‘deep state’, and very importantly, according to some that I read, that are in collusion with intelligence operatives who are in communication with these media outfits. They are seen as working to offer specific activist-like news which is quite different from the news as we had understood it. One has to take into consideration that with the rise of a so-called ‘New Right’ that media interests, government interests, and business interests worked very hard to identify this reactionary movement, varied as it may be, with grave dangers to the Republic. And there ‘social hysteria’ was fanned.

          I think that this is what Jack is referring to, though he will not use all the descriptive terms that I have, such as a reference to ‘intelligence agencies’.

          The issue here is to get clear about what is being talked about. But who can do this? Who sees clearly? Who can explain?

          And what ‘journal of opinion’ can I access that will help me — someone in the dark as so many are because we are outside of the circles of power and influence — how to organize my understanding?

  11. “Journalism *is* activism in its most basic form. The entire basis for its ethical practice is the idea that a democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function. Choosing what you want people to know is a form of activism, even if it’s not the march-and-protest kind.” Matt Pearce

    Matt Pearce is channeling his inner Malcolm X.

    “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcolm X

    This quote from Malcolm X has taken a while for it to totally sink into the minds of western media, but the media now fully understands their power and they are wielding that power in irresponsible and unethical ways that the authors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights could have never have imagined possible. The media has become a destructive propaganda force in the United States of America, they are abusing their Constitutional rights. The media is actively engaging in yellow journalism and intentional partisan propaganda; they’ve become the west’s version of Pravda.

    I’ve heard people say when talking about the mind-blowing unethical shit the media is doing in today’s world saying “you just can’t make this stuff up”; wrong! The plot of the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies is a nice correlation to what today’s treacherous anti-Trump media is doing. They are making tons of money selling hyped-up yellow journalism and intentional partisan propaganda and outright manipulating what’s being presented to the public for the purposes of ginning up massive hate in an effort to destroy that which they disagree with.

  12. luckyesteeyoreman

    At long last, I have to disagree with something Martin Luther King said.

    I still agree with: “An unjust law is no law at all.” Okay: I guess King was quoting St. Thomas Aquinas. (See? Indeed, I do homework.)

    But that thing King said about “the moral arc” bending toward justice, is rhetorical Ipecac to me. (Ipecac is something I recall we had in the house when we had small children. I never tried it. It worked on the kids.)

    The truth, as I see it: The arc of human history, no matter how long or short, tends toward concentration and centralization – even monopolization – of POWER. Followed by monopoly breakdowns, seasons of anarchy, and brief periods of less concentrated, centralized, and monopolized power. A few rich white guys tried to buck that cycle, some years back…

    Anyone who disagrees with me may now take their Ipecac…

  13. Andrew Wakeling

    A stimulating discussion. I want a range of honest, well argued (and inevitably biased) opinions not just sterile facts. I feel much much better off than I did 30 years ago because I can access more diverse opinions; part of the reason why I read this blog. I ‘turn off’ when people knowingly lie to me and I find out. I am also repelled by arrogance and disrespect: “I am right and everyone else is stupid”. I most suspicious of those who claim to be unbiased.

    A healthy society requires free access to information and playing fields for civil tussles of competing opinion. If there are serious ‘enemies of the people’ (I’m not persuaded) they are to my mind more likely to be found around the cynical manipulators of Cambridge Analytica than in the newsrooms of NYT or CNN.

    For those who call for unbiased news reporting, Kim Jong-un has just met with Xi Jinping in Beijing. Without supporting commentary that doesn’t mean much to me. If you are my news source (hopefully with some relevant knowledge and expertise, eg ‘bias’) I want to know what you think and why. It would be helpful if you could point me also to some other opinions. But if you are some shady manipulator infecting my Google search then please “Go to Hell!”

    • Paul W. Schlecht

      “I most suspicious of those who claim to be unbiased.”

      Timeless wisdom from one of the wisest people, 85 years young, I have the splendid good fortune to have in my wheelhouse, who paraphrases André Gide:

      “Exalt those who seek the truth, question those who claim to have found it”

    • You have described columnists, not reporters. There is a material difference.

      • Andrew Wakeling

        The only real ‘reporters’ I know in your terms are juniors who report on local matters – who won for ‘biggest pumpkin’ at the show, or new opening hours at the council swimming pool. It is mind bogglingly boring and they won’t do it for long. The survivors graduate to become (in your terms) columnists, with their own flavours of bias: eg. investigating the rumours that the mayor has cheated at golf or the Masons didn’t disclose their financial contribution to the coveniently located local carpark. All much more interesting. Could you Jack ever have been a ‘reporter’ operating to your definition ……. reporting for instance on how Hilary Clinton had helped an old lady cross the road, as well as the weaknesses in Obama’s CV?

        So how is this idealist journal of pure unbiased reporting to be staffed and financed? Will it have to be financed out of public funds and run by Government, or the Church or maybe some Ethics Institute?

        I don’t see any way your ‘campaign’ to purify the press can get off the ground. And if it did ever become airborne might it not be an even greater danger to the community than all the ‘enemies’ that you rail against?

        • joed68

          What is the name for this logical fallacy? “Appeal to absurdity”, or something like that? Anyway, to want to be able to be informed without having to sift through mountains of yellow swill doesn’t mean we’re demanding a caste of cloistered journalistic castrati that have taken a vow, on pain of death, to never knowingly or unknowingly utter a single adjective for the rest of their natural lives.

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