Labor's Pains

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Glenn Greenwald comments on Schieffer's objectivity

Since we first began reporting on NSA stories, there has been much debate over who is and is not a "journalist" and whether being a journalist requires "objectivity" (i.e., a pretense to not having opinions). Under this metric, does Bob Schieffer qualify?
Two weeks ago, Schieffer spewed a vicious, one-sided attack on Edward Snowden, accusing him of "putting the nation's security at risk and running away." Echoing Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani, Schieffer added:
I know eleven people who died or lost a member of their family on 9/11. My younger daughter lived in Manhattan then. It was six hours before we knew she was safe. I'm not interested in going through that again. I don't know yet if the government has over-reached since 9/11 to reinforce our defenses, and we need to find out. What I do know, though, is that these procedures were put in place and are being overseen by officials we elected and we should hold them accountable.
"I think what we have in Edward Snowden is just a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us. I don't know what he is beyond that, but he is no hero. If he has a valid point — and I'm not even sure he does — he would greatly help his cause by voluntarily coming home to face the consequences."
How come you're allowed to have that opinion and be an "objective journalist"? How come none of the people so very upset that those who are reporting on the NSA stories have opinions are objecting to any of that or calling the TV host an "activist"? The answer is clear: "objectivity" in Washington journalism does not mean being free of opinions; it means the opposite: dutifully echoing the official opinions and subjective mindset of those in political power. In the eyes of official Washington and its media mavens, spouting opinions is not a sin. The sin is spouting opinions that deviate from the ones expressed by and which serve the interests of those in power.
...Bob Schieffer is a more slavish, shameless spokesman for the NSA than anyone actually employed by that agency. But what one really finds here is a reverence for military officials like Michael Hayden so extreme that it's actually uncomfortable to watch.
new Pew poll this weekend found that while the US public holds the media in very low esteem, the one function they actually value is having the media serve as a watchdog over political leaders. The percentage of Americans who value this press function has risen considerably this year.
This has happened despite the likes of NSA advocate and government spokesman Bob Schieffer continuing to dominate and shape establishment TV outlets. The fact that his "objectivity" as a journalist would never be questioned by those who raise such issues demonstrates that this concept of journalistic objectivity has only one real purpose: to delegitimize all views other than those that prop up and glorify those who wield the greatest power in US political and financial circles.

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