DOUBLE STANDARD

With all the outrage over the idiotic comments of the Republican candidate for senator in Missouri (see my blog, “Akin Comment”), where is the outrage over the comments of David Chalian? Mr. Chalian, after a long career at such networks as ABC, and serving as the current Washington bureau chief for Yahoo news was among a crowd of reporters shouting questions at Presidential nominee Mitt Romney when, with his mike still on, he opined to his fellow journalists, “They [the Republicans] are happy to have a party [in Tampa, the sight of the Republican National Convention] with Black people drowning (an apparent reference to Hurricane Issac).” His fellow journalists thought the implication that Republicans could care less about Black Americans dying in a natural catastrophe was funny. And, I suppose by implication, it would have been acceptable to party if it had been just White people drowning. After Yahoo fired Mr. Chalian, many members of the press came to his defense, in marked contrast to the universal condemnation by Republicans of the Akin comment. Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by this double standard among the Fourth Estate. That there is an endemic liberal bias among the press is hardly news. But it is disappointing. As managing editor of my high school paper, I believed in the integrity of journalists. Whatever their personal viewpoints, you didn’t have to worry about bias when you watched Chronkite, Huntley/Brinkley or Jennings deliver the nightly news. When those news reports showed pictures of our young men in body bags in Viet Nam and protests on college campuses, it wasn’t necessary for our journalists to do more than stick to the fabled “five W’‘s” of journalism (who, what, where, when, why and sometimes how) when they added their comments to what we were seeing. And ultimately American’s rejection of that war didn’t come from journalists telling us what we should believe and who we should support but from our own thoughts and consciences. It has been argued by some in the press that Chalian was nothing more than a scapegoat. If that is true, it is only because his firing serves to put a band aid on the festering wound that too many journalists actually believe what he said.

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