Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fox News: The Queen of Hearts of journalism

'Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first - verdict afterwards.'
--Lewis Carrol,, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Ch. 12

From Media Matters

What of the intrepid young muckrakers behind the supposed exposé? Quality citizen journalism is a friend to our democracy, but irresponsible citizen journalism isn't. On the September 10 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck hosted Hannah Giles, the young woman portraying a prostitute in the surveillance videos. He asked her how she came to be involved in the project. Here are her exact words:

I had a summer internship with the National Journalism Center out in Washington, D.C., and they set me up with a job. But one day I was jogging after work and I saw an ACORN, and I was like, hmm, you know, I've never seen them before, I don't like them. And I came up with the idea: What if a prostitute walked into ACORN, had no legal paperwork at all, and wanted a house to set up her business?
Two elements of that testimony should call Ms. Giles' work into serious question. The first is her attendance at the National Journalism Center in Washington. The NJC is but one of the many right-wing institutions conservatives have established to flood the field with young, motivated, and rapidly partisan "reporters." The NJC was established with hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from the Bradley and Olin foundations, both prominent conservative donors. Among its distinguished alumni are Ann Coulter and Debbie Schlussel.

But beyond this, consider the candid wording used by Ms. Giles -- who is the daughter of conservative blogger Doug Giles -- when talking to Beck: "But one day I was jogging after work and I saw an ACORN, and I was like, hmm, you know, I've never seen them before, I don't like them." In the same sentence, Giles is admitting that she simultaneously a) knew nothing about ACORN, and b) knew they were guilty of something awful. In no actual journalistic institution -- or any introductory logic class, for that matter -- would such a statement be allowed to go unchallenged. But Beck accepted it without comment.

Let us now turn to the content of the videos themselves. Again, it does appear that in certain cases, ACORN employees willfully broke the law, and they should be punished accordingly. But all of a sudden, these videos -- four, thus far -- are being promoted as unimpeachable proof that all of ACORN is equally corrupt -- all 1,200 chapters and thousands of ACORN employees. This is literally the opposite of how a credible investigation is supposed to function. Sweeping conclusions should only be drawn after all the facts are in. By comparison, here, the conservative media has a few isolated facts but is willing to extrapolate an entire thesis from them.

1 comment:

Dan Doel said...

I liked:

'In June, he wrote that "Democrats would distribute needles, methadone, medical marijuana and biscotti in voter goodie bags if they could get away with it"'

Methadone? Heroin minus the enjoyment? Why would anyone use that as a bribe? Unless the Democrats are going after the people-trying-to-kick-opioid-addiction and people-with-severe-pain markets.