Monday, December 5, 2016

Truth vs Neutrality in reporting the news

The admirable CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, was given an award from the Committee to Protect Journalists at an event sponsored by the International Press Freedom Awards.   They cited her "extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom."

In her acceptance speech, Amanpour voiced her concerns that the press must "recommit to robust, fact-based reporting" in what is coming to be known as "the Age of Trump."   She made an appeal to speak up for Truth and not the trend to seek a false neutrality.

She also did not shy away from candor about Donald Trump's rhetoric that literally incited violence toward reporters:  "I never thought in a million years that I'd be standing up here, after all the times I've participated in this ceremony, appealing, really, for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home."

But that is the actual situation the media face with the incoming Trump presidency, with his turning his angry crowds and instructing them to vent their anger at reporters at rallies.  And now, as president-elect, he began by refusing to have a press pool following all his activities, as is the custom.    Amanpour said she had hoped that Trump would moderate his hostility toward the press after the election.   But so far, that is not the case.

She presented this chilling pattern seen in other countries:  "First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating. And then suddenly they find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives. And then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prisons, and then who knows what.

Amanpour then emphasized the need for the media to stand firm in defense of facts and not fall into the trap of false equivalencies."   We cannot continue the old paradigm, "like it was over global warming, where the evidence is given equal play with the tiny minority of deniers."

She also referred to the recent political campaign, calling it "the most incredible development ever, which is the tsunami of fake news, aka lies."

    "I feel that we face an existential crisis, a threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession. Now, more than ever, we need to recommit to real reporting across a real nation, a real world in which journalism and democracy are in mortal peril. Including by foreign powers like Russia who pay to churn out and place these false news articles, these lies, in many of our press. They hack into democratic systems."

In concluding her address, Amanpour declared that "We must fight against the normalization of what is unacceptable, treating neo-Nazis and racists and anti-Semites as if they were just another place-setting on the table of ideologies. They are not."

[reporting by "News Corpse" on Daily Kos]

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