Freedom of the Press is important and the more we have of it the better. Its your freedom to choose which to regard as truth and which to regard as bias. If you have less to refer to, how will you know if you are making the right choices?It is actually kind of amazing how closely this parallels the arguments espoused by "teach the controversy" advocates for intelligent design/creationism instruction the biology classes. Freedom of the press is important, but so is journalistic ethics. What freedom of the press means is that the government does not mandate what can and cannot be reported. There are already many issues with this in the United States, but the problem here is not that the White House team is trying to silence Fox News (because they are not), just that they are calling them on being biased and playing to an agenda. While I recognize that true journalistic neutrality is impossible to achieve, it is still what one must strive for to be a good journalist. Presenting incredibly biased or blatantly false claims does not help people "make the right choice". After all, how is one supposed to decide "which to regard as truth and which to regard as bias"? Based on which news network has the most attractive reporters or greatest emotional appeal to their rhetoric? When a news organization has no legal obligation to the truth and spends money and time organizing and fomenting the dissent that they plan to cover, it ceases to be a legitimate source of news and ceases to bring useful information into public discourse. At this point, Fox News is no better than the Discovery Institute. Likewise, Fox's emotionally charged defenders' false dichotomy of either treating Fox News uncritically or being against freedom of the press is no better than the "teach the controversy in the name of academic freedom" nonsense the Discovery Institute spouts.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Regular readers know my opinion of the Fox News corporation. Over the past few weeks, Obama's administration and Fox News have gotten into a couple of real and contrived wars of words. One of the main talking points for the defenders of Fox is this (pulled fromRob's comment #34 from one of PZ Myer's posts as a representation of echoed sentiment elsewhere):