News Media
An evening�s exploration of American media
By Paul O�Sullivan
Online Journal Guest Writer

Oct 10, 2008, 00:18

Accuracy in fact, fairness of point of view, balance in reporting, impartiality and objectivity -- essential ingredients of professional journalism, right?

Last night a friend and I sat in our living room in Cork City, Ireland, and loaded YouTube to watch the apparently notorious and overwhelmingly popular (amongst the U.S populace) Bill O�Reilly being �outfoxed.�

Bill O�Reilly, I was told, is a prime-time presenter with FOX News, a man whose journalism practices challenges the journalistic ethics of fairness and balance -- to say the least, the very least -- just as FOX News itself has been accused of.

We watched this proverbial media giant (both in ratings and physical stature) interviewing the son of a 9/11 victim who signed an anti-Iraq war petition after his father�s death, which blatantly did not bode well with O�Reilly.

The interview, controlled to a greater extent by the interviewee because he apparently had studied many tapes of O�Reilly, cumulated in O�Reilly shouting the teenager down and vociferously threatening to boot him off the set, his set as he described it.

We watched a few more, an interview with Senator Barrack Obama, a former talk-show host with another station and Marilyn Manson, who, by comparison to Obama, O�Reilly treated quite saccharine.

While my friend was largely aghast at O�Reilly�s interview techniques, bias and fondness of projecting his own opinions, I was at a loss to comprehend how in terms of principal a man such as Barrack Obama, who obviously possesses deep-seated intelligence and rationality, would contemplate giving a mouth-piece of Republican rhetoric like O�Reilly the time of day. The answer of course is obvious: to decline is to distance from potential voters.

But what if Barrack Obama had declined the interview, extending the nine-month period of absence from O�Reilly�s show indefinitely and taking a stand of principal? Could he have gained votes through good old-fashioned respect? Or are those qualities just for molly-codgers living in the past, like me?

Out of interest, I decided to learn a little about O�Reilly�s employer, Keith Rupert Murdoch. Having been unable to find any information about his previous two wives on Google, I watched an enjoyable hour-long interview by NBC�s Charlie Rose, a kind of Mastermind meets Parkinson, enjoyable largely because the questions put were unchallenging, allowing Murdoch to air views which could only be voiced by a master of the world that he is.

Discussing his history in Britain led to current Anglo-American relations, culminating in Murdoch�s view that making jokes against and drawing cartoons of George Bush was �ignorant, ugly and wrong,� coming from a guy whose newspapers do just that against other leading figures across the world. Murdoch continued stating there had always been an �elite British attitude of looking down their noses at the Americans� and the average working-class person was pro-American, that they went to Disney World on their holidays. Murdoch, an Australian by birth, is an American citizen and I presume Rose is too.

Murdoch�s interview seemed a macrocosm of O�Reilly -- the acceptance of corporate winners, and power cannot be objectively challenged. Sure, some sections of British society might have superior views, but this alone cannot account for a word on the street that Bush is a phoney -- a word so loudly spoken even the Lords in their House must have heard it -- or a million people gathering on the streets of its capital in protest of Britain�s involvement in a war predominantly perpetrated by George Bush.

Continuing the chain of American media exploration, I watched Charlie Rose interview Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an interview Mr. Rose had to cut-short a vacation in France to conduct. Either Mr. Rose was annoyed his holiday time had been disrupted or he could not conceal his personal view that Iran presently posed a significant threat to the Western world, as he concurred with Mr. Murdoch.

I�m not a journalism expert, especially American journalism. But I -- like most people who now and again pay attention -- can detect a stark lack of objectivity. And it would appear to me that the very people society depends upon to get to the core of the truth are half-doing their job, not just in America but perhaps particularly in America where regressive political evolution is provoking polarisation.

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