Archive for February, 2011

Wait. . . Are you Trying to say Fox News Executives are Unethical?

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

In news that was shocking to no one, The New York Times reports that Fox News chief Roger Ailes encouraged Judith Regan to lie to federal investigators vetting former NYPD top-cop Bernard Kerik for the post of Homeland Security Secretary. But how can they prove that the one-time Nixon adviser actually encouraged someone to lie to federal investigators?

Oh, there’s a tape of course. Yes, in a lesson he clearly took from his days in the Nixon White House, Mr. Ailes encouraged someone to commit perjury in a situation where he could be easily taped. Bravo Mr. Ailes, bravo!

But what does this mean for Fox “News”? Well, if you’re as skeptical as I am about the cable channel, it becomes rather clear that Mr. Ailes does not place a very high value on the truth. If Mr. Ailes was willing to tell a former Harper-Collins publisher to lie to federal prosecutors, would he think twice before telling a reporter or an anchor to lie to the general public?

What Mr. Ailes has done here shows a glaring lack of ethics. More importantly, it shows a complete disregard for the security of our country which the many pundits and reporters on Fox News claim to hold so dear. If he was willing to encourage someone to lie so that an unqualified candidate could earn a post that is directly responsible for guarding our country from terrorist attacks, what exactly is his end-game? 

It is my belief that Mr. Ailes, like many on the far-right are concerned with themselves and only themselves. They have no allegiance to their country or to their fellow Americans. This incident is a display of unethical behavior completely unbecoming of the manager of any network. The head of MTV should probably get fired for a scandal like this, let alone a news network. But people like Mr. Ailes and Rupert Murdoch apparently play by a different set of rules than the rest of the world.

Categories: Uncategorized

Parker Spitzer is now Spitzer and Friends

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

The New York Times reports that starting Monday, February 28th, CNN’s primetime talk-fest “Parker Spitzer” is being renamed “The Arena”. Kathleen Parker, the show’s co-host for its four-month run, will no longer be on the program.

The change comes after months of declining ratings,  backstage clashes and a strong sense that Mr. Spitzer was overpowering Ms. Parker on the show. The new show will feature Mr. Spitzer with a rotating series of guests as they debate hot political topics.

Once again, a major cable network is turning its head on traditional news broadcasting. “Parker Spitzer” is  a show that never should have aired. Spitzer has proven himself in the public arena to be a hypocrite on one of the largest stages. As Attorney General and Governor of New York State, Spitzer seemed to be the last great hope for the empire state. His record of being tough on crime and corruption harked back to the glory days of New York, when men such as Al Smith and Fiorella Laguardia took it upon themselves to clean up New York.

But all that ended when he was caught up in a prostitution scandal. Instead of Eliot Spitzer cleaning up Wall Street, we got to watch David Patterson blindly fumble his way through a major recession (pun intended). So why would CNN put such a man on TV?

The simple answer is that they thought it would bring in ratings. But in doing so, they forgot just about every law of TV. Spitzer does not have the personality, the look or the resume to sustain a television broadcast. Spitzer might be a fine guest or a commentator on someone else’s show, but he is certainly not ready for prime-time.

As CNN moves its content away from news into the opinion land of networks like Fox News and MSNBC, they brought in Spitzer to try to give an informed opinion. Spitzer is NOT by any stretch of the imagination a polarizing pundit like Glen Beck or Rachel Maddow. But by hiring someone like Spitzer, CNN forgot why people watch opinion programming in the first place.

The reason why Glen Beck and Rachel Maddow are so popular is because people go to them to learn what they already know. People watching Spitzer’s show in any of its incarnations are seeing a balanced opinion on a variety of issues, and that’s more than the cable “news” audience can handle.

Categories: Uncategorized

Is Opinion Becoming the New State Religion?

February 21, 2011 1 comment

A recently leaked memo from The New York Times suggests that changes to the Sunday “Week in Review” section and an expansion of online opinion are bringing the news room and the editorial room closer than in the past.

Bill Keller is not just issuing a memo, he is reacting to the Huff Post / AOL merger. And it’s moves like this that have toppled empires. Keller is extending The Times into territory it does not belong in.

Traditionally, the seperation of news and opinion at a newspaper has been likened to the seperation of “church and state” that we have in our society. It was traditionally considered important to keep the news staff and the editorial staff seperate, so that the news staff would not be seen as biased by their own opinions.  With the “news analysis” that Keller is expanding into the “Week in Review” section, this distinction becomes less clear.

Personally, I don’t believe in “News Analysis.” I believe reporting should speak for itself. The analysis of a story should be provided through the use of colorful quotes from experts in the field. The world is cluttered with enough opinion and analysis from other outlets, do we really need Times reporters adding to it?

Bill Keller thinks so. The move comes on the heels of AOL purchasing the Huffington Post, creating a media giant that is centered around creative opinion pieces. I enjoy the Huffington Post, I admire its business model and I believe it has a bright future ahead. However, I do not believe it is in the same business as The New York Times. And the problem for The Times, as well as many other newspapers, is they still don’t understand what business they are in.

When newspaper publishers were the only ones with printing presses, they essentially controlled what information got out to the public. With the advent of the internet, this all changed. Now that anyone can write a story or an opinion piece and release it to the whole world in seconds, everything has changed.

What that leaves The New York Times and other newspapers with is a different function. They are no longer the ones disseminating the information. They would be wise to leave the dissemination to companies that do these things well, such as Facebook and Apple. What The Times does well is gathering and reporting news. But instead of focusing on providing quality journalism and trading on a long-standing reputation of integrity, they’re betting the farm on opinion.

Categories: Uncategorized

Freedom of the Press? That’s hot.

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Photographs by Karly Domb Sadof for The New York Times

A New York Times photo-intern was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and harrasment after refusing orders from the Port Authority Police to stop snapping photos of Paris Hilton this past Thursday. Karly Domb Sadof allegedly pushed a police officer in the face during the incident at a lunch party for the United Service Oranzations at The New York City Port Authority. The full story on the event can be read in The Times City Room section here:

What seems like such a small incident at the bottom of a celebrity story actually says much about the news industry and the challenges young journalists face today. Miss Sadof was a young intern on assignment. When your an intern trying to break into an organization, especially one as prestigious as The New York Times, you comply with your editors demands. In this case, Miss Sadof was told to get pictures of Paris Hilton attending a public event.

But the event had a “no press” rule, which is odd considering it’s an excellent PR opportunity for Miss Hilton. So, as Miss Hilton approached the Port Authority, Miss Sadof took the opportunity to snap pictures of a public figure entering a public building. This is exactly the sort of freedom protected by the First Amendment. But Miss Hilton’s team and the Port Authority Police had different plans.

As a crowd formed around Miss Hilton, they ordered Miss Sadof to stop taking pictures. Suddenly, Miss Sadof is accused of pushing a police officer in the face and now faces charges of disorderly conduct and harrasment. Does something sound fishy here? I myself find it extremely hard to believe that an inexperienced intern would strike a police officer.

Journalists are constantly under attack for attempting to cover the most important events around the world: wars, drug trafficking, revolutions, and corrupt governments. We don’t need to add celebrity photos to that list. Celebrities trade on their image, and should be given no further protections from the press than anyone else does.

Categories: Uncategorized