Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Shameful Harvest of False Balance

Edward R. Murrow reports on America's "Harvest of Shame"

The now-virulent problem of journalistic false balance is not a new one. Objectivity is a fine thing — right up to the point where it is employed as a means of hiding the truth.
In the fall of 1960, when Edward R. Murrow gave voice to America’s voiceless migrant farm workers in an award-winning documentary, CBS reacted to the loudly voiced pressure from the economic interests that exploited the migrants. In Due to Circumstances Beyond Our Control, Fred Friendly recalled, “The management was concerned about such programs as 'Harvest of Shame,’ even though they knew it was done fairly; what they wanted was a ‘balanced’ hour. But though objectivity is part of responsible reporting, all arguments, as Murrow had said, are not equal … As Murrow once asked, ‘Would you give equal time to Judas Iscariot or Simon Legree?’”
After all, a purely objective watchdog never barks.

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