Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Journalists Are Supposed to Cover the News, Not Create News

In Distorting the Truth to Serve a Supposedly Greater Good Destroys the Credibility of Journalists, and Threatens the Future of Democracy, I wrote:

Media outlets have a disturbing tendency of disregarding facts/truth in favor of what they perceive to be the "greater good" or "larger truth." In other words, once they decided that Donald Trump's re-election posed a serious threat to democracy they were willing to do anything--including lie, and bury newsworthy stories--in pursuit of what they perceive to be the "greater good." However, that is not their decision to make, or their job to do. Their job is to investigate, and then report the truth; it is the job of the voters to decide what the "greater good" is. Many media members consistently demonstrate their disdain for the public, and demonstrate that they do not believe that the public is capable of making correct decisions; that is why media outlets suppress some stories while elevating others. Unfortunately, once the media corrupts itself we move perilously close to becoming a society that has a free and independent press in name only.

Another example of a media member committed to what he perceives to be the "greater good" is discussed in Journalists should report Israel news, not shape it. Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reporter Ron Kampeas apparently believes that President Joe Biden's decision to visit Israel should be influenced by whether or not Israel builds housing units in Judea and Samaria. At no time did the President indicate that there is any connection between his visit and Israel's construction plans, but that did not deter Kampeas, who asked a question about the non-issue and then wrote an article about a story that he had created out of thin air. As Moshe Phillips noted, "In other words, this 'story' was--as in the mold of the classic Seinfeld sitcom formula--an article about nothing. He was writing about something that was not going to happen. The question is, why would a reporter begin with the premise that perhaps something should happen? Why the assumption that Biden’s trip might be--or should be--affected? And even if, for whatever reason, Kampeas felt that something should happen, why was it still newsworthy once he found out that his assumption is wrong, that nothing is going to happen?"

As I have repeatedly noted, the kind of nonsense practiced by Kampeas is harmful not only because he created a story where none existed but also because he neglected his duty to cover stories that matter. For example, why is Kampeas only concerned about Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria but not about Arab construction in those areas? Kampeas could have asked if the White House has a double standard that only condemns Jews but not Arabs. Kampeas could have asked why the White House's tepid condemnation of terrorist attacks against Jews in Israel fails to acknowledge that Arabs carried out every attack. Terrorist attacks do not just happen--they are perpetrated by specific people, and those people are often sponsored by governments and/or large organizations. Kampeas did not ask such tough questions because he does not care about the answers--or, if you are really cynical, you could say that he knows what the answers are but wants to hide the truth from his readers.

Unfortunately for Kampeas' readers, Kampeas is not a journalist--at least not in a meaningful sense of the word. He is an advocate who is convinced that he knows what should happen, and he is not going to let anything get in the way of his advocacy. It is bad enough that Al Jazeera is devoted full-time to fomenting antisemitism, but it is pathetic that the Jewish Telegraphic Agency employs a writer who thinks his job is to promote an anti-Israel agenda.

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