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Reporting Facts And Reality

Glenn Greenwald takes the LA Times’ James Rainey to task for a story about how CNN’s Anderson Cooper actually had the gall to report facts, rather then simply regurgitate government press releases.  In this instance, Cooper was not only reporting what the Egyptian government was saying, but went the extra mile and pointed out to listeners that what they were saying was in fact all lies.  The LA Times writer accused Cooper of shifting “toward more opinion-making” and taking a “more commentary-heavy approach”.

Oh really?  Isn’t this totally backwards?  Seems to me the “opinion making” in this instance is the propaganda that the Egyptian government is spouting, and the facts are what Cooper is reporting.  As I’ve said before, isn’t it the job of journalists to report facts and reality as well as the opinions that are being spouted?  When public officials make bald-faced lies, it’s not “opinion making” to call a lie a lie, it’s reporting the facts.

What we need is more of this, not less.  How many times these days do you hear some Republican bloviating about how we must do something immediately about the big, bad deficit — which is strictly “opinion” — without giving one single fact to substantiate whether or not the deficit is a big problem right now?  Anytime a journalist reports something like this, shouldn’t they be duty-bound to report the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that the deficit is a problem at this point in time?  And that the facts are that the unemployment and the continuing recession are by far and away a bigger problem than the deficit?

You see this over and over — some right-wing nut job starts off on how there’s no such thing as “global warming” and it’s all a liberal hoax, and that gets reported as news.  Hell, that’s opinion, and it’s flat out wrong.  But how often do you see a journalist point out that the global warming denier is either a liar or an idiot?  If some politician started ranting about how the earth is flat, would journalists treat that as a credible argument and let it go?  Sadly, they probably would.

As Greenwald says, modern journalism has things totally backwards.  It’s the politicians they are reporting on that are doing the “opinion making”, and it’s the job of journalists to call them out on their bullshit and report the truth.