Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ethics within the Limits of Media Alone: Dishonesty Reported Dishonestly

Josh Marshall goes nitty gritty on the press:
Of all the shortcomings of the establishment press today, none is more central to the corruption of the profession than the decision to prioritize balance over accuracy. That corruption is visibly on display in the current coverage of the McCain campaign's policy of deliberate lies ....

We hear a lot about the steep and perhaps terminal decline of the business model underlying daily print newspapers. But this corruption in the basic conception of the craft -- which is actually related to the economic decline -- gets discussed much less.

This is what gives liars a clear strategic advantage over non-liars. And it's an open question whether McCain's level of dishonesty turns out to be so great that it overwhelms reporters' unwillingness to report accurately on it.

David Kurtz provides a glaring CNN example of press equivocation motivated by a comment from Karl Rove:

Rove's mentioning that both Republicans and Democrats are "stretching the truth" is itself an effective tactic of rising the baseness of the serial lies told by the McCain campaign to a conventional level of partial truths and spin of any campaign. As such it is dumbing down ethical expections about truth-telling. It's a way to make denial of support for the Bridge to Nowhere, for instance, look like just your garden-variety campaign dirt rather than an extraordinary vice.

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