Thursday, May 03, 2007

Glenn Beck and CNN craziness

I know CNN is a business first and a news organization second. I get that. I also know that CNN promotes its own programming all the time, and that doesn't really bother me; it's no different than Fox advertising for Bones during American Idol. Still, the cross promotion with Glenn Beck that I saw on the network yesterday was too much.

During the Newsroom afternoon segment, the anchors had Glenn Beck, host of his own talk show on Headline News, on to discuss global warming. Now why is Glenn Beck an expert on global warming? Other than the fact that he spews a tremendous amount of hot air, he knows nothing more about it (and probably a lot less) than you or I do.

But Beck was hosting a special about global warming, so CNN brought him on -- during the middle of the news day, on a serious news program -- to talk about his views on the subject.

So the cross-promotion was cringe-worthy. But what's worse is that, in the pursuit of the ridiculous notion of objectivity, the media keeps giving time and space to people whose views have been almost entirely discredited.

I'm not going to get into the science of global warming here. Suffice it to say that it's happening, and that it's in all likelihood man-made. Somewhere around 95 percent of the world's scientists agree on this, if not more.

So why, when we read or see stories about global warming, are both the "yes it's happening" and the "no, it's not" sides represented? Would we include the views of Holocaust deniers in stories about the WWII? Or the views of those who still believe in slavery in a story about reparations? That's what this is akin to.

But the media feels a need, for whatever reason, to kowtow to people who don't believe in global warming. The same thing goes for evolution. These are proven scientific facts. The media shouldn't give both sides a say, just for the sake of "objectivity" and "balance."

We in the media should be in the business of truth-telling. Plain and simple. Sure, there should always be room for skepticism. And even when the vast majority of people agree with something, we should question it -- but only if necessary, not because we feel we need to go through the motions of doing so.

When something is scientifically supported, when it's observable before our eyes, and when there's physical evidence of it -- we should just call it as we see it. That means saying when something is right and when crackpot views are wrong.

As I said above, our job is to tell and report the truth. It's to inform. It's to clarify. It's not to distort and confuse and give credence to ridiculousness just because we feel some need to be "objective."


At Friday, May 04, 2007, Blogger AM said...

Good points. I feel like the media does stretch too far to be fair and balanced sometimes and I'm sure the time will come (if it hasn't already) when Holocaust deniers are presented as "valid" counterpoints. In our own work, I sometimes feel like we present the "other side" reflexively, no matter how ridiculous it is - "I think we should eat whales, not save them." It's so tough though on points that invoke religious faith. There are some extremely intelligent people who don't believe in evolution because of their faith. They are not crazy and believe just as strongly that they are correct - science or no science.

At Friday, May 04, 2007, Blogger AG said...

I have to agree with am... It is unfortunate. Last week, in my story, it was a story about one thing. There were not two sides I was telling a story yet I was forced to find the other side of the story. While I realize I am a student and trying to learn (therefore, I didn't speak up and complied) I was annoyed. This was a story I was working on and I had the information for.

Another good point, I am disgusted with all of the self-promotion going on too. Everybody is promoting themselves. I am a loyal MSNBCer, but I've been annoyed at them lately. I am cringing a lot more than I used to with their consistent self-promotion.

At Saturday, May 05, 2007, Blogger MK said...

Interviewing Glenn Beck is terrible to me. Interviewing journalists about a subject is only okay when you can't find an "expert" or someone affected by the story. Journalists can be used as experts (eyewitnesses in Iraq or something like that) but certainly not for global warming. It is easy to be incestuous in the news business and keep everything in house, but it is worth more to our viewers to give them outside perspectives. I don't Wolf Blitzer or Brian Williams or Katie Couric acting like experts unless the subject is journalism or unless it is a story that only they have.


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