When you hear the right complain, as they always do, about the so-called liberal media, keep in mind the fact that Fox News is the most watched cable news network, that the Wall Street Journal is the largest national newspaper, that talk radio is dominated by conservatives, and that the Internet’s most referenced site belongs to Matt Drudge. What exactly do they think the media is?
Add to that the fact that many establishment news providers bend over backwards to avoid being targeted by conservative critics for having a liberal bias. Or worse, they strive to emulate the right-wing media in hopes of duplicating their perceived success.
CNN is the worst offender in this contest of running to the right. Their aggressive shift in ideology has been well documented. They have hired numerous far-right extremists with no effort to achieve any sort of balance. And that includes the news chief, Ken Jautz. Consequently, their ratings have collapsed along with their journalistic integrity.
This past weekend CNN broadcast another example of how their sinking ethics have impacted their news judgment. The segment by Tom Foreman was centered on the absurd premise that the Obama campaign has engaged in “Swiftboating” Mitt Romney by accurately questioning his business experience, his millions of dollars in off-shore tax havens, and his refusal to release more than a year or two of his tax returns. Foreman concludes his report saying…
Tom Foreman: In ad after ad, Democrats are suggesting that Romney is a fatcat job outsourcer, an opportunistic financial predator, and an elitist out of touch with the working class. Never mind that many of those claims appear to be backed with little or no evidence. [...] Some Republican analysts fear that Mitt Romney could be the second politician from Massachusetts to be Swiftboated out of the presidency.
The problem with Foreman’s conclusion is that there is abundant evidence of the claims made in the Obama ads. And the questions they raise are those that would require answers from any political candidate. Who could deny that Romney is a fatcat? The job outsourcing by Bain entities is not even denied by Romney. He just argues that he wasn’t there at the time (despite official SEC filings that contradict him). And how could someone be more out of touch than by saying that he likes to fire people, he’s not concerned about the poor, and that corporations are people?
Foreman was not alone in raising the specter of Swiftboating on CNN. Reporter Jim Acosta misused the term when he interviewed Mitt Romney on Friday asking him whether he thought he was being Swiftboated. Talk about your softball questions. And media analyst Howard Kurtz also misused the term while promoting his Sunday program Reliable Sources. He was acutely concerned about Romney’s welfare under the intense pressure he must be suffering.
Howard Kurtz: I’ve been increasingly worried about whether the media that have been pushing a lot of these stories, “Boston Globe”, “Washington Post” on outsourcing, “Vanity Fair” on Cayman Island accounts, seem to some people to be echoing the message of the Obama campaign by raising so many questions about Romney’s business background.
Apparently Kurtz is of the opinion that if a story is getting a lot of attention the reporters should immediately stop covering it for fear of overtaxing the beleaguered subject of the story and to avoid charges of bias by “some people” on the receiving end of the bad news. How very considerate of him.
For the record, Swiftboating is a term that describes a campaign to disparage a candidate’s strengths that is based on falsehoods and lacks evidence. It is wholly improper to use the term simply to denounce ads that are critical of a candidate. Criticism that is rooted in the truth, with evidence to back it up, is not Swiftboating in any way shape or form. In fact, refraining from such relevant criticism would be campaign malpractice.
Asking Romney to account for his activities in business, which is the core of his campaign, is fair game. So is asking him to release tax returns as almost every candidate in modern times does – since his own father set the standard back in 1968. But suggesting that news coverage of such issues is Swiftboating, as CNN has done three times in as many days, is proof that the network has lost all interest in being a professional news enterprise.