Dan Rather and Memogate
Millions of words have already been written providing a haze surrounding this subject. Let’s try to clarify.
The argument boils down to “Should the on-camera personality (read anchor) be in charge of what we see and hear?”, with the news departments and producers relegated to being mere functionaries of the anchor?
Or should it be the other way around?
The BBC and the CBC seem to still do it the old-fashioned way, the talent is paid to present the news only. In personality-driven America, we viewers are led to believe that the talent actually drives the news wagon. Rather, Couric, Lauer, Williams, Russert, Brokaw, Sawyer, Gibson, Jennings, Smith, Zahn, King, King, Dobbs, Blitzer, O’Reilly, are names that immediately come to mind.
We are told that they arrive at the studio and sift through the incoming emails, faxes, wire services, memos, and one presumes fan letters, to decide what we should be hearing and seeing before going on the air.
And if that is the case, whom do we blame when the news appears to be false or biased?
What is bias in news reporting, anyway, and where are the limits?
If the reported news is untruthful, the answer is clear, and it is not bias. It may be propaganda, though, which one assumes is ok, but only if it comes from a reliable government source, like Condaleezza Rice (but not if produced under contract with a government source.)
What about reporting only part of the news, the part you wish to release which supports the bias, and withholding the part that tends to not support it?
The air needs to be cleared on these questions. The tail should stop wagging the dog. And the FCC might be the oversight government agency which ought to get themselves involved and help provide some answers.