From Today’s Truth-Driver Commentary on WKZO Talk Radio AM 590 (mp3 file):

So what’s wrong with a little white lie? How about a white lie that comes from a TV news channel? While they all do it, my commentary today was born of an ethics blog I read this morning, mentioning John Stewart’s recent undressing of Sean Hannity over what some might see as harmless exaggeration to make a valid point. What did Fox News do? When reporting on the November 5th gathering of Tea Party opponents to current healthcare bills, Hannity/Fox created a highly deceptive video report of the event, which conveniently bolstered the guests’ exaggerated claims of the size of the crowd. In truth, the footage of the event was mostly footage from the much larger Glenn Beck rally back in September, interwoven into the current story in way that clearly makes the smaller crowd appear giant, so the video would match the hyperbole.

So what’s wrong with that, really? The other channels certainly do it too. Well, to me it matters because our NEWS channels are no longer dedicated to news, and to truth, and to intellectual honesty. They play to the base for ratings. I was a Fox fan for many years, but just like MSNBC and the others, news is no longer the primary function of news channels. And frankly, that is tragic—at least if you believe that real progress in the real world is made through pursuit of truth, as I do.

A friend of mine routinely laments the days of old when NEWS was about, imagine this, READING THE NEWS!—back when Hugh Harper or Walter Cronkite read the news from a piece of paper. They didn’t toss cutesy banter back and forth, they didn’t have to roll fake or sensationalist video that was hard to see behind tickers and swirly, animated graphics; they read the news, and they cared whether or not it reflected reality and truth. But now editorialized content masquerading as news is the norm, and as someone committed to discovering truth, it bothers me, regardless of which channel is doing it to play to their particular audience.

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(Stephen L. Gibson is the author of  A Secret of the Universe, a critically acclaimed, citation-rich novel about the intersections of science, reason, and faith. Still an emotion-driven thinker in recovery, Steve shares his journey in search of ever-elusive truth with thousands via his Truth-Driven Thinking podcast, and his Perspectives blog. © 2009, Truth-Driven Strategies LLC.)

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