Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Solution for the Sunday Morning Shows

The Sunday Morning Shows may be laughable with their lack of serious questioning, but they are not supposed to be comedy programs.    When a politician makes a statement asserting something truly astounding, such as when a politician states a country poses an imminent threat to the United States or a politician says Edward Snowden was encouraged by a foreign power, a journalist isn't supposed to just sit there like a human microphone stand.

Regardless of the topic, any journalist who is a journalist and not a lapdog says something like, "what evidence do you have of that," or, "upon what do you base that" or,  "how do you know that is true?"

When the politician admits he has no evidence, the journalist needs to confirm that fact, saying something like, "So Mr. Rogers, you sit here and suggest that Edward Snowden has been encouraged by Russia to provide information and you have absolutely no evidence of that at all, correct?"   Then the journalist would ask why the head of the House Intelligence Committee would make such an outrageous assertion with no evidence.   

Our Sunday Shows (and now 60 Minutes) have demonstrated the network hosts and producers are in need of basic journalism training.   They're certainly welcome to come to Kent State, but here's another solution. 

Charter a plane.   Fly them all to sit in the studio for BBC's Hardtalk.   Be sure David Gregory sits in the front row.   Tell them to pay attention to how the journalist asks direct questions.   Tell them to pay specific attention to what happens when the subject sidesteps the question or makes what appears to be an assertion unsupported by any facts.   They'll witness the journalist holding the subject accountable.   Had American journalists done that with politicians, we never would have had a war in Iraq.

When journalism fails, bad things happen.


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