Accuracy in Media

The number of scandals affecting the media is starting to approach the number of scandals involving President Clinton. The liberal New Republic fired a staffer for making up stories, and CNN has drawn fire for airing a false story claiming that American soldiers during the Vietnam War killed defectors with nerve gas. Now, the liberal Boston Globe newspaper has been caught running columns that included fabricated quotations and characters. The Globe wants us to believe in this case that the system worked because their editors uncovered the fraud during a routine review of the material.

But that was after the fact, and it turns out that the Globe had hired the columnist, Patricia Smith, after questions had already been raised about her material. Back in 1986, when she was writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, she wrote a review of an Elton John concert which contained inaccuracies about the songs he had performed. The review was so erroneous that some people questioned whether she had even been at the concert. But she was kept on at the paper, and went on to be hired at the Globe by editor Scott Powers, who said he was aware of that controversy but didn’t bring it up. He said it wouldn’t have been “fair.”

What is happening here? To put it bluntly, Patricia Smith was given favorable treatment because she was black. Liberal editors were apparently afraid of subjecting her work to critical scrutiny. They made allowances for her that would never have been given to other journalists. What they got in the process was a journalist who used her column in the Globe to rant and rave about racial and liberal issues. They also got a columnist who believed that no ethical rules applied to her. She apparently didn’t think she’d be caught, and if she was caught, she must have believed that the rules would have been bent once again to let her continue.

We can anticipate more such frauds in the media because the mind-set at the Boston Globe is shared throughout the liberal media. Recently, Mark Willes, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, said he intends to set specific goals for the number of women and minorities quoted in his newspaper. Presumably, these women and minorities are supposed to be real people, but such a procedure would have journalists disregarding some sources simply because they might be the wrong skin color. This process would involve having journalists questioning their sources not only about the facts but about their color, gender and even perhaps sexual orientation.

The mentality is not to get the story straight and get out the news but to make people feel good. That explains why the Globe would hire someone like Patricia Smith. We suspect there are others like her in the news business.

Concepts like accuracy and truth have become old-fashioned. What matters today for journalism is pluralism and diversity. Of course, this is completely phony as well. Columnist John Leo points out that affirmative action in the newsroom never seems to apply to certain groups of people—such as conservatives.




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