Accuracy in Media

If you can’t trust the ombudsman for a news organization, can you trust the news organization?

Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, the ombudsman or consumer advocate for National Public Radio, has written a column about examples of “questioned and questionable journalism.” But he then proceeded to commit a journalistic gaffe of his own, casting his own credibility in doubt.

Discussing the George Clooney movie, Good Night and Good Luck, about CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow, Dvorkin said that Murrow “fought for high standards and fearless reporting even in the face of political and economic pressures that worked to tame and intimidate journalists and their news organizations.”

In fact, as Wes Vernon notes in our AIM Report, Murrow had a vendetta against anti-communist Senator Joseph McCarthy because one of Murrow’s close friends had been questioned about his communist ties and committed suicide. But that friend, Laurence Duggan, turned out to be a Soviet spy in the State Department. Murrow also mangled the case of Annie Lee Moss, an alleged innocent victim of McCarthy who turned out to be a Communist Party member.

Dvorkin’s column on Murrow demonstrates how modern-day journalists accept a prevailing myth about a journalistic icon and fail to examine the facts of the case. This is not a good trait in an ombudsman?or a journalist.

In her review of the Clooney film, Ann Coulter noted, sarcastically, that “The brilliant and perceptive journalist Murrow was not only unaware of the hundreds of Soviet spies running loose in the U.S. government, he was also unaware that his own dear friend Duggan was a Soviet spy?”

Dvorkin seems to be just as “brilliant and perceptive” as his flawed hero.

According to NPR, Dvorkin is supposed to be “the public’s representative to National Public Radio, serving as an independent source of information, explanation, amplification and analysis for the public regarding NPR’s programming.” But if he can’t get the facts correct about Murrow’s career, which dates back 55 years, what good is he?

Tragically, the U.S. State Department, as we noted in a recent column, doesn’t care for the truth, either. It has launched an Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program in honor of the Murrow myth, designed to influence foreign journalists.

So now foreign journalists will be as misinformed as our own.

This is progress?

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