Sunday, June 30, 2019

Fair and Balanced Journalism

The Fox television station's moniker "fair and balanced news" is an oxymoron. Nonetheless, this concept has merit in the broad arena of journalism.

Fareed Zakaria, a respected anchor, has produced a documentary about the rise of white nationalism. A promo for the upcoming show features a clip of the philosopher-in-chief delivering a monologue; a rationale laying out the raison d'être for this noxious rising tide. In stark contrast to the man's racist message, his countenance was relaxed, friendly, and gentlemanly, making his viewpoint dangerously palatable to the uninformed masses.

In the name of "fairness to all sides" Fareed allowed this monster to roll out his twisted logic unchallenged - which gave plenty of air time for the viewing public to soak in a demented philosophy. One could easily lift this segment and circulate it widely as a rationale for white supremacy -  as our "fair-minded" journalist nodded solemnly.

Fareed's respectful approach was an infuriating interpretation of what it means to promote free speech. What if he were interviewing Hitler? Would it be a "fair and balanced" strategy to remain silently attentive as the hate-monger rolled out his message, all the while allowing ample opportunity for viewers to ingest this primetime message and make it their own?

Fareed assured us that "the other side" would be heard as well. Yet, allowing more than one sentence to be uttered by this madman without an immediate and logical counter-punch is irresponsible journalism. Is it possible that Fareed, an Indian man with brown skin (as pointed out by his interviewee) is trying to win brownie points for being a reasonable man despite his country's historic humiliation at the hands of Colonial-era powers?

The phrase "Uncle Tom" was a term applied to black people who catered to bigoted white folk. I stand in no judgment of those accused of being Uncle Toms, as it was a survival strategy.

Nonetheless, in my book Fareed has just earned the title of Uncle Tom-anand - and all in the name of free and balanced journalism.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Between the Frying Pan and the Fire

When the first inklings of a pandemic started brewing in late January, I was in Bodgaya, India, the place where the historical Buddha attai...