Strange “Objectivity” Dichotomy on the Lehrer News Hour Last Night
The Lehrer News Hour on PBS has a relatively tiny audience—approximately 1 million viewers a night, while the network news shows pull in approximately 21 million—but for the serious news junkie the show cannot be missed. While the show often is a dreary drone of talking heads, when they’re on with their in-depth format the show is excellent.
Jim Lehrer is famous for his “objectivity,” taken to such an extreme that he refuses to vote. He recently got rid of and publicly apologized for a guest correspondent who violated his objectivity rules.
But once in a while the show interviews four regional newspaper editorial writers where objectivity is blatantly chucked out the window. Last night an editor from the Chicago Tribune said Condi Rice “would mop the floor with Richard Clarke” if she would only publicly testify.
Rice testifying isn’t to “mop the floor” with Clarke, it’s to tell her version of the truth, so that eventually all the truth may come out about her role in 9/11.
Lehrer tenaciously clings to objectivity, but then tosses it to the wind with his own journalism guests. He has opposing views from these editorial writers, but shouldn’t they be under the same objectivity rules he’s under, since they’re “journalists” too? What gives?
Lehrer is getting taken for a ride. When one side of the debate insists on lying objectivity rules are useless—one side lies (the pros call it “mendacity”), the other rebuts and Lehrer just sits there while the truth suffers, for the opposing view (which is true) is given no credence simply because it opposes the lie.
Lehrer was roundly criticized in the 2000 debates for letting Bush push ridiculous lies in his budget plans—Gore would rebut, but since Gore was saying it, it couldn’t be true. Lehrer just sat there.
Our “objective” media all too rarely tries to live up to Lehrer’s rules, and even when they do they fail in their mission, for the truth is not delivered. It’s time for the Lehrer News Hour to drop this ridiculous pretense of meticulously presenting both sides without stating obvious truths, which leads the show far too open to abuse from lying politicians and journalists—some of which he’s only too happy to host on his own show.