Opinion

Lara Logan: People know political news reporting has slipped

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I am not sure how political news reporting pulls out of its years-long credibility nose dive. What’s happening now with former CBS war correspondent (2002-2018) Lara Logan is a recent example.

Let me be clear: my subject here is “political news,” not sports news, cooking news, nor any type of news other than political news.

Let me also be clear: my subject here is news “reporting,” not news opinion, or news editorializing.

February 15, 2019, Lara Logan was a guest on former US Navy SEAL Mike Ritland’s podcast, “Mike Drop.” There are about seven minutes in Logan’s three-and-a-half hour interview in which the topic is the media’s news reporting bias. Ritland tells Logan he thinks most of today’s news media reports with a Left bias.

Logan agrees with Ritland, illustrating her point about our lopsided news reporting with an experience at the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Logan said, “Visually, anyone who’s ever been to Israel and…the Wailing Wall has seen that the women have this tiny little spot in front of the wall to pray, and the rest of the wall is for the men. To me, that’s a great representation of the American media, is that in this tiny little corner where the women pray you’ve got Breitbart and Fox News and a few others, and from there on, you have CBS, ABC, NBC, Huffington Post, Politico, whatever, right? All of them.

“And that’s a problem for me, because even if it was reversed, if it was vastly mostly on the right, that would also be a problem for me. My experience has been that the more opinions you have, the more ways that you look at everything in life,” said Logan, finishing her interview by saying, “this interview is professional suicide for me.”

I think Lara Logan is exactly right. Fox News and Breitbart do present news with a Right perspective, and CBS, ABC, NBC and the others produce Left perspective news. That’s not letting the cat out of the bag. It’s obvious.

When I come across otherwise rational people who adamantly insist the Left perspective news outlets are not Left perspective news outlets — I’m not sure what to think. Do they really believe what they’re saying? If so, on what is their belief based?

Lara Logan’s description of today’s media is a textbook definition. At least, if the textbook is the “Associated Press Broadcast News Handbook: A Manual of Techniques & Practices (2001).” The book chapter, “Getting the Story: Field Reporting,” begins with:

“The reporter’s job is to observe events and to tell people about them. We are watchers, not participants; our role is to stand in for the public to make it possible for everyone to stay abreast of the latest developments in government, the economy, education, science and society.

“Ours is a pluralistic society. We value differences of opinion. Indeed, the fundamental theory of our political system is that everyone is entitled to an opinion….

“By definition, the act of informing the members of such a society is the act of separating fact from opinion.”

Five days after her interview with Mike Ritland, Fox News’s Sean Hannity interviewed Lara Logan. At one point, Hannity said to Logan, “I don’t even know what your politics are.”

“Because it doesn’t matter,” replied Logan. “I’m not going to lie to you and pretend that I have no biases. [T]hat’s a part of who we are as human beings. [But], journalists have always needed two independent first-hand sources. It’s always been the standard that we worked to.

“People know that we’ve slipped. People know when those are no longer your standards,” said Logan.

Still, how does our political news reporting stop slipping?

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2015. He is now using his communications skills to serve clients in the private sector.

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