Help Elisabeth Bumiller Uphold the Standards of Our Profession
by Chris Bowers, Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 01:08:20 PM EST
In addition, as part of its written request, Fired Up! noted that its sites would "endorse, expressly advocate, and urge readers to donate funds to the election of Democratic candidates for federal state, and local office." The FEC did not challenge this aspect of Fired Up's activities.
What This Means: Under the Commission's rules, "any person involved in a specific activity 'indistinguishable in all its material aspects'" from Fired Up! can rely upon this ruling unless Congress acts otherwise, and you can imagine what sites might feel better-protected today. Any such site engaged in news, commentary and editorial can continue in such activities without fear of falling into FEC filing requirements turning groups into political committees or incorporated sites into outlaws.Great! I guess I am a journalist now. I suppose many of you all are journalists now too. While I am new to the profession, I intend to uphold its professional standards with the utmost care and respect. Also, I hope you will join me as I work to assist my journalist colleagues to do the same.
As our first such act, I think we should lend a helping hand to Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times. Now, from what I understand, it is generally understood that part of responsible journalism is making sure that you report both sides of the story. However, in her story about Cheney's speech yesterday, she failed to do that:Mr. Cheney, who was the administration's toughest, most persistent advocate for the war in Iraq, depicted the senators as hypocrites swayed by antiwar sentiment and their own political ambitions.
"Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein," Mr. Cheney told the group, Frontiers of Freedom, at the Mayflower Hotel. "What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war."
The Republican National Committee simultaneously posted on its Web site comments from important Democrats who in the past had warned of the threat of Mr. Hussein.
Among them was the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who was quoted on the Web site as saying on CNN in 2002 that "Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community, and I think that the president is approaching this in the right fashion."Now, perhaps she was confused here. While she quoted from a Democratic Senator, she did so by taking the quote from the RNC website. Maybe she thought that Republicans supplying her with Democratic quotes was sufficient when it came to actually interviewing Democrats about Cheney's speech. However, any honest person would have to admit that what Bumiller did was not exactly "getting both sides of the story." She should have actually asked a Democrat what they thought of Cheney's speech.
Now, since we have become journalists, I think it would be only fair to ask Bumiller herself why she didn't interview any Democrats about the speech, and why she quoted directly from a Republican website in her article. That way, we get practice being responsible journalists, and Bumiller learns a valuable lesson about doing proper research before publishing.
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do so. Please do so several times if you have to. As long as it takes until she starts upholding the standards of our shared profession.
Again, her email is email@example.com