2020-11-11

Comparing the Honesty of Fox News with the Honesty of Benjamin Franklin’s Press?

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by Neil Godfrey

I was reading George Friedman’s article on journalistic objectivity in mainstream American media and was pulled up by the following paragraph in Toward a Theory of Journalistic Objectivity:

The problem is that modern journalistic ethics insist that simplistic objectivity is possible, and it compels journalists and newspapers to pretend that their political beliefs, or support for the Redskins, does not shape the way in which the news is presented. [Benjamin] Franklin would never hide his personal views, nor would he ever see them as prejudices. Rather, in his mind they were well-honed reflections that he provided the world as a gift, without prejudice. In this sense, reporters at Fox and CNN are better journalists and more honest than those at The New York Times or The Washington Post. They make no bones about who they are, nor do they hide how they shape the news. They don’t have what used to be called the mainstream press’s objectivity and don’t pretend to have it.

Friedman’s point is that the editors/journalists at NYT and WP are either blind to (or secretive about) their biases and create a deceptive illusion of objectivity for their audiences.

Now I re-read that paragraph, I wonder how Friedman can make a difference between Ben Franklin and the NYT/WP: on his reasoning are not both “blind to their prejudices” with both seeing their reporting as “well-honed reflections …. as a gift, without prejudice”?

I have never associated the word “honest” or even the words “more honest than” with Fox news. George Friedman, it seems, would have me re-think my perception. That’s a tough ask. Thoughts?

Benjamin Franklin and Roger Ailes — each “more honest” in their own way?

 

 

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Neil Godfrey

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One thought on “Comparing the Honesty of Fox News with the Honesty of Benjamin Franklin’s Press?”

  1. I have not read enough of Franklin’s work to be able to judge Friedman’s construal of his thinking. That noted, I agree that objective journalism is a myth. It cannot be achieved and journalists should stop pretending that they can get really close to it if they just try hard enough. It’s a mirage, so even the effort to get there is counterproductive.

    Next, I can make no sense of failing to see personal views as prejudices. When journalists make their personal views apparent rather than pretending to be uninfluenced by them, that is commendable, but it doesn’t make their reporting unprejudiced.

    As for dishonesty, that is not a judgment I’m trying to render. I see as much error in the liberal press as in the conservative press. Different errors, of course, but errors nonetheless. No mainstream news source is telling it like it really is. I do not, however, equate error with dishonesty. I think they’re all telling it like they think it is, and if that is what they’re doing, then they are being as honest as fallible human beings can be.

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