Is Fox News an Oxymoron?

The Los Angeles Times has an opinion piece (free registration required) that looks at the corrosive effects of what they call pseudo-journalism. While the article does not focus only on Fox, it is a good example of pandering and how pseudo-journalists can put on the cloak of jounalistic ethics while spreading what may be described as lies, or at least errors of fact.

This got me to thinking about a related situation. Some people love to write long essays full of examples supposedly supporting the point they are trying to make. Only, at least some of the examples are wrong. Rather than simply admitting the mistake(s), correcting it, and trying to check their facts better from that point forward, they do what more and more people are doing. They turn around and attack the person correcting them. These pundits become enraged and call their critics trolls or say the specific example doesn’t matter. That is, the correction is trivial and does not detract from their main thesis. Or they simply ignore the error.

Perhaps, at times, they are right. But all the time they are wrong in once sense. They are wrong in the sense that every error is a brick removed from the foundation that is called credibility. Without credibility you are nothing and each error, no matter how small subtracts from that credibility.

Everyone should ask his or herself several questions when reading with a critical eye. The Society of Professional Journalists has a Code of Ethics from which I list several
examples: Is the writer or speaker an advocate or a reporter of the truth? Is there a conflict of interest, real or perceived? If so, is the conflict disclosed to the reader? Does the person freely admit to the inevitable mistakes and correct them promptly? Does he or she abide by the same high standards to which they hold others?

If not, then we cannot and should not give credence to anything such a person has to say. Even if the writer is partly right, they are completely wrong if they do not adhere to a strict code of ethics by willfully violating even one of part of the code.



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