Grappling with the Gray

Grappling with the Gray #69: Balancing act?

November 08, 2023 Yonason Goldson
Grappling with the Gray
Grappling with the Gray #69: Balancing act?
Show Notes

If we can't trust the media, how can we be informed?
If we aren't informed, how can we hold opinions?
If we can't hold opinions, how can we condemn evil and fight for good?

This is the quandary the ethics panel takes up on this week's episode of Grappling with the Gray.

When a hospital in Gaza exploded two weeks ago, headlines on CNN and the NY Times both parroted Palestinian claims that Israel was responsible. The BBC simply reported it as fact. All of them were wrong. But many still believe the accusation.

This kind of misinformation has been going on a long time. In October 1996, the celebrated columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote in Time Magazine:

“As fighting raged in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza late last month, Israel's opening of the now infamous Jerusalem tunnel was denounced from Turtle Bay to Timbuktu as a desecration of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. It took nearly a week and fully 70 dead before the truth began to trickle out: the charge was a lie… an easily provable lie.”

Mr. Krauthammer continued:

“If NPR had covered the blood-libel-inspired massacre of the Jews of Munich in 1286, imagine what they might have written: ‘Leaders of the massacre claim that the Jews had killed Christian boys and used their blood for religious rituals.’ For balance, I suppose, NPR would have added, ‘The Jews deny this.’"

On the one hand, we shouldn’t expect – or even want – journalists to be overly clinical in their reporting. But when their personal biases clearly impair their objective reporting, they become tools of the wicked by lending legitimacy to villains and perpetrators and prolonging each crisis.

Assuming that journalists truly believe they are serving the public interest, why are they so prone to error and one-sided reporting? Why does it seem to be getting worse, and what can we do about it?

Meet this week’s panelists:

🔆 Anne Nevel, CAE is the Vice President of Education for a trade association and enjoys connecting the right people to the right projects to promote successful collaboration and partnership.

🟦 Mark O'Brien is founder and principal of O’Brien Communications Group, a B2B brand-management and marketing-communications firm — and host of The Anxious Voyage, a syndicated radio show about life’s trials and triumphs.

Jolanta Pomiotlo is Vice President of Information Technology for EXSIF Worldwide who manages innovative initiatives aimed at reducing operating costs, improving profit, and growing revenue.