And they might as well be made of wood too.
Except they’re not.
What we’ve got here folks is yet another case of —
“Over the weekend, The Los Angeles’ Times James Rainey mocked CNN’s Anderson Cooper for repeatedly using the word “lie” to describe the factually false statements of Egyptian leaders. Though Rainey ultimately concluded that “it’s hard to find fault with what Cooper had to say” — meaning that everything Cooper identified as a “lie” was, in fact, a “lie” — the bulk of Rainey’s column derided the CNN anchor for his statements (“Cooper’s accusations of ‘lies’ and ‘lying’ got so thick on Wednesday’s show that the host seemed to be channeling comic (and now U.S. Sen.) Al Franken’s 2003 book, ‘Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them’”). Rainey also suggested that the harsh denunciations of Mubarak’s false statements were merely part of “Cooper’s pronounced shift toward more opinion-making in recent months . . . trying to adopt the more commentary-heavy approach of [CNN’s] higher-rated competitors, Fox and MSNBC.” To Rainey, when a journalist calls a government lie a “lie,” that’s veering into “commentary-heavy opinion-making” rather than objective journalism
To Kurtz, when a journalist accurately points out that a powerful political leader is lying, that’s “taking sides,” a departure from journalistic objectivity, something improper. In reply, Dickey agreed with that assessment, noting that “part of the soul of [Cooper’s] show is to take sides” and be “committed to a certain vision of the story.” Like Rainey, Dickey was forced to acknowledge that all of the statements Cooper identified as “lies” were actually lies, and thus magnanimously decreed: “I think Anderson can be forgiven for using that word in that context.” Kurtz then patronizingly noted: “And of course, Anderson Cooper was repeatedly punched in the head when he was covering the demonstrations” — as though his departure from good journalistic objectivity can at least be understood here (though of course not justified) because of the emotional trauma he suffered.”
“ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: What we heard were the same lies we’ve heard from him and his regime for more than two weeks now. What we heard is a man who clearly believes that he is Egypt. He kept repeating this lie that this is all some sort of foreign interference.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KURTZ: Chris Dickey, Anderson Cooper repeatedly using the word lies. Now I think most journalists would agree with him, perhaps most Americans would agree with him. But should an anchor and correspondent being taking sides on this kind of story?
DICKEY: I think Anderson sort of — that’s part of the soul of his show is to take sides and be passionate and come across as someone who’s reasonable, but committed to a certain vision of the story.
In fact, I don’t think lies is an exaggerated word to use in this context. I mean, when you have a head of a state who’s telling one untruth after another and they are certifiable, and then we come into the situation where he really is lying not only to the country but probably to himself. I think Anderson can be forgiven for using that word in that context.
KURTZ: And of course, Anderson Cooper was repeatedly punched in the head when he was covering the demonstrations during those couple of days when they turned violent and when journalists were not just attacked but targeted for attacks.”
“Rainey, Kurtz and Dickey all have this exactly backwards. Identifying lies told by powerful political leaders — and describing them as such — is what good journalists do, by definition. It’s the crux of adversarial journalism, of a “watchdog” press. “Objectivity” does not require refraining from pointing out the falsity of government claims. The opposite is true; objectivity requires that a journalist do exactly that: treat factually false statements as false. “Objectivity” is breached not when a journalist calls a lie a “lie,” but when they refuse to do so, when they treat lies told by powerful political officials as though they’re viable, reasonable interpretations of subjective questions. The very idea that a journalist is engaged in “opinion-making” or is “taking sides” by calling a lie a “lie” is ludicrous; the only “side” such a journalist is taking is with facts, with the truth. It’s when a journalist fails to identify a false statement as such that they are “taking sides” — they’re siding with those in power by deceitfully depicting their demonstrably false statements as something other than lies.”
Today Rainey has elected to uh. . . “walk it back” a bit.
“Anderson Cooper hit the leaders of Egypt last week for repeatedly lying, in what seemed like a marked departure from the moderate tone we once expected on CNN. It was unusual enough to write about here on The Big Picture, as I detailed how the CNN host used derivations of “lie” 14 times in just one “Anderson Cooper 360.”
I noted in my post that it was “hard to find fault with what Cooper had to say” about Egypt’s authoritarian regime. After all, as I wrote, we had all seen evidence of the government’s deceit on live TV, as the crisis around Tahrir Square built before our eyes.
Out here in the blogosphere that mild commentary — and my opinion that Cooper, despite being correct, sounded a little one note — has been twisted into something quite different. Apparently, I’ve learned that I’m guilty of a flat-out denunciation of the cable journalist and his truth-telling. Further tortured recastings suggest I also have a problem with those who speak truth to political power. To which I respond…..huh?”
And to which I respond DAMNED RIGHT YOU DO!!!!
“It’s not worth figuring out where this all started. But I’ll take a swing at setting the record straight:
The website Mediate may have gotten the revisionism rolling. It headlined that I accused Cooper of going “overboard” and asserted that I “somewhat cynically suggest” Cooper’s outrage must be based on some “simple ratings lust.” That’s just dandy, but not what I said at all.
I simply noted that Cooper had been tilting for some months in the direction of the commentary-heavy reporting made popular by Fox News and MSNBC. The old barriers between news and commentary are less and less discernible on cable TV–an observation that I think hardly anyone would refute.”
Oh really? Try me.
THERE NEVER WERE ANY BARRIERS — JUST AN INSISTENCE ON CAVING TO STATUS QUO PROPAGANDA!
“In this instance, Cooper’s accusations of lying seemed well supported by the facts and, therefore, not open to any sort of factual challenge. As noted, I found no fault in the reporting.
What I wrote related, instead, to degree and editorial approach. It was fairly apparent that Hosni Mubarak and his gang had been less than trustworthy stewards of Egypt for some time. Wouldn’t it have been more instructive, once that deceit had been reported, for Cooper to try to explain a few other things? For starters, how about giving viewers a primer on why the U.S. snuggled up to the dictator in the first place?”
That would take a lot more than one journalist. What’s required is a whole pack of them, foreign and domestic, plus editors who won’t take “this is off the record” for an answer.
“Yet another report, this one on Huffington Post, about my Cooper commentary clearly left some readers believing I disagreed with the CNN host in principle. That, in turn, provoked hundreds of comments and messages to me about how I (cowardly mainstream media hack that I am) didn’t want anyone trifling with my soul mates in the Egyptian autocracy.
The scolding included a Twitter rebuke from Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald: “Someone should tell the LA Times that pointing out ‘lies’ of powerful political leaders is what good journalists do.” (I wouldn’t have known.) Greenwald followed with this: “That said, I’d be more impressed with Anderson Cooper using such language with US rather than Egyptian officials.”
Thanks, again. That would be helpful, except it’s exactly the point already made in my original report. I quoted USC Annenberg journalism professor Marc Cooper (no relation to the CNN star) as saying he would like to see CNN’s Cooper take it to the next level, calling out not just foreigners but “American politicians when they overtly lie.”
Not that anyone has to rely on original meaning in the cyber world. Why look at what someone actually said, when there are so many other versions out there that you can riff on. You know, what people said you said.”
Can the Pity Party, dear. You’re much too old for that sort of thing.
Sing us out Annie.
THIS JUST IN: Andrew Breitbart — YOU HAVE BEEN SERVED!!!!!