Kudos to American Journalism Review’s Rem Reider who is the latest to say what Anderson Cooper did (a sin to the David Gregory’s of the world) is what journalism is all about, speaking truth to power. Cooper, who called some of Mubarak’s pronouncements as he tried to hold to power “lies.”
Is calling a lie a lie out of a journalist’s "purview"? Was Cooper guilty of "taking sides"?
I don’t think so.
All Cooper did was tell the truth, albeit in an unvarnished, perhaps jarring, way. As Platt would say, Cooper was the explicit adjudicator of a factual dispute. He drew conclusions from his reporting.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
For too long, mainstream journalism has pulled its punches. Admirably dedicated to fairness, balance, not picking winners and losers, it too often settled for "on the one hand, on the other hand" stories that left readers in the dark.
Clearly it’s important to be impartial, to represent many points of view, to give each side its say. But that doesn’t mean treating both sides of the argument equally when one is demonstrably false, or even deeply flawed. The world isn’t flat, no matter how many times some misguided soul might say it is.
To treat everything equally is to create a false equivalency. And that really shortchanges the readers.
The rise of the Internet, and the emergence of so much punchy point of view in the blogosphere, underscored the fact that too much journalism was too mushy, and unnecessarily so.