Saturday, October 10, 2009

And speaking of Nobel prizes--you're not going to believe this

Tom Gross is reporting that the left-wing Guardian in the UK, still the newspaper of choice for British intellectuals, KGB-style, published as a sidebar to Barack Obama winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, The what they claimed was “every peace prize winner ever.” BUT they took off the list all three Israelis who have won the peace prize: Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

Following outrage in Britain, mainly in more conservative media, the Guardian put in these names, without ever addressing what it had--obviously deliberately--done.

Leaving aside the obvious aspects here of anti-Israel bias, what is both shocking and revealing is the attitude of media institutions like the Guardian (you can compile your own list) that it is acceptable to distort the news consciously because of one's own political views.

A colleague of mine who visited the Guardian office described the atmosphere there as "more like a campus radical group than a serious daily newspaper." When I tell younger people that it wasn't so long ago that journalists took professional standards seriously and honestly tried--and if they didn't succeed they came far closer to it than today--to be fair and balanced.

Yet this Guardian syndrome also applies to other institutions, like the UN and its recent Goldstone report, and large elements in academia.

Many years ago, I wrote a scholarly article around the question: Did Communist professors in the United States indoctrinate their classes in the 1930s and 1940s. After copious research, I could hardly find a single such case. Perhaps they were afraid of losing their jobs, but they also truly believed in professional ethics that forbade such behavior.

One would think that somebody would be fired at the Guardian for such behavior for one of two reasons: either the editors are genuinely and sincerely embarrassed or they fear the destruction of their reputation due to the outrage of their readers as well as the censure of their colleagues elsewhere.

What is truly disturbing is not that they are indifferent to the first consideration but rather that they know they need not worry about the second one.

A veteran American journalist, genuinely puzzled, just asked me how I explain this kind of thing. My answer is this:

First there is their attitude: News is the servant of their ideology. They have a right to lie or change the facts or report selectively if it furthers their goals or fits their ideology. Since they think their cause is so just and good, they can justify such behavior. But the scientific method, pragmatism, and Enlightenment values--on which Western civilization is based--show that one's search for truth should be paramount, not bending everything to serve a Truth one claims to have already.

Second is their ideology which is uniformly radical left--not liberal. But of course if they were responsible on the first point the second would matter far less.

Third, they know they can get away with it, that there is no professional body that will denounce them, colleagues will not criticize them too much (though to be fair it should be pointed out that some were horrified by such blatant misbehavior), and their own readership--conditioned by such methods or agreeing with their viewpooint--will shout, "Shame!" and cancel their subscriptions.

Finally, Israel is only the tip of the problem. They know they will be cheered for endlessly bashing Israel but they've been doing the same thing with Anti-Americanism (at least to January 20 last) and on many other issues. Sometimes the difference is that supporters of Israel will stand up and complain energetically where other groups that are bashed lack organization, are indifferent, or are weaker.

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