The “Rules”…Revealed!

Jorge-Ramos-1Reliable Sources had an interesting little discussion with and about Jorge Ramos Sunday. The interview wasn’t particularly challenging, at least the portions that aired, but a few things caught The Cable Gamer’s attention:

BRIAN STELTER: Were you surprised there wasn’t more of a movement of solidarity among the reporters in the room, if you were going to be kicked out, they were going to leave too?

This is a head-scratcher. Other reporters should side with someone who’s trying to prevent them from asking questions by not waiting his turn? There were several more formulations where it’s almost like Stelter was suggesting an answer as part of the question:

STELTER: I know you went to Iowa because you felt Trump had been ignoring your interview requests…

STELTER: What do you make of that, Jorge, given that you’re saying our job is to be aggressive and ask tough questions?…

STELTER: So, are these guys that are criticizing you, Bill O’Reilly and Joe Scarborough, are they not real journalists?…

But Mr. Stelter did get to a pointed issue:

STELTER: But they’re saying it’s not. They’re saying that you are an advocate. They’re saying you are an activist.

“They’re saying” sounds a lot like “critics say,” the construction that Stelter condemned when Megyn Kelly used it. But we digress. Ramos’ response:

JORGÉ RAMOS: In some instances — Brian, in some instances — well, in some instances, again, when it comes to human rights — and immigration rights are human rights…many times, we have to take a stand, Brian.

In the follow-up segment, Stelter’s pal from the New York Times Bill Carter and ex-CNNer Frank Sesno analyzed the situation. Try not to be shocked, but the concept of “fair and balanced” proved to be as out-of-fashion as lime-green leisure suits:

FRANK SESNO: Ramos has done this in the past, by the way… In an e-mail to me, he said there are six areas he thinks that — where journalists need to take a stand. He didn’t use the word advocacy, but take a stand… He knew what he wanted to do. He did it on purpose.

BILL CARTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. In fact, you could argue too many journalists are one side, the other side, instead of trying to show what really is going on…

Quite a concept: “hard news” journalists and anchors can assemble a list of issues where they can exempt themselves from antiquated concepts of impartiality. What’s more, they can opine, editorialize, slant, and otherwise make “advocacy journalism” to pursue those issues like Hannity might discuss the finer points of Muslim theology.

Readers of The Cable Game won’t be surprised that these exemptions exist. We told you months ago that unspoken rules gave MSNBC “hard news anchor” Thomas Roberts a green light to be utterly one-sided on the topic of same-sex marriage. And it became apparent that there was a “rule” for the issue of immigration as well, as Luke Russert and Chris Cuomo stretched the concept of “impartial journalist” to the breaking point. The surprise here is that two conventional-wisdom graybeards all but admitted these covert “rules” exist. (That they’re pretty much OK with abandoning objectivity is not such a surprise.)

We know Ramos claims to have six issues where he pushes his own point of view. Just how many do the anchors and reporters at MSNBC and CNN have? Do you think if we asked they’d publish their lists? The Cable Gamer would love to see them because, based on all available evidence, these “special rules” all seem to be for liberal-progressive viewpoints. This newly-respectable spate of opinionizing is being called “advocacy journalism,” but The Cable Gamer has to wonder. Isn’t that just a fancy-shmancy term for something we’ve always been told doesn’t exist: liberal media bias?

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