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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Advent - 22 days to Christmas

Friday, December 3 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Fair and balanced

My favorite hour of television each week of late is 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays (Pacific time; check local listings for your time zone; the shows are also repeated over the weekend). At 3, Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes are The Beltway Boys, the most civilized liberal/conservative team of adversary commentators on politics and the news on television. Regular features of the show are "who's up and who's down" and an inside-the-Beltway tip sheet. The team predicted the results of the Presidential election probably more accurately than any other news program, even though I considered their prognostication too good to be true at the time.

The 3:30-4 half hour is Fox News Watch, hosted by Eric Burns. A panel consisting of Jim Pinkerton of Newsday; Jane Hall of American University; Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist and host of "After Hours" on FNC, and Neal Gabler, media writer and author discuss issues like whether Dan Rather got to stay around too long after humiliating his network and discrediting his profession over the phony "documents" meant to undermine President Bush's chances for re-election. Gabler is the far-left flank, Jane Hall the ditzy liberal, Jim Pinkerton the nuanced moderate, and Cal Thomas, of course, the conservative. Their reactions to every media development are predictable but the joy of the show is their good-humored interplay.

In last Saturday's show, a viewer-mail special, Gabler took the trademark slogan of Fox News, "Fair and Balanced" to task in a remark that has hovered over my shoulder as I've gone through my reading this week. Eric Burns opened the question by saying, "According to the 16th annual survey of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, an overwhelming 92.2 percent of U.S. police commanders believe the news media are not fair and balanced in their coverage. These are men and women who deal with news people on a daily basis."

To which Gabler replied: "My reaction is that 'fair and balanced' is a great slogan but it is a terrible journalistic practice. Fair, yes. 'Balanced' leads to distortions because it assumes that all facts are created equal, every story has two sides and in point of fact not all facts are created equal. Not all stories have two sides. I think balance is really, really dangerous and the good journalist knows the difference. If we try to balance a story."

Just what does the radical left consider unfit for equal treatment or "balance" in media coverage? A whole list of topics were suggested to me in my reading in the days that followed the show.

I'll take up my list next time.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Signs of our times

Outside a muffler shop: "No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Advent thought for today

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.

Laura Ingalls Wilder  

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