October 09, 2003
MORE TIRESOME CHIN-TUGGING by the self-appointed guardians of journalistic ethics:
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, believes that Leno -- along with other late-night talk show hosts -- crossed the line from entertainment into political journalism a long time ago, and needs to play by the rules of journalism.
"If you have a big show like Jay Leno and reach a lot of people, you have the power to influence hearts and minds. You have a responsibility to the public," Rosenstiel said. "If you want to play Peter Jennings, then you have to play by some of the same rules as Peter Jennings, even if 99 percent of your show is pure entertainment. You cross a line when you start to get into this other game. If his responsibility is to entertain people, and it ends there, maybe he should refrain from having political people on the air."
If Peter Jennings and his ilk, were better at discharging their responsibility to the public, and if experts in journalistic ethics were as quick to criticize the nonstop lefty-celebrity partisanship of the Today show as they are to jump on the host of the Tonight show when he supports a Republican, I guess this might have some substance.