On May 10, Scott Pelley of CBS News received the 20th annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, presented by the Quinnipiac University School of Communications at a New York city luncheon. In his acceptance speech, Pelley proceeded to prove his unfitness for such an award beyond any reasonable doubt. Then again, a review of past award winners — Christiane Amanpour, Gwen Ifill, all-time lapdog interview king Steve Kroft, Bill Moyers, attempted election-fixer and fabricated document user Dan Rather — indicates that the CBS Evening News anchor is now more directly and appropriately associated with plenty of unfit company.
Pelley’s pervasively biased career alone should have been enough to disqualify him from consideration for any award related to the First Amendment he has so liberally abused. In November 2011, he acquiesced to a deliberate decision to intentionally ask fewer questions of certain Republican presidential debate participants, and became a debate participant when he attempted to educate Newt Gingrich on the rule of law (he got schooled in return).
Following a dishonorable “Tiffany network” tradition (see: Dan Rather and Saddam Hussein; Mike Wallace and Ayatollah Khomeini), Pelley returned from an admittedly aggressive interview with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad … and pronounced him “friendly,” “incorruptible,” and “modest.” (PJ Media’s Roger Simon only needed to be in the same hotel lobby with Ahmadinejad briefly to know otherwise.)
In 1993, Pelley spent more than ten hours interviewing Arkansas state troopers who credibly alleged that Bill Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, used them to procure women for adulterous encounters. He then decided the story wasn’t newsworthy, claiming in a later interview: “We just felt, not to sound pompous in any way, but it didn’t rise to the level of something that we wanted to put on the Evening News.” Pelley: you sounded pompous in every way.
In 2003, Pelley claimed that America was experiencing “Depression-era food lines.” It’s a very safe bet that one would search in vain for such a contention under the far worse conditions of the Obama era.
In 2006, Pelley equated global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers.
One can only conclude that those involved in determining Quinnipiac’s annual First Amendment Award winner consider such outrages — and others which would fill up the permitted length of this column — features, and not bugs.
In his acceptance speech, Pelley misdirected from the very start:
[O]ur house is on fire. These have been a bad few months for journalism. We’re getting the big stories wrong, over and over again.
Apparently, we’re supposed to believe that before mid-December 2012, “journalism” was doing just fine.
Hoping to disarm his potential critics, Pelley then offered a mea culpa: he admitted that he was “absolutely wrong” to report on the air that Adam Lanza had gunned down his mother in a classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, during the December 14 massacre of first-graders and teachers there. (Lanza killed his mother at home earlier that morning.) But Pelley then effectively excused his unforced screwup while changing the context to the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings:
Never before in human history has more information been available to more people. But at the same time, never before in human history has more bad information been available to more people.
Innocent people were marked as suspects. Their pictures and their names ricocheted all over Twitter and Facebook and Reddit. That fire that started on the Internet spread to our more established newsrooms as well.
In a world where everyone is a publisher, no one is an editor. And that is the danger that we face today.
Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. That’s not journalism. That’s gossip. Journalism was invented as an antidote to gossip.
Who are all these innocent people, Scott? The only conceivably innocent person of interest of whom I’m aware is the Saudi national who was tackled at the scene of the bombing, smelled of gunpowder, and “was allegedly flagged on a terrorist watch list and granted a student visa without being properly vetted.” But the establishment press appears to have entirely lost interest in determining what happened to him.
Cut through the fog, and Pelley’s bottom line was as follows: “Today’s lousy journalism is the fault of the Internet and the amateurs who are using it to generatee all this bad information — and we really need to figure out a way to ensure that ‘journalism’ can dictate what the world gets to hear and see without those amateurs getting in the way.”
If you believe that my take is an unwarranted extension, look at what Pelley subsequently said:
Democracies succeed or fail based on their journalism. America is strong because its journalism is strong. That’s how democracies work. They’re only as good as the quality of the information that the public possesses. And that is where we come in.
What self-satisfied twaddle.
In case you haven’t noticed, Scott Pelley: American journalism isn’t strong, and it’s getting weaker. America’s representative government is getting progressively worse (pun intended) because of it.
That’s because the establishment press is dominated by agenda-driven ideologues who have “come in” and gotten it wrong — sometimes accidentally but often deliberately — by jumping the gun, omitting facts, reciting leftist talking points at the expense of the truth, or by simply ignoring major stories more times than anyone can count. Here are just a few of the horribly covered stories of the past four years: the Ft. Hood Islamist murders, the Times Square bomber, the Underwear bomber, the Climategate scandals, the Arab Spring, Operation Fast and Furious, the Occupy movement, and Kermit Gosnell. The establishment media also relentlessly attacked virtually every Republican presidential candidate during the two years before the November 2008 and 2012 elections while giving Barack Obama and his campaigns a non-stop pass
Discerning people who have taken time — which would be unnecessary if Pelley and his ilk were doing their jobs — to sift through what he ridiculed as “gossip” have learned far more of the truth about these stories than he and his colleagues have ever communicated to the tens of millions of unfortunately disengaged people who end up relying on their defective work product by default. Yet Scott Pelley wants a world where he and his peeps “come in” and preempt everybody. The fact that he can’t get his way, as his colleagues did several decades ago, and that he instead has to deal with purveyors of so-called “gossip,” absolutely infuriates him.
Too bad, so sad, pal. Deal with it, or be dealt out of the conversation.