Ed Morrissey looks at the Peabody Awards for journalistic integrity in 2004:
The Peabody Awards luncheon yesterday provided a stage for the reunion of Dan Rather and Mary Mapes, who were honored for their journalistic prowess in revealing the Abu Ghraib prison scandal that had already been addressed by the Pentagon before CBS ever found out about it — and both of whom later disgraced themselves in one of the worst breaches of journalistic ethics ever revealed in broadcast history. In comments that reflected the cluelessness of the Peabody voters, Mary Mapes continued to insist that the story she presented on CBS’ 60 Minutes II was factually true and that CBS covered it up for “corporate” reasons.
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Nor was CBS the only beneficiary of Peabody’s rehab work yesterday. NPR, whose Iraq War coverage has come under deserved fire for its bias and empty doomsday prophecies, also received its blessing from the news industry. They even honored the poster boy for the fake-but-accurate meme, Jon Stewart, for his work in producing news with his comedy show.
In this through-the-looking-glass atmosphere, Mapes’ arguments that her Killian memos will eventually be authenticated don’t surprise so much as they amuse. The Peabody committee demonstrated the operating environment that allows uberpartisan activists like Mapes to flourish in their own fantasy lives rather than in truth. For those of us who actually read the CBS report and the reports of independent document examiners — something Mapes never did — the fact that the Killian memos were crude forgeries is both inescapable and inarguable. They’re not only stylishly anachronistic, they’re factually deficient in several basic ways. (For a complete analysis of the documents, please click on the CBS category for a review of my posts on the matter.)
Rarely has an industry so honored people who have dishonored them. The Peabody committee should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to provide a platform for the incompetent and the corrupt. If that is what broadcast news chooses to champion, small wonder it is a dying industry.
After 9/11 the newspaper where I spent 2 years as a reporter added an American flag to its masthead. Many of my colleagues – a hard working lot that did their best to report fairly and accurately – hated the new masthead. To them it reeked of jingoism.
Isn’t that the problem in a nutshell? Here’s an industry that honors “fake but accurate”, and won’t tell us whose side they’re on. And yet they wonder why they’re not trusted by the majority of their readers, which Glenn notes in a fascinating comparison:
the latest poll results, which suggest that many Americans trust the government more than they trust the press, suggest that the press needs to work on its image, as well.
As I wrote back in January, they might want to take a cue from local city sports coverage.
Update: Brilliant! This is exactly the doctor ordered to rebuild the tattered legacy of the workaday press! [/sarcasm]