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If Networks Cared About Honesty And Integrity, They'd Have To Fire Almost Everyone

Can we, just for a minute, acknowledge that there's nothing at all unusual about newsreader Brian Williams' ethical lapse?
If Networks Cared About Honesty And Integrity, They'd Have To Fire Almost Everyone

First of all, let me reach back into my management-training days to point out that you can have all the rules and mission statements and ethics guidelines in the world, but it's not really up to the employees to enforce them.

It's up to management.

And something we've seen grow exponentially since the Reagan era is a tactic where, when a company is caught doing something unethical or illegal, management tells shareholders and critics it's not the fault of management: "Look at our ethics code! Look at our mission statement! It wasn't us!"

But here's the point: If your company doesn't supply you with the staffing and resources necessary to complete your job in a quality manner, your mission statement doesn't mean squat.

If the company has an ethics code, but never enforces it, it is sending a very clear message that the ethics code has no actual meaning. Which brings us back to the broadcast news.

Here at Crooks and Liars, we've documented numerous instances of unethical behavior by news yakkers -- especially their unethical habit of collecting enormous checks for speaking to organizations they are allegedly covering as watchdogs.

Has anything happened as a result? Nope. Nothing will change as long as broadcast news is a profit center meant to serve the ends of ownership and their corporate sponsors. Which is fine, but that doesn't mean we have to keep watching it. Fewer people watch it all the time.

Remember this piece on Howard Kurtz? And when he got fired? Lara Logan? The Weekly Standard? When BP refused to let journalists cover the Gulf spill, and no one batted an eye?

Remember Judy Miller?

Or when CNN reports a Heritage press release as if it's fact.

Campbell Brown complaining about having to disclose her numerous conflicts of interest.

An NPR reporter admits to simply repeating spin.

Andrea Mitchell is a walking conflict of interest. Oh yeah, and NBC never did bother to make her address her own part in Plamegate.

An ABC "terrorism analyst" was working for them -- and was also on the board of a neocon think tank.


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We've been screaming for years about news "analysts" who don't disclose conflicts -- and the networks who don't make them.

Network execs panic over the ever-diminishing numbers of viewers for their "news" shows, when the wonder is that anyone still watches them. If these news operations really did value honesty and integrity, we wouldn't have to do their job for them.

By the way, these are just the stories I found in a half-hour, but I have to get back to work. So add your own in the comments!

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