Friday, February 18, 2005

Jeff Greenfield: Foot In Mouth?

CNN's Jeff Greenfield spoke this week at UCLA at an event that was sponsored in part by the Daniel Pearl Foundation. Pearl's father, Judea, is a professor of computer science at UCLA; he and his wife Ruth run the foundation. It was the third in a series of annual lectures on journalism and international relations held in Daniel Pearl's memory. (Pearl's widow, Mariane, has been in the news recently because of her an affair with flavor-of-the-month Eason Jordan, though it appears that Jordan has moved on and is now dating former screen siren Sharon Stone.)

We learned of Greenfield's speech in the UCLA student newspaper, the Daily Bruin. It might seem a little unfair to call out a student operation, but its article neglects to include some very important parts of Daniel Pearl's story.
A prominent writer for The Wall Street Journal, Pearl was kidnapped and executed in 2002 while doing a story in Pakistan. His captors released a home video documenting Pearl's death and demanding the release of prisoners and warning other American journalists in Muslim countries.
But why was Pearl captured and killed? Because he was Jewish and suspected of being a spy. His captors titled that home video, "
The Slaughter of the Spy-Journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl." That's particularly relevant information, especially considering that Greenfield's lecture was given at the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center of Jewish Life at UCLA and that like Pearl, Greenfield is a Jewish journalist. And it's quite ironic that it's not included in the article, in light of this, the very next paragraph:
The Daniel Pearl foundation, run by Pearl's parents, has sponsored the lecture series as an attempt to continue and promote what they described as their son's legacy of unbiased reporting. [emphasis added]
We disagree with their assessment of his legacy (that's not to insinuate that his reporting was biased; we simply think that his legacy is more related to illumating the depravity of the Islamofacist enemy), but assuming for a moment that they're correct, couldn't leaving out a key part of the Pearl story -- his heritage and its integral role in his death -- in an article on a lecture given by the foundation established in his memory be construed as an example of biased reporting?

But let's not sit here and pile on the Daily Bruin; they're still learning. Greenfield, on the other hand, has been a professional journalist for a long time. What's his excuse?
Speaking about American media in a 45-minute speech, Greenfield refrained from analyzing specific incidents of bias in the media, and instead asked people to look inward to determine the root of the alleged problem.

"Are you part of the problem?" Greenfield rhetorically asked.
Finally, someone (from CNN, no less) willing to stick his neck out on the subject of MSM bias and point the finger students?!
Greenfield also spoke about the public['s] aversion to reading material that goes against their own core beliefs. To many people, Greenfield explained, "unwelcome info is proof of bias."
Especially CNN executives, who have an aversion to reading the latest ratings showing them getting spanked by FOX News...because that unwelcome information is clearly biased!
Greenfield cited the profusion of various media sources, from satellite news to Internet Web logs, as partially responsible for creating an atmosphere of unaccountability where people struggle to find trustworthy sources.
That's interesting. Blogs creating an atmosphere of unnaccountability? Tell that to Dan Rather. Or Eason Jordan. Or Trent Lott. If anything, the blogosphere and satellite networks like FOX News are the ones holding the rest of the media responsible -- and it's that irresponsibility exhibited by the MSM that has sent people looking for trustworthing sources in the first place. But Greenfield doesn't seem to get that. Big surprise.

UPDATE: Speaking of Rather, we just broke a story that one of the stories being told about his "legacy" isn't exactly accurate. Is it too late for CBS to re-edit their special send-off? Maybe they'll decide that the anecdote is fake but accurate. (You should read our post now before Instapundit links to it, then brag to all your friends.)

NOTE: We've refrained from mentioning the name of the article's author because his editors are equally likely to be responsible for what is or wasn't in his piece. We're not claiming that any of the parties involved were biased; just that they left out some very important information. Because the Daily Bruin is run by students (and therefore more prone to misquoting than, say, the professionals at the New York Times), we acknowledge the possibility that Greenfield's remarks were taken out of context or incorrectly paraphrased. If Greenfield believes this to have happened, he (or the Daniel Pearl Foundation) is welcome to provide us with a transcript of his remarks (shades of Eason!) and we'll gladly post it here.


Blogger Steve S said...

Don't go too easy on the Bruin. If it's anything like the 2 major student newspapers here at UW-Madison, their people know what they're doing. I don't know about the Bruin, but one of our papers is avowedly leftist, and the other is trying to move away from the "stigma" of being conservative. Don't let up on them, or they'll think they can get away with it.

12:04 PM  
Blogger The Casual Observer said...


Thanks for the comment. The biggest reason we put in our "caveat" is that, at least according to the Daily Bruin website, this is one of the first articles this author has written for them. That being said, their overall quality (compared to professional papers) is pretty good, so we imagine they have some kind of "training" that their reporters have to go through before writing a story. So it's not as if the author signed up Monday, was assigned a story Tuesday, and turned it in Wednesday night. It should be noted that we're not apologizing for the Bruin -- only refraining to call out the author of the article. There's a difference.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Steve S said...

Absolutely agree. The editor also had a responsibility to catch it. I just wanted to point out that student newspapers can often be pretty biased - I'd say it's easier to have a noticable bias as a college newspaper, which is dangerous because it is so often the training ground for future MSM reporters.

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