Yes, You Can Be for Press Freedom and Still Think Journalists Ought to Do Their Jobs Well

Kirsten Powers

Kirsten Powers

Fox News political analyst Kirsten Powers (Daily Beast, 5/21/13) is onto us:

Now, the Democratic advocacy group Media Matters–which is always mysteriously in sync with the administration despite ostensibly operating independently–has launched a smear campaign against ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl for his reporting on Benghazi….

In what is surely just a huge coincidence, the liberal media monitoring organization Fairness and Accuracy in the Media (FAIR) is also on a quest to delegitimize Karl. It dug through his past and discovered that in college he allegedly–horrors!–associated with conservatives.

Now, the article about Karl from Extra! that Powers links to was published in 2011–22 months before the Media Matters criticism. It takes a long time to coordinate a conspiracy, doesn’t it?

There’s another article that Extra! published in 2011 that I wish Powers had linked to:  “Obama’s DOJ Targets Whistleblowers” (9/11). The piece condemned, as Powers does,  “the erosion of freedom of the press manifested by the Obama Justice Department’s concerted efforts to prosecute whistleblowers.” It cites as one of its examples the case of Fox News‘ James Rosen–whom Powers falsely suggests has been abandoned by press watchers because of his association with Powers’ employer.

The reality is that it is possible to both protest government intrusions on press freedom and to condemn bad journalism of the sort practiced by Jonathan Karl. It’s important to protect journalism from official control for the same reason that it’s important for media outlets to do a good job: because a fair and accurate press is essential for the preservation of a democratic society.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.