Howell Raines is Neither a ‘Liar’ Nor is He Crazy

In this Sunday’s Washington Post Op-Ed, he asks questions that have long needed to be asked.

Take this one, his first:

Why haven’t America’s old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration — a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?

It is not enough to ignore Fox News anymore because, clearly some people are watching and they are forming their opinions of what is happening in the world based on what that outlet tells them. The question that Raines asks is this: In the face of silence from all known authorities, when every credible voice is silent, who will tell the people the truth?

Of course, much of Raines’ cherished media is either in dire straits and/or too compromised to do much of anything about any issue of importance facing the nation. A case in point being Raines’ old shop, the New York Times.

Why has our profession, through its general silence — or only spasmodic protest — helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt? The standard answer is economics, as represented by the collapse of print newspapers and of audience share at CBS, NBC and ABC. Some prominent print journalists are now cheering Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp. (which owns the Fox network) for his alleged commitment to print, as evidenced by his willingness to lose money on the New York Post and gamble the overall profitability of his company on the survival of the Wall Street Journal. This is like congratulating museums for preserving antique masterpieces while ignoring their predatory methods of collecting.

Why can’t American journalists steeped in the traditional values of their profession be loud and candid about the fact that Murdoch does not belong to our team? His importation of the loose rules of British tabloid journalism, including blatant political alliances, started our slide to quasi-news. His British papers famously promoted Margaret Thatcher’s political career, with the expectation that she would open the nation’s airwaves to Murdoch’s cable channels. Ed Koch once told me he could not have been elected mayor of New York without the boosterism of the New York Post.

The rest of the piece, which continues here, is just as sharp and on point, despite Bill O’Reilly’s protestations.

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