Friday, March 25, 2005

Witnessing some real journalism

It's no secret that I'm no fan of much of what passes as mainstream journalism. I’m on record numerous times as being critical of the mainstream media. Much of my criticism stems from the reluctance of many journalists and reporters to get at the core of issues and ask tough questions, particularly of politicians. Too often, a journalist, for whatever reason, refuses to force the interviewee to actually answer the questions being posed about a particular issue.

This morning, Carol Costello, CNN’s Daybreak early morning anchor, really put the heat on Patrick Mahoney, the Director of the Christian Defense Coalition regarding the Terri Schiavo case. While I’m no fan of CNN, I often watch the morning show with Costello several times per week, as she is certainly more pleasant to look at and less grating than the morning hacks at our local affiliates. She's also on in the early AM when I get up for my first cup of coffee and there isn't much else on other than infomercials and other blather.

I don’t consider Costello a hard-hitting investigative journalist—she’s there to provide a pleasant face in the morning, a bit of humor and to basically read the stories to her audience, although, she did get her start as an investigative reporter, prior to her CNN gig. I don’t say this to denigrate Costello, just to indicate that I know the score concerning corporate media. From time to time, I’ve seen Costello revert to her journalistic roots and actually conduct a legitimate interview with a guest. At those times, I think she's at her best and would like to see her bosses give her more opportunities to practice real journalism. This morning, Costello ratcheted it up several notches in my estimation, with one of the best segments on the Schiavo case I’ve seen and her willingness to stand her ground and ask some tough questions of one of the instigators of the circus taking place outside of Schiavo’s hospice room in Pinellas Park, Florida.

Several times during this morning’s interview segment, Costello’s voice displayed her disgust with some of Mahoney’s right-wing rhetoric. During the interview, Costello is heard several times saying, “Come on….”, as she challenged some point, refusing to allow Mahoney to blow his sanctimonious smoke up her viewer’s asses. She even said on one occasion, “I have a great deal of respect for my audience, so I’m not going to let you insult their intelligence.”

This is the type of scrutiny that the media needs to focus on the radical right in this situation and the other ones that are sure to come up. This group has been emboldened with the election of President Bush and his cavalcade of conservatives. They are displaying an arrogance that comes from their newfound political power and influence. It’s time that progressives and others stop them in their tracks before they insert themselves in all areas of our lives that have heretofore been considered private matters.

I commend Ms. Costello and the folks at CNN for cutting through some of the fog and focusing a laser light on exactly what the issue is surrounding the Schiavo debacle in Florida. We could certainly use some more of this type of reporting, as our country slowly moves towards theocracy with little mainstream coverage of that fact.

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