DC Trawler

You know who needs to be chastising Fox News about journalistic ethics? Howell Raines.

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Remember him? Managing editor of the New York Times during the Jayson Blair mess? The guy who actually hired Blair, turned a blind eye to his absolute failure as a journalist, and protected him for years until it was too late? The guy who was then forced to resign in disgrace? Yeah, that Howell Raines. He left the following mess in the pages of the Washington Post this morning:

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?

Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II. Yet, many members of my profession seem to stand by in silence as Ailes tears up the rulebook that served this country well as we covered the major stories of the past three generations, from the civil rights revolution to Watergate to the Wall Street scandals. This is not a liberal-versus-conservative issue. It is a matter of Fox turning reality on its head with, among other tactics, its endless repetition of its uber-lie: “The American people do not want health-care reform.”

Do they endlessly repeat that? I don’t watch much Fox News, so maybe they do. Or maybe they say that the American people do not want this brand of health-care reform?

To summarize the rest of Raines’ 1,500-word whine: Fox News is to blame for Obama’s dismal approval ratings, Fox News fails to meet basic standards of journalism — would that include, say, a reporter actually going to the places he writes about and talking to the people he quotes? — and in general, all the things Howell Raines doesn’t like about the world can be laid at the feet of Roger Ailes.

Here’s another gem:

Whatever its shortcomings, journalism under those standards aspired to produce an honest account of social, economic and political events. It bore witness to a world of dynamic change, as opposed to the world of Foxian reality, whose actors are brought on camera to illustrate a preconceived universe as rigid as that of medieval morality. Now, it is precisely our long-held norms that cripple our ability to confront Fox’s journalism of perpetual assault.

This was written by a professional journalist. And these guys wonder why nobody wants to read their newspapers anymore.

P.S. If you think I’m being unfair, you definitely don’t want to read Ace.

Jim Treacher