Perhaps I’m weird, but Keith’s fantasy doesn’t appeal to me at all. It seems to me that people, above all, identify with values. I think that a responsible and ethical integration of a journalist’s values into his or her story is a good thing. It engages people, and when people are engaged, they are more likely to think. Besides, the values possessed by a lot of the mainstream media elite are by no means representative of America, so their interjecting them into a story, however slyly, can just as easily work against them. I think that what’s happened to journalism over the last decade–with talk radio, the Internet, and now blogs–bears out the notion that value-bias is here to stay, and it’s not a matter of quashing one or the other, or going to a different paradigm altogether, but of engaging in a marketplace and battle for ideas. The left no longer has a choke-hold on information. It no longer decides what’s "fit to print." Now we get to see the chips fall where they may.
There’s a lot of mud-slinging toward CBS on the heels of their "independent investigation" resulting in the firing of three people, Dan Rather not being among them. I certainly didn’t expect a perfect result, but I’m gratified that they at least appear to have some professional pride in what they do–enough to call themselves on the carpet. That’s a tough one, even for honest people of integrity.
Of course, the 60 Minutes team that aired that fabricated (not forged) memo story went far beyond interjecting their values into a story. They committed a fraud, and CBS has taken action all on their own. Not without lots of pressure, and they initially tried to wiggle out of it, but in the end, they did [almost] the right thing. That has to count for something, at least in my book.
Now that the Right is beginning to achieve parity with the Left over control of information, with is to say, decentralization of information, the thing to be watching for instead of the value bias is who is more willing to let all of the facts into a story? To put it another way, which camp, Right, Left, or libertarian is the least afraid of all relevant information in the widest possible context of knowledge and history?
In my mind, this is where the left loses utterly. The spawn of leftist ideology murdered over 150 million innocent people in the last century. Their baggage is that they must always guard against widening the context of their stories to include or imply these harsh realities, and that leaves them at a competitive disadvantage.