Monday, September 29, 2008

media, ethically speaking

I opined several days ago that the media is so in bed with Obama because it is nothing more than a risk calculus – that do not want to lose this once-in-a-generation shot to get strong majorities in the House and Senate. I suggested that they build Obama up so much because he needs it. His resume is so ludicrous for the position, somebody has to say he’s qualified. They know that if he tanks deeply, he will drag down-ticket races with him.

I’m not changing that position, but I am adding to it.

I was doing my morning spin of blogs (I sometimes use Trunk Report’s link list, a solid group of about 25 blogs.) and saw the infamous flag pic of William Ayers on Gateway Pundit. Nothing new – well, of course the post is, but I’ve seen the pic plenty of times. But it struck me this time. Referencing the relationship between Obama and Ayers, the Gateman wrote, it looks like there's finally a crack in the media wall of silence and links to an article in this morning’s New York Post.

My thought was “Why hasn’t the media gone full bore into these issues? Chicago politics is a rat’s nest – an investigative journalist’s Nirvana, sans the virgins.”

The reason seems clearer to me now. They are being asked to attack their own. It's like Sophie's Choice, which was easy when the second kid was Hillary. And now the choice is between McCain and Obama. Again, easy. But don't lose the thought - Obama is one of their children. McCain is, at best, the step-child they never wanted.

We all know they are liberal – no sense is traipsing over that corpse. Frankly, I don’t care if they are liberal. I’ve hired, worked with, worked for, socialized with, and loved and despised people of all political persuasions. I’m an equal-opportunity person, dammit! Your politics enter when you cast your vote, and that is a private affair.

To me, a professional that uses her non-political job to further her politics is just unethical. I have political conversations in class, but I purposefully do it to get certain students engaged, and I specifically take positions opposite theirs. And I always use it as an aside, never allowing it to take over my lecture materials. Yet, I know other professors that abuse the privilege of the classroom. Anyway.

That brings me to journalism. They are using the privilege of their profession to further their personal (and collective) political views. It’s unethical, yes, but let’s look into a bit further.

What’s wrong with William Ayers? “He was a 1960s icon that went too far. He has,” so the liberal mantra repeats, “focused his energies in education – look at Annenberg, at his professorship. He is still radical, yes, but what’s wrong with that? This world needs to be shook. Well, America does! It needs to be more progressive. Look at Europe! So far ahead of us in so many ways. Why should we look into Annenberg? I mean, seriously, of course there were problems. Lots of money always brings lots of problems. But our focus is deontological ethics – Ethical Formalism – not some stupid Natural Law teleological approach. That is just your silly Creationist view of things. Stop trying to dumb down science! While you look the other way, my beach house is going to be under water!”

It’s perhaps the difference, as McCain pointed out, between a tactic and a strategy. For them to investigate every single little itzy bitzy piece of Obama’s life is just a bunch of tactics all strung together. “We see the big picture!” But, gee, they just abandoned a deontological view. How convenient. It seems the end result is truly what they want. Yet they are willing to overlook missteps along the way because they were ethically pure in their mind – the motivation was admirable. This latter part is Immanuel Kant at his finest (or worst).

The press has, so it seems, an ability to overlook disastrous results as long as the means were pure; likewise, they can overlook wholly impure means if the end result is achieved. This is a logical conundrum. The means justify the end as long as the end justifies the means. I don't know anything about fractals. It seems the press doesn't know anything about ethical theory.

So why won’t they rip into Obama’s past? Because he is just a vehicle. Another in a long line of liberals that will either further their personal and collective political views or, worst case, will not work against those views.

McCain will work against their views. Palin is precisely their worst nightmare – a mom that likes being a mom, and that is a professional success … and that, btw, unlike Kerry, knows how to order a cheesesteak in Philadelphia.

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