May 23, 2002

The danger of softball journalism…

CNN’s Larry King is a successful entertainer. He is not a journalist, although he plays one on his TV show.

Last night he “interviewed” Vice President Dick Cheney. In yesterday’s late entry to Commentary and Analysis (see below), I commented on a Cheney quote from last night’s taped episode. And I wondered if King would challenge Cheney’s outrageous (to use the VP’s word) statement that some members of Congress have suggested that the “president of the United States had fore knowledge of the attack on September 11th.” Name one other than Representative Cynthia McKinney.

Anyone who has ever watched Larry King already knew the answer. Of course he did not challenge the vice president. He let Cheney’s statement stand thereby lending legitimacy to Cheney’s attempt to define Congressional criticism as “despicable” and “outrageous.”

By letting this statement stand unchallenged, King is complicit in Cheney’s deceptive battle of definitions. Complicity in deception should not be the role of a journalist. It is fine for entertainers I suppose. Since King’s show masquerades as journalism, however, his complicity damages civic discourse by misleading his viewers.

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