Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Very strange conservative loathing...

As another example of conservative hatred, I have to go over to this post by Mossback here, bashing this post on Media Matters here, which notes- without editorial comment, that there has been an ongoing pattern of harrassment and firing of reporters who wrote opinons critical of the Bush junta. The post links to this post at BuzzMachine, which although far more sober (I guess it's because Jarvis is more reasonable than most critics) Jarvis lets go a couple of misconceptions...which also needs a response...

After calling George Soros a bunch of names ("destroyer of currencies?" who did Mossback vote for President?) Mossback wrote (claiming it's an "attack on free speech",) "Doncha know that when you go to work for a paper they own you?"

Now the simple answer is, "No, they own whatever content they're entitled to as a result of the IPR agreement the reporters signed, because the reporters get consideration for their services- they're paid." I think Mossback basically agrees with this point, although- again- I suspect all of the above depends on agreements signed. I believe that as long as litigation will be legal there will always be porous areas in this region.

The slightly longer answer is: how is reporting facts - which is all Media Matters does here- an attack on free speech?

When reality threatens the false security of one's delusions, it is. And then fear and denial and anger are the responses. By Mossback's logic, he is attacking the free speech of Media Mattters, and I'm attacking Mossback's free speech.

This is true, only, I think in the sense of "my right to say whatever I please, and lie about it, whether it's true or false." But that's not free speech; what Mossback (and those like him who use this reasoning) want to do is to allow for the selective use of slander, libel, and simple lying.

I suppose Mossback could argue (but he'd have to tone down the vitriol), "But content owners own their content, which includes the 'personality' of a given reporter, and their content." And I say, "I bet their agreement covers all content, but I doubt if it can truly cover all - all expression. That's quite a higher standard, but I think the standard that Jarvis reasonably considers are opinions that may be relevant to the image of a paper's perceived "objectivity."

Jarvis writes:

The other danger is that if you go after Bray for his anti-Kerry opinions, do you have to go after other journalists for their anti-Bush opinions? By this logic, shouldn't MediaMatters also be going after Frank Rich because, after all, he's letting political opinions seep -- no, flood -- into the arts section? Of course, not...

So let's take this out of the realm of politics -- loaded as it is -- and ask instead: Is it OK for a reporter to have an opinion? Well, guess what, they all do and short of hypnosis or a lobotomy there's not much you can do about it. So is it OK for a reporter to express that opinion in other areas?...

But I disagree with their conclusion: None should be fired for having opinions per se. Anybody can be fired for being a dolt or incompetent or unprofessional. But having an opinion is not, in itself, a capital offense and should not be. I hope we get to the point where not revealing that opinion is seen as a misdemeanor.

Here's where Jarvis goes astray:

  • Look, what about the editors?

  • Re Frank Rich: Rich is a media critic, and criticism about art has been considered opinion for 2,000 years. Jarvis knows that doesn't he?

  • Finally, look papers have a brand name image to protect. Those images cost money. Papers and media enforce these rules to make money.

  • So at the end of the day, that's why media makes their reporters sign agreements.

Mossback might agree with some of those bullet items there, but unfortunately, it's hard to take that away from his post. It's even harder to see why one would attack Media Matters over this...

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