Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Leap of Faith: Fox News Anchor Tony Snow has taken some criticism for considering a job as White House press secretary for President Bush. That doesn't bother me, though. Snow was a speechwriter for the former President Bush and now bloviates the Republican agenda on his opinionated talk show. Unlike the general news portion of Fox, Snow doesn't even try to be fair and balanced. He is already up front about his opinions, and joining the White House now won't make much of a difference.

What bothers me is when political hacks go back and forth from politics to journalism as supposedly objective news reporters. Many partisans have made the Fosbury Flop over the line between politics and news. George Stephanopoulos went from senior advisor and press secretary for President Clinton to ABC newsman. Tim Russert, of NBC's Meet the Press, was chief of staff for Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

If someone spends a good part of his professional career shilling for a political party, I'd rather see that person enter the news business as an opinion columnist of some sort, not as an objective news reporter.

Granted, all of us journalists have opinions on many of the issues that we cover. There's no denying that. But when a reporter's opinions are well known, that person loses credibility. Even if the ex partisan is presenting the news objectively, people will doubt the reporter's sincerity.

I'm surprised news organizations hire these former politicos as anything but pundits. If journalists routinely jump between politics and news, then there is no reason for any of us to withhold our opinions to begin with. But we need a group of people to report facts as objectively as possible. Granted, there's always going to be some opinion injected in any news report. But I'd rather my readers have to guess about my true beliefs than to undercut my own creditability with everyone knowing ahead of time.


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