Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Where Do They Find These Silly Commentaries?

The Oregonian ran an opinion piece by a guy who says he's a conservative--Paul Mulshine--who writes an opinion column for a New Jersey newspaper.

Maybe he is a conservative, but he doesn’t write like one in this column. For one thing he claims to be able to tell who is and is not a conservative by whether they work in sales or not. A strange claim on the face of it and one that belongs more to the “I’m king of the world” club rather than to conservatives.

Mulshine's column trashes Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Fox News. Not for any of their positions but because Hannity and O’Reilly do commercials on their radio talk shows and Fox News doesn’t see a problem with that.

But that Freudian slip got me thinking about why, as a conservative, I am appalled by the conduct of the people at Fox. It's not that their reporting fails to meet the "fair and balanced" standard to which the network claims to aspire. Truth is, nobody meets that standard. That's fine with me. A smart reader can weigh one point of view against the other and come up with a close approximation of the truth.

No, what bothers me about Fox News is its ethics code. It doesn't seem to have one. Consider the two stars of the Fox News TV lineup, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. Both do something that is so far outside the ethical boundaries for journalists that it isn't even listed in most ethics codes: They do commercials.

Hmm. I think I remember William F. Buckley, Jr., saying how he would be willing to have his recommendation used in an ad (“shill” in Mr. Mulshine’s vocab) for a typewriter company and a peanut butter company because he liked their products so much. So much for his ethics! And an obvious painting of himself outside the conservative circle by being willing to do a commercial.

What does doing commercials have to do with being or not being conservative?

But after dinner when I turn on my TV there is that same pitchman posing as a journalist. Sean Hannity is not a conservative. He just plays one on TV. The same goes for Bill O'Reilly. The man who claims to work in a "no-spin zone" in the evenings spends his afternoon not just spinning but pitching.

None of this would bother me if these characters didn't purport to be conservatives. We conservatives have principles. We don't say things because people pay us to say them. We say things because we believe in them.
[emphasis mine]

Oh, really. Doesn't Mr. Mulshine accept pay for writing his column? Using the above definition all those who get paid for what they write or say aren’t true conservatives.

Mr. Mulshine may be a conservative, but he can’t think his way through a fruit loop.

My preferred conservative commentators are Mark Steyn (new line) and William F. Buckley, Jr. (old line) rather than Hannity or O'Reilly, but it’s crazy to criticize a political talk show host for doing commercials. Commercial sales and journalism are intimately wed.

Does Mr. Mulshine ever watch TV news or read magazines or even his own New Jersey newspaper? They are chuck full of commercials and ads--which pay the salaries of their journalists. Without commercials and ads there would be no forum for Mulshine’s fulminations--unless he wrote for free like bloggers.

Hmm. Apparently bloggers are the only true conservatives writing.

Where does the Oregonian find these silly commentaries?


Mike's America said...

I read the Mulshine piece and agree with you. I don't understand what the point of his commentary was except to throw mud at Hannity and O'Reilly. Correct me if I am wrong, but have either of them ever claimed to be journalists?

And apparently, Mulshine thinks that Osgood at CBS News doing ads is just peachy because he's really more of an entertainer. Gee... wonder how Osgood feels about that?

And Mulshine said he talked to "Gary Hill, a broadcast journalist who is chairman of the ethics committee of the Society of Professional Journalists. "

Well spank me! But shouldn't Mr. Hill have better things to do like finally discover who at CBS participated in the passing off of fake Bush National Guard documents during a presidential election?

Yep, no other point to this commentary but an attack on Hannity and O'Reilly. Just what you would expect from a liberal newspaper.

terrance said...

Thanks for the comment, Mike.

In my view commentators are different than reporters, though by strict definition all are journalists because they work for a news outlet in other than advertising.

Even so, Mulshine evidently doesn't know anything about how radio shows work--or newspapers for that matter. They need advertising to pay their reporters' and commentators' salaries. Just because Mulshine doesn't actually mouth the words for ads doesn't mean he's not paid with advertising money.

And, if he can't see the difference between Ronald Reagan being paid to do ads and Ronald Reagan talking truly about conservative politics, he's not someone you want to listen to for solid advice on much of anything.

This is Al Franken talk. Mulshine should be ashamed.