All little kids know what the word “fair” means. And they especially know when someone is not treating them fairly. Even when we are very young, children expect that teachers and parents should treat us fairly but then we learn that adults sometimes use a “double standard” to get away with being unfair. A double standard is defined by World Book as: “a standard applied more leniently to one group than to another”.
In the United States, the press is supposed to be fair. In fact, we used to have the fairness doctrine that ensured that the press was balanced and didn’t apply a double standard. That law is now gone, but even so, while we now expect Fox News to be biased, we should still insist that the mainstream press at least try to be fair.
ThinkProgress has a post about the right wing media smearing Pelosi for wearing a scarf while visiting a tomb in Syria. The mainstream media has ignored that fact that many other prominent U.S. women (republicans and democrats) have done the same to respect the customs of the countries they were visiting. This is important, but I think it is more important to look at what the administration officials said, and what mainstream media reported, and to talk about the substance of her visit and not just the scarf. The media only wants a controversy for their ratings, and have stopped caring about presenting the real news. They report administration lies and distortions without correcting them, and wait for a good ‘ratings producing’ fight between the left and the right, when they bring the pundits on camera for their shouting matched. This is not news! It is media irresponsibility hiding behind false neutrality and the pretense of fairness.
These examples of the double standard applied by the White House and the mainstream media are far more important to look at because they focus more on the substance of what Pelosi was doing in Syria and less on her scarf:
And, as Friday’s New York Times pointed out,
The tone of the complaints — particularly Vice President Dick Cheney’s public characterization of her visit as “bad behavior” — contrasts sharply with the administration’s silence about a similar trip to Damascus a week ago by Republican lawmakers, Representatives Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama.
Nor was there much heard from the White House about a meeting that Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, had with Mr. Assad on Thursday, a day after Ms. Pelosi met with the Syrian president.
OK, maybe we don’t expect much better from Cheney, but what about CNN? Media Matters pointed out some double standards in CNN’s coverage, saying:
“On the April 2 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN ran an on-screen graphic reading “Pelosi’s Bad Trip?” throughout a report about a congressional delegation visit to Syria led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). As Media Matters for America noted twice on April 2 (here and here), CNN aired reports about White House criticism of the Pelosi-led trip without mentioning the White House’s inconsistency in not also criticizing a Republican-led delegation that met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus on April 1.”
Separately, Media Matters pointed to the Washington Post’s and CNN’s use of the term “pratfall in Damascus“. These are some CNN screenshots:
Other blogs worth reading on this issue are: