A journalist’s dilemma

trumpcabinetTasked with writing an unbiased, non-partisan sketch of Trump’s cabinet picks, I’m finding what should be an easy job very challenging. I’m having a hard time sketching neutral portraits of individuals who I strongly believe are ill-suited for the positions they have been assigned.

Despite my training at a pre-eminent school of journalism, I don’t believe anyone is or can even appear to be completely impartial. (I also have extensive experience in textual analysis and deconstruction.) Presenting two sides of a story as if they were equivalent is to deceive the reader. There are multiple sides to most questions and they rarely have equal weight. It is, after all, the role of the press to speak truth to power, to investigate and then reveal not just the bare facts (if indeed such things exist), but their import and ramifications.

Someone who has a history of bigotry or disdain for democratic traditions cannot and should not be “normalized” with a bloodless profile. To do so is to betray the reader.

Do I sell out and abandon my convictions? I would be writing for a non-profit that rightfully fears losing its tax-exempt status if it shows any political bias. Can I respect that and also remain true to myself? The key, I think, is to portray the subject with her own words and actions, devoid, as far as possible, of any hint of disparagement. Give the reader, as Mark Twain said, the facts first, and then let him distort them as much as he pleases.

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Filed under Journalism, Politics, Writing

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