Ashleigh Banfield, the reporter who made wearing glasses fashionable, was basically dumped by MSNBC for daring to make a public speech critical of the way reporters were covering the war. Given all the current hype over Scott McClellan's new book, I think NBC owes Banfield and Donahue an apology -- and back pay!
In 2003, Banfield was asked to speak at Kansas State University, as a participant in the school's Landon Lecture series. Her speech touched on many issues, with probably the most controversial being the "sanitized" coverage of the war.
You didn't see where those bullets landed. You didn't see what happened when the mortar landed. A puff of smoke is not what a mortar looks like when it explodes, believe me. There are horrors that were completely left out of this war. So was this journalism or was this coverage? There is a grand difference between journalism and coverage, and getting access does not mean you're getting the story... . [...]Banfield goes on to talk about the "FOX news effect" and how by having an "agenda" in their coverage they were able to take viewers away from CNN and MSNBC. Marketing replaced reporting. A memo that I'm sure was meant to be confidential leaked about why Donahue was fired. MSNBC didn't want an "anti-war" voice while FOX was waving the flag every night, calling anyone who opposed the war unpatriotic.
As a journalist I'm often ostracized just for ... going on television and saying, "Here's what the leaders of Hezbullah are telling me and here's what the Lebanese are telling me and here's what the Syrians have said about Hezbullah. Here's what they have to say about the Golan Heights." Like it or lump it, don't shoot the messenger, but invariably the messenger gets shot.
We hired somebody on MSNBC recently named Michael Savage. Some of you may know his name already from his radio program. He was so taken aback by my dare to speak with Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade about why they do what they do, why they're prepared to sacrifice themselves for what they call a freedom fight and we call terrorism. He was so taken aback that he chose to label me as a slut on the air. [...]
How can you discuss, how can you solve anything when attacks from a mere radio flak is what America hears on a regular basis, let alone at the government level? I mean, if this kind of attitude is prevailing, forget discussion, forget diplomacy, diplomacy is becoming a bad word.
I'm hoping that I will have a future in news in cable, but not the way some cable news operators wrap themselves in the American flag and patriotism and go after a certain target demographic, which is very lucrative. You can already see the effects, you can already see the big hires on other networks, right wing hires to chase after this effect, and you can already see that flag waving in the corners of those cable news stations where they have exciting American music to go along with their war coverage.As responsible citizens I think we must question the actions of our government, and our media. The Fourth Estate has great power, and with that power should go a responsibility to serve the best interests of the people. It can do that by presenting all sides of an issue, and then letting the people decide.
When a news outlet bangs the war drum, we need to call them on it. And when it jumps on the bandwagon for a particular candidate, we need to call them on that as well.
MSNBC's Banfield Slams War Coverage
Ashleigh Banfield: "Don't Shoot The Messenger"
Commentary: The Surrender Of MSNBC
Battling For The Soul Of Donahue