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RICK PERRY: Rip him if you can, but let’s at least be fair and accurate in doing so – baltimoresun.com

August 21, 2011

Rick Perry: Is the press being fair and accurate in its coverage of him?

If Obama was too much loved by mainstream press, is Perry too much reviled?

By David Zurawik – The Baltimore Sun

August 20, 2011

I doubt this modest request will be heard over the fevered roar for the scalp of Texas Gov. Rick Perry that the media has been sounding since he announced his candidacy for president. There is almost a palpable blood lust to bring this guy down — and it is being sounded by parts of the mainstream press that should know better.

My modest proposal: Let’s just try and be fair. Let’s do a little self-ethnography from time to time and ask why we feel like it is open season on this guy and his campaign — and it is OK to drop some of the usual standards of fairness in trying to bring him down.

Let’s also think back to 2008 and reflect on the way we covered candidate Obama, and ask ourselves if we are treating Perry the same way we treated the state senator from Illinois. Really, think about it — and let’s look in the mirror as we are doing it and see if we can hold our own gaze.

I am not defending Perry or some of the statements he made. But I have seen commentary after commentary on cable TV, network TV, in print, social media and on blogs talking about how he accused Fed chairman Ben Bernanke of treason.

What Perry actually said is this, “Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — or treasonous in my opinion.”

I think he’s pushing the envelope of acceptable discourse, but he didn’t accuse Bernanke of treason, and I have seen instance after instance in which commentators for mainstream media outlets have ignored the “almost” in Perry’s statement. The ones at CNN have troubled me the most, because I have long believed CNN is our last, best hope for journalism on cable TV.

For example, here’s Carol Costello, from CNN, on Facebook Aug. 16: Texas Gov. Rick Perry isn’t backing down from comments he made in Iowa on Monday night when he said it would be “treasonous” for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to try to stimulate the economy by printing more money.

I also saw an over-the-top Costello piece on CNN last week in which she offered the definition of “treason” and then sarcastically critiqued Perry — again ignoring the word “almost” in his statement.

I’ll spare her the dictionary definition of “almost” and the sarcasm — I’m trying to be fair in making my point. But maybe she and her editors are familiar with this expression: “Without precision of language there can be no morality.”

Ditto for all the analysts and pundits who stated categorically that Perry “questioned President Obama’s patriotism.” This is a two-fer. It encourages outrage against Perry and sympathy for Obama.

But, again, that is not what Perry said or did.

As I wrote last week:

via Rick Perry: Rip him if you can, but let’s at least be fair and accurate in doing so – baltimoresun.com.

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