Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where are our Pundits Leading Us

A lot of you may have seen Jon Stewart's (of the Daily Show) interview with CNBC star Jim Cramer in which Stewart basically accused Cramer and other CNBC hosts of bad journalism. You can see it here. One of Stewart's best points is that The Daily Show is a comedy show on Comedy Central whereas some of these other pundits are on News Shows. Does the fact that some pundits (like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow) are on news Channels, like Fox and MSNBC, mean that they should be held to a higher standard of journalism? How many of us believe that these people are good journalists? And is there danger in the almost cult-like devotion some fans show towards them?

For example, the man who recently shot several people in a Tennessee church, apparently wrote a letter beforehand claiming that he was shooting liberals to better the country. One of the items he mentioned in the letter was a book written by Bernard Goldberg who is a frequent guest of the O'Reilly Factor. Please follow this link to read the story and watch clips. What do you think of these shows? Are you a fan?

Some will argue that O'Reilly and Goldberg can't be blamed for the church shooting. I tend to agree. It is clearly an act of an insane person. But then again, don't we blame video games for school shootings? If we blame that medium for the actions of crazed killers, shouldn't we blame the actions of the church shooter on the media he consumed?

27 comments:

tvan09 said...

I do think "the journalists" such as O'Reilly, Hannity, and Olbermann should be held to a higher standard than a comedian, like Stewart. I think they are good journalists if you lean to the conservative side. If you are liberal, then these people sound like holier-than-hypocrites. I do think that cult-like devotion to any human or ideology is dangerous.

I think O'Reilly is an ultra-conservative. He has a very narrow view of the world and how society should behave in that world. It is a shame that millions of people believe his every word, like it was the gospel. I am not really a fan of his show or of the ultra-conservative Fox News Channel.

No way O'Reilly and Goldberg should be in any way blamed for this man's cowardly acts. He and he alone should be held accountable for his actions. I can see how we may associate the violence in video games to school shootings, however the shooters are the culprits, not the media they consumed. Video games are no more violent than prime-time on CBS. Should the networks be blamed for some lunatic who got an idea from CSI Miami? This will never happen. So how can the church shooter's actions be blamed on journalists like O'Reilly and Goldberg?

tvan09 said...

Sorry, Dr. Williams, tvan09 is Terry VanLandingham.

Leb23 said...

I do believe that pundits on news channels like Fox and MSNBC should be held to a higher standard.

They are on channels that target a wide range of viewers. They are not just trying to target people who want to laugh like the shows that come on Comedy Central. On Comedy Central, there purpose is to make people laugh, but on major news channels, their job is to report the facts of the news.
I think that these people can be considered journalist, but I wouldn't go as far as saying that they are good journalist. Their job is to report news in a comedic like way. It does not matter if they hurt people's feelings while doing it. I think there is a danger in the almost cult-like devotion some fans show towards these shows. This is just one person's opinion, not cold hard facts.

I am not a fan of shows like these. The O'Reilly factor is an extremely conservative show. It shows bias towards one political party. Therefore, the man who shot the pastor claiming he was shooting liberals to better our country is acting in a cult-like way. He is taking what the O'Reilly Factor said way too seriously, which lead to killing people. Because shows like that can be so opinionated, the show can be dangerous if the wrong people take the show to heart.

I believe that these shows shouldn't be blamed for the act of a crazy person. Although they might of had some influence on the action the person did, they didn't make him perform the act. We do tend to blame video games for school shootings, but that is something that is interactive. The person plays the video game and playing the video game and shooting people in the video game becomes a passion of theirs. On the other hand, watching the news is not interactive. The person is not interacting with the person who is on the television. Instead, he or she is just listening to the person that is on the T.V.

D Douglas said...

I think Jon Stewart is exactly what he professes to be, a snake oil saleman, and nothing more. His show clearly pokes fun a the political world and all of it's participants, conservative and liberal alike. Pundits like O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck, and Olbermann, should be held to a higher standard. Whether they consider themselves aas journalist or not, they all have huge followings of impressionable fans, that take to heart everything they say. There is no joking on these shows, but a heavy dose of venom filled dialogue concerning there opposing parties views.

The fans of these shows are almost cult-like. I have heard people that I persoanlly know, who have no real knowledge of the political party they are affiliated with, but will fight you if you speak ill of one of these pundits. I can't blame the media for the actions of crazed people, but I can blame the medias irresponsible reporting methods. These pundits usually come specifically from one vantage point, never providing both sides of the argument. The dialogue is filled with so much negative, it is easy to understand how someone that is not right mentally could misinterpret the message. These pundits should be held accountable for not just supporting the political views, but for helping to keep an Amercia that is filled with divisions, even more divided.

Casey said...

I think journalists such as O'Reilly and Olbermann should definitely be held at higher standard of journalism than other comical television hosts like Stewart. Journalists are supposed to follow journalistic ethics, unlike comedians. It is unfortunate that many journalists in the mainstream media are extremely biased and makes it difficult for the public to understand a clear and fair view of what they are reporting. There is a danger in "cult-like devotions" of fans in both liberal and conservative media. But this is also true with any extremely devoted fans who share radical beliefs based on what they here from the media.

I actually am a fan of FOX news but I watch it with caution and understand that there is always more to the story than what I get from the anchors and journalists. I like FOX because I agree with them in thinking that journalism is corrupt and they at least try to make an effort to be somewhat fair. Just because I am a fan of FOX, doesn't mean I am a fan of O'Reilly. I watch his show sometimes, but I disagree with him frequently because he does very conservative opinions and beliefs and thinks everyone else should too. I like Glenn Beck more because he tends to use common sense and tries not to base his beliefs on political ideology. I have started flipping back and forth from FOX to MSNBC to see both views so I can see more than one side of news and have a more balanced and fair opinion.

It would be ridiculous to blame O'Reilly or Goldberg for the shooting in Tennessee. They are responsible for what they say but the viewers are responsible for their own actions. A grown man like Adkisson knows right from wrong and saying that O'Reilly should be held accountable for this is just an excuse to discredit him. Blaming video games for violence is different because parents should monitor what their kids are playing.

Casey Hubbard

Richard V. Shields III said...

The questions begin with the assumption that because Stewart is on Comedy Central, his is an comedian and not a journalist. And, because Cramer is on a channel that alleges that its interest is news, he is a journalist and, therefore, possibly should be judged by a different standard. I would take the postion that it is not their location that is the issue but, rather the role that they act within. Assigning these labels is probably doing a disservice to both Stewart and Cramer and to the profession of journalism.
One definition of a journalist is a writer or communicator, formally employed by publications and broadcasters, for the benefit of a particular community of people, who is expected to use facts to describe events, ideas, or issues relevant to the public.
And a pundit (the word correctly used in the blog title) is a person or opinion leader who analyzes events in an area of expertise in the popular media. Neither Cramer, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, or for that matter, Stewart, can claim to fit the definition of a journalist. And as for as I’ve seen, they don’t make that claim. They all would likely fit into the niche of a pundit…and that would include Stewart as his ranting arguments against Cramer would support by his insertion of his opinions intended to indite Cramer.
Actually, all of the aforementioned are in the same business…entertainment. Stewart looks at topical current events and puts his personal spin on it that he considers to be humorous in an attempt to capture and retain viewers. Cramer lives in the same world as Stewart, but he looks at current events in the financial community and expresses his opinions in a way calculated to entertain his audience. If he is successful in doing this, the accuracy of his predictions and opinions become secondary.
Who do I believe is a good journalist? Cramer, O’Reilly, Hannity? My vote is for none of the above. I have heard some of them refer to themselves as reporters (which may be a stretch), but none of them, to my knowledge, lay claim to being impartial or without an agenda. In fact, most of them openly lobby for a particular agenda.
Do these entertainers/personalities present a danger to the populace as a consequence of their access to the masses through the media? The danger that exists was already there before this group and others like them took to the airwaves. They didn’t cause the danger but they do recognize that it exists and they exploit it to their own purposes. But it, for the most part, only attracts people with similar views or people who have already been polarized and who are looking for a good fight.
The real danger comes from the lack of informed thought on the part of viewers…people who would rather see and hear and believe theatrically presented political arguments than to demand a basis for the correctness and soundness of a position. I’m not sure that the news channel talking heads present anywhere near the danger to people that personalities like Oprah Winfrey can do, intentionally or unintentionally, with her press agent persona of goodness and caring for the masses. Should Oprah take a position for a ‘cause’ based on her opinions (the same basis used by the O’Reillys and Cramers of the broadcast world) there are probably many more people likely to be influenced. And this is just another evidence of media influence. She doesn’t appear on a designated news channel and makes no claim of being a journalist, but often comments on current events, is often quoted for her political positions, and certainly has a larger audience! By Jon Stewart’s criteria of responsibility, she should. Should we hold the journalists/pundits/entertainers to a higher standard? Or should we be applying a higher standard to ourselves?

Stacey Perkins said...

Yes, don't we all like to have someone to blame. A person's actions are their own actions. No one is responsible for someone else's actions. Everyone makes their own choices. Environment may be a factor in their behavior and attitude, but it doesn't make anyone do anything. That's a choice we all make.

High standards of journalism seems to be an odd thing these days. I'm not really even sure there is a standard anymore beyond what the FCC requires. Of course the people on these pundits are more entertainers than journalists. But I don't think there is any danger in the almost cult-like devotion some fans show towards them. The danger is with the people themselves that have a cult-like following of the show. They probably weren't completely right from the start.

I'm certainly not a fan of these shows. I personally don't find them informative or entertaining, so there's really no reason for me to watch.

brob09 said...

I do believe that the journalist such as Hannity, O'Reilly and the others should be held to higher standards than John Stewart and Dennis Miller. They are true journalist that should be reporting the news unbaised. I know that doesn't happen very often. Most of the time the news they report is very slanted and biased. It seems to be slanted towards their ideas and thinking especially when they are talking politics. I love listening to Bill O'Reilly because I think he tells it just like it is. Another journalist that I have really learned to like is Glenn Beck. I love it when they interview people and put them on the spot for things they have said or the way they voted on issues. I believe that everyone should be held accountable for their actions especially the politicians.

I do not think anyone can be blamed for the man that shot those people but the man who shot those people. No one can make you do wrong except yourself. In no way should Goldberg and O'Reilly be held accountable for his actions. I do believe that sometimes violence is taken from what is shown on television whether it be news, movies or other programs. We live in a time when people do not take responsibility for their actions. Everyone is looking for someone else to blame or someone to sue.

Beth Robinson

Kenny Hardin said...

I do believe that pundits such as O'Reilly, Hannity, and Olbermann should be held to a higher standard of journalism, especially compared to Jon Stewart. Stewart's show is comedy and everyone who repeatedly watches it knows that. These other shows are serious political journalistic tracts that should be held to a higher standard of journalism. I can not say whether or not they are good journalist because i do believe that they report on the political news as they see it. Their point of view is completely different than the people who attack their shows so it is hard to say that they are bad journalist on the account that they do not report the news the way we all would like to see it.
I do believe there is a danger, to say the least, in the almost cult-like devotion some fans show towards these pundits. As with any cult-like devotion their words and literature can be taken completely out of text, and used, as in the example of the Tennessee church killings. I do not think they should be directly related with the acts their fans commit, but I think they should at least acknowledge the fact that their shows could be a strong force behind the reasoning of these fanatical people.

rcp20 said...

I believe that hosts of prime time shows that appear on major news networks should be held to a higher standard than someone such as Jon Stewart. Having said this, I do not believe there are many real “journalists” left in the media. These people are commentators, which prevents them from being journalists because true journalism requires unbiased reporting.

As for the notion that news personalities somehow contribute to the mindset of individuals such as the man who committed the church shootings, I believe this is a ridiculous argument. I feel the same way about the claim that violent video games, movies, and music are responsible for acts of violence. We have lost all sense of responsibility in this country. Also, it’s a very slippery slope to start limiting what people can and cannot say. I disagree with a lot of what I hear in the mainstream news media, but we should stand by the rights of individuals to voice their opinions; otherwise, the next ones to be silenced will be us.

Robert Purvis

amandakthrash said...

To answer the first topic, I do believe that journalists on "news channels" should hold themselves to a higher standard of journalism. The opinions of these people do carry weight with their viewers. That being said, I think that viewers should realize that the people such as O'Reilly are presenting more Op-Ed fodder than an actual newscast.

I feel the second topic is a load of crap. People are responsible for their own actions, not people who make music or give their opinions on TV. It really is a pet peeve of mine to hear people blame someone else for their insane actions.

Amanda McCurley Thrash

Rebecca Price said...

Yes, I do believe that journalists such as O'Reily, Hannity, and Olbermann should be held to a higher standard of journalism. And yes, there is danger in the cult-like devotion some fans show towards them. When people take everything you say seriously, even when you might be playing, and apply it to their lives, this could cause many problems. And no, I am not a fan of shows such as these.

There is always something or someone to blame for everything. But in reality, this man has no one to blame for his actions but himself. Everyone needs to stop pointing fingers and playing the blame game and accept their actions.

David Layne said...

I do think that the journalists on Fox News, CNN and others should be held to a higher standard than the comedians on shows such as Comedy Central.
I do not think the "News shows" should be compared with the shows such as comedy central. The general perception from the public is that you tune in to "Comedy Central" for a good laugh but the News Channels are for the purpose of delivering the news.
With that being said, we all know that there is built-in bias depending on which channel you watch, with most leaning towards the liberal view and a few leaning towards the conservative view. Even though we know this, we still expect that there will be some validity and truth to waht is being reported.
There is no way that you can blame O'Reilly or Goldberg for the actions of others. People are alwasys going to be influenced and motivated by others, but they still are accountable for their own actions.

madjdinfl said...

I think these shows are kind of in between. They are played on national news stations and should be held accountable for what is said and the accuracy of their content should be held to national news standards. But, at the same time they are basically an Opinion show and that is exactly how I take it.

I personally like these guys because when they speak they speak like a normal person on the street would and I connect to that. I may not always agree with them. But, they express their emotions into their show and I think that is why they are so popular.

Unlike the Daily Show which is viewed like Saturday Night Live as just entertainment these shows like the O’Reily factor are on National News stations and the public views them as having accurate news even if it is expressed in an opinion. I think this is a relatively new phenomenon in the last few years and some rules or standards should be written or expressed in their industry for these types of shows.

For those crazy followers; there should be no attack on these shows that expresses that they should be accountable for what someone does because of what they say. These people were obviously off the deep end already. I think people act like their personal activities or interest. I have this guy at work really nice guy but he is such a conspiracy thinker he searches out information to confirm his crazy ideas of how Texas is going to succeed from the union ect ect. I would not blame media for any of his actions if he committed a crime of some sort. He is completely consumed with his interest and it is almost like an addiction. Another example is cyclist. I just bought my first road bike and I’m very excited to start cycling but there are some super crazy cyclist that their interest just consumes all thoughts and actions. Same with video games, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. (ie. Your interest whatever they may be)


Melissa Doty

tlr137 said...

I believe O'Reilly and other journalist should be held at a higher standard because they do extensive research on their topics, whereas Cramer only explains his opinion for future stock shifts. I feel that the O'Reilly factor is awesome and I listen to him more than any other news program. I have to agree with John Stewart..keep the comedy out of news. I am 100 percent for John Stewart. Journalist are there to research and deliver news and I feel there is a difference in the two shows.
I like O'Reilly because he is not to liberal and he is not to conservative. I relate to his views. I do not like Cramer because he yells and throws things to much.

larrythomas16 said...

Look I will make this short. If you follow every word that someone says then you have problems. You know its funny that we blame these people for their actions after they read a book or follow a show. Everyday people follow a book and a persons word everyday and that book is the Bible and the word is the lord. I don't see those people being persecuted. These people do crazy things in the name of the book and we call it faith. I watch Oreilly and like some of the things he says but I also dissagree with him also. I like him because he keeps people accountable for their actions no matter what political arena you are a part of. These people that commit these offenses are crazy or are searching for something they never had in their lives. Do we hold priests and preachers to a higher standard? Of course we do so when individuals call themselves journalist on a bigger platform then you are criticized a different way and watched a lot closer. I don't believe anybody should be idolized in anyway. We should watch them and listen to what they have to say,then filter what we like and dislike. That makes an individual.
Larry Thomas

Ellen said...

I agree with John Stewart here. I mean, I don’t condemn these people for making these shows. They usually are funny. But when you decide you want to make journalism your career, I feel that you must accept the responsibility that comes along with your job. You must also know wrong from right and stay ethical. When I watch a “news” show on comedy central I expect it to be out there, sarcastic and amusing. I don’t expect to get unbiased, hard news. When I turn on CNN, NBC, CNBC, Fox, ABC, etc…I am looking for your classic news show. I definitely think the network is a big factor when choosing what type of news show you want to watch. These networks have formed an image and reputation for themselves. They can’t be surprised when someone attacks them for being bad journalist when they have form a reputation for being a classic, ethical news network.
While I agree with John Stewart on this issue, I don’t really see any of these people as “bad” journalist. I feel like it is just their style. And hey, people watch it. It is entertaining. It gains viewers. It is not the kind of journalist I would ever choose to be, but I don’t think they are necessarily “bad”.
I think the only danger in watching these TV shows is when people cannot tell reality from the corky journalists. I think if people take responsibility for their own thought and can view these shows as strictly comical commentary, then there is really no harm. I am aware though that there are plenty of viewers that cannot do this.
I personally have never been a fan of these shows, but I have seen them once in a while and thought that it was fairly interesting. Usually whenever I do catch these shows, I think that the people on them are pretty full of themselves so I don’t watch it for long. I feel bad for Bernard Goldberg. Though I do not agree with his views, he is getting a really bad rep because of this sad event. He was just expressing his opinion. Some people out there are just insane and I hate when the media gets blamed far too much. I think that the media can have a strong negative impression on a small part of the population. Though what are we suppose to do? I guess you have to have a few crazy people to have 1st amendment rights. I really think people should lay off the media. They are doing their jobs, Some people are just crazy.

Dee Lewis said...

I think the journalists on the news channels should have a higher standard of journalism. I have to admit I'd rather watch the news segment on Saturday Night Live than the O'Reilly factor. I never thought O'Reilly and the others mentioned were good journalists. I always thought they were in a bad mood and attacked people just to get attention or to strike up controversy.

I think there is danger in the cult-like devotion that fans display. Most people disagree with the journalists' views, but it seems like the fans are brain-washed. They tend to believe whatever those journalists say. I think the guy was mentally unstable who killed the people in the church. I think the book helped push him over the edge. He read that book and it seems like he thought the book gave him the seal of approval to kill liberals.

In the end, we ultimately decided our actions, but there are many factors that help push us. Bullies push teens to committ suicide. Older racists push their kids to hate different races. The media persuades us to use violence, be thin, and have sex. It may very well persuade someone to kill. It is up to us to reject the message or not to misinterpret the message.

Dee Lewis said...

Well, It seems as Google changed my name all of a sudden.

-Dominique Lyle

JVJ1 said...

I do believe that journalists should be held to a higher standard. The reason for such thought process is that they have a huge influence area and although most people are socially acceptable and relatively smart there are teh few percentage of indiviudals that loose touch with reality. As an old addage goes "garbage in garbage out". If we are constantly filling our minds with liberal/conservativbe views and introduce radical views we will se behavior change and actions taken.

I think that at the end of the day we are each responsible for our actions and behavior. I do agree that what environment we put ourselves in will affect our behavior and as such there is a responsibility by professionals to govern what they say or do repeatedly.

JVJ1

JVJ1 said...

I do believe that journalists should be held to a higher standard. The reason for such thought process is that they have a huge influence area and although most people are socially acceptable and relatively smart there are teh few percentage of indiviudals that loose touch with reality. As an old addage goes "garbage in garbage out". If we are constantly filling our minds with liberal/conservativbe views and introduce radical views we will se behavior change and actions taken.

I think that at the end of the day we are each responsible for our actions and behavior. I do agree that what environment we put ourselves in will affect our behavior and as such there is a responsibility by professionals to govern what they say or do repeatedly.

JVJ1

Caroline said...

I feel that some people get too caught up in the media. I do listen to a little of the news and the O’Riley factor is one of the ones that I do listen to or watch periodically because my husband loves to watch that stuff. I do not feel that video games are the blame for teen suicides and other violent acts committed by teens nor do I think that the media is the blame for a murder at a church or any other crime. These people are crazy on their own! The media may actually give ideas that they take and choose a certain crime over another, but they shouldn’t be blamed for a nut committing a crime. I believe most of the teen issues are related to bad parenting and lack of time spent as a family. The one that came up with that was probably one of those parents that was so intelligent that they spent all their time at the office coming up with garbage like that instead of being at home with their wife and kids.
Carolyn Stevens

Nicole Thigpen said...

I do feel that pundits on News shows like Fox, CNN, and MSNBC should be held to a higher standard of journalism than the Daily Show on Comedy Central. I don't know many people who go to Comedy Central to get there National and local news. I watch Comedy Central to lighten my mood and to get a good laugh. I watch Fox or other national news stations to find out what is going on and form my own opinion from the information I am given.

I know that some people do seem to have a cult like devotion to these journalist. I also think these people do not have a mind of their own. In some cases I agree with these different journalist but not always!! I respect their opionion and take what I need from what they say!

I do not feel that these different pundits can be held responsible for the actions of their viewing audience....There was something already there that made them go all crazy and think they had an excuse for their actions.

Stanley said...

I think all journalists on television should be held to a higher standard. They're in the spotlight and people watch and react to the stuff they say. I personally don't follow these type of shows, and prefer to watch the more traditional news. It's important that these journalists respect their power, for they do influeence the way people think.

While the media has a great effect on society, these journalists cannot be blamed for the recent murders. We live in a crazy world, and there are a bunch of weirdos out there. Again, journalists must me mindful of their impressionalbe audiences and deliver their messages respectfully and tactfully.

NicoleElizabeth said...

I honestly could not say if these people make good journalist ot not because I do not watch these shows. I will say that if they are on networks such as, FOX and MSNBC, then yes they should be held to a higher standard. Those networks have reputations to uphold and if these people aren't held to a higher standard than it could reflect on the network.
As far as fans showing a cult-like devotion to these people and shows, yes I would say that is unhealthy and dangerous because it seems a bit obsessive, which is not a good thing. If fans are that into these shows, chances are they will take the word of the people who host these shows no matter what they say. I personally am not a fan. Like I said earlier I do not watch these shows. I watch local news shows to get my news and rarely watch any national news show other than maybe Nightline or 20/20.
-Nicole Elizabeth

mic g said...

Yes i believe that journalists on the news channels should be held to a higher standard than comedians like John Stewart. That is just what John Stewrat is a comedian. It would be just like a skit on SNL or The David Letterman Show. These shows are for one thing and that is to try and entertain us or make us laugh.

Bill O'Reilly and others , I guess, went to school and have degrees and some what knowledgae of these subjects. Of course these news men are intitled to thier own oponion. We may agree or disagree with them. Their stories should be based on fact and try and give us information for use not to entertain.

And NO Mr. Oreilly or Mr. Goldberg should in no way be blamed for what happened. The only person to balme for these acts is the murderer himself.

Michael Greene

Juliet said...

I don't think of Jon Stewart as a journalist because he does not present himself as a journalist. He is the host of a television show that uses humor to shed light often times on the ridiculous in politics. I am not a fan of Bill O'Reilly's and do I watch Fox news with any amount of frequency. What I know about Bill O'Reilly I do not like. I think he is self righteous. Anything that is said or done that opposes O'Reilly's opinion is wrong.

The news shows we are discussing are not on television to provide news. They are on television to provide ratings to the networks. The more outrageous liberals and conservatives can be on these type shows the more successful their networks will become.

Bill O'Reilly should no more be held responsible for someone committing a crime than Catie Couric should be for reporting the news for CBS. I think Bill O'Reilly presents himself as a journalist in order to gain more credibility. I do not think of him as a journalist