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3/7/02


 

A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT

By Cokie Roberts

For many years, I have been a loyal employee of ABC News. During that time, I have willingly violated every canon of journalistic ethics in order to promote the financial interests of my employers. For eight years, I deliberately distorted reality so that it negatively reflected on Bill Clinton because I knew that his opposition to deregulating the broadcasting industry made him anathema to the Disney Corporation. The same motivation led me to repeatedly trash Al Gore in 2000, despite the fact that I was well aware Gore could have lost a couple of hundred I.Q. points and still have been more capable than his opponent.

Now, as a reward for my dutiful service, I am on the verge of losing my job as cohost of ABCís Sunday political talk show, This Week. My partner, Sam Donaldson, who has been obediently lying for ABC even longer than I have, is also likely to be dismissed. Rumor has it that we are being replaced by two people whom the network hopes will garner higher ratings by prevaricating more effectively, George Stephanopoulos and Claire Shipman.

I am deeply offended by ABCís underestimation of my abilities. There has never been a day that Shipman could deceive the public better than yours truly, and there never will be. As for Stephanopoulos, youíve got me there. He is incomparably dishonest, and a disloyal ingrate to boot. He has superstar network journalist written all over him.

My message to ABC News is this: If you are going to betray reporters who faithfully promote the corporate party line with deceit and sophistry, then you will live to regret it. When you fire journalists who willingly lie for you, the inevitable consequence is that their colleagues will be less enthusiastic about dissembling for the corporate good.

That would damage the bottom line. Rewarding reportorial dishonesty has produced massive profits for the network. John Stossel canít open his mouth without assaulting the truth, so ABC pays him millions of dollars. He goes on the air with deceptive corporate propaganda, and then the companies for whom heís shilling buy tens of millions of dollars worth of advertising on the network. Itís win-win, with the only losers being viewers who want honest journalism. Even this isnít much of a problem, because if the public were sincere in wanting the real facts, then theyíd be watching that pauper Bill Moyers on PBS.

I remain ready, willing, and able to hornswoggle viewers in exchange for large quantities of cash. After spending decades honing my craft, I now belong to that elite echelon of broadcast journalists who can seamlessly make the on-air transition from extemporaneous dishonesty to personal observations that are stunningly inane. Without meaning to seem boastful, I am confident that I remain second to none when it comes to distorting the truth, misleading through omission, damning with innuendo, and outright falsification of facts.

It would be in the best interest of ABC executives to reconsider their decision to let me go. My dismissal would set a dangerous corporate journalistic precedent that lying doesnít pay. Once you open that Pandoraís box, you might as well kiss network television news as we know it goodbye.  

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Please click here if you really believe that Cokie Roberts wrote this piece.

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