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