[Marxism] USA Today's Jack Kelley and the real scandal of American journalism

Jose G. Perez jg_perez at bellsouth.net
Fri Mar 19 22:08:01 MST 2004

	USA Today revealed this Friday that their star foreign
correspondent Jack Kelley invented several of his most memorable
dispatches, including an account of a woman who supposedly drowned with
several an 18-month-old child and several companions trying to cross the
Florida straits from Cuba.

	Coming on the heels of the  Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair
scandals, one might think U.S. journalism has sunk to a new low. 

	I believe that this is, in fact, the case: but it has nothing to
do with fabricated stories. Those we always have with us. Few people now
will remember the 1980 "Jimmy's World" story, about the 8-year-old crack
addict, that won Janet Cooke and the Washington Post a Pulitzer Prize.
With such a rising journalistic star on the payroll, the Post, if I
remember details of the scandal right, set out to do a story on her
background, and discovered it was fake. She didn't have the degrees she
claimed, and when confronted with that fabrication, admitted the other.

	But American journalism is like the capitalist justice Rosa
Luxemburg talked about, a net that works in reverse, catching only
little fish and letting through the big ones.

	On the most elementary journalistic basis --just the facts-- the
U.S. news media are in a state of ethical bankruptcy. Just look at the
public opinion polls over the past couple of years asking people who was
behind the September 11 attacks, the nationality of the alleged
hijackers, and, of course, Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. 

	On those, as on so many other things, the majority of Americans
believed, and I suspect still believe, falsehoods. 

	That these falsehoods originated, not with the journalists but
with the government, is not just irrelevant, but an aggravating factor.
In the fairy tale world where professors of bourgeois journalistic
ethics live, it is precisely the role of the press to protect the public
from a mendacious government. In the real world where those trained by
the ethics professors work, what journalists do is repeat government

	It is, of course, no accident that if you visit a journalistic
hall of shame, you will see that many of those crucified for supposedly
fabricating stories are Blacks and Latinos. And if you visit a hall of
fame, you will find white reporters lionized for the stories that did
the real damage. 

	As for the rest of it, "journalism" --as the word was
understood, say, 30 years ago-- is now practiced virtually nowhere in
the U.S. news media. Pravda ethics reign supreme. The official version
-- whatever the U.S. government claims is what happened -- gets put out,
no matter how improbable or absurd. 


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