Journalism FAIL: Reporters Miss Boat

Richard Prince of The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education wrote a piece entitled, If the Jews Controlled the Media, So What? evaluating whether the news media actually bothered to address, prove or disprove any of the points and questions Rick had raised during the interview and what difference it would actually make if Rick were right.

The very first point of Prince’s piece will come as little surprise to those who actually bothered to listen to the interview : Rick’s words were taken out of context, mischaracterized and misreported and Rick never stated that Jews control all media.   

During this ill-fated radio interview that veered off topic and into unchartered territory, Rick was asked whether Jon Stewart, as a Jew, should also be considered a member of an oppressed minority group.

The answer ricocheted first around the Internet and then in all other corners of the media. It was widely reported, inaccurately, that Sanchez said Jews “control” the news media, and accordingly, that his words were therefore anti-Semitic.

Rick’s actual response was: “I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they — the people in this country who are Jewish — are an oppressed minority? Yeah.”

And before claiming that “a lot like Stewart” is simply Rick using code for “Jewish,” one should look at Rick’s words in context.  Rick described Jon as someone who is part of a Northeast, liberal, elitist, middle to upper class establishment, who, in Rick’s words, cannot relate to a minority, to someone who grew up in poverty, to someone who didn’t go to the best schools and to someone who not only didn’t grow up or live in the Northeast, but actually—in Rick’s case—grew up and lived primarily in the South, a region that has tended to be looked down upon culturally, economically and educationally.

In his piece, Prince states that the reporting of Rick’s interview and its aftermath overshadowed and prevented any real journalism from taking place.  For instance, did any major news organization examine whether Jews are actually disproportionately represented at media companies and what difference it would make if they actually were?

The piece goes on to quote Howard Rosenberg, a former LA Times television critic who is now a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, during an interview he gave to NPR’s “Tell Me More”.

Well, he never said—let’s make sure that we quote him correctly. He never said ‘controlled,’ okay? He used other words. And I have to tell you, historically and even today, Jews have a voice in the media far out of proportion to our numbers…

That’s not something to be ashamed of. I’m proud of it. It says a lot about us.

For somebody to point that out is not problematic to me at all, nor is it problematic that he would call Jon Stewart a bigot. Jon Stewart is a public figure. If Jon Stewart can call Rick Sanchez an idiot, which he is as a matter of fact, Rick Sanchez has every right to call Jon Stewart a bigot.

You can find the rest of Richard Prince’s piece here.