Media Blog

Lou’s On Fire

TVNewser spots this AP story on Lou Dobbs’s crusade against the lease of some U.S. port terminals to Dubai Ports World. Jonathan Klein, head of CNN’s domestic operations, is backing Dobbs:

Dobbs said CNN’s management has backed, even encouraged, him. Jonathan Klein, head of CNN’s domestic operations, said it’s part of a rounded CNN programming lineup.
“When he gives vent to his point of view, it is very clear that it is his opinion,” Klein said. “He makes no bones about it … A less experienced broadcaster could go way overboard and not give the other side a chance to respond, where I think Lou bends over backwards to make sure that all sides are represented on his program, even if he has an opinion about the issue at hand. That’s the journalist in him.”
So does that mean Klein would give his OK if, for example, Wolf Blitzer were to walk into his office and say he’s angry about the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war and wanted to make his opinion known every day on “The Situation Room”?
“I’d be worried that in Wolf it would be inauthentic and it wouldn’t work and he wouldn’t do it right,” he said. “You can’t fake this. You either have it as a burn inside of you or you don’t.”

I don’t think it’s wrong that Dobbs shares his opinion and reports the news from his perspective. I happen to strongly disagree with Dobbs on almost everything, but at least he doesn’t try to disguise his newscast as a neutral account of the day’s events.
But Klein’s comments that it would be “inauthentic” for Wolf Blitzer to report the news from his point of view make me wonder why CNN will let some of its anchors report news with an opinion but not others. What if other reporters do have a “burn” to color the news with their perspective — are they given the same freedom as Dobbs? I would argue that most reporters and anchors do that anyway. Why not, then, let all of them be as open about their opinions as Dobbs so that we know where they’re coming from? If Wolf Blitzer did “burn” with a passionate objection to the war in Iraq (and I agree with Klein that he probably does not), I would want to know about it before watching him cover, for instance, the State of the Union address.

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