Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Authors and Journalists

I usually refrain from commentary on the media. However, the latest accusations against Sarah Palin are wrong. I see among my author friends agreement with this position. I wonder if the journalists are the polar opposite?

Ms. Palin caught the attention of a journalist when she used the phrase "blood libel" in connection with the recent Tucson shooting. Whether she (or her speech writer) knew the origin of this phrase is not the issue. The issue is why it became media-worthy in the first place.

I see perhaps three potential positions the journalist could have taken on this. They chose the approach that just feels like deliberate antagonism. They could have chosen rather to ignore the phrase altogether. Or they could have pointed out the origin and politely corrected Ms. Palin's misuse. But to say that her remarks were deliberate and malicious, just like her campaign crosshair picture, is absurd. Are we to believe that she knew this tragic shooting would take place two years ago when the picture came out? Are we to believe their is some conspiracy lurking beneath her smile and "golly gee" glib?

Some commenters do want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Some are looking for the next opportunity to gig her. Is this journalism? Authors can only get away with this stuff in fiction. Was the journalist just doing his/her investigative duty in digging up the etymology of this phrase? Perhaps. Was it and its results edifying? Hardly. Maybe someone gained by this but I cannot imagine who.

Jesus warned us that we will be judged for every idle word. He tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Therefore, we do have to be careful. Some folks would say, "Well, those weren't my exact words." This kind of double-speak means they only spoke what someone else wrote for them. I'm not saying this is what happened in Ms. Palin's case. My point is a question for us all:

What we say, what we mean to say, and what people perceive we say all matter. We can only control the first two. Shame on those in the third category who make it a living to associate and apply the worst to our words. That is not journalism of any sort. That's just bad manners.

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