Girl Scouts of America revives old dispute about objectivity
Rich Gardner | 12.31.2011
Girls Scouts vs. right-wing media and the purported value of objectivity.
Media Matters For America (MMFA) was cited by a Girl Scouts of America (GSA) guide to the media as a good fact-checking website to counter lies and misinformation in the media. Well, the right wing wasn't going to have any of that! As they're frequent targets of MMFA, they of course resented it's inclusion in the Girl Scout piece and especially the suggestion that it was a reliable source for girls and their parents. Quoted by MMFA from the Glenn Beck website:
Her daughter, Sydney, a 15-year-old who served as a Girl Scout for eight years, left the organization in 2010 after she found that it embraces some controversial stances. Now, Sydney co-edits "Speak Now: Girl Scouts Website
," which provides plenty of other examples of what some may see as liberal bias.
Perhaps the Girl Scouts staffers were too busy to respond to us, but considering the fact that the Media Matters reference is, in itself, a form of misinformation, bias -- potentially even indoctrination -- we assumed that the book would no longer be on the market. But we were wrong. [TheBlaze.com, 12/27/11]
Steve Doocy of Fox News has a basic, fundamental objection to the Girl Scouts using MMFA, and that is that MMFA is "a site that is clearly with an agenda." So for an informational site to have a real point of view, to have an agenda even, is somehow inconsistent with being able to provide girls and parents with accurate information.
Problem: PolitiFact is considered to be a site that doesn't have an ideological point of view or any sort of agenda. Yet PolitiFact published their "Lie of the Year" and they named the Democratic Party assertion that Republicans, and specifically Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), want to "End Medicare." Turns out after a considerable amount of back and forth that PolitiFact now agrees that Democrats are charging Republicans with wanting to make such drastic changes to Medicare that it would be a program that would be essentially different from what it is now. PolitiFact appears to be really grasping at straws here and is trying to tell the public that there's a fundamental difference between "Ending Medicare" and "Ending Medicare as we know it."
So my question would be "What's so great about objectivity?" Isn't it better to have a site that makes no claims about being objective and above it all and to have no pre-concieved ideas about anything? Obviously, just because Politifact claims it's an objective source, that doesn't mean that they provide good, solid, reliable information.
Chris Wallace of Fox News purports to be an objective journalist, but the biggest problem with MMFA that he could come up with was:
But industry blog Mediaite says Media Matters has a, quote, "far left bent that is both transparent and indisputable." [Fox News, Special Report, 12/29/11]
Which again, is a "criticism" that causes many folks to dismiss MMFA out of hand, but I'm not really sure why having a "far left bent" is automatically disqualifying. My feeling is that if MMFA provides substantiated accusations, charges that are backed up with evidence, i.e., video, audio and photographs, and if they go the extra mile and provide contest for the accusations (Quoting whole paragraphs as opposed to just giving us the sentence or sentence fragments that are damning), well, what's the problem?
The Girl Scouts reportedly agreed that MMFA is not a source they should be using.
"Girl Scouts constantly reviews our materials based on feedback and suggestions we receive from our members and we update our materials on a regular basis," said the statement. "As a result of this process, upcoming reprints of journeys materials will not include links to Media Matters."
I see this far more as a matter of the GSA backing down to political pressure placed upon them by right-wing media figures than it is any sort of epiphany that MMFA really is biased.
Score another victory for right-wing pressure to conform to their idea of what constitutes "bias" and "objectivity."