Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dr. Jekyl, Mr. Hyde, And Ethics

Having integrity as we work in the fields of media and communications requires that we hold ourselves to higher ethical standards. It also requires that we apply those same standards to both those we comment upon and those within our own own career field.

We're willing to admit for some of our staff that there has been some pushback lately in our hammering of those in the Tea Party and on the far right who claim to be Republicans. To us, Republicans as we remember them, and as most Americans think of them, tend to identify more closely to functional libertarians. Not the ideological strait-jacketed insanity of Rand Paul (which already appears to be loosening up), but classic Republicanism. Those kinds of Americans are assertive (not aggressive) about a number of things - fiscal conservatism, military readiness, and smaller government, when sensible and possible. However, they also understand and fully respect that good government means being willing to compromise.

The problem is, that's not what a growing number of those using the Republican brand want the GOP label to mean. That's why we continue to point out the Jekyl and Hyde nature of the modern GOP. For those of us who are conservative, that doesn't make us RINOs. It makes us honest.

Likewise, for those of us on the left, there are those in our field who claim not to know the difference between "progressive" and "liberal" when we know damn well those claims are false. We've caught heat for that lately, but we've called out some of our fellow journalists for that lapse in honesty, too.

Which brings us to Mr. Keith Olbermann.

We won't belabor the subject. Others inside and outside our business have obsessed about this to the point of ridiculous for the past four days.

Suffice it to say that we know Mr. Olbermann knows the old journalistic axiom that, if you have to ask if your actions or words could be considered unethical, you've already gone too far. He apologized last night to his viewers and others for his lapse in judgement, and we applaud him for doing so.

As Mr. Olbermann's colleague Rachel Maddow mentioned last week, for those of us in the media who choose who hold ourselves to higher standards, the rules are different. Our ethical conduct is what separates us from those in the media and elsewhere who operate with a two-faced agenda, claiming to be fair while having an outright bias.

"Anything worth doing is worth doing well," is a phrase that we take very seriously around here.

If more people both inside and outside the media took that phrase to heart, maybe there might not be such a huge gap between the faces we show the world, and those we show each other.

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