Journalists should be ashamed of themselves — all of them

It has been said that gossip is a polite form of murder by character assassination. Those who engage in this type of activity claim they are trying to "help other people understand" the person being gossiped or reported about. In reality, this activity is designed to give the reporter or person a false sense of superiority and to proclaim his or her own self-righteousness. That is all. It is the equivalent of condemning a person to jail without the benefit of a trail.

In most communities, societies and groups, gossip is a constant activity. It is like sport. Even if the gossip, innuendo or rumor is not true, if you tell it often enough, it will be considered gospel. This action has not only attempted and destroyed reputations; it has attempted and destroyed lives.

In the 1980s, there was gossip that was reported about actor Burt Reynolds claiming that he had Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS, for short). There was no proof or truth to the charge, but the newspapers, gossip columns and the broadcast media ran with the story. Finally, the controversy ended when Mr. Reynolds held an interview. He did not have the virus whatsoever. Reynolds was offended and, I have to say, rightfully so.

Also in the 1980s, a rumor surfaced about actress Bridget Nielsen. The gossip claimed she aborted a child that she conceived with former NFL player, Mark Gastineau. The gossip columns in Hollywood also ran with the story. Nielsen then did an interview and stated that it was not true at all. The truth was she had a miscarriage. The controversy was laid to rest once an interview was given. There was no doubt, however, that Miss Nielsen was offended there as well, and who could blame her.

Other similar gossip, innuendo and rumor mongering can be witnessed in politics. For example, when Senator Edward Kennedy spread an innuendo about one time Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, claiming that he was going to "bring segregation back to the U.S.," for example, the press ran with the claims when they should have looked at Bork's judicial decisions and record. They did not. They failed in doing their research.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the press ran with rumor a story claiming that Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's Down syndrome child was not hers, but was her daughter's. The press ran with that false charge never checking it out until after the fact.

In each of the cases that I have described, journalists chose to believe gossip, innuendo and rumor and not do its own investigation. If anyone were to tell me that journalists are in fact a lazy bunch of parasites, considering all the evidence seen over a period of two decades, there is no question that I would think that that statement is correct.

There was a time when journalists, before they ran with a story, checked and rechecked the facts. However, now, where journalists and editors are in competition with other news outlets, to be the first to get the scoop, they throw checking the facts all out the window, stating that it is passe. It is this kind of behavior and work ethic, along with others, that is hurting the institution of the press and the credibility with viewers and readers.

I wish I could tell them all to stop, but journalists, arrogant, condescending narcissists that they are, they will ignore my plea. They will ignore any critic and will try to self justify their actions.

To this, I remind them all of the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Our Critics Are Our Friends; They Show Us Our Faults." God save these people.

ALEX PUGLIESE
Kenilworth

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