Good journalism — be it print or broadcast — relies on relatively few basic tenets.
Accuracy is one. Thoroughness is another. So is fairness.
And fairness requires that you seek out both sides of a dispute, such as one that recently erupted in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chairman Darrell Issa, a Republican, shut down a hearing as the ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, sought to pose a question of Lois Lerner, an Internal Revenue Service official at the center of a controversy that some folks want to turn into a full-blown scandal.
The IRS has been criticized for its vetting of conservative political action groups seeking tax-exempt status. What the right-wingers don’t acknowledge, of course, is that the IRS does the same thing to liberal groups.
Back to journalism’s fairness tenet.
The Rev. Al Sharpton — a liberal MSBNC talk show host — interviewed Cummings the other day to get his side of the story. One liberal would “interview” another liberal.
Meanwhile, Issa was making the rounds on the Fox News Channel to give his version of events. Conservatives were “interviewing” a conservative.
My strong preference would be for Cummings to talk to the Fox guys and Issa to talk to the MSNBC guys. Let the liberal news/commentary network get the other side’s version of a controversy and have the conservative network get the liberal’s version of events.
That’s one way to define — if I can borrow a phrase — a “fair and balanced” approach to journalism.