Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lapdog of government

There’s something I’d like to add about the subject of my recent Strike the Root article about Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the police. (Short version: MADD is collaborating with law enforcement to tell teenagers their friends have been killed, then letting them stew in grief for an hour before admitting it was a trick.) I based the article on an account of the MADD program from the San Diego-Union Tribune and it’s worth pointing out the blatant bias by writer Pat Sherman in what is allegedly a straight news article. As both a libertarian and a reporter for a small newspaper, I’m probably unusually sensitive to bias in what is supposed to be news reporting, but in this case the article could hardly be more one-sided and propagandistic if a MADD staffer had written it himself. Leaving aside for now the fact that he just mindlessly regurgitates MADD’s highly questionable statistics, the story opens with:

It was an elaborate hoax, but 36 students at El Camino High pulled it off with potentially life-saving consequences.

The result was a soberingly realistic dramatization about the dangers of drinking and driving, delivered with surprising professionalism.

It concludes with:

[School counselor Lori] Tauber said she is aware that drinking and driving is occurring among the student population.

“I just know in my heart this was worth it,” she said.

In between, we get several paragraphs of Officer Eric Newbury, the mastermind behind the MADD program, righteously going on about the goodness of the program.

Does the author include anything said by anyone who doesn’t think this willful emotional torment of innocent kids was just wonderful? Do we get anything other than pure propaganda at any point? No, because that would entail the onerous work of actually doing your goddamn job as a journalist, which is apparently not something required of employees at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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1 comment:

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