News war reflects badly on all parties

If you are any type of a news junkie, you are fully aware of the long-standing journalistic battle between CNN and FOX news.

While the latter receives higher ratings, it is in constant criticism from one faction of the public for being anything but fair and balanced. CNN prides itself in its journalistic integrity and unbiased reporting but gets knocked for being too liberal.

The two have become philosophical opposites, and their rivalry got juicer last week.

The conservative Web site magazine Insight reported Jan. 17 that when Sen. Barack Obama was a child, he attended a madrassa in Indonesia, a school which teaches a radical version of the Muslim faith, according to The New York Times. The Insight article also reported that the sources used for the story had close ties to the Hillary Clinton campaign. It’s headline was “Hillary’s team has questions about Obama’s Muslim background.”

Obama, a Christian, denied the allegations. Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told the New York Post that they had no connection to the story. FOX news, however, jumped at the chance to discuss the political opponents and Clinton’s supposedly ruthless tactics to out her opponent as having a personal connection to terrorism.

Two days after the story ran on Insight, Fox news’ “The Big Story” and “Fox and Friends First” focused entire segments on the allegations.

But CNN called them out. It was Wolf Blitzer to the rescue. On “The Situation Room,” Blitzer reported on the myth that Obama had gone to school at a madrassa – and proved that it was just a false rumor. “The Situation Room” started the report by saying “CNN did what any serious news organization is supposed to do in this kind of situation. We actually conducted an exclusive firsthand investigation inside Indonesia to check out the school.” Simultaneously, CNN questioned the standards of FOX news reporting. Anderson Cooper also said “That’s the difference between talking about news and reporting it. You send a reporter, check the facts and you decide at home.”

FOX spokeswoman Irena Briganti said CNN was simply looking to publicly attack it’s higher-rated rival.

The greatest responsibility of the media is to seek, find and report the truth. Relying on gossip and questionable sources is not journalism. Insight magazine is an obviously conservative, right-wing publication. FOX news should have trusted it just as much as they would a liberal, left-wing publication -ÿand that’s not at all. Insight’s report should have been a starting point, not the story.

But FOX isn’t the only one looking stupid. With Blitzer’s blatant attempt to prove the high standards of CNN reporting, he also made it look like they don’t investigate unless provoked by a chance to make their rival look wrong or unprofessional. There should be more incentive to accurately report a story than to rip on FOX news, which is all CNN seemed to be doing. The incentive should be a journalists’ job to present the facts to the public and, as CNN boasts, let them decide.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.