NY Journalist: Charlie Rangel Given Softball Interview As He's Provided 'Good Inside Information'
For Rangel, Neighborhood Ties Mean Breezy Interview
You're a columnist for a major metropolitan newspaper about to interview an entrenched lawmaker facing serious ethics charges. Do you A) ask tough, pointed questions, or B) carefully sidestep the issues, focusing on mundane topics instead?
While filling in for libtalker Ed Schultz Friday, New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis sadly chose the latter option, a particularly disappointing selection as his guest was none other than embattled US Rep Charlie Rangel (D-NY).
With the longtime congressman facing disturbing allegations, Louis missed a fantastic opportunity to hold Rangel's feet to the fire. And while a state-run media hack giving a longtime crony a free pass might not seem shocking, what is highly unusual was the columnist's candid admission later in the program that going soft was a result of neighborhood ties and Rangel's past assistance to the paper in the form of "good inside information".
Always nice to help an old friend, isn't it?
From the program:
ERROL LOUIS (HOUR TWO) (29:13): I think what Joe [previous caller] was getting at and a lot of people do feel this way is that there are a lot of people, the progressive media, who will shade stuff, I mean, will shade stuff, there's no question about it. I mean, look, even the Charlie Rangel thing, I could have hammered him with a bunch of questions but, I mean, I didn't do it, I didn't do it.
And I told you all up front, I used to live in Harlem, I like the guy, I know his work, you know, he's been a friend to my show and he's given us a lot of good inside information when we needed it about what was going on in Congress and I'm not in a position to do it. Now not everybody will tell you that and I think that's where people start to think that there could be a bias at work.
You see, the way I think about it, and I tell people this, I teach journalism and I tell my kids this, the goal is not to be unbiased. The goal should be to be fair.
The goal is not to be unbiased? As a columnist, certainly, a point of view is necessary. But ethics apply to everyone in the newsroom, including commentators. Disturbingly, Louis admits here that longtime connections and quid pro quo trump honesty, ethics and integrity.
No wonder New York is in so much trouble these days, protecting friends is clearly more important than good government.
This man teaches journalism!