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CBS’ Outcome-Based Journalism

Remember Mark Fuhrman, the detective who gathered evidence at the Simpson/Goldman murder scene? During his trial testimony, he failed to mention several off-duty conversations that had occurred years before with a screenwriter and former date. For failing to disclose the dialogue, Fuhrman was prosecuted and forced out of the LAPD.

I knew Mark back then and his integrity as a police officer was consistently valued by his peers and the diverse communities we served. But cops are only as good as their credibility, which is why officers who violate public confidence are not fit as public servants. So strident are Americans to marginalize bad cops that police agencies often discipline good cops for offenses as subtle as false accusations and unintentional mistakes. As one who served on LA streets for two decades, I believe that officers who deliberately mislead courts deserve our worst condemnation – for their conduct not only threatens the accused, but all Americans.

Responsible journalists also safeguard our democracy by keeping us informed of the events around us. We rely on reporters to help Americans make decisions on everything from the products we buy to candidates we elect.

When police officers and journalists are corrupted by economic, social, or political influences, they marginalize ideological threats that cannot be otherwise stopped by evidence, due process or competent investigation. Corrupt reporters fake stories to control their audience, generate revenue, and fix elections just as bad cops plant evidence to implicate “undesirable elements.” For bad cops and the elite media, their perceived benefit to society is often enough to justify the means. Liberals might call this outcome-based journalism and law enforcement.

Unlike bad cops, however, the elite media defends bad journalists. Can anyone imagine the LAPD telling Americans that Raphael Perez stole drugs, framed innocents, and shot unarmed men because they were guilty anyway? This is essentially what outlets like the New York Times do when they stand by stories proven false or when they kill exculpatory stories about people they don’t like. And while journalists hide behind the First Amendment, they seem to forget that even Voltaire condemned libel.

Journalism’s continued resistance to minimum ethical standards threatens Americans and others inspired by our democracy. Reporters who use questionable information to promote prejudice or ideology deserve the contempt of all Americans.

Comments

Comment from Evan Sayet
Time September 29, 2005 at 11:52 am

Wow, Clark…what a terrific piece. Thoughtful, well-written and so important.

Evan Sayet
http://www.evansayet.com
http://www.sayetright.blogspot.com

Comment from Jim
Time October 5, 2005 at 2:34 pm

Very powerful and thought-provoking. Comparing the ethical standards of journalists with policemen put things in a whole new light for me. In a way, “trust” is a key element in our relationship with both — and when that turst is broken, it’s hard to restore . . .

Thank you.

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