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December 27, 2005

Media Critics In A Tizzy Because Reporter Helped Underage Kid Get Out Of Child-Porn

Apparently journalists have their own Hypocratic oath, which begins, "First, do no good:"

In the same column by Howard Kurtz, he also reports on a New York Times reporter,Kurt Eichenwald, who was doing a story about child pornography. In the course of reporting on the story he came to know a 18-year-old boy who was filming pornography in order to support his drug habit. Eichenwald persuaded the boy to give up drugs and start cooperating with the FBI to stop other children from being lured into this world and to arrest some of the ringleaders.

You and I might think that this was a good thing. No one should stand by and see other children pulled into such a life if we could stop it. But in the crazy ethics of journalists, this becomes a serious question....

Jack Shafer of Slate does not think that this is what journalists should be doing and he has some questions about Eichenwald's involvement in the child porn story.

What extraordinary intervention! The analogies aren't perfect, but imagine a Times reporter encountering an 18-year-old who had been thrust into the illicit drug business at 13 as a consequence of his neglectful family and unscrupulous dealers? Would he help the young man leave the drug trade and find him a lawyer at a Washington firm who is "a former federal prosecutor," as Eichenwald did Berry? Not likely. Would a Times reporter extend similar assistance to an 18-year-old female prostitute? An 18-year-old fence? A seller of illegal guns? No way.

To the argument that Eichenwald deserves our praise for aiding the adult Berry, who has been victimized, I offer this counterargument: Hasn't the Times put the next reporter assigned to the online pornography story into a nasty jam? Will the just-turned-18-years-old subjects expect future reporters to 1) help get them a lawyer who will 2) assist them in becoming witnesses for the prosecution, because Eichenwald helped Berry? Will online pornographers and other allied criminals now regard reporters as agents of the state? Don't be surprised if they start treating reporters as cops.

You know, they had a non-interference code on Star Trek called the Prime Directive. And Kirk violated that all the time.

Reporters are not only reporters before they're Americans -- we already knew that from Mike Wallace -- but they're reporters before they're human beings.

I wonder what Jack Schafer would do if he happened to come upon a car wreck upon the highway. Would he immediately begin typing up a story on his Blackberry as the victims slowly died from blood-loss? Or would he assist the victims? I certainly hope he'd do the latter.

It should be noted that reporters "interfere" in events by the simple act of reportage. Reporting changes things. The Plame story was not an issue until the MSM, goaded by left-wing bloggers, decided to make it such. Is the invention of controversaries less objectionable than helping a drug-addict involved in underage porn out of his horrific situation?

Apparently so, at least according to the Doyennes of Journalistic Ethics.

I'm not even sure they believe this crap. I just think they like talking about themselves, and it's easiest to write about yourself. We'll see a lot of MSM chin-stroking, hand-wringing, and pud-pulling over this non-issue simply because it's easy and fun to bang out column-inches talking about yourself and your friends.

And yet, you know, they have this major code against making themselves part of the story.


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posted by Ace at 03:35 PM

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