CONTROVERSY, n. A battle in which spittle or ink replaces the injurious cannon-ball and the inconsiderate bayonet. From The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce
Helen Thomas is an amateur. So, for that matter, are Juan Williams, Rick Sanchez and other journalists who have been under fire recently for their opinions.
Ambrose Bierce -- now there was a salty, unrepentant reporter who didn't even make a pretense at fairness and objectivity. The late-19th century journalist was so passionate in his writings that some even accused him of calling for the assassination of President William McKinley.
Thomas' indiscretion isn't quite so salacious. She lost her decades-long post as a White House correspondent earlier this year for saying Jews should get out of Palestine, and then riled journalistic purists again last week when she said during a speech that ``Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists.''
It was an uncanny echo of Sanchez's claim a few weeks ago that Jews control the media, which got him fired from CNN. Then there's National Public Radio's termination of Williams for revealing that he sometimes feels uneasy when boarding a plane with someone wearing Muslim garb.
Never mind that few people believe that Williams hates Muslims or that Sanchez hates Jews or that Thomas . . . well, OK, Thomas actually might hate Jews. But the hysteria over journalists and their opinions is still overblown.
Here's a news flash: Journalists have opinions and I, for one, would rather know the sentiment of the people delivering the news than to pretend they have none.
Think of it as full disclosure. It might even help news organizations become more balanced. Let's suppose -- we're just pretending now -- that, say, 80 percent of reporters in America's newsrooms are liberals who overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party. If so, pack in a few right-wingers for fairness' sake.
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