It was a blatant conflict of interest and an appalling lack of integrity that must have sent Huntley and Brinkley spinning in their graves. In mid-June, NBC News Today Show host Savannah Guthrie interviewed actress Amber Heard following Heard’s jury trial loss in the defamation suit brought by Johnny Depp – who earlier had lost a similar case in the U.K. that had been handled by a judge.
Neutral media observers agree that Guthrie’s interview – spread over two days to enhance hype and ratings – was more of an interrogation, following the same playbook as Depp’s lawyers. That tone is less surprising when you consider that Guthrie’s husband, Michael Feldman, served as an adviser to Depp’s attorneys.
Guthrie should have never been involved in piling on on Heard, whom her husband had helped defeat. Any claim of impartiality would insults us. To adopt a legal term, lawyer Guthrie should have recused herself from this story. And her news director, whatever the title, should not have allowed her participation since Guthrie lacked the scruples to step off.
As it is, the credibility of the entire NBC News operation has been diminished and will remain compromised as long as those who perpetrated the farce remain in the newsroom.
In stark contrast to NBC’s embarrassment to journalism, that same week the bodies of independent British journalist Dom Phillips and his local guide Bruno Pereira were recovered in Brazil’s Amazonia. They had been murdered as activist Pereira was helping Phillips document abuses against the local indigenous community and the rainforest itself.
Silencing advocates of both causes has a long tradition in Brazil, even before Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro – a fascist in the mold of Donald Trump – declared climate war on the world through his anti-rainforest policies.
These murders followed closely that of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot in the head by Israeli forces while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli government abhors coverage of its anti-Palestinian apartheid tactics – seeding illegal settlements in the West Bank, appropriating Palestinian homes and property, leveling Palestinian homes on whims and initiating massive over-reacting retaliations for any terrorist attacks. (And, terrorists they are.)
Not only was Al Jazeera’s Abu Akleh shot in the head while wearing plainly visible press identification, but Israeli forces also attacked, disrupted and created mayhem during the funeral procession to the Catholic church where her services were planned.
And, affirming its own endorsement of press suppression, our government has achieved British approval (appeal pending) for the extradition of Julian Assange, whose WikiLeaks’ revelations provided the kind of transparency governments preach but persecute.
Not a good month for the Fourth Estate, but official and government-encouraged repression, the big lies of losing politicians and corporate mouthpieces fomenting fascism are recognizable opponents to truth, justice and the American Way. (Superman’s alter ego WAS a reporter.) When ostensibly neutral news outfits start slanting their coverage, we are all in trouble.
And, though it reduces my limited morning show offerings by a third, I’m getting by just fine with CBS and ABC. Heck, if I wanted bogus, bilgewatery bias, I’d sign up for Faux News.