Bill Keller: 'Be Wary of Guy Who Says He's Got the Absolute Truth' But Don't Give G-Warming Skeptics Equal Time

Former New York Times editor Bill Keller on Sunday perfectly demonstrated liberal media hypocrisy.

Moments after claiming on CNN's Reliable Sources that people who "deny climate change" shouldn't be given "equal time," he said "be wary of the guy who says he's got the absolute truth" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, HOST: In your response, it sounds like your prizing, as well as, you know, the intensity kind of reporting that appears on pages of the New York Times certain values like humility, like civility, like respectfulness. These are not ones I would ascribe to Glenn Greenwald, and, in fact, he suggests in your extensive exchange that it kind of gets in the way of the kind of toughest questions and truth telling he thinks people needed to hear.

He, you know, obviously, refers to events in not just the Times's history but, you know, failures of the press corps writ large like WMDs and other things - the lead up to the Iraq war, where he says, you know, a certain kind of gentility will fail to get at the heart of the question, get under official utterances.

BILL KELLER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. You know, sometimes he sometimes put in our exchange, portrays it as if, you know, what impartial journalists do is stenography. You know, you take down what one guy says, you take down what the other guy says, and then you just sort of present it to readers with no judgment or analysis implied. And I don't think anybody who reads the New York Times or the Washington Post or, you know, or any of the sort of serious mainstream news organizations believes that.

Actually, but that's what journalists are supposed to do: give the people the facts and let them decide how they feel about them without some "reporter" offering commentary to encourage a viewpoint equivalent to his or her own.

As such, Keller was admitting to viewers that this isn't what he believes the role of a news organization is. Instead, said organization owes it to the public to interpret the event for the reader, listener, or viewer:

KELLER: I mean, civility means you listen respectfully up to the point where somebody's lying to you, and if somebody's lying to you and you can demonstrate it, you say so. You know, humility means that you offer people a chance to poke holes in whatever working thesis you've developed, but it doesn't mean, for example, that you give equal time to people who are -- deny climate change.


No, you certainly wouldn't want to give equal time to the tens of thousands of scientists around the world that regularly "poke holes" in the "working thesis" developed by global warming alarmists. That might be too much like actual journalism.

Now prepare yourself for the real hypocrisy:

FOLKENFLIK: Although we have certainly seen instances of that. You know, there are moments --

KELLER: It's false equivalency.

FOLKENFLIK: Yes, sure.

KELLER: Sure.

FOLKENFLIK: You make a distinction in your exchange between the idea of objectivity and impartiality. I think to the lay reader, they see these concepts as being roughly the same thing. Tell me the distinction you draw in your mind about these ideas.

KELLER: Over the years, objective has been applied to the kind of journalism we do almost indiscriminately. I tend to avoid the word because it implies a kind of absolute pure truth. You know, it's the objective truth. And, in fact, most of what we do, whether it's, you know, what I do or what Times reporters do or what Glenn Greenwald does is aspirational. We're trying to get at the truth, but, you know, be wary of the guy who says he's got the absolute truth.

"Be wary of the guy who says he's got the absolute truth."

You mean like Al Gore and other global warming alarmists who claim the science is settled and the debate is over?

As that apparently isn't the case, what Keller should have said is, "Be wary of the guy who says he's got the absolute truth UNLESS you believe him."

And this is what makes the New York Times and other liberal media outlets a joke: they're only willing to question that which they either don't believe or don't advocate. That which they do needn't be scrutinized.

And that's when journalism becomes advocacy as Greenwald maintains.

Say what you will about Greenwald's politics - he has a much better understanding of what journalism should be than people such as Keller.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.