Journalists love to preen as human rights watchdogs, congratulating themselves publicly for their roles – real or imagined – in securing the life and liberty of the downtrodden. That is, as long as it’s the right sort of downtrodden.
Take, for example, NBC’s coverage in the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Because of Russian restrictions on gays’ free speechfor homosexuals, the official Olympic network repeatedly fretted about gay “human rights.” NBC speculated about the rights and safety of gay athletes and visitors to Sochi, reported extensively on Russia’s gay community, talked to every gay athlete in the NBC phone book and hyped President Obama’s appointing of prominent gays to the U.S. Olympic Delegation. Network hosts also tried to encourage athletes to make pro-gay statements while at the Games, at the risk of disqualifying themselves from competition. Video after the break.
On Monday’s All Things Considered, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik drew this unintentionally hilarious sentence out of NBC executive Alexandra Wallace: “Our job is to report on what's going on in the world. We're not activists. We're observers and analysts.”
Folkenflik’s story pressed on NBC News from the left, that they must campaign against Russian repression before, during, and after the Olympics. NBC protested they'd been interviewing gay athletes like Billie Jean King and Brian Boitano and letting them express their joy at being picked by Obama to represent the U.S. delegation. Russian gay lobbyist Konstantin Yablotskiy represented the Russian leftists: