It is no accident that the very first amendment to the United States Constitution ensures the right to a free press.
But with that right comes great responsibility. When doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, their first charge is to “do no harm.” In caring for a human life, the absolute first concern is, “Will this care hurt the patient more than it will help?” If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, then the supposed “care” is aborted.
While there is no official oath taken among journalists, there is the “Journalist’s Creed.” A personal affirmation of journalism ethics, the “Journalist’s Creed” was written by Walter Williams in 1914. The creed states:
I believe in the profession of journalism.
I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.
I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.
I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.
I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.
I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends.
I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.
I believe that the journalism which succeeds best — and best deserves success — fears God and honors Man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.
In essence, the creed is much like the first obligation of a medical practitioner – do no harm. But in many ways, it goes for beyond the simplicity of doing no harm. It calls on journalists to “honor man” and be “never careless.”
In this duty, the Star Tribune and Alpha News have failed.
In a hotly contested race for Minnesota Attorney General, Democratic National Committee co-chair, Rep. Keith Ellison, is matched up against Republican Doug Wardlow. And while most outlets – including the Star Tribune – are focused on the true news of the race and bringing light to the policies and platforms of both candidates, there is another piece to this story.
Not long after Ellison announced his intentions to run for attorney general, Ellison’s ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, made horrific claims of physical violence on the part of Ellison. She even claimed to have video evidence to corroborate her boasts. Ellison has steadfastly denied the allegations and called for – and cooperated with – multiple investigations of the claim. Those investigations concluded no such abuse occurred. Furthermore, the tape Monahan claims to have has yet to see public light. Ellison has said it will never be seen because it does not exist, as no such acts occurred.
Not satisfied with independent conclusion, the Star Tribune and Alpha News sued to unseal divorce records of Ellison and his ex-wife, Kim Ellison. Both Ellisons protested to the unsealing. It should be noted, there was never an allegation made by Kim Ellison of domestic abuse, physical violence or other forms of abuse against Keith Ellison. Yes, journalists have a duty to investigate and oftentimes dig deep. There is also a time to step away from the shovel.
With allegations such as these, it is in fact the duty of journalists to rigorously investigate and report – without bias, nor foregone conclusion. In that aspect, Alpha News, a far rightwing online outfit that was largely unheard-of until recently, has failed. But to be fair to Alpha News, it is not expected to be a beacon of light, as it tends to peddle in quasi-racists and Xenophobic rhetoric. But do not just take us at our word … take them at theirs.
“‘Diversity’ is a cancer that has metastasized throughout America and the world. It’s (sic) effects are uniformly harmful because ‘diversity’ can’t exist without affirmative action, a racism deemed acceptable by the elites,” wrote John Gilmore in a Sept. 8 piece for Alpha.
Again, little in terms of ethical fair play is expected of this fringe outfit, so little more ink shall we dedicate to it on this matter.
The Star Tribune, one would expect, would not be aligned with Alpha News, But the Star Tribune did in fact align itself with the rightwing fringe outfit in suing to open the divorce records of Keith Ellison and Kim Ellison with no basis for its relevance in the matter of assault. The two outfits simply wanted to go fishing in hopes of catching a prize marlin. What they got instead was catfished by whomever convinced them there was a treasure inside. Sadly, for Kim Ellison, for her children … even for Keith Ellison, what was revealed were the most personal of details surrounding a woman in the throws of a serious health battle following the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The records detailed her more than understandable battles with depression and other tawdry details that an outfit such as the National Enquirer would fawn over but are certainly not the details a supposed reputable daily newspaper would be after. It causes one to wonder, what’s the true motivation here?
Now in all of the Star Tribune’s reporting on the allegations of assault being made by Monahan, a key fact has not been reported. This is that Monahan’s attorney is Andrew Parker; a close friend and former employer of Ellison’s opponent, Wardlow. There’s no reporting on the part of the Star Tribune that possibly … quite possibly, the allegations could have a political motive, or at the very least Monahan is a pawn in a political game.
Throughout the world, journalists and the profession are under attack. We are demonized and vilified. We are called fake news. The Star Tribune and Alpha News, in this instance, didn’t do our profession any favors.