Commentators have to be careful about what they say. The Granddaddy of broadcasting, NBC, tells its commentators "keep your personal political opinions to yourself."
NBC is following an old-fashioned concept of journalism.
Fox News encourages outspokenness and first-person voices. Fox News is the number one, most listened to Network, by audiences. On Fox News all the commentators keep reminding you that they Tweet or Facebook their opinions .
(Oh God, why in the world, how in the world, did ramblings, spur of the moment blanket statements, private half-formed bla-bla become popular? I remember, do you remember when news was news and nobody said "see me, read me on Tweet, Facebook or Online?)
The new way for commentators to behave is not dictated by rules in a memo. If more and more people are watching, and advertisers are buying time while you're on the air, 1. be careful who and what you attack and smile. 2. don't show your opinion too strongly and smile. 3. smile a lot. (If someone sues, you can say you were joking.)
Meanwhile, MSNBC's commentator, Joe Scarborough was fined and suspended for a couple of days, and so was commentator Keith Olberman. (Both had broken NBC's policy, and made unauthorized donations to political candidates they supported .)
Rick Sanchez was canned at CNN for saying that Jews dominate the media. Juan Williams was fired by NPR for saying that he gets nervous seeing airline passengers "in Muslim garb." Veteran columnist, Helen Thomas retired under fire after saying Israelis should " get the hell out of Palestine." Political reporter David Weigel was dropped by the Washington Post for criticizing some conservatives. CNN's Octavia Nasr lost her job for saying that she respected a deceased Hezbollah leader who had opposed honor killings of women.
It's there -- you have be very, very careful! And don't use the wrong-evil-bad N word, or F or S or any of the old ways of referring to gays.
Should I tape my mouth, zip up, not say I don't like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin -- or that John Boehner upsets me? I haven't recovered from him in March, when he blurted out a violent, angry opinion about the health care vote. I don't admire Pope Benedict -- he's avoided the issue of priests abusing kids, and ... well ... there are other people that seriously bother me.
Oh dear ...
Well, I'm my own boss. I am not controlled or paid or on a salary, or following anyone's rules but my own, which are 1. be careful, 2. don't use vulgar swear words, 3. answer all messages from readers who disagree with me.
Commentators have to be careful about what they say. I don't!
I'm a blogger, as in blo, and ogger, so I'll keep on blo-ING ogger-ING with my mouth not zipped-up!