Even the New York Times deserves a fair shake, right?
The paper of record issued a sort-of correction this week after chief TV critic Alessandra Stanley (search) (remember the "simpler souls" minder from the Oprah/Hermes column?) wrote in her column that FOX News' Geraldo Rivera (search) "nudged" a rescue worker out of the way so that his camera crew could get a shot of him helping an elderly woman to safety while he was covering Hurricane Katrina.
If that indeed happened, it would have been grandstanding to the Nth degree, and Stanley would have been justified in calling Geraldo out on such a tacky move.
However, it didn't happen.
Even the ombudsman of the Times, Byron Calame, in a column headlined "Even Geraldo Deserves A Fair Shake," wrote that the paper was wrong not to print a correction.
And even though the paper acknowledged that no nudge happened on the tape on which Stanley apparently based her opinion, it fell short of issuing a correction.
Geraldo, for his part, said he's moved on.
What is happening with some of our most established and respected news organizations these days?
Jayson Blair got away with being lazy by playing the race card, and his bosses took the fall. For his part, Blair got a book deal. His bosses resigned in disgrace.
You would think The New York Times would do anything it possibly could to keep ahead of its critics.
Apparently not. Even Calame's op-ed column referred to Rivera as someone who could be "best described by a four letter word." What the heck does that even mean?
This week, former "Evening News" anchor Dan Rather told former NBC Newsman Marvin Kalb that he wants to re-open his pursuit of the President Bush National Guard service story that pretty much cost him his career but that CBS "wouldn't let him do it."
Wow. Is Rather really that stubborn?
That botched story gave CBS News its biggest black eye since 1995, when Connie Chung interviewed Newt Gingrich's mother and got her to say that her son, then the speaker of the House, thought Hillary Clinton was a b-tch — assuring her it was "just between you and me."
I don't know what was worse: Chung's manipulation of an old woman unaccustomed to the wily ways of big media, or CBS producers actually airing that part of the interview.
The point is, these are well-established news organizations founded on the principles of some of the most respected men and women who have ever worked in journalism.
Nothing — not the bloggers, not the cable news networks and not the Internet — should be able to topple the prestige and trust that these organizations have earned for so many years.
Unfortunately, the organizations are doing a pretty good job toppling themselves.
By the way, I'm kidding about calling this Geraldo situation Geraldo-Gate. Grrr! readers know that attaching "gate" to every scandal under the sun is a major Grrr!