A stack of newspapers, in this case the LA Times.

Photo: Daniel R. Blume on Flickr

Fox News.com contributor Richard Benedetto thinks Dana Milbank’s February moratorium on Sarah Palin betrays the noble ideals of journalism.

Let me repeat that. FOX NEWS.COM CONTRIBUTOR Richard Benedetto thinks Dana Milbank’s February moratorium on Sarah Palin betrays the noble ideals of journalism.


Holding back information is the antithesis of what journalism is all about. Declaring a blanket moratorium on mentioning a certain newsmaker falls under the definition of censorship.

In Dean Clark parlance, let the ideas — all ideas — compete freely and openly. The best ones will eventually win. But singling out someone for non-coverage because we don’t like them or don’t agree with their views violates that basic tenet, whether it is conservative Palin or some outspoken figures on the liberal left such as Michael Moore or Al Sharpton.

Culled entirely from links surrounding his op-ed, here are some things currently winning the glorious competition of ideas Benedetto thinks we have going on right now:

Gays Escalate Assault on Chick-Fil-A

A Nice, Wholesome Hooters Girl for the Kids

DANA PERINO: How Obama Could Use the State of the Union to Put Some Spark Back Into His ‘Marriage’ With America

A scantily clad waitress role model, gays besieging fast food, and Dana Perino refusing to believe that the president’s just not that into her. Those don’t constitute the antithesis of what journalism is all about. Those are fine. What will cause the entire structure of the world to cave in on itself is Dana Milbank deciding not to breathlessly quote whatever ill-spelt nonsense Sarah Palin regurgitates into the chirping mouths of her Twitter followers. THAT is a bridge too far.

Benedetto seems to believe that he and his fellow Fox-bots have jobs because their ideas won a free and fair competition for people’s attention. Because if journalism is a meritocracy, in which only the best ideas get a hearing, and he’s getting a hearing, well, then his ideas must be the best! And Dana Milbank must not be allowed to question the formula lest it flatten the whole house of cards.

For what it’s worth, I actually appreciate Milbank’s acknowledgment, entirely too rare in journalism, that the choices journalists make about which stories to cover are just that: choices. That those choices set an agenda and direct the public conversation and those who have a large microphone do, in fact, have influence and can make decisions about how to use it.

However, Milbank’s moratorium comes across overall as just a blatant, link-whoring attempt to get anybody alive right now to give a tinker’s curse what Dana Milbank thinks.  American journalism would be much better served by other types of self-policing, like a ban on round-the-clock weather coverage every time there’s an inch of snow in Chicago.

What would YOU like to see a news moratorium on?


[Ed. Note: Please welcome Allison to the FDL family. You may know her as Athenae. Watertiger will be taking a break from her weekly Late Night slot, but assures us that she will be back and has helped us to convince Allison to pick up the Monday Late Night slot.]

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.