Linda Douglass, who for years worked in television journalism, spoke to Howard Kurtz about becoming Barack Obama’s spokeswoman:
[Obama] wants me to tell the truth. Coming from a background in journalism as opposed to PR, that was really the thing I wanted to hear.
Speaking truth to power being more a priority for journalists than public relations folks.
And yet further along in Kurtz’s piece Douglass confesses that as Obama’s spokeswoman, at first:
I was afraid I’d slip into on-one-hand/on-the-other-hand mode. I think reporters are constantly struggling with themselves to suppress their own opinions.
Suppressing one’s opinion being more a priority for journalists than public relations folks.
To recap: As Obama’s spokeswoman, happily charged with “telling the truth,” Douglass feared she’d “slip” into something journalists do that obscures truth (as much as it does opinion) — that is, present two sides (and/or give two likely unequal things seemingly equal footing) and leave it to the audience to figure out which is closer to the truth (or that/how they’re unequal).
What if it didn’t take a departure from journalism to free a journalist to say which “hand” holds the closer-to-the-truth argument (and why)? In her position as candidate spokesperson, Douglass may feel she is speaking “truth” but to her former colleagues, she’ll just be providing “one hand” or “the other.”
Liz Cox Barrett is a freelance writer and graphic designer in Kalispell, Montana. She worked as a newspaper journalist in Denver and Kalispell for 20 years.