Salute to Fareed Zakaria: Hero of Objective Journalism

In a news media world filled with slanted coverage, I applaud a true hero to the cause of objective, fact-filled journalism – Fareed Zakaria.

Dr. Zakaria (Ph.D. from Harvard) has dedicated his career to share as much factual information as he can uncover – particularly from beyond American boundaries. As host of CNN’s weekly (Sunday) show GPS, he has interviewed numerous heads of state, such as, Barack Obama, the Premier of China, the President of Rwanda, Manmohan Singh, King Abdullah II, Dmitry Medvedev. He is also Editor at Large of TIME, a Washington Post columnist, and a New York Times bestselling author. He does not restrict his investigations to international events and has taken on such issues as the US budget to help comprehend and explain its intricacies.

Although not unfriendly, he directs his interviews to reveal inconsistencies. He allows his subjects to respond and gives them as much time as they need, but he perseveres if they do not answer his direct questions. He carefully reviews and criticizes US foreign policy, and is well respected for his prognostications, particularly on foreign affairs.

From our—the viewers’—perspective, we can expect that his treatment –although journalistic – has an intellectual integrity that is frequently lacking in much of the coverage we view or read today. I was not surprised to learn that he was the managing editor of Foreign Affairs for eight years. As a political science major, I am very familiar with this journal, and respect the journal’s scholastic articles.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have opinions. He surely does, and he lets us know. But his opinions are supported with facts. For example, he recently did a special on America’s healthcare system and reached the conclusion that:

“America’s health care system is broken. Our healthy life expectancy, the standard measurement, ranks only 29th in the world – behind Slovenia. Our infant mortality rate ranks 30th – more than twice that of Sweden and Japan. And for this sub-par care, we pay more than any other nation in the world. Almost one out of every five dollars spent in America is spent on health care.” For more, go to http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/16/watch-gps-special-saving-health-care/

He also encourages all of us to read. At the end of every GPS show, he recommends a book.

Today’s journalists vary in their approach to bring us news. We see the courage of the foreign correspondents such as Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin who both died in Syria while covering that conflict. And then we see the TV so-called news dedicated to influence us. I do not deny the right of the influencing-style newscasters. But I do so wish there were more of Fareed Zakaria, Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin.

With apologies to Walter Cronkite: thanks, Zakaria, for “telling it like it is” not “like what you want to make it to be.”

Some facts recently shared by Fareed:

• The United States accounts for nearly half the world’s military spending
• America produces 200 times as much oil as Germany, but our gas prices rise and fall in tandem with them (we pay far lower gas taxes). Despite what the GOP says, Obama is not setting oil and gas prices (global growth and geopolitics are determining price).
• In 2005, oil imports accounted for nearly 60 percent of America’s daily consumption. In 2010, for the first time in recent memory, imports were less than half of consumption, and last year, imports were only 45% — 8.6 million barrels a day of the 19 million consumed.

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