When the search for ‘balance’ goes too far

WHEN THE SEARCH FOR ‘BALANCE’ GOES TOO FAR…. Gawker ran a copy of an email sent by CNN’s Gary Hewing yesterday, looking for ideas about covering the “good side” of the BP oil spill disaster. In fact, the summary line of the CNN message specifically said, “The Good Side of the Oil Spill.”

1) Summary: The Good Side of the Oil Spill

Name: Gary Hewing (CNN)
Category: Biotech and Healthcare

Media Outlet: CNN

Deadline: 04:00 PM EST – 2 June


Looking for pitches: The Good Side of the Oil Spill – if there is any.

Hmm, good side. Let me think … ecological disaster, economic catastrophe, environmental nightmare, health problems, years of regional anguish … I’m sure there’s some good news hiding in there somewhere.

I realize the need to air “both sides” of a story is gospel at many media outlets, but can we agree that sometimes, disasters are just disasters?

Update: I spoke directly with a CNN spokesperson, who insisted that the story is not true. Though the message, as listed above, describes the media outlet as “CNN,” and identifies Gary Hewing as being with CNN, the network spokesperson I talked to explained that Hewing is not a CNN employee. “He is not working on CNN’s behalf and should not be identified as such,” the spokesperson said.

Gawker, who originally published the “good side” request, added that “there is a Twitter account for Gary Hewing (CNNGary) which says he books shows for CNN Radio, we can’t find any other documentation of him being employed by CNN.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.