The distinction I make, and others, is between neutral and objective. Very often, as a matter of professional practice, these will be the same thing, but they’re not identical. Journalists should aim, as should scholars, to be objective, to report all factual and evdientiary elements of stories with an open and fair mind. This includes the critical mental faculty of being able to recognize clear truth and falsity, and even the moral character of a story. Objective is not Mr. Churchill claimed and Mr. Hitler denied the claim. That’s neutral. Objective is Churchill is a man of notable flaws and failures who seems to be achieving greatness, for as long as it may last, at the quite late age of 64. Hitler is a mass, genocidal murder who has conquered most of Europe and will destroy liberal democracy if he can. If journalists know any of these things to be true, it is professionally irresponsible — and, I think, a moral failing, not to report them. It is not a reporter’s job to be neutral between the truth and a lie. That’s a stenographer.

Professor of English, writer, roper of stars

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