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Barton Wants To Investigate TV News

If one powerful House committee chairman has his way, the Hill will hold hearings on the TV news divisions' editing practices.

That threat comes in the wake of the CBS National Guard document debacle, in which 60 Minutes failed to sufficiently vet documents used to buttress criticisms of the National Guard service of another Texas Republican, George W. Bush.

Joe Barton (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, told a TV engineering trade group audience in Washington Wednesday that TV news operations "need to have safeguards" to prevent reporters from infusing their opinions into news reports.

He said he would hold such hearings after the election.

In his initial remarks to DTV trade group MSTV, Barton said that Congress might need to pass some kind of legislation requiring TV news operations to instill such safeguards. However, he backed away from the threat of legislation when asked to give specifics.

Barton suggested the problem may be changing standards and implied that TV news was less reliable than print. Barton said that in today's world of instant gratificatoin of reality TV many news personalities did not start their careers as "real journalists" in the print media.