This was not an easy question.
Ethical, professional and decency standards are community and context dependent
and you really did not described the context in sufficient detail.
Did the guest, Yvone Prenosilova talked about PM's policies or his physique?
(see definition of physique here).
If they discussed politics, Yvone's statement could be considered ad'hominem
attack, in other case, just an example in poor taste.
Logical Fallacy: The Ad Hominem
In both cases, the 'publisher' (broadcasting company) and 'editor'
(moderator) has certain
responsibility imposed on them by the professional ethics.
Somewhat similar incident happened in US in the 2004 presidential campaign:
(You asked for the search method. I will give you the search terms I have used,
most producing nothing useful, which makes it a dificult question. In this case
I recalled an incident which was also in similar bad taste and which
compared US president to Hitler. so I entered those two names to the
Here is that story:
RNC complains | MoveOn responds
"The liberal activist site MoveOn ran a contest, Bush in 30 Seconds,
in which people were invited to create and submit political TV ads
critical of the Bush Administration, with the winning entry to air in
swing states and on national television. (CBS has refused to air the
winning ad during the Super Bowl, however.)
Republicans expressed new-found outrage, and the corporate media
dutifully tsk-tsked. MoveOn pulled the ads from their contest Website.
Not excatly a same situation, but it indicates how broadcaster would act
if this would happen on a live show: If Interviwer would not 'pull ot off'
the broadcaster may 'pull off' the editor.
Of course, most 'live' shows have a delay to filter out 'bad words'
as describe here:
"Nasty Language on Live TV Renews Old Debate
FCC Takes Heat for Ruling on Adjectival Usage
"'this this a live show, watch the bad language.'" [Paris Hilto said].
Richie paid no attention, using a vulgar substitute for the
exclamation "shoot." The broadcast, which employed a five-second delay
to catch obscenities, bleeped out the offending word. But Richie was
one step ahead. Before Fox could hit the "dump" button again, she
described her time on "The Simple Life," in which she and Hilton live
with an Arkansas farm family. She repeated the word and then added one
for good measure..."
In these cases, government was not directly involved, but FCC does fine
broadcasters who violate 'the standards of decency'. Well known example is the
famous 'wardrobe malfunction' (another search term from memory) which is
so famous it got wikipeadia page:
Another 'world-wide' debate of 'free speach' vs 'offensive speach'
SEARCH TERMS: cartoon prophet
GSST: free spech limits
brings lot of debates on the limits (which e.g. in US are less then in the UK)
but which end at 'slander' 'exciting public violence', in most countries
also 'racial hatred'.
Somewhat weaker from of the 'critique of sitting president' was the case
of Dixie Chicks, (from Texas) who said:
, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States
is from Texas," the tremors in the conservative country music scene
were seismic. The Chicks, whose previous two CDs had hit No. 1 on both
the pop and country charts, lost album sales and radio play. Some fans
stomped their discs to bits..."
Of course, government did nothing in this case. At least not openly.
US government is using more sophisticated methods nthese days, such as:
Prepackaged Television News
"To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on
the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three.
The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The
"reporter" covering airport safety was actually a public relations
professional working under a false name for the Transportation
Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the
Agriculture Department's office of communications..."
So, in US, as an example, the congress sets certain minimal standards of
decency and FCC (executive branch) does enforce them with fines.
The standards are more loose for newspapers and even more for Internet.
The editor is responsible to select guests who know and observe the rules
of public debate. Depends on context. Satirical shows are have different
standarts. See e.g. (transcript of) the Daily Show.
Interviewer would not be expected to 'interrupt a guest - that's rude.
(Inextreme case 'break for commercial' and sort it off-screen :-)
But he or she would add some balancing response pointing out that such
statements are not appropriate. If he/she would not have the skill to handle
a dificult guest, they may be demoted.
The question gets even more dificult of the station is public,
supported by taxpayer.
Publisher/editor is still responsible for keeping a discussion on
decent standard. Supervising body should consider long term
performance of a sation
and supervising commitee should be bi-partisan.
Here are the other GTS I tried:
GST (Google Search Terms) - is what one eneters to the Search Engine:
standards of debate, moderator
How to interview
TV interview , rules ethics , standards
This one brought 'ethical rules' of publicly supported, respected,
ethics of TV interview
code of Conduct for Digital Television
Here is an example of the adversarial, and well moderated debate between two
experienced publick speakers.
As you see, they do not use similar methods: My opponents looks like a bad guy
Perhaps the one more GST can be useful:
SEARCH TERMS: Rules parliamentary procedures
The guides which search engines bring up, summarise methods which,
over the decades, were found useful in producing effective public speach.
I US, these rules are tought in highschools and most colleges.
This may be one reason that I was not able to find many closer examples.
Please, feel free to ask for clarification, as needed.
The comments are most defintely invited, as this to a degree an opinion.
Clarification of Answer by
14 Jun 2006 21:47 PDT
Let's clarify this issue:
2. The problem is, Prenosilova is not the one who was punished -the
moderator of the show was punished.
We need to differentiate between two very different issues:
1) Freedom of speech - which includes right to criticize the government
2) Professional competence and journalistic standards of a journalist
To punish Prenosilova would violate the basic right of free speech,
right to criticize the government. Her comparison may have been (was)
shocking, in poor taste and poor debating technique, but it did not
cross the boundary of protected speech (see references below).
To punish a journalist or editor is a different issue. Standard is higher:
When I buy newspaper, I do not expect a series of statements, which may be
protected by free speech, but are biased and ad'hominem attacks, such as
politician A is an idiot, (a nazi, a mafia figure ..)
No, you are an idiot (a nazi, a mafia figure ..)
You are even more stupid a communist to boot...
Those I can get on an Internet forum for free.
They may all be protected a political speech.
When I buy newspaper (turn on TV ..) I expect that some professional
did his/her work:
She checked the sources, she presented both sides of the story. She
who are experts, have special knowledge, etc. She provided
information about the issue.
If journalist does not do that, I will buy a different paper, and
journalist may loose
her job. That is not an issue of free speech, but of professional competence.
An example of the difference can be seen in story of Don Rather:
"his journalistic credentials were questioned during the 2004
Presidential campaign between George W. Bush and John Kerry. Rather
retired, possibly under pressure, as the anchor of the CBS evening
news at 7:00 eastern time, 9 March 2005..."
"retired, possibly under pressure " is probably euphemism for 'fired'.
See more under SS "Dan Rather" and "Rathergate".
Rather was not fired because he presented materials accusing the president.
Person who made up those materials was not punished either.
Rather lost some credibility because he did not recognized the materials
are not verifiable. After he published the accusation he found that
"that the memos attributed to her late boss are fake - .."
but that was to late. He (or his staff) were supposed to check that before the
accusation was published.
So, there are two different issues:
1) what are limit of free speech for a citizen?
2) What are professional duties of a journalist (moderator, editor ...)
Let's look for references on both:
Search term: limits on the free speech
No country permits completely free speech. Typically, it is limited by
prohibitions against libel, defamation, obscenity, judicial or
parliamentary privilege and what have you
SEARCH TERMS for in http://scholar.google.com/
limits on the free speech, 1st amendment
free speech.,1st amendment, slander
Halving Pahlavi Matsuda, Mari J.
Worlds that wound : critical race theory, assaultive speech, and
the First Amendment / Mari J. Matsuda...[et al.]
Boulder : Westview Press, 1993
8, 160 s. ; 23 cm
ISBN 0-8133-8428-1 (bro?.)
Tobacco advertising and children: The limits of first amendment protection
KLC Wong - Journal of Business Ethics, 1996 - Springer
re 2) To put it simply : presentation should be verified, fair and balanced
Of course 'fair and balanced' became a joke lately:
It is a motto of
It is lampooned (satirized) here
The Most Biased Name in News
In fact, wrapping itself in slogans like "Fair and balanced" and "We
report, ... Fox News Channel is committed to being fair and balanced
in the coverage of ...
Search terms: what's fit to print,
journalism, code of ethics
The New York Times's masthead logo, "All The News That's Fit to
Print," dates back to 1896, the first year of Ochs-Sulzberger family
control of the paper
All the news stuff that's fit to print
Rule One of Journalism: Verify ...
It's a complex and open issue. Here , as a bonus, are some links on
When Are Nazi Comparisons Deplorable?
and a movie
And, in conclusion, it is often better to rate the answer only AFTER
It motivates the researcher to clarify the issues in more details.