CAMPAIGN TO MUZZLE THE MEDIA
Wingnut radio hosts want to burn down Newsweek and WaPo (owner of Newsweek). Michael Isikoff and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. (owner of the NY Times) are traitors and should be executed, says Michael Savage, host of The Savage Nation. Hannity and the crew are foaming at the mouth about the evils of mainstream journalism. In the past few days I've heard some of the ugliest, hate-filled speech I can ever remember, and it's all because the press ONCE IN A WHILE doesn't cooperate with the right-wing's systematic attempts to control all the information the American public and the world receive about this administration and the consequences of its policies.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote: "The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
The Founding Fathers obviously agreed. The VERY FIRST amendment to the Constitution included protections for the press: "Congress shall make no law ...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Note there are no exceptions for times of war or other national crises; it reads NO LAW.
Republicans and other right-wingers are waging a kind of jihad against our media, while the world asks, "How can the Americans not already know these things?" It seems they are better informed and better served by their media than we are. And they know where the blame for the recent riots in Muslim countries should more properly be levied.
I'm constantly amazed at how abysmally uninformed some of the brightest people I know seem to be about current events at a time when our nation is in crisis and the entire world threatens to erupt in flames. But then I reflect that that may be precisely why they are the way they are. Our people are so full of fear that they find it easier to carry on their lives if they're not daily faced with another looming disaster or outrage. It's why they're more interested in Michael Jackson's trial or the tale of a runaway bride -- those kinds of reports offer no threat to their own lives. The Bush administration and its allies have successfully reduced our populace to quivering wusses, and the people would just as soon the media not intrude upon their protective bubbles of cognitive dissonance.
Even as the furor fades, the specter of self-censorship weighs heavily on the U.S. press. Journalists are now under intense pressure to avoid reporting other items about abuses in detention that might incur the wrath of the White House, or be used by as kindling by radical politicians in the Muslim world. The silence of a free press about the U.S. record of detention abuses, and how this abuse has hurt America's standing abroad, would be yet another tragedy to add to the lives lost in the riots.