RIP Freedom of the Press

Several news items this past week indicate that the time has come for American voters to prepare a memorial service for Freedom of the Press:

The Sunday morning Republican Propaganda Battalion reassured a gullible audience that American questioning tactics, such as waterboarding, was acceptable military conduct. 

Some winners of the newly awarded Pulitzer Prizes had already been laid-off.

Websites which strive to present an alternative point of view to refute the unrelenting torrent of Republican talking points presented in main stream media were struggling for donations to continue their effort to conduct a debate and prevent a one-sided monologue from being disguised as a fair and balanced effort to keep voters informed about the issues.

Did the Sunday morning reassurances about waterboarding include any references to what was said about “following orders” at the Nuremberg War Crime Trials, or did those pontificating pundits rely solely on their reputations as “journalists” to infer that they had an expert’s command of the topic?

Have you seen any news stories lately about how the “every vote counts” gang is doing in their efforts to prevent Al Franken from taking his seat in the Senate?

What happened to the Republican attorney-general appointees from the Bush era who should have been replaced at the start of a new Democratic administration?

It used to be that genuine journalists, such as Edward R. Murrow, were permitted to punctuate their reports (such as the ones he made from London during the Battle of Britain) with opinions about what the events meant and what the most likely consequences would be. 

Do you think that if the drawdown of American troops from Iraq precipitates a resurgence of the insurgency, the resulting increase in American casualties will force the new President to make a cancelation of the troop reduction tactic imperative?  If the insurgents operating in Iraq could deliver such an embarrassment to the American leadership, what possible reason could there be for them not to do that?

If Osama had actually won the War on Terrorism and achieved his goals of destroying the American business structure, reducing the American military superiority to a debate topic, and eluding his own capture, would the slaves on the Propaganda plantation (Faux News?) concede or report that victory?  Isn’t it more likely that they would – like the band of the Titanic – just keep playing the same old tunes they always performed (on command) and hope the audience didn’t notice reality?

If (as long as we are dabbling in speculation) the Talaban takes over control of Pakistan, will that be good for business at Blackwater?  If the Talaban gains control in Pakistan will there be some new lucrative contracts for Blackwater precipitated by some (hypothetical at this point) American military move to reverse such an occurrence?  If Blackwater stand to profit would Republicans interpret that turn of events as “good for business”?  If something would be good for business, would the Republicans support it?  What’s not to like about a company that has an increase in business during a recession?

While preparing to write this column, we spoke with a citizen of Germany and he noted that because of the role corrupt journalism played in bolstering their Chancelor-for-life’s power grab, back in the Thirties, they specifically wrote new rules into their new Constitution keeping journalism separate from any alliances with political parties.  Gee wouldn’t one cable news network have blown a fuse if they had been in existence when that bit of Constitutional debate was being conducted in Bonn?

If the web sites that strive mightily to counteract the overwhelming preponderance of Republican talking points, which are coyly presented as facts, fall victim to the economic realities of hard times, who then will be left to refute any falsehoods and or distortions? 

The Republican idea of debate most often resembles (metaphorically speaking) the military tactics used by the troops that crossed the frozen Chosin Reservoir.  Some accounts of those events report that artillery weapons were fired point blank at the charging enemy troops but that didn’t turn the tide. Nothing could stop the hordes of charging troops.  See the resemblance to Republican talking points, now?

Freedom of the Press has been doing the Cheshire cat disappearing act since Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election but the people who reaped the rewards of that change are, ironically, the very ones who should have been sounding the alarm.  It is a vivid example of the concept of the sleeping sentry.

Edward R. Murrow risked his career to bring a warning to the American public.  These days network talking heads seem to have converted to the “ya gotta go along to get along” philosophy of winning the ratings competition. 

There are several books that attempted to direct the voters attention to this covert attack on one of democracy’s cornerstones, (“Lapdogs:  How the Press Rolled Over for Bush” is one example) but those books did not generate talk show topics or alarmist editorials in the nation’s leading newspapers.  Why do you suppose that happened?

If this trend is upsetting, then the reader of this column can promote alternative sources of dissention and, when asked, make monetary contributions to bolster and sustain those “Alamo like” attempts to maintain a well informed citizenry, that still exist. 

How much laughter would the failure of a liberal web site elicit from dittoheads?  There was a ship within sight of the sinking Titanic that was perplexed by their neighbor’s use of distress flares. 

When (not if) Freedom of the Press disappears completely in the USA and a memorial service is held, will the leading radio voices of the conservative point of view lament its passing or will they cackle with unrestrained glee?  Or will they just silently wait until they get a chance to secretly dance (or ?) on its grave?

Thomas Jefferson (wasn’t he a famous socialist?) said:  “The freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by a despotic government.”

Now, the disk jockey will play Verdi’s <a href =>Deis Irea</a> and we will silently file out of here.  Have a “use it (freedom of the press) or lose it” type week.


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