Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Calling out the media

The further you get from power, the closer you get to truth. - Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers uttered this brilliant comment during an interview with Amy Goodwin on "Democracy Now," when discussing his latest double-barrel blast of the news media's coverage of the buildup to the war in Iraq. In his documentary 'Buying the War,' Moyers takes just about everyone to task for failing to ask the basic questions anyone would expect of a real news reporter: is my source credible? Does he or she have an ulterior motive? Can I dig deeper and find a differing story?

Investigative reporting is dying out in this country. The corporations who now own us don't like it; or perhaps they fear it. How can they be sure we won't turn the microscope on them one day?

Greg Palast, an American who writes for the BBC, recently reported:

I’ve been through this before, too many times. Take this investigative report, also buried in the U.S.: Back in December 2000, I received two computer disks from the office of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Analysis of the data, plus documents that fell my way, indicated that Harris’ office had purged thousands of African Americans from Florida’s voter rolls as “felons.” Florida now admits that many of these voters were not in fact felons. Nevertheless, the blacklisting helped cost Al Gore the White House.

I reported on the phony felon purge in Britain’s Guardian and Observer and on the BBC while Gore was still in the race, while the count was still on.

Yet the story of the Florida purge never appeared in the U.S. daily papers or on television. Until months later, that is, after the Supreme Court had decided the election, when it was picked up by the Washington Post and others.

U.S. papers delayed the story until the U.S. Civil Rights Commission issued a report saying our Guardian/BBC story was correct: Innocents lost their vote. At that point, protected by the official imprimatur, American editors felt it safe enough to venture out with the story. But by then, George W. Bush could read it from his chair in the Oval Office.

Not only has investigative reporting disappeared, thanks to the dominance of the 'sound bite,' and general laziness (my opinion,) but basic journalistic standards seem to have been tossed to the wayside. I'm talking about injecting thought into writing... not simply writing down whatever comes out of the mouth of the source you are 'interviewing,' typing it up and handing it in. And this assumes there are actually interviews taking place. From watching that fake news conference Bush staged before the Iraq war, one has to wonder if the journalists are asking questions or the administration is simply feeding propaganda.

This isn't journalism - any tape recorder is capable of this much. Are there no trained journalists working in the business these days? Are they now operating under a smothering, corporate gag order? My alma mater seems to still be turning them out every year... so where are they going, and why aren't they checking their facts before rushing the story? Is the competition to be first on a story so fierce - and the standards for accuracy now so lax - that its no longer fiscally productive to spend time verifying your 'news' is actually true?

Thank God Moyers is back. Many reputable newspapers are finally returning to real news coverage (and even investigative work) in print, but this is not the case on television. Many of us are driven to Jon Stewart for our 'spoonful of sugar' - and a drop of actual news we won't find on network news. We're all desperate for an alternative to the blowdried, shiny-eyed talking heads on the network news channels.

I think most Americans are now aware that the 'news' they are getting on TV isn't really news at all, but only the sensationalism du jour. Those who want real news now turn to the BBC, Democracy Now, or a variety of alternative news sources on the web... and of course, Jon Stewart and hero Stephen Colbert, of White House Correspondents Dinner fame.

Stewart had a hilarious - if maddening - bit on how the television media was actually patting themselves on the back for their coverage of the VT shootings. If I hadn't been laughing at Stewart's delivery, I would have been throwing up. These being the same blathering TV media idiots that I referred to as 'ghouls' while still trying to get real information during the crisis, as it unfolded 'live' on television. That they actually took the time to gloat afterwards over their blatantly sensationalist coverage is sickening - but not surprising. I suppose by ghoul standards, they did a ghoulishly good job.

Now we have Bill Moyers again! With a little luck - and perhaps a little American common sense thrown into the mix - people will simply stop watching network news and find the news where it is: just about anywhere else on cable.

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Blogger Kayleigh said...

Just randomly flipping thru blogs and came across yours -- LOVE it! I too am thrilled that Bill Moyers is back -- finally, a REAL journalist!

Thanks for your blog :)

12:13 PM  

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