Monday, December 19, 2005

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO MANUFACTURE

Back in the mid-‘70s, when the mainstream news media still had a modicum of integrity, the utility company where I worked as a junior PR executive received a surprise visit by a group of community activists protesting electricity rates.

Accompanied by a local TV reporter, the protestors attempted to gain access to our chairman’s office. Because the chairman had received a death threat from Manson Family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, we’d installed automatic locks on doors leading from the reception area to the executive offices. I met the group at one door, physically barring them so it would require an assault on my person to gain entry. We had reached a standstill until the TV reporter held open a side door through which an employee had just passed and ushered the protestors into the executive suite. It took the police to get them to leave, and the entire confrontation was caught on camera.

I called the TV station to ask that they pull the story because their reporter had been an active participant, rather than a simple chronicler of events. The station complied.

My, how times have changed.

In its latest attempt to undermine President Bush, our troops and the War on Terror, The New York Times last week published a news story exposing a top secret National Security Agency communications intercept program aimed at preempting acts of terror against the United States. The president acknowledged authorizing the program under his powers as Commander in Chief during wartime, and noted that many of the very Democratic Party leaders in Congress who are now feigning shock and outrage were fully briefed on it.

What is important about this story from a media integrity perspective is that The New York Times had it and held it for a year in order to create maximum political damage just as the Patriot Act was coming up for renewal. In other words, the Times was an active participant in manufacturing the news, rather than a chronicler of events, as is their charge.

This is certainly not the first time this has happened; the Times and other so-called mainstream media organizations regularly act as operatives of the Democratic Party, through acts of commission (as in the NSA story), acts of omission (covering only one side of the story) and repetition (I stopped counting after the Times ran more than 60 stories on unauthorized abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, for which the perpetrators were court martialed).

Examples of blatant media bias and complete lack of integrity abound:
· The Los Angeles Times held its story alleging inappropriate behavior by Arnold Schwarzenegger until just before California’s gubernatorial election, in an attempt to influence voters;
· The New York Times failed to cover a major scandal in its own backyard involving highly questionable “loans” by the Brooklyn-based Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club to the failed leftist radio program Air America;
· Strong evidence of cooperation between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein dating back to the 1990s that has been completely ignored by the mainstream press (Read The Connection by Stephen F. Hayes);
· Dan Rather’s phony Bush National Guard story;
· The mainstream media’s complete failure to investigate Kerry’s Vietnam medals and involvement with the fraudulent Winter Soldier Project, which had fake Vietnam veterans joining Kerry in leveling untrue war crimes charges against all American forces in Vietnam;
· One-sided reporting on the Joe Wilson-Valerie Plame affair when it was clear that Joe Wilson had a political axe to grind against the president, had inside help (and freedom to publish) from rogue elements within the CIA, and lied about his findings;
· Leftist-spin reporting on the Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha’s cut-and-run-from-Iraq bill, which, when Republicans called Democrats’ bluff and put immediate withdrawal to an up or down vote, Murtha himself voted against the measure;
· Just about all mainstream media reporting on Iraq or President Bush, which focuses exclusively only on the negative.

When you consider these and countless other violations of honesty and objectivity by the mainstream media and add to that the scandals involving phony reporting by The New York Times’ own Jason Blair, among others, it makes you wonder how anyone but a Democrat ideologue could have any faith whatsoever in what passes for news today. The question is: What is to be done about it?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, so it is difficult to imagine any circumstance under which the government would try to abridge that basic right, although in past conflicts, including World War II, the news media were subject to government censorship. Another right granted under the First Amendment—freedom of speech—does have some legally recognized restrictions, such as the “crying fire in a crowded theater” exception. Moreover, public figures, primarily actors, have had some success in recent years suing supermarket tabloids for liable or invasion of privacy. But there are some things government, and we, the public, can do to make the media more accountable for their actions.

First, we can cancel our subscriptions to offending newspapers and magazines and turn the channel away from biased television and radio news. This is already happening. Nationwide, newspaper circulation is plummeting, as more and more people turn to the internet or other sources. In part, this phenomenon is due to an ever-expanding array of media choices, as is the case with the equally alarming decline in motion picture box office receipts. But an equally valid reason may be that Americans can recognize basic fairness and are turned off as much by biased reporting as they are by political views pushed by know-nothing singers and actors.

Next, the White House should ban reporters from the most egregiously biased media outlets (The New York Times being one of the worst), as well as correspondents who do not exhibit proper respect for the office in their manner of questioning. Cut them off from press conferences and other events and let them get their information from other elsewhere.

When secret information is leaked to the news media by government personnel, as was the case in the intelligence intercepts and The Washington Post’s story on CIA terrorist prisons overseas, Republicans should take a page from the Democrats’ Valerie Plame playbook and appoint a special prosecutor to track down and punish the leakers, while forcing the reporters to reveal their sources.

Finally, smug editors and television news executives need to start policing themselves if they hope to hold onto their rapidly dwindling audiences. Leftist media moguls may scoff at Fox News, but there is a reason why the cable network is cleaning their clocks when it comes to ratings…

It’s a little thing called “fair and balanced.”

2 Comments:

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Jeannie said...

Way to go! Very well put!!!! I can't wait for news organizations like The New York Times (a.k.a. DNC Times), CNN and others tumble down to the status of the Enquirer and the Weekly World News.

 
At 5:46 AM, Blogger Bill Kirk said...

ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO MANUFACTURE

Bill K. said...
Great ideas but I fear that most everyone who is paying attention already has implemented these ideas. The question is how do you get the incredibly biased folks and those not paying attention to dump the MSM? Maybe you don't but perhaps someone can devise a chipping away program so that in a few years more are converted to the truth.

 

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