Thursday, April 21, 2005

Yet Another Sermon To The Choir 

The Village Voice is a veritable cornucopia of worthwhile news this a.m. Among the examples, this piece by Sydney Schanberg on using civil disobedience by journalists to bring the White House back to accountability for its constant perversion of truth and power:
"The falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction that gave the White House the public support to wage war in Iraq may be the most vivid example of the perversion, but the practice permeates all corners of the Bush government.
The press has been grappling with how to cope with this extreme control and distortion of news, some reporters and editors more than others. One possibility they might consider is civil resistance, as in quiet, nonviolent, respectful rebellion."
He goes on to suggest that journalists, when faced with government refusal to respond to legitimate questions or when setting up barriers to the people's right to know, simply refuse to cover their Orwellian photo ops, or go undercover to get the real truth:
"There's absolutely nothing new or outrageous about the methods of journalistic civil disobedience. Those reporters or editors worried about offending officialdom and losing their access should step back and look at history. Reporters from the time of Thucydides have been poking their noses and their physical selves into places where the powers had forbade them to go. In my own 45 years as a reporter, I have often gone into areas, both domestic and foreign, that the press was barred from. It was at times the only way to get the story. At the same time, you knew that under local law, you were trespassing and, if caught, could be arrested or deported—both of which have happened to me and legions of other journalists. You have to be prepared to accept the penalties."
Schanberg is a braver reporter than most, but he lays out the compelling reason why the press must take up this fight:
"One of the reasons the public doesn't have much empathy for the press's troubles is that often they see us as people claiming privilege. Anotherreason—maybe the primary one—is that we haven't made our case with the public. We haven't gotten across why people need us or why what we do is important to the functioning of a free nation. We haven't effectively gotten our readers to understand that if they get lied to by their government or other power centers, and we—or some other watchdogs—don't quickly show them the lie, bad things can happen. People can lose their health insurance or have their homes seized by the bank. And wars can happen and people can die. So we have to find better ways to show them why this is true and therefore why aggressive journalism is a necessity.
The "rights" to information that some in the press cite so automatically are not automatic. They were fought for and won in difficult times. They will have to be fought for now. We have to continually earn them."
Elsewhere in the paper, Nat Hentoff recaps the extent to which Uzbekistan interrogators (you know, the folks who boil people to death) have been helping the CIA pull intelligence out of renditioned captives, nicely juxtaposed against numerous lies and quibbling blather spewed by Bush and Porter Goss over the last few months.

Now, what occurs to me here is that if journalists decided to embrace Schanberg's proposals, a situation like the rendition and subsequent torture of American prisoners to places like Uzbekistan would have been unearthed like the vermin it is and splashed all over the front pages and on the nightly news every day. The lies being fed to us by these people would be exposed and beaten into the ground, not just on little weblogs and in boutique zines and obscure or marginalized organs, but by every paper and television outlet across the nation. It is to our everlasting shame that these outrages have recognized by those beyond our shores for years, while our own reporters come to such recognition kicking and screaming and way too late.

There is nothing less than our national soul at stake here.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


copyright 2003-2010

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?