Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Kow Tow

Recently a federal prosecutor was able to cajole Time magazine into submitting to the court the notes of its reporter, Matt Cooper, thereby revealing his confidential sources for a story he wrote. Time Inc. felt that it was better to comply with a court order than to protect the integrity of their employees and their company. Time's Editor in Chief Norman Pearlstine explained his decision saying "I think it sets a bad precedent for journalists to think they are above the law, it leads to anarchy. That is one of the reasons the press is held in such low esteem." Indeed, the press is held in low esteem, but not because reporters think themselves 'above the law'. The press is poorly thought of because for the entire Bush presidency they've done nothing but tow the administration line.
Take, for example, the events that brought us to this current imbroglio. In his State of the Union address in the lead up to the occupation of Iraq, Bush claimed that there was evidence that Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase yellowcake from Niger to produce nuclear bombs. Before he decided to bring this statement before our nation as causi bellum, it had already been discredited. Did the press aggressively scrutinize the president's claims? No, they let it pass, calling his bluff only after the war had begun. It was the same way for Bush's other claim that Saddam was buying aluminum tubes for use in a centrifuge. Again, after the war the fourth estate was kind enough to inform us that the materials in question could not be used to produce nuclear weapons.
The press is held in low esteem because they seem to have no voice of their own. Now, when two reporters attempt to bravely protect what little voice they've left, one of their editors under-cuts them, and capitulates to the governments demands. We very much need the press to question the policies and actions of this administration, not go along with and do whatever it says.

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