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Truth and Freedom of the Press

May 21st, 2010 · No Comments · Culture, Media, Politics

It might surprise some people to learn that according to an organization called Reporters without Borders, a group that monitors freedom of the press across all nations, the United States ranks 20th in freedom of the press, behind Denmark, Sweden, and others. But you run out of the very liberal Scandinavian countries after five, so we are still chasing a lot of countries that we might think we should surpass.

On the other hand, we have a lot of freedom of the Press. For example, Glenn Beck has the freedom to call the President of the United States a man who is half-African, a “racist” without any evidence at all. Sean Hannity constantly spreads anti-American propaganda on on national television, on a cable network that potentially reaches millions or on a syndicated radio program broadcast to an audience of millions. He has said that that he admires the tea party members who are “Tim McVeigh wannabees.” Tim McVeigh was the man convicted of and also self-admitted bomber of the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 and seriously injuring 680.

Rush Limbaugh’s support of George W. Bush’s false statements, even before the U.N., are so blatant that they are not only the subject of blog after blog, but even the entire content of books. And yet, he has the freedom to say anything no matter how fraudulent or insulting it may be.

He has said that the stimulus didn’t work, that the President of Mexico is a “ventriloquist’s dummy” (despite the fact that the Mexican drug cartel is going to any effort to assassinate him), that the Sierra Club, an environmental group, “loves disaster,” that President Obama is trying to overthrow “core American values,” that Senator Kerry lied about his (exhaustively examined by the press) service in Viet Nam and that “blue states hate the military.” He’s not alone. There are many others.

Michael Savage is better protected in this country, where he does most of his damage, than he is in Great Britain, to which he is banned from traveling. He is “persona non grata” in England, that is, not allowed in. Savage spews the ugliest of venom every day and then complains that he is attacked for doing so. For example, he calls Harvard Law School President and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, “radical, leftist, red-diaper, doper baby who “looks like she belongs in a kosher deli…”

Savage called Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, a “monster, arrogant, egotistical, maniacal,” and “the most hated woman in American history.” Well, of course, there may be some runners-up for that title, including, maybe, Lizzie Borden and Tokyo Rose, who was actually an American as it turned out. The fact is, that after her brilliant work in passing health care, financial reform and so many other bills passed in the House but still languishing in the Senate, Nancy Pelosi may pass Hillary Clinton as the most admired woman in America.

Charles Krauthammer is one of those formerly medically trained individuals, like the failed doctors in the House and Senate who have entered new, easier careers, being paid by the Right Wing to simply criticize everything done by the Democrats. He says that President Obama has simply acted politically in the oil spill by making the oil companies “scapegoats.” He referred to the Congressional investigations of why Goldman, Sachs needed billions of our money and then paid billions to their executives, as similar to Inca executions.

Ann Coulter, a failed lawyer who is a television commentator and who writes books that are read by an apparently large enough group of Right Wingers to keep her in speaking engagements, says that Liberals root for “savages against civilization” and the ACLU is an “anti-Christian hate group.”

Of course there are others, too many others to mention. Over 90% of voices on the electronic media are Right Wing. It is as simple as that. The Right Wing owns the media and they have the right to put anyone on the air that they choose. That is also freedom of speech.

So contrast our system, in which any megalomaniac with a hundred million dollars can buy a network of a group of radio stations and then launch any lunatic attack on government, or for that matter, any individual citizen that he or she wished to denigrate with the Russian system. You can’t do that in Russia.

Editors in Russia are occasionally beaten by government thugs when they push too hard against the state. A former General who owned a small newspaper wrote against the government’s plan to put a major highway through a pristine forest near Moscow. His car was blown up. Fortunately, he was not in it. He continued his articles on the greed and corruption in the local government. He was threatened and eventually beaten so badly that he was hospitalized and in a coma.

In another town an editor complained that local officials were planning to do away with local elections to keep power. They answered his objections by warning him to cease publication of such accusations. He didn’t. One night he was ambushed and beaten, leaving him with a concussion and many other injuries including a broken nose that put him into intensive care for a month.

And not only are the beatings, and some assassinations, ignored by local governments and spun as some kind of local hooliganism, but the papers themselves become the subject of investigation by local officials on trumped-up criminal activity. Offices are raided, charges are brought and often the people involved in the activities against the editors are the very police executing the raids or the prosecutors bringing the charges.

So which is better…our system, where anyone with money can persuade the dim-witted to vote for Congressional members who will then support health insurance companies that will continue to hold those voters hostage? Or the Russian system, where police will simply come in and shut you down if they don’t like what you say?

The fact is that if your country goes to war against innocent civilians of another country, you didn’t work hard enough to elect the right government. Similarly, if your press is lying constantly, then you aren’t working hard enough to find ways to combat this kind of injustice.

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