Friday, December 2, 2005 10:46 AM
|28/11/05||Bush’s War on the Press|
A host of recent developments have made it clear that the Bush White House is doing battle against the journalistic standards and practices that underpin of our democracy. With its unprecedented campaign to undermine and stifle independent journalism, Bush & Co. have demonstrated brazen contempt for the Constitution and considerable fear of an informed public.
Free Press has launched a campaign to chronicle and combat Bush’s war on the press. Today, we published www.freepress.net/presswar a new report showing the scope and intensity of the administration’s assault on press freedoms. The growing list of attacks on the press is truly astonishing:
Infiltrating Public Broadcasting
Tomlinson’s goal was clearly to fire a shot across the bow of all public stations so managers would shy away from the sort of investigative journalism that might expose Bush administration malfeasance. Tomlinson resigned in disgrace but left behind a cast of cronies to carry out his partisan crusade. And we still don’t know the extent to which Karl Rove and others at the White House orchestrated his efforts.
Manufacturing Fake News
The segments – which trumpeted administration “successes,” promoted its controversial line on issues like overhauling Medicare, and featured Americans “thanking” Bush – have been repeatedly labeled “covert propaganda” by investigators at the Government Accountability Office.
The administration has even exported these tactics. According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. military is now secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops.
Lying about the Iraq War
As Frank Rich recently wrote in the New York Times, the administration’s “web of half-truths and falsehoods used to sell the war did not happen by accident; it was woven by design and then foisted on the public by a P.R. operation built expressly for that purpose in the White House.”
Eliminating Dissent in the Mainstream Media
They have effectively silenced serious questioners, like veteran journalist Helen Thomas, by refusing to have the president or his aides call on reporters who challenge them. And they have established a hierarchy for journalists seeking interviews with administration officials, which favors networks that give the White House favorable coverage.
Gutting the Freedom of Information Act
Consolidating Media Control
In a famous 1945 opinion, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said that “the First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is a condition of a free society.” In other words, a free press is the sine qua non of the entire American Constitution and republican experiment.
We started Free Press because our democracy demands a diverse and independent media. The Bush administration’s attack on the foundations of self-government requires a response of similar caliber. I hope you’ll join me in the year ahead as Free Press works to hold the administration accountable for all its attacks on journalism and see that such abuses will not be repeated in the future.
Please take a moment to visit our www.freepress.net/presswar online campaign to defend democracy from the White House assault on the media.
Robert W. McChesney
P.S. Know more people who would like to keep updated on this and other media reform issues? Urge them to www.freepress.net/action/signup.php join our e-activist list. The more people you enlist in the movement for media reform, the better our chances of success.