The Failure Of The U.S. Free Press

by: Ward Reilly

March 1, 2004

When our country was founded, as a result of the victory over Great Britain during the Revolutionary War, our forefathers sat down and wrote the United States Constitution. The first 10 amendments in that Constitution became known as the "Bill Of Rights". Our forefathers understood that in order for a country with a government "of the people, by the people" to work, that certain rules from the "old europe" ways needed to be eliminated. Truth in information was to be critical in their vision. They understood the importance of the "free press".

The very first amendment that our founding fathers wrote included the words "...or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;"...

Forbidding any form of repression of the press was so important to those great and early Americans who wrote the Constitution, that it is the very first article they put in our Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, among others, realized that a free press was to be a VITAL part in their dream of a country to be called "The United States of America." These men deemed the "free press" to be such a necessary component in the success of the country they were building, that they put it first in the Constitution. FIRST! They realized that if the press did not exercise its RESPONSIBILITY in reporting the FACTS of any matter, that the new system "of the people" would be a failure.

So let`s scroll forward 213 years from 1791 to today. January 30, 2004...Today, in our nation, the responsibility of getting the FACTS to our people, as dictated by the founding fathers, has fallen on a relatively new form of "the free press", that being television. TV News. With approximately 98% of U.S. homes having televisions, the median of television has become the most powerful source of information in history. But being such a powerful source for national news comes with a HUGE responsibility, and "television news" has failed us miserably.

As a nation, it is time to look closely at the the use of television in being a news source. It`s time to ask ourselves if "commercial television news shows" have not evolved into a median that can not possibly live up to that HUGE responsibility, without being a tool of "special interests". It`s time to look at television news as potentially being the source of more harm to our nation than good. We must ask the question; can television possibly provide nuetral and un-biased news as it is being used as a tool to shape the way our country thinks and acts?

All journalism bears the responsibility that our forefathers assigned to it. It is safe to say that there are 5 MAJOR television networks in our country, those being , alphabetically, ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NBC. These 5 companies have more impact in the news of the world in our country than any other news media or source. Can television owners, and their journalist employees, possibly be living up to their constitutional responsibility, aka doing their jobs correctly, when each of these news sources reports the exact same story, at the exact same time, in the exact same order even, day after day? It is disgusting to think that they can`t do any better than that!

Television is one of the wonders of our time. It came into our homes after WWII, and has become the most successful invention in history. It shows us wonderful movies, exciting sports, it exposes 250,000,000 people in our nation to all forms of business, through advertising, and TV has become the most necessary tool in our capitalistic society, for selling. But the evolution of getting our news from television has become an ugly and shameful farce, and newspapers and radio news shows are fading into the sunset.

Here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, we are fortunate to have one of the finest newspapers in the world, and I have been in many other countrys and in many, many, major cities, and I have gotten the newspaper in each of them. I like to start my day with a newspaper, wherever I am.

Our newspaper, which is called "The Advocate", is so good, that both the so-called "left wing" AND the so called "right wing" sides here in Baton Rouge make the claim that The Advocate is slanted horribly for the opposing side, in the never ending war of philosophical debate which is a constant in our nation. This is generally through the "opinion" pages of the newspaper. What makes our paper so good is that it continues to show BOTH sides in all matters national and local, whatever happens to be occurring in the world currently. Our paper is owned by a local family that prides itself in living up to that huge responsibility of writing, reporting, and distributing the news of our city and our world, in a NUETRAL manner. Which brings us back to the problem.

A perfect example of TV`s failure is the current controversy concerning George Bush`s military service. During the last two years, many private citizens and veterans groups have researched Bush`s military record. Many, myself included, have come to the conclusion that not only was Bush given a slot in the Texas Air National Guard only one day after applying, in spite of a year and a half waiting period for other applicants to the TANG, but that Bush also missed at least one full year of his military obligation, technically making him at the very least AWOL, and at the most, a deserter, at the time.

Yet TV news-guru Peter Jennings claimed, while on national TV during a presidential debate the day before the New Hampshire primary last week, that this charge of a "deserter president" was a "reckless charge" as he called it, and that General Clark, whom he was speaking to, should have condemned Michael Moore for saying the same thing publically. This is in spite of the fact that many newspapers and columnists have investigated the charge, and concluded that there is indeed truth to these matters.

Is Jennings doing an in-depth look at the charges he challenged nationally? I think not. Or how about Dan Rather? NO, I am guessing the answer is. In spite of the best resources available to them and their companies, and please remember that Jennings and Rather have EASY access to all public documents, they will not do their job. How hard could it be to find the son of an X-presidents military records? A man whos dad was the head of the CIA for goodness sake!

Military records are public records. Have Jennings, Rather, Sawyer, Brokaw, Blitzer, or ANY other national TV "journalists" found a copy of the W Bush EER`s, which are reports that are written up on EVERY soldier, EVERY 6 months while they are on active or NG duty?. No. How about the daily roll calls, which is mandatory for EVERY military unit? Uhhh, No. I was in the Infantry for 1095 days, and there were 1095 daily roll call reports in my unit, at a time which happens to have been during the same time George was in the military, that being from 1971-1974. That means that there are 6 EER`s on me and my service. (And YES, I missed a few roll calls myself, and they were all well documented)

If Bush was serving in the military, evaluations of his work every 6 months are a fact. Where are the evaluations for Bush that would prove whether he was on duty or not? They exist....they are out there. The TV folks just dont want to go there... And this is just one example in what has literally become "the norm" in national TV-news today. Those TV journalists have failed the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Our president made these statements 11 months apart;

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our Number One priority, and we will not rest until we find him!" George W. Bush, September 13, 2001

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and I really don't care. Its not that important. It's not our priority." George W. Bush, March 13, 2002

So why I ask, isn`t this on the CBS news? If I tell a lie, okay, I told a lie. But THIS is the leader of the "free world", as we so like to call it. Our elected leaders can`t lie like a common citizen. Or even make wreckless or careless statements. The whole world judges us by our leaders WORDS and actions.

October 14th, 2002, President Bush:

"This is a man[Saddam] that we know has had connections with Al-Qaida.This is a man who, in my judgement, would like to use Al Qaida as a forward army."

September 17th, 2003, President Bush: "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussien was involved with the Sept. 11th attacks."

Well, which is it Mr. President. Which is the TRUTH, Mr. or Ms. TV newsperson?

Television news. It has failed us all. It has become a make-up room full of plastic-pretty women, and stiff, well groomed men, whose real job today is to look good and to SELL PRODUCTS. TV news exists now solely for the special interests of commercialism. It survives on "ratings", numbers that are based on how the news people look, how they dress, and how well they can read from a teleprompter. Television news has forgotten what true investigative news is supposed to be. It has shirked its responsibility. TV news has broken that trust we relied on, and has shamed the framers of the Constitution. I bet that Walter Cronkite lives in anguish over what he sees on TV.

Don`t blame the republicans for the war in Iraq. Dont blame the democrats for the war in Iraq. BLAME the corporations that have now turned the television news media against us. Blame the so-called news anchors, who are failing miserably at their jobs. It`s THEIR JOB to find the FACTS, not ours. We just want to hear them. They use the news to sell. And when news has to sell, it sells us out.

Is it time that we turned off our televisions when it is time for the daily news? Yes. The simple act of NOT getting your news from the national television corporations could actually SAVE the "free press". The corporations that own these networks live or die by ratings, and they would soon have to abandon TV as a news median if we just quit watching it. Our local newspaper, radio, and TV industries, most of which WERE local and independent before they were bought out by the huge corporate interests monopolizing the media today, would make a comeback in our communities, therebye giving all cities and towns a much needed boost in their respective local economies.

It really could work very easily, and all those out of work TV newspeople could fullfil their college-day dreams by becoming REAL journalists, so we, the untrained, common citizen-journalists, don`t have to do their jobs for them, as we are now. Television is a wonderful tool used responsibly. It is a nation-killer if used improperly, as it is today.

National TV news has betrayed our nation. Turn off your TV set at news time, and read the paper. Listen to the radio, or turn on your computer and go online for your news, and help restore Jeffersons, Adams, and Franklins dreams of a nation with a FREE PRESS...a press to control the actions of our government AND our corporations. THEY want money, but WE need the truth.

March 1, 2004 - page created by Charlie Jenks