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Journalism, liberalism and war coverage
By Bruce Walker
Few debates more clearly reveal the shallow arrogance of liberals than the current "debate" about what role reporters and correspondents should have in America's war on terrorism. Most prominent is the notion that somehow lavishly paid celebrities of multi-billion dollar corporations have superior rights under our Constitution to ordinary citizens.
Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and their ilk are not entitled to special privileges because of these handsome offices and convenient Teleprompters. What makes the whining demands so galling is that these same corporate liberals are the first to savage any business that makes lots of money and controls much of the market share.
Liberal ideology should require that these economic giants are scrutinized closely by government, but when the mega-billion dollar private concern is a mouthpiece of Leftist propaganda, then the same rules do not apply. Liberals should be championing the rights of less heavyweight and more independent interrogators of public affairs. Well, there are many such small and interested presses in cyberspace. Why should not Enter Stage Right be taken more seriously in asking tough questions of government and other taxpayer-supported institutions than, say, CBS Evening News?
The argument that somehow Dan Rather is more "serious" than our illustrious Steven Martinovich could be resolved very quickly in a debate or pop quiz on facts (those bothersome numbers that liberals hate) or editorials actually written by either. The intellectual tone, the concern about facts, the interest in truth are much greater in those publications whose purpose is not to entertain, but inform.
Who, by the way, determines which leaders are accountable? The liberal establishment says that the war on terrorism is important - and indeed, it is - but was it not also quite important that Bill Clinton and Hillary! just left an administration that resembled an organized crime syndicate, rather than a presidential administration? Has Hillary! ever faced a tough interview? Has Bill?
If that was history, then what about today? Why should not Tommy Daschle submit himself to a series of pointed questions from a roomful of conservative journalists? His position as Plurality Leader makes him a very important official. Should not Daschle be pummeled with questions? Does the Constitution not give the people a right to know?
Ask Gary Condit, who carefully set the parameters of his interview. Ask the Clintons, who carefully controlled who got into their "town meetings" and only took very friendly and sympathetic interviews. The whole idea of a professional of journalism that is endowed with sacred rights and privileges is a giant joke. Liberalism is a seamless web of government, non-profit, "educational", journalistic, and entertainment organizations flush with wealth (often taken without market choices by consumers) and constantly demanding special legal treatment.
What is the duty of "the press" during war? One might as well ask about the duty of one citizen to another in any public matter. Because the pampered princesses and spoiled sultans of unearned respect would not comprehend those duties from their life experiences, here are a few points for them to ponder.
They should first care about the pure, unvarnished truth - even if it makes their ideological enemies look noble and makes liberals look shabby. Wars, of one sort or another, rage across the plains of public life already. Lying or poisoning information with half-truths is a violation of the ethical duty we owe each other in a free society.
They should second care about the preservation of those common people of America and the civilized West whose toil, valor, and honor make putative "rights" which so enchant hothouse liberals into reality. This is not just blood in the sands of Okinawa and Omaha Beach - although that is much of it - but it is also appreciation that ordinary lives well lived are the core of all the fragile, derivative rights that liberals worship.
They should care about lively debate on important issues (which does not mean a gaudy and yet dull repackaging of old, wheezing liberal nostrums). This means the comparative merit of different cultures should be argued with final conclusions possible (e.g. Caribs were worse than Quakers) and about whether grotesqueries to most people should pass as art using the tax dollars of the offended majorities.
They should care about the excesses of their colleagues. When Dan Rather declined on the delusional notion of "journalistic independence" to cover the story of liberal Democrat Gary Condit, then was it not incumbent upon networks and journals of the establishment to note the blatant partisanship of Rather? The question "who watchers the watchers?" is as old as the Roman Republic, but it is still always vital.
It is fair for us to expect that these "rivals" who "compete" for "scoops" would be the first - not the last - to expose the horrific abuse of consumers (those saps who watched CBS Evening News) by a powerful corporation. Where is the sense of censure for these professional crimes? Gone, gone - gone if ever there. We have the right to expect real journalists to report on each other and their competition, to correct errors, to make the sloppy pay a price for sloth. These are not real journalists, reporters, or even commentators. They are hacks.
These self-appointed protectors of our rights should care about the level of actual integrity in government, particularly when those least honest are those most helped by soft treatment of their policies failures. This last failure is the most troubling. Functionaries of these giant information industries drone endlessly about the social responsibility of corporations, but more than that, they foist men like Clinton and women like Hillary! on us. Then, instead of defending them from these blots of soulless mendacity, the establishment media guards them, throws blocks for them downfield, and shouts down anyone concern with honest government.
So what do American citizens and their constitution owe in extra rights and privileges from the likes of Rather and Jennings? Judged by their own standards, the liberal media and entertainment industry - along with the "wink and nod" bigotry of Leftists in government and tax supported institutions owe us hundreds of billions of dollars. They owe us thirty years of affirmative action - only hiring very conservative people to read the teleprompter, produce the movie, spend the tax dollars on "research."
Judged by their own standards, liberals deserve exile to Siberia. They are not more to be trusted with facts, answers, and ideas - but rather not to be trusted at all. Thankfully, however, conservatives do not believe in "retributive justice" and so let us just grant liberals this: equal rights with any other corporate empty suits, thoughtless rock-star millionaire types, and immature old people. They can call themselves whatever they choose, but we should give them nothing special. And certainly not a running commentary about the hows and whys of brave men and women who are actually keeping us safe and free.
Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
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