Tag Archives: Editing

Censoring Free Speech in Journalism?

Censoring Free Speech in Journalism?

Have you noticed that debates on some conservative TV stations feature well-dressed, articulate politicos and weak, shapeless liberals? Do you notice that the volume is slightly lowered when the liberal speaks?  In turn, you can find just the opposite state of affairs on liberal channels.

cone of silenceCensorship, if more subtle than in some other nations, is flourishing in America. Back room deals between big media owners and the mighty elite seem to be common, preventing reporters from doing deep investigative stories into corporations and the government.

Stultified and scared by potential revenge tactics of the NSA and other intelligence agencies, journalists, sometimes unaware that they are doing so, stay away from controversial stories that might offend the government watchdogs.

They exercise heavy self-censorship. Who wants to go to jail for not revealing their sources, or not being able to get sources at all because of new government regulations threatening dismissal for employee disclosure of any material? Who wants to have their phones tapped, or be harassed and sometimes even fired for criticizing the administration? Who will do the exhausting work to penetrate the wall of secrecy where even the Freedom of Information Act has been rendered meaningless?

When Thomas Jefferson drafted the Bill of Rights, he did so to limit the absolute authority of government and ensure the freedom of the press. But in Post-Constitutional America, this freedom has been fractured and weakened.

Press-and-Censorship-by-Arcadio-Esquivel-Cagle-Cartoons-La-Prensa-Panama-1Since 9/11, when the government stole away the powers that the Constitution guaranteed the people, some 40% of reporters say they would not dare act as whistleblowers.

What reporter has ventured to dissect the deal with Iran and really told us what was in it and what it meant for America and Middle Eastern countries? The government need only invoke ‘National Security’ to keep publishers from revealing how one-sided the trade-off is.

According to a recent article in Mother Jones, in mid-2004, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau uncovered the illegal eavesdropping program instituted by George W. Bush. But The New York Times sat on the story for 15 months until after Bush’s re-election. The White House convinced them to do so simply by saying the story would help terrorists. The LA Times similarly ceded to the NSA and suppressed a story on wiretaps of American citizens.

Consider if you are a reporter who has sweat blood to get such scoops only to have them killed; why try at all?  Why not just give up? Why not inadvertently become collaborators in the subversion of The Bill of Rights, the safeguard that our forefathers believed necessary for a free society?