Posted by politicalpartypooper on May 7, 2009

Twenty years ago or so, the American Press considered itself the first line of defense for American Freedom.  I would have agreed with that assessment then.  Our press was dogged, mostly honorable in its reporting, and repeatedly exposed corruption in government.  For Americans, the press served a purpose available through no other channel.  Politicians, while not necessarily deterred by their vigilance, were at least kept in check.  The American press acted as the fourth check and balance in our republic.

I am saddened that I can no longer say our press acts in such a capacity today.  A fellow blogger named Queen Tiye (pronounced Tee-yay) recently voiced her concern on a webcast that Americans don’t have an outlet for truth anymore.  I agree with her.

There was a time that for an anchorperson to voice his opinion about a news story would have meant a betrayal of the public trust.  Something has happened to that mentality, and I don’t know when it happened, or how it happened.  Nowadays, it’s uncommon for an anchorperson to leave their opinion out of the news, except for the barest of the bare, those local news stations that do nothing but report the news.  If you venture to the national scene, you will rarely find a television journalist who won’t interject their opinion into the news.

Why did journalists have to become part of the news?  Was it not enough to sit in front of a camera for the world to see?  Was it their producers and network owners, attempting to grab a larger share, and thus a larger paycheck?

Americans have lost that first line of defense, and I don’t know if we can get it back.  Maybe lawsuits against journalists who lie or twist the truth for gain could be levied, but that hasn’t worked so well in the past.  In fact, the American press is almost above the law if the history of lawsuits against them indicates anything, which begs the question; who keeps the American Press honest?

When Glenn Beck repeatedly lies on his show, does anyone have the right to take him to a court of law and sue?  When Bill O’Reilly twists the facts of a story to portray only the spin he wishes his audience to see, is there any recourse?  When Keith Olbermann refuses to tell the whole truth, is there anyone he answers to?  Are we really left to the ratings to keep these guys honest?  If we are, it isn’t working.

Americans deserve a real defender of their freedom, and today’s press, be they print, audio, video, or web are not it.  They are not delivering according to the very freedoms they protect themselves with.  The great rallying cry of the press has always been the first amendment.  But when that speech is designed to shape the news, or to twist facts, where do we draw the line?

Do we redefine The Press?  Do we define what news is, so that opinion is removed?  Please don’t be mistaken; I believe there is a place for Opinion Editorial in our nation.  I believe it is a necessity.  I just don’t believe it is news. Not when those Op-Ed journalists are purposefully twisting or withholding facts that would present a much larger, clearer picture.

If we redefined the press, people like Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, Olbermann, Maddow, Brown, King,  Dobbs, and many others would either be shut out of the press, and thus shut out of the freedoms the press enjoys, or they would be held to a much higher standard than they are today.

The trouble is, I don’t know where you draw the line, and I don’t know how far is too far.  I fear that if we redefine the press, we’ll redefine the protections of the first amendment along with it.

There has to be an answer.  Opinion Editorial Journalists like Sean Hannity should be held to the same standards that Ed Murrow was held to.  There is a public trust that is given to these people, and they have betrayed that trust repeatedly.  No one should be allowed to go on public airwaves and outright lie or twist the truth.  No one should be allowed to usurp his constituent’s trust.  No one should be given a free pass for fabricating “facts”.  There should be a penalty for such a thing; it should be stiff, and it should be punitive.

Where is the regulatory authority that watchdogs the press?  I know, I know.  Such a thing is counter to our beloved first amendment.  Nevertheless, something has to be done, in order to change this feeling that many Americans go to bed with.  It is this feeling that we are being lied to and controlled; this feeling that we don’t know where to begin to find the truth.


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