Topic: The Media
Press Notes: A Tale for the Fourth of July
It used to seem so simple.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Well, congress just can't do such things, but the pressure is there. Calls for the abridging the freedom of speech, and the press, were all the rage, Sunday, July 2, on the Sunday morning political shows, and in the press, and on the web, which some call the "blogosphere." Yeah, those pesky web logs.
The problem was the New York Times, again. Yep, those folks who long ago published the Pentagon Papers, and last year the story that revealed the domestic wiretapping of anyone or everyone without any warrants or judicial or congressional oversight and clearly against the law that explicitly said that was forbidden, and last month the story about the effort to secretly follow most all bank transactions in the world to see what's up. It was the Times at it again, printing what the government told them not to print.
How is the administration supposed to keep America safe from the terrorists everywhere if this newspaper keeps pointing out that the guys in charge are purposely breaking a quite unambiguous law or two, or more, flat-out lying to the public, and to congress, and just ignoring what they have sworn to defend, that constitution? It's just not fair, or something. Which do you want, safety - or the way things traditionally, and by law, and previously have been done? Make up your mind, folks.
The calls for charging the Times with treason are all over - from Congressman King of New York to most of the media on the right. Why even document it? Turn on the radio, or watch a little television. It's the topic of the week of the Fourth of July - freedom of the press, and its limits. We pride ourselves on having a free press but it must be compliant and complicit in the nasty things that must be done to keep us safe, or something like that - the free press is there to support the government and its policies, and its methods. What else is a free press for? This is an interesting discussion to have on the Fourth of July. It's getting back to the basics.
But it can get very odd. The Times is the lightening rod here, or the scapegoat. That's where to "pile on" if you're inclined to think there are many, many things you shouldn't know, and no one should know, and the press should only print the official version of things. So all eyes are on the Times and on this particular Sunday it was, of all things, something they printed in their travel section. Really.
The item at issue is this - a fluff piece on the small town of down in Maryland, Saint Michaels, where you will find vacation homes of all sorts of famous and really rich Americans, including Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. There's a picture of Rumsfeld's driveway.
What's the problem?
It's a plot - an intentional "exposure" of Cheney and Rumsfeld to terrorists, done with clever malevolence by the New York Times - they've just told the terrorists where these two live and are hoping the bad guys will come to Maryland and kill them. The Times wants them dead, and is helping along anyone who will do the deed. Yes, of course, the sale and ownership of all land and the buildings there is a public record. Anyone can look it up, and much is on the web, so you can look such things up from an internet café in Kabul or Tehran. But there terrorists only read the Times, of course.
But the outrage on the right is wide and deep, and reviewed by Glenn Greenwald here, with links to it all, and his discussion. You can follow it all there. It's all quite open - this is the smoking gun, proving the Times is plotting to overthrow the government, or at least have key officials assassinated. They did this travel piece on purpose. See? It's quite clear.
Everyone points to the problem. These homes and their location were well-known. Last year the Washington Post wrote about them here, and so did the hyper-right news service NewsMax here, quoting the Post item. But they're not the Times. And the too, back in 2003 the Times here printed a quite similar story about the Clinton's Chappaqua home north of Manhattan. This is travel writing, folks, about cool and exclusive places. Or it's treason.
So, you see, it's coordinated treason. You do see that, don't you?
And if it is it's retaliation time against the reporters and editors who were involved in this particular travel story.
Greenwald quotes one idea -
If Cheney dies, so does the travel writer. In the meantime, if you're a patriot, you can threaten and terrify the kids.
This is the side of things than posted the photos and home address of those who work at clinics that provide abortions. You remember the doctor who was shot dead in Buffalo, and the clinic bombed near Atlanta where that nurse lost much of her face. It's the same sort of thing. Now it's the Times, the newspaper on the side of the terrorists who hate America. Can't have that.
It should be an interesting Fourth of July. Will people cheer when those at the Times are gunned down to defeat terrorism? Maybe it's all bluster and they'll just harass the kids. Well, at least their children will have a chance to try real education - home schooling. It won't be safe to leave home. They're "fair game."
Is this a great country, or what?
And the press thing gets even odder, as it splits the Wall Street Journal, with its angry pro-Bush editorial board and its staff of first-rate objective reporters. On NBC's Meet the Press, Sunday, July 2, Andrea Mitchell interviews on of those reporters, John Harwood, and he unloads on whether the Times was just being treasonous when it ran the bank records story -
Yep, as Hemingway said - "Every good writer needs a foolproof, shockproof crap detector." Hemingway was a reporter for the Toronto Star in the late thirties, interviewed Mussolini, and new bully crap when he saw it (Mussolini was reading a book when Hemingway arrive, but was holding it upside-down). And this one reporter knows the same thing.
Then there was William Bennett and William Safire of Times mixing up on the same show -
Ah, a traditionalist.
And there was his boss, New York Times editor Bill Keller on Face the Nation with this -
And as noted here by Kos, the most widely read on the left - "Let's hope Keller is pissed off enough - and has been re-reminded of the importance of the First Amendment we've all been begging the paper to defend - to continue to show the Bush administration the folly, as the old saying has it, of picking a fight with anyone who buys ink by the barrel."
But the fight is on. It'll be a fine Fourth. Let's hash this out.