Protecting Press Freedom


How free are journalists in your country? Even where there isn't outright censorship, how much self-censorship goes on? How can journalists work together to protect each other and our common goal of open communications?
Posted by David Ignatius on September 25, 2006 5:38 PM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (130)

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Christian, Nod :

There is the real question, why do you pretend?
Why had Hamas shot my american friend Mark in Nablus in 2003, why would you have beaten down his door for the interview, yet because the man who shot my american friend was an Israeli soldier, the american media ignored it, or worse, lied and said he was throwing rocks?
Why did you all pretend to care about the reporters killed when every major media outlet in Iraq was attacked by americi forces in a single afternoon, but then forget to do any follow up reporting?
YOU SHOULD BE SHOT!
Why do YOU refuse to tell the american people that Bush does not give Iraqi soldiers bullets? You have all the americans wondering why no Iraqi will fight for him, why not tell them?
Why no pictures of injured Iraqi kids, you showed injured Israeli kids?
Why did you show embedded video during primetime of an american soldier shooting a bound and injured prisoner in a mosque, then refuse to report that the soldier was never charged.
YOU SHOULD BE SHOT!

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." - Gil Scott Heron

Keep that in mind if you hear I've jacked an oil-tanker off the West African coast.

Christine Tatum, National President, Society of Professional Journalists, Denver, CO USA :

My thoughts on your specific question of how journalists can work together to protect each other and our common goal of open communications:

Sure, American journalists have plenty of their own problems to address. The industry's rapidly changing economic dynamics have disrupted newsrooms across the country. Egregious lapses in journalism ethics have rocked some of the nation's most respected news organizations. Overzealous federal prosecutors, encouraged by a ridiculously — and increasingly — secretive executive branch, have launched serious legal assaults on the foundational principles of a free American press.

But where press freedom is concerned, American journalists do have it embarrassingly easy compared to journalists in many other countries, where murders, blatant censorship and government raids and closures of newsrooms are the norm.

Why would I choose the word "embarrassingly?" Primarily because I suspect global press freedom doesn't rank very highly among American journalists' most pressing concerns. I'm willing to bet the average American newsie hasn't heard about the latest shoot-'em-up in a Mexican newsroom or of the African woman raped after writing critically about her government. I'm also pretty sure the typical American reporter hasn't stopped to think about how much journalists in other countries would love to have a Freedom of Information Act that allows them to review public documents. (Given how much American journalists bother to use FOIA, they appear to take it for granted. A recent study conducted by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government analyzed 6,439 requests last year and found that 60 percent came from businesses and 6 percent came from the media.)

Why the disconnection? Journalists get busy. Most of us are paid to study intensely what is happening in our own back yard. And, as stated, we have our own problems to worry about.

The Society of Professional Journalists (www.spj.org), one of the United States' oldest and largest journalism advocacy organizations, works hard to call attention to the burdens carried by journalists in other countries. Our members believe in the free flow of public information and in every citizenry's right to know what its government is doing in its name. Our members also recognize that greater press freedom abroad is likely to translate into greater press freedom at home.

We have found that one of the best ways to promote global press freedom is by encouraging greater interaction among American and foreign journalists. We highly encourage work exchanges. We welcome opportunities to send American journalists to newsrooms in other countries, and to welcome journalists from other countries into our newsrooms. The Society is always looking for opportunities to know and be known.

It is amazing what we all begin to pay attention to once we have forged personal relationships.

rdresser, parksville, canada :

Odd you should ask others about their journalists. When we look for self-censoring reporters, the very first place we look is the United States. It was American journalists who set the bar for gullibility and complacency with the Bush administration, particularly after 9/11 when your people most needed your protection. With some exceptions, I think Canadian reporters are doing just fine, thanks.

Christine Tatum, President, Society of Professional Journalists :

Sure, American journalists have plenty of their own problems to address. The
industry's rapidly changing economic dynamics have disrupted newsrooms
across the country. Egregious lapses in journalism ethics have rocked some
of the nation's most respected news organizations. Overzealous federal
prosecutors, encouraged by a ridiculously — and increasingly — secretive
executive branch, have launched serious legal assaults on the foundational
principles of a free American press.

But where press freedom is concerned, American journalists do have it
embarrassingly easy compared to journalists in many other countries, where
murders, blatant censorship and government raids and closures of newsrooms
are the norm.

Why would I choose the word "embarrassingly?" Primarily because I suspect
global press freedom doesn't rank very highly among American journalists'
most pressing concerns. I'm willing to bet the average American newsie
hasn't heard about the latest shoot-'em-up in a Mexican newsroom or of the
African woman raped after writing critically about her government. I'm also
pretty sure the typical American reporter hasn't stopped to think about how
much journalists in other countries would love to have a Freedom of
Information Act that allows them to review public documents. (Given how much
American journalists bother to use FOIA, they appear to take it for granted.
A recent study conducted by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government
analyzed 6,439 requests last year and found that 60 percent came from
businesses and 6 percent came from the media.)

Why the disconnection? Journalists get busy. Most of us are paid to study
intensely whatís happening in our own back yard. And, as stated, we have our
own problems to worry about.

The Society of Professional Journalists, one of the United Statesí oldest
and largest journalism advocacy organizations, works hard to call attention
to the burdens carried by journalists in other countries. Our members
believe in the free flow of public information and in every citizenryís
right to know what its government is doing in its name. Our members also
recognize that greater press freedom abroad is likely to translate into
greater press freedom at home.

We have found that one of the best ways to promote global press freedom is
by encouraging greater interaction among American and foreign journalists.
We highly encourage work exchanges. We welcome opportunities to send
American journalists to newsrooms in other countries ñ and to welcome
journalists from other countries into our newsrooms. The Society is always
looking for opportunities to know and be known.

Itís amazing what we all begin to pay attention to once weíve forged
personal relationships.

Thom, Washington DC :

Bob L.
Sir, you do sound like a liberal.
I agree with you that arguing with BIGOT is a losing situation, but not for the reasons you gave. When a person is that misguided (i.e. Does not know the facts, does not understand the conflict, and clearly is racially motivated) there really is no point in discussing it with him.
However, there are people on these posts (reasonable and rational) who believe some of the things he was saying, whose mind's might actually be changed once they are shown the light of truth.
I don't think that you should be flattered by the misunderstanding, however, for you are clearly a rational thinker.

Srikanth Raghunathan, Washington, D. C., USA :

Thom, the pleasure was all mine. Sometimes, people do get fried for being conscientious. Ultimately, only conscience is with what one is left, in any case.

Having said that, many of our colleagues (from diverse locations, I might add) on this blog are truly rational, thoughtful, and considerate; I am grateful for that, because that is what keeps me going!

R. R. Hamilton, Lake Worth, USA:

Welcome aboard! We are all glad to have you with us.

BobL, VA:

Thanks very much. (I have been out on travel and could not get an internet access - yes, even in these days in America!)

BobL-VA :

Srikanth,

Welcome back.

R.R. Hamilton,

I agreed with your post.

The only thing I would add is the concept of influence. Both parties are guilty of spinning the press. Spinning, influence, etc. is much different then control. Republicans constantly rant the press is liberal and very biased. The Democrats complain the press is unfair to them for not pointing out the follies of Republican ways and being mouth pieces of the administration. Frankly, I like the balance.

Karim,

Oh, this is going to be my favorite part of this post. You wrote a reply to me on 9/28 at 6:31 PM that stated, "you don't seem to know what you are talking about my friend." You were so nice and quoted me to make your point. Only 1 small problem. You quoted what "Liberal" had posted to me. You didn't even get the person right and I don't know what I'm talking about? TSK, TSK, sloppy at best.

Liberal,

First, I'm flattered that someone thinks your posts are mine.

Second, the exchange with Thom over Israel is no win. Not for you and not for him. The ME is a religous conflict for the people who inhabit the area. For the US it's just stupid. The Jews know they have a mandate from God to occupy the territory. The Arabs know they have a mandate from God to occupy the territory. These two views are obviously diametrically opposed. There is no middle ground. There is no real negotiation in good faith by either side. There has been only conflict for 60 years and there is no end in sight. This isn't a right vs. left issue. This is an issue of who you support or don't support based more on religous and cultural biases then anything else. Both sides have their own zealots. The Jews have the Zionist, which the Arabs can point to saying terrorists, and the Arabs have their Jihadists, which the Jews can point to and say terrorists. Eventhough the zealots on both sides are a minority of their respective positions they are both supported by the majority of their religions members. After all, God has granted each of them exclusive rights to the same land.

Third, are you at all suprised by the Foley resignation? As it turns out Hastert knew about it months ago and apparently did nothing of substance to report the situation. I, for one, am not the least bit suprised. This Republican Administration and Congress has a history of mismanaging everything else so why should Foley's lewd behavior with minors not be mismanaged as well? Look at the list:

1. Afghanistan has been mismanaged
2. The capture of death of Bin Laden has been mismanaged
3. The intelligence prior to the invasion of Iraq was mismanaged
4. The plan for occupying Iraq was mismanaged
5. The Iraq war as a whole has been mismanaged
6. KATHRINA WAS AND IS A COLOSSAL EXAMPLE OF MISMANAGEMENT
7. Immigration has been mismanaged
8. Social Security proposals were mismanaged
9. Supreme court Justice nominees have been mismanaged
10.The torture issue has been mismanaged

If it wasn't for mismanagement Bush and Co. wouldn't have a reason to wake up each day. (Thom, do I sound liberal)

ALI YOUSEFI , RASHT CITY , IRAN :

dear kourosh ziabari . that was a nice and useful one ! keep going pal

daniel :

There are many obstacles to a free press in the United States. Certainly one of the obstacles is the inability to articulate exactly what is occuring with the division between the right and left wing parties in the United States. A free press cannot really exist without this articulation and in fact has to make this articulation if it really wants to exist in the fullness of its promise.

On the left we have people primarily concerned with economics, a redistribution of wealth, a deep concern with racial problems, women's rights, etc. The primary fault of such people is that although they are correct wealth must be spread out more broadly, not concentrated in an apex crushing the rest of society, where they deeply err is that they go way too far and are not only concerned with spreading wealth, they are envious of differences between people—are eager to erase all differences—and in being so envious ironically destroy precisely the means by which wealth is created: the upsurge of the best talents within society. This is why extreme left wing societies although capable for a time of providing for all eventually collapse. They quite simply cannot separate in their minds the means of creating wealth from the need to provide for all.

In American society, in left wing newspapers, we have the call to redistribute wealth to the point talents are allowed only if they can equally be demonstrated between the races and sexes.—In other words, not only is there a call to spread the wealth more broadly, differences between people must not be allowed unless all the races and the two sexes are equally capable. Therefore achievements which might call into question differences between people are glossed over and fields in which the sexes are relatively equal flourish (sports, music, film, etc.).

Quite simply a free press is compromised by the left wing in that it cannot understand that to truly have wealth spread out amongst all it must embrace true meritocracy, a system which relentlessy examines differences and talents between people so that the best find themselves at the top and capable of creating wealth for all.

But the left wing of course is not entirely at fault in its actions. It is faced with a right wing which is just as much against meritocracy and is in fact eager to preserve racial privilege—even family privilege if we can take seriously that the best universities disproportionally admit the children of the privileged. Furthermore we have an interesting business model in the U.S.—a model which in fact is difficult to overcome anywhere: What I mean is the model of trying to find a product which will appeal to everyone—and precisely because the best way to arrive at such a product is to have a quite docile and gullible mass of people (in other words a mass easily become dependent) we have a contradiction just as absurd as the one explicated above about the left wing within the United States: A perpetual attempt to make money while constantly compromising the minds of citizens and therefore ruining the means of future wealth creation (people addicted to Coca-cola, Mcdonalds, etc.?).

Therefore both political parties are inimical to a truly free press in their own ways. Each works to destroy the independence of mind by which such can be born. And of course each has the best intentions. The problem is one of not really asking how true wealth creation is really born. Answering that question is the key to a truly free press. But to answer that question is to compromise the right and left wing presses as they exist today. Really what it comes down to is that a newspaper cannot understand itself let alone fully blossom into what a newspaper should really become unless by perpetual revolution in its economic and political understanding. Without that internal thrust there is no development of free press. May we one day have a truly free press in the United States.

R.R. Hamilton, Lake Worth, USA :

I was trying to read every post here, but time does not permit me to read through more than about two-thirds. The last one I read was by the Swiss named "Walt". Was anyone else floored by his comment:

"In the past months, U.S. mainstream media were writing about the federal voting system, the electronic voting machines nobody trusts, the way elections are organzied, about who is eligeable to vote, etc. What an amazing discussion in a 200 year old democracy!"

I mean, how many years ago was it that Switzerland gave women the vote — 10? Anyway, the comment just seemed too richly ironic to ignore.

Just as a general comment for the Americans here. With the notable exceptions of James Buchanan, BobL, Stephen Sicilian, and Kim Yaman, all the Americans here seem to believe (1) "The Republicans control the press!" or (2) "The Jews control the press!" or (3) "The corporations control the press!" Thus it was another deep irony to see the employee of the French leftist independent newspaper, "LIBERATION" tell us that it's Baron Rothschild (a (1) aristocrat (2) Jewish (3) banker) who is the primary source of funds for "LIBERATION".

Folks, I worked in the newspaper business for eight years (now, I'm a lawyer). I have a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, 1981. The notion that the Republicans, Jews, or corporations "control the press" is nonsensical to anyone who has ever worked as a real reporter. I would write more expansively on this point but time, the mistress of us all, will not permit.

I will come back here regularly to read, and hopefully comment.

Thom :

Thanks for getting us back on track Srikanth. I was trying for a short interjection and got lambasted. Thought I'd defend myself, and then kinda lost track of the thread. I know I can always count on you to get it back on track.

Srikanth Raghunathan, Washington, D. C., USA :

In the country of which I am a citizen (the U. S.) we used to have freedom of press, litreally in the true sense of the phrase. However, it is evanescing rapoidly, and it is indeed a crying shame. To make matters worse, we are even considering jailing and otherwise penalizing journalists, who seek and convey the truth (most of time, but not always!).

Although I will be the first one to admit that the journalists have miserably failed lately at "objective" reporting and do often pander to commercial interests (i. e., who gets to break the news to the public, first, etc.), I think that they have done a reasonable job of actually reporting the "news." However, the government (Executive Branch) is trying to take the law into its own hands to dictate what can and cannot be reported. Censorship, at any level, is not conducive for our First Amendment Rights. Do the journalists make mistakes? Yes, of course, they do indeed. Nevertheless, by and large, they have also reported their own mistakes.

Bottom line is that we MUST remove of the shackles on the free press. If they err, then they will be punished by theselves, or by the readers, who will be disenchanted with their reporting, sooner, or later.

Sadly, currently, free press in my country (the U. S.) has become passe'.

We all must resolve to uphold the Bill of Rights, AT ANY COST, for those are the most redeeming qualities of our society.

Liberal :

"Where you stand on an issue depends entirely on where you sit to consider it". or, more precisely, it depends upon what you are using to sit on vs. what you use to think with.

Thom, Washington DC :

Liberal -

Do you even read my posts?

"what is WRONG is that you are supporting "a cause" that seeks to harm human beings!"

"I am truly glad you call yourself a "leftist".

What did I just say about putting words in my mouth.

"Go ahead, don't write mindless slogans, look it up."

I don't think I could have put it any better. May I suggest you do so?

"You guys and the frightened hicks from old Europe can adopt your own pet Arab terrorist or other doomed cause all you want."

"The Palestinian parasite's who lived in those homes in Jeruselum were there AFTER some pig of a Muslim religious leader organized mobs to murder Jews and take their homes and businesses from them after WW1"

Like I said, start signing your posts with the name Bigot, it is more applicable.

I don't think I'll be responding to your racist invective any longer.

royinva -

I am not defending Islam, I am criticizing America and Americans. What we say and what we do are two completely different things. The rest of the world sees it, but for some reason (could it be a lack of freedom of the press?) we don't.

"Do you think that being "sensitive" to the views of the KKK would have got them to stop hanging people?"
No I don't, but we didn't bomb them, or kill thousands of civilians to get it done, which is why it worked. We did kill and destroy during the Civil War however, (see Shermans March to the Sea) and resentment still simmers.

"They're not killing soldiers you know, they're killing men, women and children." I know, and I think the Iraqis have every right to be angry at us. (purposeful misunderstanding)
You see, we condemn when other people do it, but when we do it, it is ok, because we're the forces of "good." That argument just doesn't fly when you're on the other side.

Try it this way. Do you remember the names of the International Terrorists who suraced during the Revolutionary War? One was a Frenchman named Lafayette, and another was a Prussian named Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben.

Where you stand on an issue depends entirely on where you sit to consider it.

Liberal :

Thom, what is WRONG is that you are supporting "a cause" that seeks to harm human beings! Hamas, Hizbulla, Al Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian leadership all explicitly aim to not just destroy the state of Israel, but give the Jewish and Christian's thus left over the choice of either converting to Islam or being killed. Doen't that bother you just a little? Moreover, I defy you to name one instance where Israel proactively sought out a fight with any of her AArab neigbors. Their response to suicide bombers has been to merely destroy the house they were living in. Tough luck for the parents and siblings, but if you bring a monster into the world and nuture them, you can expect a whole lot worse from anyone else. Oh, and what else. The Golan. After putting up with Syrian's firing artilliary at their farms for years, Israel took the Golan *after* they were attacked by Syria and other Arab forces - the 1967 sneak attack I might add. Today, the Arabic excuse for demanding the return of the Golan has been a few rocky farms. Great propaganda, but their aim is to get their bloody hands on the Golan Heights and resume their bombardment. I certainly wouldn't give it back and I am deeply troubled by your and European's having such short memories that they cannot recall the events that led to Israel's siezing and keeping Golan. As for the rest, there isn't anything. The "right of return"? It's a sick joke. The Palestinian parasite's who lived in those homes in Jeruselum were there AFTER some pig of a Muslim religious leader organized mobs to murder Jews and take their homes and businesses from them after WW1. Prior to that, the Jewish people were a majority, by some 2/3, of Israel AND Jeruselum. Take a map of the mosques in that area. Over half are stolen synagogs and Christian churches. Go ahead, don't write mindless slogans, look it up. The Palestinian's, and Israel's Arab neighbors, are unwelcome interlopers that have flat out no rights whatsoever to or in Israel. Yet they keep on attacking and murdering and thieving and somehow you can justify it. Your icky friend from Morocco, is just another ragtag terrorist wannabe, living here - likely on welfare or on some sort of visa becausue he was run out of his own country - and spouting his nonsense and lies. I simply cannot understand your siding with someone who would be a part of the mob, calling for your blood, if you deemed to speak out about anything in his country. You have nothing in common with him.

Thom, Washington DC :

Liberal,

I just had someone else look at my comments, and (if we leave out the bad grammar) your syopsis of my comments is just plain wrong.
I am trying to point out that all of the things that people attribute to "those bloodthirsty, murderous animals" are things that our "moral" society has done, and in some cases continue to do. You ignore the truth of this at your own peril.

Also, you clearly need to study some history. Your ideas about the Israeli/Palestinian issues are so off-base that if I went point by point, it might take three or four pages of this post.

The one easy point I can make is in regards to Somalia. You claim our troops were there to give humanitarian aid. "The American Rangers who were murdered and drug through the streets of Somalia were there to deliver humanitarian aid!" I would argue that humanitarian aid is the exact opposite of killing people, which they did while there. (Read the book Black Hawk Down. No, wait, you should probably see the movie.)

I will let you in on a little secret. Framing arguments (putting up straw men) might work for our President and other politicians, but it usually doesn't work when the other persons words are right there on the page directly above your post. Argue with what I say, not with what you say I'm saying. In short, do NOT put words in my mouth.

royinva,Arlington,USA :

Thom,

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
"Come on, we were hanging people as little as forty or fifty years ago. That's not to compare us to bloodthirsty murderous killers, but those southerners were pretty bad."

True enough, but that doesn't happen anymore does it? And how do you think such change occurred? I'll give you a hint— it wasn't by rolling over. It took aggressive and large countermeasures on all fronts, including massive civilian protest and national guard enforcement to get the job done. Do you think that being "sensitive" to the views of the KKK would have got them to stop hanging people?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
"I am not defending Islam..."

Then what are you doing? You're trying to let them off the hook. You've become an apologist for a group who's actions wouldn't be tolerated under another name like "Christian Right" or "KKK". Would you have opposed the closing of the Berlin opera if the protesters were Christian? How are all these glorious and brave suicide bombers any different than abortion clinic bombers? They're not killing soldiers you know, they're killing men, women and children.

There's been a strong pattern of violence and intimidation coming out of the Islamic sector that is being exported worldwide. Where is the massive civilian protest against said violence (within or without the islamic world)?

Not defending them you say?

Liberal :

...and THOM, I am truly glad you call yourself a "leftist". In days gone by, Leftists were at least revolutionaries. These day that has been replaced by the sort of pretentiousness you normally see with old ladies teas or kindergarden classes. Liberals attempt to see and do the right right thing. They do not buy their politics nor morality pre-packaged as if it were some sort of fast food. You guys and the frightened hicks from old Europe can adopt your own pet Arab terrorist or other doomed cause all you want. What it proves is their failure and your lack of integrity.

Liberal :

Thom, Karim - I wish you could take a step back and look at your comments. By your definition, the only rational people and the only true lberals are those who would destroy the state of Israel and murder Jews and those that somehow justify acts of terrorism. Karim, your saying that Israel is the leading violater of human right on the planet is juvenile AND simply not true. Tell us, please, when has Israel ever attacked or otherwise gone after Islamic extremists exceot when they were directly threatened or attacked by them. The Arab League and morons at the U.N. can pass all of the resolutions they want and it wont make one whit of difference to that fact. Arab culture and their mindless hatred and accompanying violence of anyone that disagrees with them has got to change. The world is pretty fed up with you guys right now. To be sure, Germany caved into flat out censorship to spare your silly sensabilities, but the backlash in Germany over this pretty much ensures it wont happen again.

Thom, Washington DC, USA :

Liberal you may call yourself, but you are not. Your comments on Isreal just gave away the farm. Why not call yourself what you are, a BIGOT.

Karim, USA/Morocco :

Liberal:

Please spare us that likudist propaganda. I did mention Hamas in my post (please read it again). It suffices to remind readers that the government of Israel is the leading violator of UN resolutions in the entire planet.

In my opinion, the only true liberals in America are the far-left liberals whom I proudly support. Supporting the death penatly never was on the liberal agenda. Supporting Israeli right-wing policies never was a liberal goal. Supporting the war on Iraq (majority of democrats did) is far from being a liberal decision.

For some reason, you just like to think of yourselves as liberals even though most European liberals and others would consider your politics center right-wing. It is the same delusion that I often hear all the time from right-wingers who claim that they are defending the West when in fact the rest of the Western world (Old Europe) would not want to come near them or to be associated with them, whatsoever.

Solange :

"Howard Kurtz in today's WP questions why the White House reporters let Bush get away with not answering their questions over and over again."

Because they have editors breathing down their necks for exclusive information, and chickenpoop publishers who don't have the stomach to pursue stories that don't rely on "access" to fill column-inches. There's little time for research/followup when you have produce as many stories as competing colleagues, or face the wrath of management. Remember, there's always somebody else waiting in line for the lowliest fact checker spot. Let's institute tenure for journalists, then stand back and see who pushes whom around in the White House Press Room.

Global Maven, Abu Kais, beirutbeltway.com :

As a former Lebanese journalist, I have to admit that Lebanese media are generally free of the censorship that plagues most Arab media. Following the Cedar Revolution and the Syrian withdrawal, more journalists felt emboldened to freely express their opinions and report on events once considered taboo: from the Syrian hegemony to Hizbullah's weapons.

However the media sector in Lebanon suffers from lack of journalistic skills and ethics. As in most Arab countries, sources are almost always anonymous, and information is presented like the holy truth and is rarely checked for accuracy. The concept of editing is almost absent, and journalists often write for their employers and not for the public. Sadly, investigative journalism is practically non existent.

In a region infested with dictators it is indeed a noble challenge to spread the free word. But what use is that free word when it doesn't serve the public? I am not talking about the celebrated journalists who lost their lives because of opinions they published. Lebanon lacks the other kinds of journalists, the ones whose opinions and agendas should take a backseat to serving the public an objective and balanced image of what transpires in political circles.

Much has been written about the role of the Lebanese media in mobilizing the masses during the Cedar Revolution. An objective study of the results of the various media campaigns engineered by the anti-Syrian media in particular will reveal that the Lebanese media has not set foot outside the box of those who pump the cash. It has some democratic qualities, sure, but the extent of the political message was determined from the start, and so were the intended objectives, which were revolutionary by accident rather than intention. There has never been a journalistic model to follow. If anything, there is an absence of method.

What Lebanon needs is journalism to help liberate the minds of people and encourage them to think outside the box. More often than not, the real questions aren't being asked, and politicians are not being properly interviewed, nor their motives and answers contextualized. At the end, and despite the short-lived satisfaction from what is perceived to be uncensored coverage, Lebanese citizens pay dearly because their media made them even more susceptible to manipulation by transient heroes and opportunistic politicians. Had the media that trumpeted the Cedar Revolution asked the right questions instead of marketing political alliances, the Lebanese public would have been more informed and yes, more politically active.

JP, Santa Cruz, California :

To the question, "How can journalists work together to protect each other and
our common goal of open communications?" Even in a guild, you can't really call
someone local to get information that would fact-check a story.
But if a group did have a fact-check exchange that would help.
Doing the simple things are not simple if you are not there.
You find about a place taking orders for cashmire but
it doesn't advertise the percentage as required by law. Is the
place a business address, someone's home or a mail drop?

Liberal :

Karim, USA/Morocco |- You write "Israeli hit-squads often go into Palestinian territories disguised as ARABS." ANd I suppose the Hamas squads who murdered those children on that farm in Israel were Santa's Helper's? And, please cease with the poorly veiled racist remarks about Jews. You full well know that the Arabic press runs those demeaning cartoon for theor Arab audience to dehumanize Jews. I suppose it makes it easier to murder them in cold blood. We have watched your silly conflict with Israel for quite some time, now, and the pattern that emerges is one of some atrocity or attack by Arabs, Israel defends itself, and the Arab's all whine about Israeli abuse. If you care to recall, this last episode resulted from Israel pre-emptive pullouts from Gaza and the West Bank. The reward was mortar and artilliary attacks, sneaking thugs crawling across the border to muder women and children and kidnapping Israeli soliers on patrol in Israeli territory. Excuse me. You people have been offered peace and tossed is away. At the risk of misquoting an famous anti-war song, "All we are saying, Let's give war a chance". Not the half baked Bush intervention, but total and complete war that results in the destruction of Islam and Arab culture. Or, I suppose, you could grow up and actually learn to live as world citizens and show respect for others and their belief's. Life or death, the choice is your's.

Karim, USA/Morocco :

Thom, Washington DC wrote:

"As opposed to frying them in an electric chair. Or injecting them with whatever we use to kill people in Texas."

Thank you for your comment. I actually prefer to call it "poisoning convicts until they die"

While it was not reported widely in the news, it was only last year that the United States government finally outlawed convicting minors to the death row.

Karim, USA/Morocco :

BobL-Va:

You wrote:

" Not only do they call American's pigs, Arabic newspapers feature the most despicable editorial cartoons imaginable. A recent one, which appeared *only* in the Arabic verison of an online newspaper, depicted Jews as the greasy, big nosed, fat preverts."

Have you ever looked at Arafat's nose? isn't it bigger than Sharon's?

How about Hanan Ashrawi's nose? Is it big or small?

Check out Hosni Mubarak's nose too.

This makes me laugh because you don't seem to know what you are talking about my friend.

When Arabs want to insult Israeli, they usually depicte them as blood thristy people (with knives etc). The size of the nose does not come in the picture because in case you didn't realize it:

Palestinias and many Arabs in general look like oriental Jews and even like some European Jews.

Israeli hit-squads often go into Palestinian territories disguised as ARABS. Did you think that they undergo plastic surgery to look like your average Palestinian?

If Barak put an Arab headress on his head, you wouldn't know he was a Jew.

And how many Palestinians attacked Israeli disguised as Rabbis or Israeli soldiers?

If you are interested in our region (which seems that you are), the least you could is to go beyond stereotypes.

Liberal :

Atheist, Boston, USA - "...deport all Muslim..." THAT, is exactly what I do not want. In that 80% statistic cited by the Arab media, there is a 20% who are not ignorant bigots. Those, if Islam is to have any future, ARE the future Islam. There are practing Muslims in this country, and in the Middle East, who are moderate and moral men and women and they need to be encouraged. If there were some way of identifying them, I would allow and encourage them to immigrate to this country simply to get them out of the miserable mess the Middle East is going to degenerate into when we do leave.

Atheist, Boston, USA :

Feast your eyes on the story at the following web page.

http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7971173

"The Economist" states (accurately), "But it was swiftly overshadowed by the cancellation of Mozart's 'Idomeneo' at the Deutsche Opera — apparently for fear of attacks by Muslim extremists. At the opera's end, the director has the protagonist, dressed in a bloody shirt, displaying the severed heads of religious leaders, among them Muhammad, to get over the message that enlightenment requires an end to religion."

The Muslims in Europe are essentially terrorizing the Europeans into self-censorship in a broad range of liberal arts: music, plays, newspapers, television news, etc. The Muslims act like animals and have used threats of violence to silence the right to free expression.

The right way to deal with this crap is to deport all Muslims (back to their homelands) who do not possess the citizenship of the European nation in which they live. Good riddance.

Liberal :

Thom, Washington DC - Your willingness to drop, no DENY, civilized rules of conduct and morality speaks volumes. I suppose that is what we can expect from the graduates of business programs and what passes for morality amoungst nocons these days. For my part, I cannot and will not tolerate the sort of evil I see being practiced and the overlooking of it. What happned at HP, was the Bush Administration does, what mainstream Islamists practice and preach, are all wrong, morally repugnant acts that cry out to be condemned by men of good will everywhere. An "Arabic Street" that supports the monsters that murder innocents or kill or maim our troops, or charge them with fictitious acts of war crimes, is no less evil than the beasts who brainwash young people in driving a car loaded with explosives into a checkpoint. Nor, is there any difference between these monsters and the greedy swine at the Pentagone who would deny our troops a defense against RPG's in order to award a contract to a friendly firm in the defense industry. All are inhuman. All are evil monsters. And all deserve to have the light shined upon them, exposing them for the corrupt despicable filth they are. If you so choose to defend them and side with them, that is your doing. I suppose you, as they, can find some way of living with yourself. For my part, I cannot, and will not.

Thom, Washington DC :

"I think liberals are getting fed up with Islam because of it's irrational acts and to a large degree their archaic and sometimes barbaric practices. Let's face it. It is hard to call the purposeful beheading of another human being civilized."

As opposed to frying them in an electric chair. Or injecting them with whatever we use to kill people in Texas.

Come on, we were hanging people as little as forty or fifty years ago. That's not to compare us to bloodthirsty murderous killers, but those southerners were pretty bad.

I mean as far as archaic practices go. We enlightened Westerners did not give women the vote until about 80 years ago. Yes, that seems like a long time ago, but not when you consider that they were considered beneath men for 1500. And that was because of, (wait for it) Christianity. Look up John the Babtist, or Augustine of Hippo, mysogonists both.

I am not defending Islam, I am merely pointing out the shock of "foreign cultures" especially ours which people conveniently forget when claiming we are the "most moral country in the world."

In fact that statement is ridiculous. Morality is an absolute. You are either moral or you are not. We are not, but we sure tell ourselves (and anyone else willing to listen [fewer and fewer these days] that we are.

BobL-VA :

Thom,

Most of the liberals I know would rather shoot themselves in the foot then go around saying, "Christianity teaches tolerance and restraint." I don't know where you came up with that idea. You must have us confused with the neocons.

I think liberals are getting fed up with Islam because of it's irrational acts and to a large degree their archaic and sometimes barbaric practices. Let's face it. It is hard to call the purposeful beheading of another human being civilized.

Thom, Washington, DC :

"In the Middle East, in the Arab world, with Islam, the vast majority - more than 80% according to their own polls - is so filled with loathing and hatred, so willing to encourage violence, that they would justify killing American's."

80% feel that way, according to their polls?

Yet when the president of Egypt wins with 90% of the vote in "their polls" it is viewed as fraud.

You cannot have it both ways.

Also, this is not a "splinter group" these are evangelical Christians. Of whom our President is one.

Liberal :

Thom, Washington, DC - You are missing the point. You can always point to some tiny splinter group like that. There are the Aryan Nation types in Idaho, Mormon polygamists, etc. But these stand out because the ARE a tiny group (usually) mentally unstable misfits. In the Middle East, in the Arab world, with Islam, the vast majority - more than 80% according to their own polls - is so filled with loathing and hatred, so willing to encourage violence, that they would justify killing American's. Please, do not insult us by calling this an act of revenve for some wrong doing either. The wrongs of Islam over the centuries so outweigh anything ever done by the West it begs "humanity". All of this are attrubutable to a "religion", a collection of hysterical fanatsies, that calls for it's being spread by violence and ignorance and hysreria - a sort of contageous insanity. YOU may be willing to suspend you sense of morality and common snese and grant Islam some sort of "pass". For myself and for, apparently now, the majority of even liberals, I am more than willing to stand up and say that common sense and humanity lead me to condem Islam and Arab culural values as evil.

Thom, Washington, DC :

Especially for Liberal, but also for those of you posting that Islam is an angry religion and Christianity teaches tolerance and restraint, I have a suggestion.

Go to YouTube.com, and look up the term "Jesus Camp" these are excerpts from a new documentary movie about a bible camp in North Dakota. It takes about three minutes, and might open your eyes to a few things.

Or just use this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RNfL6IVWCE

It also might help write, "Let he without sin cast the first stone." Jesus said that.

daniel :

The dismaying truth seems to be that even in the most developed nations a truly free press is something of an ideal, and in fact I have rarely if ever heard it put in terms that a truly free press is something of a perpetual mini-revolution within society in that it is a group of people dedicated to individuality and democracy beyond what exists anywhere today. Certainly we can speak of a free press being "politics ahead of politics" in that it is a perpetual champing at the bit and all too likely to find the bit become a noose. I doubt a truly sincere press can ever be considered right or left politically. There is something about the idea of it that suggests a perpetual will toward individuality without loss of coordination, incoherance—a will toward something you see in the best music performances where each member of the group goes his own way and yet the whole just leaps forward in unimaginable ways. I doubt a person can be any good at a newspaper without understanding that he is involved in the supreme responsibility of being something of the microcosm of future society. In this sense the newspaper is hostile to all political structures—it is something of the nucleus of future society born within current society and therefore a perpetual threat to the present. But of course this is pure idealism speaking—and I can well understand why this idealism would be rejected, because if to be a journalist is such a high-minded calling then it inevitably conflicts with all that is currently human...and of course we cannot have that...So in a sense even as the newspaper aspires to be something of a group mind above all other minds (whether in group or not), it also contradicts itself, compromises its highest ideals whether forced to (by outside forces) or not. When we contemplate a music group we do not feel threatened if the best musicians of society are chosen and embark on 20 flight rock, but to create a group of people that use the native language of a country to penetrate into all its aspects and in fact expect an improvement in everything? I put that last sentence badly. What I meant to say is that some groups can be as excellent as they possibly can because limited to a certain sphere of society, but other groups precisely because they threaten to alter society as a whole are perpetually compromised and in fact not allowed to form at all. A musician deals in music and in music a great variety of groups are allowed to form, but a newspaper deals in words and goes into all aspects of society and therefore rarely if ever rises to the excellence which is routine in music. For the newspaper to realize its highest ideals it would have to be something of a revolution in language and knowledge—something of what we now know as the University pouring its knowlege over society and increasingly becoming aware of events of all types (in space and time). This is identical with perpetual political revolution. And this of course conflicts with the average man for a variety of reasons—not least the reason that in its highest aspects the newspaper calls for a perpetually higher man. So the newspaper can be said to be caught in a perpetual moral dilemma: it might be fully justified in fighting for its existence against tyrannical political structures, but it is also the champion of change which all too many people cannot accept. So of course it takes the middle course, fighting tyranny, but in the process often not understanding itself at all, and all too often all too eager to simply submit to the current political structure it happens to find itself in. The newspaper as a question of philosophy and whether it has the courage to not only live it, but live it with a minimum of pain to others. But live it even if pain must occasionally be caused to others. A paradox, yes, but the paradox of all groups which have it in them to totally transform society.

BobL-VA :

Liberal,

Alas, I have to say I'm heading down the same road you are on. Being liberal isn't enough to accept the continued bad behaviour and lack of rational responses from the Islamic nations.

Liberal :

BobL-VA, Karim - Not only do they call American's pigs, Arabic newspapers feature the most despicable editorial cartoons imaginable. A recent one, which appeared *only* in the Arabic verison of an online newspaper, depicted Jews as the greasy, big nosed, fat preverts. The cartoon was missing from the English language version. There are regular editorials calling for the killing of Christians and Jews and pathetic editorial comments about Islamic victimhood and calls for "revenge" on the West, for "taking back" Spain, for a new Jihad to conquer the West. It's all rather disturbing and more than a little disgusting. I'm an Amercian liberal and I cannot fathom how my fellow liberals feel any sympathy for the Iraqi people or the "Arab Street" in general, but especially for Islam, when that same "Street" and that same "religion" would execute anyone professioning anything remotely resembling liberal ideas. To the point of this forum, network television is actively practicing self censorship when showing photo's and film of Arabs and Islamic mobs anywhere. Last week, when two Amercian soldiers were murdered and their bodies dragged through the streets, the Arab mob cheered and celebrated. After 9-11, old women and children, the whole population of Palestine, Iraq, in every Arab country, celebrated and literally danced in the streets. This was actually shown on CNN for a brief time but was quickly pulled as being somehow "politically incorrect". And please don't tell me I somehow misunderstand Arab's and forget the victim garbade. The West, for better or for worse, has tried to help Arab countries, sending money and humanitarian aide. The American Rangers who were murdered and drug through the streets of Somalia were there to deliver humanitarian aid! I have come to the hard conclusion that Islam is morally bankrupt and the culturally Arab people as a whole are vermin. This is not a racist comment. It is simply an undeniable fact, one that can be born out by anyone taking a look at what passes for "civilization" in Arab countries. I feel no sympathy for them and only wish to leave them alone to wallow in the world they have created for themselves. Let them kill each other as they will, I frankly don't care. But...if they EVER attack us, if they murder even one American, I would support any program that exterminated them. I, for one, have had it. If you like Islam and Arab culture so much, go, crawl back to that hellhole of a country you come from, but at least cease to pester us with your inane comments and justification for the swinish crap that passes for a religion and a culture that you espouse.

BobL-VA :

Karim, Karim, Karim,

Are you sure you want to go down this road?

Not only do radical Muslims call American's pigs they call each other by the same name. I reference you to the protest held in Ramallah by 2,000 Palestinians on August 2, 2006. They spent the better part of an hour chanting, "Mubarak is a pig."

Would you like some of the mentally challenged quotes by the former Iraqi Information Minister, Muhammed Saeed al-Salraf? Things like, "Let the American infidels bask in their illusion." Or how about one of my personal favorites, "Americans are "wild donkeys" ('ALOG' in Arabic. It is my understanding this word could also mean, "The children of pigs," or even "those who have dramatically ugly faces or leeches." None of which is flattering.

I'm sure I could spend the good part of the afternoon surfing the net to find you an almost unlimited number of disparaging quotes from Arab Muslims concerning the Americans if you want more.

Also, I never stated anyone on this thread other then Athiest called anyone an animal.

My previous post stands as it was written. However, now I have a question for you:

WHY IS IT PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE IN THE MUSLIM WORLD FOR PEOPLE TO CONTINUALLY MAKE OFFENSIVE REMARKS ABOUT NON MUSLIMS AND AT THE SAME TIME GET DEFENSIVE, RUDE AND SOMETIMES VIOLENT WHEN SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING OFFENSIVE ABOUT THEM? Do you see the contradictions here?

Anyway, I'll end this post with the way I started my previous one. Lighten up, chill out, relax....take it easy. Nobody really cares if Athiest called Muslims animals becuase nobody really cares what Athiest says. If Athiest wants to call the Pope a child molestor (worse then an animal in this country) we'd all just sit back and say, "that's Athiest, he hates everything, but we'll defend his right to say it."

karim, USA/Morocco :

Find me one single post from Arabs or Muslims who called Americans pigs or infidels in this blog.

I know there isn't a single one.

You say you hear it everyday, where do you live? please explain your position and provide sources.

I watch CNN and FoxNews on regular basis. They don't usually translate what people are saying during protests.

So what Arab or Muslim channel do you watch, and if so, do you understand Arabic or other languages spoken by Muslims?

BobL-VA :

Karim,

Lighten up. Athiest hates everything and everybody on this planet equally. Most of us who post regularly believe he had an abused childhood.

Besides, in a sense, this is the point of this question. Does Athiest or a journalist in an opinion piece (which these posts certainly are) have the right to say someone or some group is or are animals if they believe it? I would answer yes. If Athiest wants to call Muslims animals so what. That's his opinion. Consider the source and dismiss it.

I hear Arab Muslim's everyday call Americans infidels and pigs. Does it bother me? Not in the slightest. Eventhough, the last I knew pigs were animals. Not being a Muslim and having no desire to become one (Unless someone puts a gun to my head or a big knife to my throat. That would cause me to find Allah real quick.) precludes my caring how they feel about me or my kind. We all have to live on the same planet. That doesn't mean we have to like each other or agree with each other. We only have to learn to co-exist and stop killing each other.

Karim, USA/Morocco :

Atheist from Boston:

1- I will report your neo-fascist post to the editors of PostGlobal. don't think you can get away with calling Muslims animals.

2- Germany is the country that exterminated 6 million Jews only little more than 50 years. Turks and others Muslims are just "Other middle Easterns" for them.

3- Considering the history of the country, anything that incite hatred against minorities should be censored or regulated. Where were the artists where Jews were put in ovens? WHERE WERE THEY? they were busy writing pieces that demonized them further.

4- Muslims in Germany must protest such things (violence is of course a violation of the law) before they too find themselves in trains headed to death camps in the millions.

Dilip, New Jersey :

I may be a little off but I wonder the quality of journalism in the US. The journalists in US have to introspect and see if they are up to the mark. The journalists in the US may enjoy the maximum freedom but have they played their part? A case in point, why is Rumsfeld never questioned on what was he doing in Iraq when Saddam was using chemical weapons on kurds or why is Bush never asked as to why are there CIA prisons outside US if not to indulge in torture?

GlobalMaven, Kourosh Ziabari, Iran :

Persian Journalists and suicide!

Unfortunately, after the 1979 revolution, Iran is being known as the Jail of journalists by announce of international institutes. Although Nepal was the greatest prisoner of journalists that has the most complicated and strangulating Media structure, but we can divide the history of Persian newspapers and journals into Three epochal intervals that the second one is serious though and very considered.
The first period was at the beginning years after the victory of Islamic revolution with the leadership of Imam Khomeini, who spent many years of his lifetime in banishment and exile. Many politicians around the world believe that the 1979 revolution of Iran was the most wonderful and abnormal revolution in all centuries because of the type of its leadership. Imam Khomeini moderated the whole process while he was in Turkey and Iraq.
In these years, we can count the Iranian papers to be almost free and liberal, even Imam Khomeini has told that the communist faction of Iran, are free to deploy and spread their ideas through publishing newspapers.
After his suddenly death, the course of Iranís media has transformed absolutely. Many magazines have been closed but no journalist was arrested. The number of Iranís magazines, reduced instantly and there was just only three or four wide-circulation daily newspaper such as Keyhan, and Etelaaíaat that were affiliated with the government.
The whole current was the same when Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjaani was selected as the president at national elections at 1991.
The 8-years opportunity of Hashemiís presidency (Who his picture was published on the FrontPage of ìTimeî magazine many years ago) was known as the years of peace and calmness because his cabinet members were trying to compensate the 1000 Billion dollars damage of Iraqís 8-years war imposed to Persian citizens by Saddam Husain.
On theses years, a newborn daily newspaper named ìIranî has been established to work by the sponsorship of Islamic Republic News agency, affiliated with the state. Iranís appearance was a great leisure for the new generation of young journalists of Iran and the interested people in media fields.
After 8 years, it was not the time for Sayyed Muhammad Khatami to start his clamorous presidential era! He told us about the freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of women and human rights! The statements that most of Iranian people were strange with them! He expressed that he desires to spread the atmosphere of free media and journalists can feel free to make critics on government and such beautiful and brightened slogansÖ
But the at the time of Khatamiís presidency that took 8 years long, more than 400 daily and weekly newspapers and magazines were been closed!! And RWB (Reporters Without Borders) as a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange and a virtual network of non-governmental on journalistic campaigns, counts this great amount of press suspension as a historical record in the calendar of journalism!
It was a memorable and reminding night that the national council, voted to the group cessation of about 200 freelance journals such as ìAsr-e-Azaadeganî, ìSobh-e-Emrouzî, ìNeshatî, ìTousî and ìJaameíeî, even the newspaper of former Prime-minister of Khatami, named ìKhordadî has been closed and he was in jail for more than 3 years and nobody heard anything about his situation.
After the collective suspension of authenticated and vanguard newspapers of Iran on winter 2000 that Persian politicians call it as the greatest cultural disaster of contemporary Iran, the amount of taciturnity and silence among intellectuals and writers, increased quickly and it appeared a great wave of indifference and stagnation in the general space of country, even between common citizens who got used to read those newspapers frequentlyÖ
At the time, there were more than 1200 journalists arrested and in prisons all over the country and many of them are still in the jails. For example, the newly paroled and released Akbar Ganji that beard hunger strike for more than 1 month, is one of these journalists who was been arrested about 3 years ago.
After all the struggles and disputes between various political sides of country about the topic of journalistís arrestment, the final result was that the Persian public prosecutor, alternated into a real fearful scaremonger and alarmist for the Iranian journalists and it caused to the excessive self-censorship till RWB announced that Iran owns the 164th place among the reviewed 167 countries of the world in the global ranking of press freedomÖ
The story of freedomís death in Iran is a plenteous sad and woeful story that ends with the death of thoughts, minds and brains in the 2500 years old Asian country.
Now we are experiencing the 3rd wave of Persian media that is bringing us with the calmest, quietest and the most thoughts-related inactive age beside the newspapers and journals that are not useful even for a perfunctory look because they have not anything to read, I confess it truly!
At all, lets summarize that Persian journalists, are involving in self-censor, self-punishment and self-killing! Believe me!

Kourosh Ziabari
Member of IFJ, Persian Journalist and blogger

Atheist, Boston, USA :

Self-censorship is starting to dominate Europe.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/27/AR2006092700996.html

A German opera house just cancelled a prominent play because some Islamic animals claimed to be offended by it. The animals threatened to firebomb some German buildings.

Though European reporters decline to admit so, they are now self-censoring themselves in order to avoid another Islamic temper tantrum. The European reporters will not lie; they just will not report the whole story.

When a society loses control in this way, the time has come for aggressive action. The Europeans should ban Turkey from entering the European Union. NATO should expel Turkey from the military alliance. European governments should prohibit any more Muslims from flooding into Europe.

The Europeans should not intervene in humanitarian crises in Islamic countries if those crises involve the death of Muslims. For example, when Saddam Hussein slaughtered the Shiites in the early 1990s, the right thing for a Westerner to do was to do nothing. Nothing is what Washington did.

Muslims who are already living in Europe and who have citizenship in a European country should not be expelled. If the Muslim is not a citizen, then he should be expelled.

gee that guy from Idaho has an IQ equal to his sperm count! :

now, you figure it out is that an insult or a gesture of gentility?

That Global Maven can turn a pretty phrase eh? Well try turning this one. Art is the achievement of inspiration. If propaganda is to cause the intellect to demure in favor of genuine falsehood. What then is there to inspire in that?

Is it sufficient to castrate the intellect when trying to move deeper into resurrection? Or should we just eliminate the lessor motive of abnigation?

Care to talk about it? Or do you admit defeat?

.

labeling is the refuge of the unintelligent, to keep those of lesser intelligence :

from thinking.

It matters less whether you're liberal, gay or just smarter than the rest than whether or not you're capable of understanding a point that is being made.

there's nothing more boring than pouring the same old same old on that feast of intelligentsia.

in other words nothing fills the space like something that carries and insight to it.

I'm a little bored of the same old, let's talk trash and destroy our country so that a few old geezers get richer.

I'd like everyone to have a good life, and hope that Americans could once more serve as an example of what to be like rather than who not to sit next to.

.

Karim, USA/Morocco :

Take the example of the Washington Post itself.

It is owned by The Washington Post Company (WPC). The WPC also owns 6 TV stations, many newspapers and a least a dozen magazines (Newsweek).

The WPC revenues in 2005 were about $3.4 billion.

What is the WPC's primarily business goal? It is to make MONEY. The news is their product line.

There is of course nothing wrong with making some money; journalists and staff need to be paid for their work. But do these companies who claim that they are involved in the ethical practice of Journalism have to make that much money? Do they have to pay their executives those huge some of money?

WPC chairman is paid $400k, its VP of finance $850K and its VP of HR $529K. These executives makes much more from exercising their stock options (check yahoo finance reports).

Where is all this huge some of money come from you ask?

Well part of comes from packaging the NEWS PRODUCT in such away that it becomes more appealing to its customers...so the WPC maintains its profitability and the profitability of its shareholders.

Personally, I find it unethical to make that much money from reporting news. At least the tabloids don't try to fool their customers.

Imagine if organizations like Amnesty International, Human Righs, Red Cross were making that much money. It wouldn't sound right, would it?

Mafer, Mexico City, Mexico :

We always discuss press freedom in comparison with the US and other developed countries. Using criteria like freedom of speach, no persecution of reporters etc. a country appears to qualify as a free one. In less developed countries like Mexico, the reality is more complex. It looks that the press is not repressed but in reality, there is selfcensorship and a lack of real analisys of the abundant information. We have a duopoly on TV and what do not appear in it, simply does not exists. The majority shareholders of Televisa(70%of the market) and TVAzteca(the other 30%)have their political interest which are progoverment. In the case of newspapers, there is more diversity and options, even within a conservative newspaper like Reforma you can read dissident or progressive opinions. Yet even there, freedom of speach becomes propaganda for 3 reasons:1-the paper is a business and needs ads and suscribers to survive, Reforma has both with a lot of purching power: 2- although you can read diverse opinions, the ones that do not go with the editorial views are minimized(an intelligent way of saying I publish everything without censorship) and 3- the vast mayority of the people in Mexico DO NOT READ newspapers which take us back to the DUOPOLY ON TV. The best example of selfcensorship and propaganda was last December that a new law for Radio and TV was passed in Congress. The law clearly favored the big corporation in both media systems, specially Televisa yet the news was not disscused on TV, the mayority of members of congress accepted they did not read the new law before voting for it, the then presidential candidate did not talk about the law for fear of been attacked for it by TV commentators and the people against the law could not respond dilligently to abort the law.
In short, self censorhip and the lack of opportunities of journalist that only have 2 options to get a job on tv and a little more in radio and newspapers, makes freedom of speech to resemble that mexican saying that goes like this:®I HEAR YOU BUT I DON¥T LISTING TO YOU®

MikeB :

Bob-L, I know what you mean. I think the Post is so used to being treated like garbage, just another geer in Rove's spin machine, that they gave up. I've been all over the web today, looking at simpliar stuff and found it in every single site - MSNBC, NYT, CNN, even the BBC. I don't like to think it is simple laziness that is causing this, but the alternative is to believe that Rove is so much smarter than the press that is supposed to be watching him and Bush that they don't have a chance.

Walt, Switzerland :

How free is the international press?
Well, let's see. For me, it is a must to read Washpost, Nytimes, Spiegel.de (with German and English site), Haaretz and the two main Swiss dailies, the more right wing Neue Z¸rcher Zeitung and the independent Zurich Tagesanzeiger. Some days, I feel like reading Britain's Observer/Guradian and the French Le Monde, to get a wider range of views on a certain subject.
I have to mention that I lived in America for ten years, with open eyes and ears. In Florida, St. Petersburg Times calls itself the most important daily in Florida. I experienced that, when I limitted reading to the St. Pete, you had no idea what went on in the world. Peter Jennings of ABC may have added some more information, but I relied on my short wave radio and listened to the news and report of Swiss radio international.
I experienced I had to be careful with news in Washingtonpost or Nytimes, but it was important to know what Aipac's agents had to say. With Nytimes' editorials I knew what information the U.S. elite was consuming. But when it comes to the Near East, it is the voice of Aipac again.
Amazingly, if I want views on the Near East, I favor Haaretz.com. In most cases I get views from the right and the left, from Pros and Cons. And with their talkbacks, you really get an idea what people think. Free press, in Israel? No, but more free than U.S.A. By the way: about the report 'The Israel Lobby', the first comment I read was in the Jewish weekly of Zurich, Switzerland.
Back to U.S.A. and the question of free press. Do you know that U.S.A. and Switzerland are called 'the Sister Republics' because of their very similar political system, the only important difference being that Switzerland has no President, but a direct referendum democracy?
The quality of freedom of press has a lot to do with the quality of how democracy is actually working. In the past months, U.S. mainstream media were writing about the federal voting system, the electronic voting machines nobody trusts, the way elections are organzied, about who is eligeable to vote, etc. What an amazing discussion in a 200 year old democracy! Where is the federal law to make sure that the people in all 50 states have the same voting rights? Where are the independently elected officials to control and manage the elections?And is the U.S. election system with the majority election compared with the proportional system up to date, respectively democractic in the world of the 21st century? (Didn't Al Gore receive 500'000 more votes than Bush?).Yes, this has very much to do with freedom of press! And again: the quality of the democracy has very much to do with the quality of the freedom of press. (Sorry, Mandela, Silver Spring).
For me, the best contribution in this talkback came from 'Accommodation, USA'. Yes, I watched the google video 'Peace, Propaganda and the Pormised Land' in full length, one hour and 19 minutes. It was worth while, because it confirmed what we in Europe knew all along, even before the report 'The Israel Lobby' was issued.
This video tells you all about the manipulation of freedom of press by a small, but powerful group of Christian and Jewish Aipac Zionists, acting uniquely in the interest of Israel and the oil business.
There is something wrong in a democracy system when a tiny part of a society can bypass a democratic system to control parliament and government, obviously with the help of the (infiltrated) media.
For good reasons, more than a few political leaders in the West ask themselves: Quo vadis, U.S.A.?

BobL-VA :

MikeB-

It's very neurotic. On one hand the press is putting out volumes about this White House in a not so flattering way. On the other hand you see headlines like you just mentioned which are very misleading.

Howard Kurtz in today's WP questions why the White House reporters let Bush get away with not answering their questions over and over again. If POTUS uses a straw man argument should it not be incumbent on the press to ask, "WHO ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?" If POTUS isn't willing or is unable name anyone who has actually made the argument in question this should be NEWS all by itself. How about this for a headline the next time Bush uses the straw man argument technique, "BUSH ARGUES WITH HIMSELF AND LOSES?"

Ah, where is Helen Thomas when we need her...........?

MikeB :

..I just spotted another example. The headline reads "U.S. Government Blocks Warming Report". The story is that people in the Bush Whitehouse, not even scientists, commonly edit scientific reports by NOA, NASA, et al that tie global warming to human activity AND warn that the increased strength of hurricanes, the shortened Pacific El Ninos we are experiencing, the dead zone off the Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico (which, by the way, is being completely ignored by the Eastern press, but it is a disaster out here, threatening birds, salmon and steelhead runs, and a lot worse...out to around 100 miles, the coast here is a desert), and a lot more. A much much more accurate headline would be "Bush Whitehouse Blocks Scientific Report On Global Warming". Indeed, a lot of antipathy directed towards our country could be resolved if the press had the courage and cared enough about accuracy to simply write the fact.

Ray, Wappingers Falls, NY :

Having been brought up in India thru the 60's and 70's, and then immigrating to USA, and lived thru the Gulf War, 9/11 and now the Iraq war; I can conclude that US press does not convey the truth, and more importantly for the so-called sole super power with a clear intent for global domination; one-sided view of world events. Just would give two examples: even after 9/11 whose leaders/supporters were based in Afganistan and Pakistan, USA continues to provide blank support for the dictator named Musharaaf ruling Pakistan . Pakistan continues to harbor both Taliban and al Queda, actively promotes terrorism in India, is the only muslim country in the world with nuclear weapons which has provided that technology to Iran, Libyia and N. Korea (with full knowledge of both Musharaaf and his predecessor). I have seen no in-depth discussion in American print or TV why USA continues to support this clear and present danger, and not actively engage India in the fight against Islamic jehadists focussing primarily on Pakistan and Afganistan.

2nd one is for everybody to see: CNN, CBS et al report on a daily basis American deaths in Iraq and Afganistan (with a tally). While, Iraqi/Afghani deaths are reported as they happen, the total numbers are rarely reported. This is racist and shows height of hypocrisy when they also report without immediate rebuttal Bush-Cheney regime assertions "we are bringing democracy by destroying Iraq"; "they hate us because we are free"; "Iraq and the world are better off because we overthrew Saddam"; Only an insane group of people can claim that Iraq is better off today than under Saddam!! With 2000-3000 civilians dying every month in senseless violence, electricity and oil production less than before US invasion and occupation of Iraq; the country on the brink of a civil war; the Bush-Cheney regime gets away with this garbage because they are not challenged on adaily basis by the US media. The govt in India would have been thrown out of power if India's liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 by Mrs Gandhi was followed by more than a year of this endless propaganda by the ruling Congress party in India.

MikeB :

Too often the press publishes government, and especially in the U.S. Bush Whitehouse, press releases unexamined, as if they were news. A case in point is the current security assessment report. Now, everyone knows that the report blasted the mishandling of our invasion of Iraq, that it has attracted Al Qaida and other fanatics from all over the Islamic world and utterly wrecked Iraq. To answer this, the Bush Whitehouse *selectively* releases 3 pages of a 30 plus page document and the press buys it! Buys it? I would expect that the Washington Post would refuse to print it and tell the Whitehouse to either provide the entire report with all contexts intact or they can simpy forget it. Why is it that this Administration is allowed to classify whatever they want when it suits them and toss reporters in jail if that information is released and they publish it, but they can selectively release highly classified documents for political purposes and no one seems to find that odd or wrong. I don't know about you, but give me any article and I can selectively edit it and make it seem that the writer is holding a position 180 degrees opposite of the one they take in their article. Washington Post - shame on you for missing the front page story here and misinforming the people of the world - "security", "classified information", everything done by the evil men and women of the Bush Administration is the selective and criminal use of information.

Anonymous :

AUTHOR:
EMAIL:
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DATE: 09/27/2006 11:27:30 AM

Pierre Haski, Paris, France :

One dimension is missing from your question : the death of newspapers trough financial logics and shareholder priorities. I am the deputy editor of a dying newspaper in Paris, a paper whose first director was philosopher Jean-Paul Startre in the years that followed the 1968 student revolt in France. From its marginal beginnings, Liberation became an influential mainstream, left-leaning daily, profitable at times. Today, Liberation, with a circulation of 140,000, is losing money in a big way, partly because of changing external conditions that all newspapers are facing, and partly because of its own incapacity to transform its economic and journalistic model in time. But Liberationís biggest problem is that its main asset ñits independence from big media and industrial groups that dominate Europeís press- has become overnigh its main handicap. Liberation at the moment doesnít have the financial means of its transformation, and its main shareholder, banker Edouard de Rothschild, having lost his initial investment of 20 million euros, is now applying a purely financial logic to face the crisis. Heís expected to ask for up to 100 staff fired out of a total of 280, and other saving measures that amount, to our view, to suicide. The death, or the downsizing of the only independent morning newspaper in France, is a disaster from a democratic point of view. And no censorship or self-censorship is at work there : shareholder value can be a killer too.
Pierre Haski
Deputy editor
Liberation, Paris.

You really have to wonder at the power of this administration to be controled and control :

the Military Industrial Complex and Corporations when just a few weeks before election........

knowing how sensitive unlearned Americans are to gasoline prices, that the price of gas in America is around $2.00 a gallon or $1 a litre..........while in Europe gas is around $8 dollars a gallon.

What does that mean? It means that coporations are willing to bow to what the president needs to make a good impression, regardless of what the country needs.

The United States needs to be OIL INDEPENDANT. Where are the steps? Where is the general information to help the American people adjust to the fact that the world is changing, and that they should adapt?

The United States would be a lot better place to live if disinformation were not such a steady part of our diet. Telecommuting, arresting the president and his cabinet as well as Vice President......some of the benefits of lack-0-spin, coming to a theatre near you soon.

Take them out of the drivers seat and put them away.

.

Tom Wonacott, Boise, Idaho :

ÔøΩTo Curt, Gainesville | Permalink

Count me as one of those that didn't see through all the lies and misrepresentations of the Bush administration. Please, fill me in on them, especially the ones that the press has documented.

Berry :

Down here in Ecuador, we enjoy the same corporate-dominated press that plagues the U.S. Of course, media corporations are smart enough to understand the diversity of society. So, the same corporation owns mainstrean newspapers, left-leaning intellectual magazines, bloody tabloids and porn websites. True free press.

Gaurav Goel, Austin, TX USA :

At the risk of appearing naive, I would respectfully disagree with the assertion that we need any state secrets whatsoever.

It does not appear that secret information has really protected us. Instead a culture of openness and full transparency in all government activites would provide more security for the public.

This is an extension of the 'national security' reasoning that modularizes survival on the national scale, often without constitutional basis. What we also produce is an elevated, unrealistic perception of threats, that engenders fear and neurotic ambitions for safety.

Instead, we should concentrate our efforts in understanding that all peoples have overwhelmingly common interests and are genuinely interested in the same results that we are. IMHO, nations need to fight insularity and xenophobia more than threats from our 'enemies'.

Laura USA :

From the Staged "Self-immolation" to the CCP's Two-Faced Attitude Toward Western Media.
On January 19, 2005, the Xinhua News Agency website published a report by Tian Yu and again brought up the old lie - the staged "Self-immolation" - to frame Falun Gong. Jiang's group, the behind-the-scenes manipulators of the "Self-immolation," played an old trick, dragging in two famous Western media outlets to bolster its credibility. During this government-organized visit, certain people specially selected and primed for the interview by Jiang's regime, and the content and description of the "Self-immolation," became a deception that the invited Western media were unable to recognize or see through.

Is there any independent Western reporting on the self-immolation incident? There is! Philip Pan of the Washington Post went to Kaifeng, hometown of immolator Liu Chunling and conducted an on-site investigation. Ms. Liu's neighbors said they never saw her practicing Falun Gong. Liu Chunling moved to Henan Province with her elderly mother and 12-year-old daughter and worked at a bar. We have noticed that the CCP didn't invite Mr. Pan, who has firsthand evidence and is therefore a most reliable source on the self-immolation incident, to join the reporting team.

It is a well-known fact that Mainland China is forbidden territory for independent Western news reporting. When Western journalists go to Tiananmen Square and capture the image of Falun Gong practitioners holding peaceful appeals, the police take away their cameras and evict them from the square. Sometimes they beat the journalists, put them in jail and even deport them from China. These are just some incidents, which naturally explain why Amnesty International lists Jiang Zemin as a "human rights scoundrel." The non-governmental organization, Reporters Without Borders, says that China has built "the largest Internet prison in the world," and China is being listed as the country with the lowest degree of freedom of the press.

However the Western Media has continued to published articles in the US, that lead people to think that the self-immolation did happen, due to the false information sent from the CCP.

As a reporter for a newspaper in the US, I would like to kindly remind my fellow colleages (reporters) to investigate the facts from other sources rather than accidently being a mouth piece for the Communist Regime of China, when receiving news alerts from the CCP, here in the US. Some examples of websites to find reports on the Self-Immolation are Faluninfo.net or Clearwisdom.net Thanks

Kim Yaman, Cary NC, USA :

Several commentors have made a valid point about the business of journalism. Journalist AJ Liebling famously once said, "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." It's an aphorism that's no less valid today than it was in Liebling's time — or in any period in the history of journalism. However, I'd edit his saying to: "Freedom of the press belongs to those who can afford to buy and sustain one."

Journalism has always been a business as much as a calling, and business owners call the shots. Without cozy relationships with government leaders, media owners lose out to the competition. They pander to squeaky audience wheels to avoid losing precious advertising dollars. This has often been mentioned by Washington Post reporters, who openly talk of having critical stories buried in the back pages by higher-ups who didn't want to offend administration officials or find the Post to be the object of reader or advertiser boycotts. There have been calling-to-the-woodshed moments when a reporter uncovers something that the administration doesn't want published and media owners are willing to capitulate.

This may be a reason nuggets of truth come out only when a reporter writes a book. I don't know. Perhaps someone who's uncovered an exclusive tidbit of information that didn't get published or broadcast in his/her media vehicle could offer illumination into a situation like that.

Of course, today virtually anyone (if you'll pardon the pun) can own a press. Virtual publishing makes independent journalism possible. Witness Christopher Albritton (http://www.back-to-iraq.com), who eschewed going to Iraq as an embedded reporter and instead raised private funds to get into Iraq on his own steam through contacts in Turkey and Kurdish-controlled regions. His blog entries from the initial months of the war provided amazing, unmonitored views of the situation on the ground in Iraq.

However, freedom of the press isn't free; it comes at an exorbitant cost to the reporters who sometimes have to literally fight for their lives to get a story out. Even successful-writer-slash-swashbuckling-adventurer Albritton has grown disillusioned and exhausted with what it takes to sustain an independent reporting site and given it up (at least for a while).

Maintaining objectivity under all these pressures and influences is undoubtedly difficult, and perhaps even impossible. It is undeniably dangerous — as we can see from the number of journalists who have been killed while getting the story.

But I encourage reporters to continue the struggle. If it's true that "truth is the first casualty of war," then journalists are the medics.

MikeB :

Actual journalism is under attack in this country and really isn't free any more. Any jounalist who actually tells the truth is likely to be hauled into court, locked up, or cut out of the news loop. Witness the NYT. The frauds of the Bush Whitehouse have used every means at theoir disposal to control the news. They fabricate economic and other data, classify reports (and imprison or threaten to imprison reports who do report the contents), and use threats and intimidation. In the meanwhile, a large portion of the public is treated to made up "new" on Fox, the Limbaugh show, Joe Scarborough, etc. Their "reporting" is dictated by their political agenda and all too often we are finding out that these people are actually paid by either the Bush "government" or by Pioneers. It's frightening and sickening. Woodward and Burnstein couldn't exist today. If they did, the Bush and other right wing fanatics would gang up on them, their personal lives would become "the real story", and a federal prosecuter would have them arrested and thrown in jail until the revealed their source (who would, in turn, be ripped to shreds, have their life devistated, loose their job, and even possibly murdered by one of the loonier conservatives running around). So, please, quit with the "it's just awful in _____" (fill in the blank) because it probably worse here.

Ken McGee Louisburg, NC :

Yes, there are liberal journalists and commentators that work in the national media and are free to express themselves. On the other hand the media is owned by large corporate America and when it comes to the larger issues these Republlican dominated corporations make the decisions. The Reagan movie was canceled by pressure from the right and they caved in. The totally distorted 9/11 movie was protested by the left and it was not cancelled. Any more questons?

And then there is Fox News, "fair & balanced" state run television.

daniel :

As far as the United States is concerned, I do not really believe newspapers are really free at all—true champions of the best and brightest within society. Take a recent article by Anne Applebaum in the Post. She pointed out Americans simply will not elect presidents who admit mistakes—that an American president cannot take the chance of appearing weak. If that is the case we can say the American public is not educated at all—cannot stand for the president to be a reflecting being and expect the president to be something of infallible daddy. In such a society what is journalism? To be fair, we should probably ask "in such a society, what is education?" But...Well, let me try the argument another way, because in the above example it can be argued that Applebaum did try to get at the problem. Take an article in the Wall Street Journal (I read the Wash Post, Wall Street Journal, Wash. Times, N.Y. Times, etc.). The article was about the Chinese writer Ha Jin (I believe this is his name). This writer cannot be published in China and is being championed here in the U.S. But of course this writer is not really an independent individual—which is to say not really someone dangerous—not someone offensive to all people—a really transcendent and problematic human being. In fact he was written up in the Wall Street Journal because he is pro-American. He would never have been thrust forward in American society if not having appealed to a large enough group within American society and therefore (probably) American interests. What I am trying to say is that for all individuality in America, the truth is God help you if you take all that nonsense taught in school such as truth, integrity, character, etc. seriously. Hell, to demonstrate such in school is to get yourself in trouble. And to be the little truthful boy as one moves into one's twenties is a move into disaster. Americans like individuality if it appeals (ironically) to a group of some sort. As always, writers are the worst off in society. America has quite simply decided what it is and there is no way a genuine overarching critique can be made. The road to happiness and success for the man of the written word is to be recognizably right or left politically. I could go on and on. America is the most problematic country as far as a free press is concerned because America more successfully than any other country has given the illusion that genuine writers do exist. Do you want an example of a controversial thought to prove the truth of what I say? This is how easy it is to be controversial in the America of today: We are told that women are much better in touch with and capable of expressing their emotions than men, and proof of such is the taciturnity of men in comparison with women, etc. But what about music which arguably does not need words at all and is in fact something of a mathematics of emotion? Do I really need to reason further? Just to touch on a few things....I really have no faith in "the freedome of the Press" in America. I believe conditions in other countries only help to keep the illusions in America by way of negative comparison....

Ken McGee Louisburg, NC :

Yes, there are liberal journalists and commentators that work in the national media and are free to express themselves. On the other hand the media is owned by large corporate America and when it comes to the larger issues these Republlican dominated corporations make the decisions. The Reagan movie was canceled by pressure from the right and they caved in. The totally distorted 9/11 movie was protested by the left and those that knew the truth. It was not cancelled. Any more questons?

And then there is Fox News, "fair & balanced" state run television.

Joy Roy Choudhury, South Asian Journalists Association :


While talking about ëfreedomí or ëpress freedomí, the first thing that comes to the mind is a painting of Icarus by the Flemish painter Brueghel.
There in the picture, Brueghel poignantly shows the tiny legs of Icarus in the waters in front of a ship. The parallel here is with the fate of the journalists where restrictive new press laws, closure of liberal newspapers and coups threaten their lives incessantly , and the ìdogs go on with their doggy life and the torturerís horse/Scratches its innocent behind on a treeî. ( Musee des Beaux Arts- W. H. Auden )

So the word ëfreedomí is essentially an irony and if we look back at linear history we find the same. But the voice of a reporter or the pen of a journalist is more powerful than even the subject under discussion here, ëpress freedomí. He deconstructs the myths of power, rewrites them and the irony gets dissolved and mixes with the mother earth and recycling starts.

In a country like India, there is no such thing called restrictive press law except for the censorship imposed during June 1975 to March 1977. But it is more a censorship of the mind/heart and spirit. Real stories are seldom depicted as they happened, reporters are not keen to write on poverty because that would be derogatory to Indiaís current progress measured in terms of investments, purchasing power parity ( PPP ),and international relationships. There is always a looming political pressure, and albeit a personal feeling to narrate progress in terms of signifieds that are dominant media archetypes.

Though it must be always understood that the picture isnít grim everywhere.
Some good work is always taking place that keeps the spirit of journalism alive. And it is taking place everywhere. In this context, one must consciously feel the spirit of freedom/the soul of freedom like the one felt by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Washington Post some thirty years back when they investigated the famous Watergate break-in which led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

The past is always a living source of inspiration for the future. It is the feeling of oneness and the sprit to go near the sun whatever be the challenges that keeps one alive. If all are united with one common goal of open communications then the starting gun is never missed. The true light of the sun is always bestowed in the right work and ìso you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking /Racing around to come up behind you againî.( Album : The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd )

Joy Roy Choudhury
South Asian Journalists Association

BobL-VA :

Curt,

If you read the Post Panelists remarks at the beginning of this question by Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff and combine them with the information Stehpen Siciliano just posted you'll see a freedom of the press issue that is getting worse and not better in this country.

While Germany has a reporter shield law it also has an offical secrets act which can act the same as not having a shield law. We don't have a shield law (which we should) and now someone is proposing what amounts to an offical secrets act (which we don't want). Ouch! That's a big hit to the concept of a relatively free press in the US. Stories like the Humvees being inadequately armoured could very easily be banned. Any problems the military is having with weapon systems or personnel could be classified and banned from the public domain. Add to this what the government could classify and our ability to understand important issues will be diminished. I want a press in America that disseminates more information, not less.

Mandela, Silver Spring, USA :

Where is the press ever free now a days? Is it free in the USA, the Country of the 'Free'? The government of the US and conservative (republican) owners of news organizations have effectively intimidated and silenced reporters and writers. With the media cowed into silence, the US government has gotten so audacious that it is trumpeting ever louder its discredited contention that, despite the nonexistance of WMD, the Iraq invasion was right and it has made the US safer. Who should challenge this assertion? The US Congress? We know the main preoccupation of congressmen and senators is maintaining the status quo so as to perpetuate their tenure of office. So much for checks and balances! Please keep in mind the fact that President Clinton was almost impeached for an act that costed the country neither a single American life nor its billions of dollars. Who then looks out for the interests of Americans? Who serves as its eyes and ears? Well, not indiviuals like Ayatollah Jerry Falwell and et al, the self professed leaders of confused believers. Free the press! Let freedom ring afresh in these United States! The Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave! This country is the last bastion of Freedom. Let's keep it that way.

James Buchanan, Laurel, MD :

Deep Throat, the prototypical source who could have easily fed Woodward and Bernstein any number of confidential and classified files that could have blown Watergate wide open from the word go, didn't. He respected the law, he respected it enough to make them play by the rules, find their own sources legitimately, and to construct their case through their own legwork within the framework allowed by law. He kept his cover secret because he knew there was an illegal threat that was trying to undermine the rule of law, but he never crossed that line.

The current generation of journalists have gotten lazy, they don't do their own groundwork, they want it fed to them on a silver platter of privelige. Gimme, the people need to know. That's a crock, it is in and of itself an undermining of the rule of law. You're right, bad laws get enacted, mostly because of the ridiculous kneejerk reaction of a public clamoring for someone to save them from the Bad People. Whomever the current Bad People of convenience happen to be. Instead of helping the American people rise above that, modern journalists cater to it in the hopes of selling papers, securing advertising, and otherwise generating as much drama and controversy as possible.

I really wish they'd stop riding the adrenalin button on the American psyche for the sake of marketing and remember what the hell it is they're really supposed to be doing.

Jon, Falls Church, Virginia, USA :

Blogs have facilitated the ability for one man to highlight stories and opinions the large, entrenched media giants decline to cover, and that helps the interest of free speech. However, the fact that you can and will lose your job and career over stories you may publish on a blog really goes to show that there isn't really free speech.

GlobalMaven, Stephen Siciliano, http://highwayscribery.blogspot.com :

Sorry James B. from Laurel, but you're wrong. A journalist IS someone special; a member of the Fourth Estates with a specific function to save your booty from the whims of omnipotent power.

Emerson, our national philosopher, notes that a good citizen "obeys the law not too well." A lot of laws get junked for being bad and those who suffered under them are losers. Here in America we try to limit that kind of experience. And I hope it doesn't happen to you.

The point, of course, is that by alerting Americans to an overzealous administration's efforts in THE WAR ON TERROR is to save the nation, not betray it.

The "jail" bit you should save for the sewer.

James Buchanan, Laurel, US :

There seems to be a disconnect over what freedom of press actually means. Nowhere in the First Ammendment of the United States Constitution is there written anywhere that "the people have the right to know". Those words appear nowhere in journalism except in the minds of the enquiring. The reality is, the free press is about the open right to report what it can learn, and can verify, as well as post the opinions of those who have them, provided they are labelled as such.

As such, I have no problem with journalists facing jail time for publishing illegally leaked information. Sure, its fair game, since it is covered under the condition of being verifiably legitimate. At the same time, they broke a number of laws to obtain and review it, therefore they are equally guilty of a crime against which their press credentials should offer no defense. You may have an obligation to journalistic integrity, but you're nobody special. You broke a law, you're going down. You can take pride in having done your duty while taking Bubba's meatstick in your rectum in general population.

Understand this, American journalists are still American citizens. The day they forget that, the day they betray their country for the sake of a hot scoop that wins their ratings, is the day they deserve the full weight of the law aimed at them. It doesn't have to be about being a propoganda mouthpiece, but it is about respecting the nation that gives you the right to openly criticize it. You can badmouth the cogs, but respect the machine.

There is also no law that says press reporters are supposed to be allowed to embed with military units, and it will not shock me the day that comes and we see a CNN reporter in a war zone get his head blown off on live television.

What's failing about journalism in the US is the introduction and flourishing of blatant bias. Spin and interpretation are becoming more prominent than the simple transmission of information. Selective filtering of what's covered to promote ratings is even more threatening to the integrity of journalism than any perceived attempt at suppression. They're becoming the very jingoist mouthpieces of partisan propoganda the Freedom of Press supposedly allows them NOT to be.

How's that for irony?

Curt, Gainesville :

Bob,

No question that Bush won the popular vote in 2004. The issue is would he have won the popular vote if the press had published all that was known about his performance in the first four years? Neither of us knows but we can surmise that he might have lost. Now, the problem with the current situation is that the press reports enough to give the illusion of robust coverage but withholds really important information for whatever reason. This lulls us into the false sense of security that we are getting the full story but we are wrong. What we have is an erosion of trust in our system of government due to our President consistently lying and/or telling half truths that mislead. I don't know where this leads but I fear it is not a good place to go. There is no doubt that the truth will come out eventually. Perhaps it won't be until after 2008? As to the government doing nothing if the Democrats control the congress, what do you think has been happening the last 2 years? There is a reason that the congress' job approval rating is even lower the Bush's. The congress rubbers stamps whatever the Bush Administration proposes. This whole kubuki dance about torturing political prisoners is a big joke. It is now clear that Bush is going to continue to sanction whatever torture the CIA feels is necessary to extract the information they want to hear (not to be confused with the truth). Again, congress put up a feeble resistance before yielding. However, some may think that Bush actually softened his position—he didn't.

GlobalMaven, Stephen Siciliano, http://highwayscribery.blogspot.com :

I'm no moderator but I am a GlobalMaven and it seems to me that the conversation strays here. Such is the nature of Internet chat which is open and hydra-like, much the way the World Wide Web is. But the question was not referring to semiotic concerns of media manipulation, filters, biases and ownership. Rather it was about media freedom visa vis government constraint. Hence the mention of the new Chinese law. In my opening post I tried to point to some trends occurring in this area, with little follow-up from those that came after.

To restate the matter I'd like to lean on an editorial in this morning's "San Diego Union-Tribune" The "U-T" is not a liberal paper by any means, but in this article,

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060926/news_lz1ed26middle.html

it did note that Sen. Kit Bond, a republican, has sponsored a bill (SB 3774) that would make disclosure of any classified information a criminal act.

Here are some direct quotes. "These are not good days to be whistle-blowers or investigative reporters. Between the federal government?s relentless push to put more of its activities under wraps and the increasing readiness of prosecutors at all levels to try to force journalists to give up their sources, the whole notion of a watchdog media sometimes seems under siege..."

Of Bond's bill the paper said, "This is outrageous. We are not the Soviet Union. We are not Saudi Arabia. We hope this occurs to a majority of senators before they embrace Bond's atrocity of a bill."

BobL-VA :

Curt,

Bush's first election is a debatable topic because of the unprecedented role the Supreme Court. However, the 2nd election is not in doubt. He won a popular vote. 2 years ago he was still popular.

Actually, unless someone has their head in the sand we know Bush lied to garner support for an invasion of Iraq. You know it. I know it. It isn't the first time in American History a President has lied to the American people for the same thing. While I would certainly argue his logic was faulty and his implementation was poor I do not doubt the sincerity of his motives. GW really believed he could affect positive change in the ME by deposing Saddam and transforming Iraq into a democracy. Had this happened we would all be singing his praises today.

What Bush is staring at today is the face of failure. Now everything he's said and done are being questioned and probed. If the democrats win either chamber of congress Bush & co. will free fall into a political abyss and nothing will get done for the next 2 years.

Just to have this conversation should show you how much the press has reported.

Ron, Chicago, USA :

I don't think there is any such thing as free press, don't know if there ever was. Now, corporations own all of the media, therefore we see what they want us to see. Newspaper journalists are constantly having their articles edited or rewritten without even knowing until the pieces are published. I know a journalist who wrote articles about labor issues, and all of her columns were edited to be more in favor of corporations. We are being fed propaganda every day. There is no honor or integrity in the press. In fact, it has become common and acceptable for the people of the press to cover themselves. How many stories are being written about reporters in the field now? Why should we care about that? America does not have a free press, we get what Walmart wants us to see.

James D. Cook, Streamwood, IL USA :

Freedom of speech in this country is monitored by the monetary handout that is given the media by those who have the bucks. The corporate world, having the wealth of the country tied up in their legally based entities, summons Congress to do their bidding. And since the Republican Party supports Big Business, favorable legislation is bestowed on them. Whether it's Fox News, ABC, NBC, or CBS, and its affiliates, they restrict progressive expressions because of the probability of inhibiting favorable legislation in Congress. So our Constitutional Rights are captive to money and who has it presently. Right now, it's the conservative wing of our government.

James D. Cook, Streamwood, IL USA :

Freedom of speech in this country is monitored by the monetary handout that is given the media by those who have the bucks. The corporate world, having the wealth of the country tied up in their legally based entities, summons Congress to do their bidding. And since the Republican Party supports Big Business, favorable legislation is bestowed on them. Whether it's Fox News, ABC, NBC, or CBS, and its affiliates, they restrict progressive expressions because of the probability of inhibiting favorable legislation in Congress. So our Constitutional Rights are captive to money and who has it presently. Right now, it's the conservative wing of our government.

what I'm saying is that spin, and disinformation :

is another way of eliminating free press...........there is an intent to place false information out there........

we pay for this government, they're spending our money to put out false information, that supports their theories of whatever, so they can go ahead and profit by their lies and avoid doing hard prison time, maybe.

news flavor, call spin spin and quit trying to be nice, just be honest. :

I wrote this yesterday,

the next thing you know this administration will start Clinton Bashing or bringing up gay marriage or terrorists or all three. CAN ANYONE SAY, GET A FRICKING CLUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The president and his people should not be _allowed_ to distort, disinform or otherwise pander to their own interests........if an advertiser did it they would have a lawsuit placed against them.....it is fraud. Robert Kagan is participating in this fraud....John Harris is blocking my ability to even send a comment in to his column, much less contribute. IS HE AFRAID OF ME? apparently.

Dev Varghese, Kerala, India :

Self-Censorship or Governmental-Censorship are not the issues corrupting Indian media, rather it is influx of ignorant columnist and editors who cannot identify between black and white.

The main duty of the media is to check the misuse (or overreach) of power of the governmental institutions (including legislature, exective and the judiciary). With such incompetant columnist/editors at the helm, the Indian media has lost its power.

Let me give a good example:

Today India is facing a grave crisis. The legislature, the main pillar that unites the nation is weakening. The judiciary, unfortunately, has become very powerful and is eating away the powers of the legislature. For instance, now the legislature doesn't even have the power to appoint judges, it was taken away by the judiciary.

In such circumstances, it is the responsibility of the media to jump in with their opinion. Unfortunately, It hasn't happened. Either the editors do not understand what is happening or they are not bothered about it. And that exactly is called Incompetance!

Curt, Gainesville :

To Bob:

I agree with you that Bush's popularity is impacted by the reporting that occurs. However, he got elected despite the fact that he isn't popular because the American people don't know how sinister our Government has become under his leadership. The press would be doing an important service if they would lay bare all the lies and misrepresentation that occurs within the White House spin machine.

N. Salamon, Canada :

Re freedom of press and related freedom of speech.

Here in Canada we are blessed with a nominal freedom of press. I say nominal, for there is much which can not be published, or the publishing thereof will cause grievous repercussion.
The first taboo, of course, is "anti-Semitic" remarks. Such restrictions would be excusable, were such presumed "anti-Semitism" be restricted to matters of "faith" [Judaism], or matters of "race" [were one to suppose "Semitic" is of Hebrew descendents only]. However, as a national paper recently indicated in op-ed, the presumption in Canada [at least by the elites] is that "anti-Semitism" is equivalent to and includes anti-Zionism. Moreover, in another op-ed it was strongly suggested that speaking against the government policy of Israel, is similarly "anti-Semitic". It is notable that "anti-Semitic" remarks do not extend to the exclusion of remarks against another group of the Semitic people, the Arabs. There is a freedom to attack Islam, the Roman Catholic Church etc.
The Second Taboo concerns "homophobic" remarks, to such an extent that the Bishop of the Calgary See was hauled before the Alberta Human Rights Commission, for the grievous transgression of Affirming the Roman Catholic Teaching against same-sex marriage [ an interesting corollary of Constitutionally Guaranteed Freedom of Religionand speech].
The Third Taboo concerns remarks against "Indian Nations" or any subject critical of natives. Affirming the need for excellent education and equal access for the best curriculum is similarly against the "interest" of Canada, therefore, unmentionable, with the exception of insuring the same for the children of the elites. The affirmation of the best possible education for the mentally or physically challenged is, of course, de rigueur. So according to the "elites" political, economic, or information media, Education is excellent, notwithstanding that 25-35% of 18 years olds do not finish high school, or considering that the highest academic curricula is restricted to approximately 1% of the cohort, while in the USA the same curricula is available to 13% of the age cohort.
There is, moreover, an over riding taboo, and this concerns information from the various governments in and for Canada. Notwithstanding Access to Information Acts, "democratic accountability principles" etc. information about any level of government action, policy, or policy option is greatly discouraged by "legal" means.
So do we have freedom of the press? I would say limited, especially in view that most major newspapers of Canada are owned by two groups, with somewhat similar control of TV [with one government owned network thrown in].
So why no changes in this semi-legal restriction of the freedom of press and freedom of expression? Primarily it is not in the interest of the elites, for control of information is control of society. Less "control" of these freedoms would/could/should greatly add to the democratic balance between the power elite and the average citizen [ a self-defeating proposition for the controllers]. That there was no change in this "control mechanism" had the unintended consequences that the citizenry greatly withdrew from the democratic process [seen through falling voter turn out], on one hand; to the greater power over citizenry of the politician [often working in symbiosis with the "moneyed elites"] in such manner marginalizing the opinions and well being of the "common" person, on the other hand.

As to what can be done to eliminate this semi-legal restriction of the press and of speech? The media spoke-persons have to detach themselves from being "politically correct" and actually promote discussion on diverse political social and philosophical questions [a la "postglobal"]. Moreover, it seems to me that the education of journalist and the law enforcing jurists [Judges] has to include far more philosophy, so that they will discard spin-doctoring, and get to the essence of issues. Perhaps greater freedom and more open discussion of diverse topics would encourage the disillusioned masses to renew their interest in democracy and election participation.

Thank you for your interest in the above views.'

Scootmandubious, Long Island, New York :

It is almost laughable to be reading critiques of the press in other countries, when the American press has become so impotent.

Of course, that doesn't stop pundits from trumpeting their own sense of self-importance.

Let's put it this way, in a period of 1-party rule where Congress exercises none of the checks-and-balances that our Consitution encourages, where are the journalistic investigations of this administration?

Could it be that the corporations that control the print and broadcast media, such as the owners of the Washington Post, have a muzzling effect on any true news that might disrupt the corporatist structure of American politics?

Thank goodness we at least have a blogosphere to allow an alternative provider that wasn't totally focused on 'entertainment' and reaching the lowest common denominator.

http://scootmandubious.blogspot.com

BobL-VA :

Curt, Gainesville-

Why do you think Bush's approval rating has fallen so low? Do you think this has happened in spite of the press?

That virtually every democrat, independent and some republicans disapprove of Bush's performance today is a direct result of the information the press has published. With the exception of Faux News it is very hard to find anyone saying anything nice about Bush today.

GlobalMaven, Azadeh Akbari, Iran, iranianjournalist.blogfa.com :

I was working on my article when my editor came and tapped me on the shoulder:" we are

closed down." I thought what a bad joke for those late hours and I continued writing. He said again:" I am not joking! We are closed!" this is something that happens regularly in Iran. Just last week another opposition newspaper was closed. I myself have experienced it tree times. This is a big shock. A letter from Iranian judiciary is enough to loose your job. On that time that I mentioned our newspapers editor had not accepted to censor some news about Zahra Kazemi. (The Iranian-Canadian journalist who had killed in Iran's prison). What is the direct result for that, when you understand that there is a close danger of being jobless? The impact is that all Iranian journalists had swallowed censorship and this is like a complex that remains in our souls. Little by little we have forgotten who the person that imposes censorship is. I censor myself unconsciously because the danger has become something internal. And I think this is the saddest thing in a life of a journalist, when you are the one who limits your own freedom.

Azadeh Akbari, Iranian, Journalist, Blogger

www.iranianjournalist.blogfa.com

Peter Meldrum, Ontario, Canada :

Why is there no represntative on the panel from your northern neighbour? Seems to me there should be. We do, after all, have a freer press than the USA.

Why no representative from the UK? Again much more press freedom there than the USA.

Sorry your panel is distinctly slanted!

BobL-VA :

I, for one, am grateful for the American press. I know they are not free. Depending on the particular organization they are biased one way or the other. I know they all make mistakes on a regular basis. I'm intelligent enough to take all of this into account every time I read an article or watch a report. I don't have to agree with them or believe them. However, this art form isn't controlled or restricted to the point where I believe the information to be only self serving and/or propaganda. I find the body of information provided by the American Press invaluable in formulating my positions and opinions. So, thank you WP, LAT, NYT, ABC, CNN, etc. etc....keep the information coming.

I would like to see the American Press have a reporter shield law. Eliminating the threat of jail time would encourage reporters to investigate stories they otherwise might pass on. This would lead to additional information and views being made part of the public domain.

Warsame, Mineapolis, MN :

Somalis know Bashir Goth. He was a puppet and a hardline supporter of the heinous Somali dictator. He used to call the last Somali Dictator a prophet; He used to call the rebels against him, ìevil incarnateî.

Now he is telling us that he supported the ìRebels against Siad Barreî. When it become, norm and popular to blame Siad Barre, he is telling us that he wrote a poem against him! It is like listening a Gestapo propagandist, saying he was against Hitler!

This guy is a moron a hired gun!

If this is the kind of people you are giving a platform, No wonder why your reporting is viewed as biased in the Islamic world!

A simple deduction, if you get Bashir Goth to comment on free press on Islam. Then what about the rest of the group?! Are they like Bashir Goth?

The logic is simple. Islamic extremists are the epitome of evil, but please find someone credible to comment on them!

Abdi

Curt, Gainesville :

When Bill Clinton made an unfortunate personal decision the press was on the case 7X24. I still remember the reports being preceded by loud dramatic music about "White House Under Seige". Without a doubt Clinton made a stupid decision but the consequences for the nation were minimal at best. Now we have a war that is based on outright lies and the press is afraid to aggressively pursue the truth. The Bush Administration hides information that is the basis for their decisions and dares anyone to report what they are doing. Information that should be in the public domain is classified and anyone who reports the information is threatened with prosecution. This doesn't sound like the America I used to live in. The President says 9/11 changed everything. I am sorry to say he is right and I think the reaction to 9/11 may be worse the event itself as tragic as it was. There are still a few media outlets who are holding the line to some extent (WP, NYT, LAT) but I feel they are losing their courage as well. Bush is making terrible decisions and getting a free ride from the media. He asked us to accept what he says at face value and yet virtually everything he says is later proven to be wrong, or at least, misrepresented. We need an aggressive and free press that is concerned about issues of national importance and not who is having sex with someone. The FCC is trying mightily to allow further concentration of the broadcast media which will further increase the probability that the powerful will drive the message we hear and shape public opinion around specific political agendas. The best example of that threat is the ABC "docu-drama" about events leading up to 9/11.

Curt, Gainesville :

When Bill Clinton made an unfortunate personal decision the press was on the case 7X24. I still remember the reports being preceded by loud dramatic music about "White House Under Seige". Without a doubt Clinton made a stupid decision but the consequences for the nation were minimal at best. Now we have a war that is based on outright lies and the press is afraid to aggressively pursue the truth. The Bush Administration hides information that is the basis for their decisions and dares anyone to report what they are doing. Information that should be in the public domain is classified and anyone who reports the information is threatened with prosecution. This doesn't sound like the America I used to live in. The President says 9/11 changed everything. I am sorry to say he is right and I think the reaction to 9/11 may be worse the event itself as tragic as it was. There are still a few media outlets who are holding the line to some extent (WP, NYT, LAT) but I feel they are losing their courage as well. Bush is making terrible decisions and getting a free ride from the media. He asked us to accept what he says at face value and yet virtually everything he says is later proven to be wrong, or at least, misrepresented. We need an aggressive and free press that is concerned about issues of national importance and not who is having sex with someone. The FCC is trying mightily to allow further concentration of the broadcast media which will further increase the probability that the powerful will drive the message we hear and shape public opinion around specific political agendas. The best example of that threat is the ABC "docu-drama" about events leading up to 9/11.

Shalom Freedman :

The media in Israel suffers from the same problem certain elements of the U.S. media once suffered from- an excessive left- wing bias. The leading Israel newspaper(in prestige not circulation terms) 'Haaretz is the most guilty party here. The large circulation dailies 'Yediot' and "Maariv' too tend to the Left, but like Haaretz they allow for an expression of opinion from all elements of the political specturm. The problem is frequency and focusing- and the bias is to the Left. An exception is the English small- circulation in Israel daily 'The Jerusalem Post' which is a 'center- right' paper.
. The Israeli electronic media also 'tilts left' in a strong way.
This does not mean that a variety of opinions is not heard. Israel is a society in which there is an intense level of political involvement on the part of ordinary citizens.
Censorship was one a much greater factor in Israel's media - life than it is now.
Ironically, with all the openness of the Israeli system(And Israel is one of the most intensely covered areas by the world media) the Israeli government and Media do a poor job of presenting a fair picture of Israeli realities to the world. Here the point is that 'freedom' alone does not make for responsible and fair media coverage. My sense is that the Israeli people get a raw deal not only from the world media but from their own also.

Atheist, Boston, USA :

Read the web page at the following link.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,62388,00.html

It is an interview with the author of the Patriot Act. Few people are aware that the author, Viet Dinh, is a Vietnamese-American. In Vietnamese culture, people favor suppression of free expression. Dinh then translated this cultural influence into a law that has diminished the free expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

As another example, consider Alberto Gonzales. He is the attorney general who wrote legal briefs supporting the use of torture. Gonzales is a Mexican-American. In Mexican culture, people favor the use of torture and other forms of cruel and unusual punishment. Gonzales then translated this cultural influence into a presidential order resulting in the torture of enemy combatants.

The lesson here is that freedom of expression and other human rights largely depend on the attitudes and values of the people in the society. The West enjoys considerable freedom of the press simply because we Westerners support such freedom. If we magically replaced all Americans with 300 million Vietnamese or 300 million Mexicans, our basic freedoms that we so cherish would vaporize. The USA would suppress freedom of speech/press in the way that Vietnam has done. The USA would also torture — possibly, even kill — prisoners in the way that Mexico has done.

Controlling our borders is a dire imperative if we expect to continue to enjoy our cherished freedoms. Our current open borders will destroy our culture and eventually our freedoms.

Shiva H, Bangalore, India :

However non-interfering the Government is, or if even there is no
censorship, it still comes down to the ethics and behaviour of the
people who cover news. In the U.S, most of the media is always
supporting the Government and its policies irrespective of the merits.
Any news is seen from beneficial angle of U.S.

Its time U.S reports news more than their opinion about news worldwide.

Yousuf Hashmi :

In recent years in Pakistan we see lot of freedom to press. once upon a time opposition leaders pictures even not allowed to come on state TV. However now the coverage of any event or news of any political party is the choice of the editor and if he wish he can print any thing what he wants.

the lower cadres of the government sometime blamed for petty pressure tactis however the media is now so much matured that they are ignoring all pressure tactics.

self censorship on local traditional and religious values is of course practiced. However this is very important for the market this newspaper is being sold.

media afterall is a industry and is working for the profit of the investor. therefore it address the issues according to client demand.

it will take a decade to come to pakistani press on the laval of british or US press but this is encouraging that we are moving forward very fast.

Gary Aguilar, MD, San Francisco, California :

How free is the American press? Perhaps the more important question is: Of what use is the American press?

In the April 29, 2004 issue of the New York Review of Books, Michael Massing laid out a devastating case that the most powerful news outlets in the country rolled over for the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq War with the predictable catastrophe that has now unfolded. [See: http://www.williambowles.info/media/massing_media.html]

Normally, critiques such as Massing's are ignored. But given the heft of the New York Review, Massing's position at the Columbia Journalism Review and the lethality and accuracy of his remarks, the mandarins of the Mainstream shot back - in fury.

A reading of only the ripostes, and Massing's demolition of them (in full, below), makes it clear that, as was so often the case during the early years of the Vietnam War, we can't turn to the American media for help to avert tragedies like these.

At an event hosted by the Berkeley School of Journalism last Tuesday night ("Consequences of the War on Terrorism" - 9/19/06), the Post's Dana Priest was explicit: 'Don't look to the media for help, folks.'

Lord only knows what further calamities lie in wait. Whatever they might be, it's a safe there'll be no clear warnings issued beforehand by outlets like The Post and The Paper of Record.

Caveat emptor! Luckily, there are still a few news outlets out there that aren't blinded by "patriotism," but you'll have to hop onto the internet to find them - in places like England, France, Germany, Italy and Australia.

Gary Aguilar

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17027

'Iraq: Now They Tell Us': An Exchange
By Dana Milbank, Michael Gordon, Reply by Michael Massing

In response to Now They Tell Us* (February 26, 2004)

To the Editors:

In your February 26 issue, Michael Massing ["Iraq: Now They Tell Us"] attempts to take the media to task for its pre-war coverage of the WMD issue. Mr. Massing asserts that the media was aware of specialists within the government and among the expert community who challenged the Bush administration's allegations on Iraq's purported programs to develop nuclear, biological, and chemical arms but chose not to report dissenting views.

In making this argument Mr. Massing leaves out references to my work that do not fit his thesis. He also provides an incomplete account of the views of the expert community. In short, Mr. Massing commits the very sins for which the critics have taken the Bush administration to task: to bolster his case he has cherry-picked the evidence.

The issue of WMD is complex and more complicated than Mr. Massing suggests. It was possible, for example, to challenge the CIA's claim that Iraq had sought to purchase aluminum tubes to produce enriched uranium and still hold the view that Saddam Hussein was probably trying to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program, had stockpiles of poison gas, and had an active germ weapons program.

That, as we now know, was the view of the Energy Department, according to the declassified National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002. It was the position British intelligence took in its September 24 White Paper on "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction," the document that British Prime Minister Tony Blair used to persuade his nation to go to war.

David Albright, a knowledgeable and honorable former weapon inspector on whom Mr. Massing relies for much of his critique, held a similar view. Mr. Albright argued that the Bush administration did not have a firm basis for asserting that the tubes were suitable only for making centrifuges to enrich uranium. At the same time, he and a colleague published a paper that suggested that new activity at al-Qaim in western Iraq might be part of a secret Iraqi effort to make a nuclear bomb. The paper was published on September 12, 2002, four days after the Times article on the tubes appeared, and is still on his Web site. In other words, Mr. Albright was concerned that Iraq might be moving to regenerate its nuclear weapons program but held that tubes were likely not part of that effort.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a respected organization whose work Mr. Massing cites approvingly, noted in Deadly Arsenals, its survey of world proliferation issues, which was published in the summer of 2002, that there was "heightened anxiety" concerning the possibility that Iraq was involved in a covert nuclear program and added that Iraq could well have stocks of germ weapons and poison gas.

I stand by my assertion to Mr. Massing that the notion that Iraq had some form of WMD was a widely shared assumption inside and outside of the government. I made that comment not to excuse any limitations on the part of the media but to paint the context in which American intelligence was prepared and discussed. Mr. Massing takes that assertion out of context, and he cites Mr. Albright's work to challenge that observation though his work actually supports it.

Nonetheless, the aluminum tubes figured prominently in the debate. In a September 8, 2002, article, which I coauthored, I reported the view of the CIA and a majority of the intelligence community that the tubes were being sought by the Iraqis to make centrifuges to enrich uranium as part of a nuclear weapons program. In the fall and winter of 2002 I was in Kuwait, Israel, Qatar, Bahrain, Djibouti, and Turkey, among other locations, in my role as a military reporter.

In the meantime, the debate over Iraqi WMD continued to evolve. By January, weapons monitors had returned to Iraq and begun to conduct their first inspections since 1998, which was an important development. Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the IAEA, was preparing to deliver his assessment to the United Nations Security Council. It was clear that the initial claims made to me by some administration officials (and which I noted in a September 13 article) that the debate over the tubes was simply a technical dispute between the CIA and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research were no longer plausible.

I reported the IAEA's assessment in a January 10 article, which bears the headline "Agency Challenges Evidence Against Iraq Cited by Bush." The IAEA's dissent was strong, though not unqualified. That article noted other dissenting views by the State Department, the Energy Department, and British intelligence. It quoted Gary Samore, an expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies and the senior proliferation official on President Clinton's National Security Council, as saying that the IAEA presentation had weakened the Bush administration's argument that Iraq was trying to revive its gas centrifuge program for making bomb-grade materials. Mr. Massing briefly alludes to that article but only to complain that it ran inside the paper. Strangely, he does not mention that I wrote it.

I have gone back to see what other coverage the Times had that day about Dr. ElBaradei's presentation. It was a day in which Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, also appeared before the Security Council to provide his assessment that Iraq had failed to provide sufficient information to dispel concerns over its weapons activities. The front-page article by our UN correspondent reported both presentations and took note of Dr. ElBaradei's position on the tubes. The Times also included a text sidebar, which provided excerpts from Dr. ElBaradei's formal presentation. The purpose of my article was to provide additional information to supplement the front-page article and the ElBaradei text.

On January 27, Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei returned to the United Nations to provide their updates following their visit to Iraq. These were much-awaited presentations. Again, our UN correspondent covered each of the assessments, including Dr. ElBaradei's report that his inspectors had detected no sign of nuclear activities in Iraq and his assertion that the presence of inspectors in Iraq would serve as a deterrent to the resumption of a nuclear program. As part of our coverage that day, I coauthored a January 28 article with James Risen, the Times intelligence reporter, which bears the headline "Findings of UN Group Undercut US Assertion." The article outlined the IAEA case and explained what inspections the agency had conducted in Iraq. This article is not mentioned in Mr. Massing's account.

For the record, there were several other stories in which I and other Times correspondents noted positions that challenged the Bush administration's case. In a front-page article on November 10, I recounted the CIA's assessment that Iraq was unlikely to cooperate with terrorists who sought to attack the United States. Specifically, I wrote that an assessment conveyed to Congress in a letter by CIA Director George J. Tenet and other intelligence reports "do not support the White House's view that Iraq presents an immediate threat to the American homeland and may use Al Qaeda to carry out attacks at any moment."

Mr. Massing mentions this article briefly and in passing but does not seem to appreciate the significance of this issue. The Bush administration case for preemptive war turned not only on allegations that Iraq had WMD but also on the assertion that it would give such weapons to terrorists. The CIA assessment of the absence of a terrorist link is contained in the same National Intelligence Estimate that makes the case on the aluminum tubes, which shows just how complex the issue of pre-war intelligence can be.

This was hardly the only time the Times cited evidence that challenged this administration's efforts to draw a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. Mr. Risen's front-page October 20 story from Prague, which Mr. Massing does not mention, is another example.

An important question is why the testimony by Dr. ElBaradei did not have more influence on the public debate in the United States. It may have been because of public attitudes toward international organizations. The public may have discounted Dr. ElBaradei's testimony because the IAEA grossly underestimated Iraq's nuclear efforts before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Secretary Powell's skills at persuasion may have been a factor.

Another reason Dr. ElBaradei's views did not have more influence, I believe, was that he presented his assessment in tandem with Mr. Blix and Mr. Blix generally delivered negative reports about Iraqi cooperation with weapons inspection efforts. On January 27, for example, Mr. Blix told the Security Council that "Iraq appears not to have come to genuine acceptanceÔøΩnot even todayÔøΩof the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and live in peace." He then outlined a list of ways in which Iraq had failed to dispel concerns about its weapons activities. That was a dramatic assertion and made headlines. It was made the same day that Dr. ElBaradei repeated his verdict on the aluminum tubes.

While the main focus of Mr. Massing's critique is about intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program, and the nuclear allegations were a key element of the Bush administration's case, it is worth recalling that Iraq's suspected biological weapons program was also cause for concern. The CIA held, as the Times and most of the major media reported, that Iraq was five to seven years away from making a nuclear weapon if it produced the fissile material itself and less than a year away from a bomb if it succeeded in buying the material on the black market. But germ weapons, if they existed, would have presented a current danger. In his January 27 assessment, Mr. Blix warned there were "strong indications" Iraq had made more anthrax than it declared, and "at least some of this was retained after the declared destruction date." When the Iraqis sent a letter asserting their germ weapons had been destroyed Mr. Blix responded that this was not evidence.

Since the war, Mr. Blix has theorized that Saddam's greatest deception may have been to maintain a sense of ambiguity over the status of his weapons programs even after Iraq had disposed of its stocks. As Mr. Blix has put it, "You can put a sign on your door, 'Beware of Dog,' without having a dog." That is an intriguing theory about how Saddam may have hoped to use the threat of WMD to maintain control at home and deter attacks from his foreign adversaries while cooperating just enough to stave off a United Nations Security Council vote authorizing military action. But it was not an assessment I heard Mr. Blix make before the war.

After the war, the Carnegie Endowment prepared a lengthy January 2004 report, which concluded that Iraq's nuclear program had been dismantled by inspectors after 1991 and could not have been resumed without detection. Mr. Massing cites this report to suggest that the absence of an Iraqi nuclear program should have been apparent to the media in the fall of 2002, which was when the CIA's new nuclear allegations were being reported. The Carnegie report, however, makes no such assertion. Joseph Cirincione, a senior associate at Carnegie and one of the authors of that document, recently told me that his view is that the absence of an Iraqi nuclear program could have been discerned "in the months after the inspectors came back, not in the fall of 2002." That is an important distinction to keep in mind in assessing the media's performance.

This is not to say that the press coverage of the WMD does not warrant fair-minded scrutiny. Sometimes the media is confronted by officials who seek to deceive the press. But the WMD issue was more complicated. In this instance, key officials appear to have deceived themselves. That poses special challenges for reporters but one which journalists should be prepared to meet. There is a lesson for the media in this episode. It is possible to be too accepting of the paradigm that guides the intelligence community, nongovernmental experts, and policy officials.

Those who also want to examine the record and judge for themselves can find the declassified NIE, the British White Paper, and other relevant documents on the Carnegie Endowment's Web site (www .ceip.org). I also recommend an insightful article on pre-war intelligence which appeared in the January/February 2004 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. It was written by Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA official and NSC aide, who supported the case for military intervention.

Michael Gordon
The New York Times
Washington, D.C.

To the Editors:

Michael Massing, in his March 25 response to Bob Kaiser's letter defending the Post's coverage of the pre-war Iraq intelligence, states that "the discussion should focus solely on the journalistic record." Perfectly sensible. So why, in the same response, does Massing say he didn't make mention of an article I wroteÔøΩan article that firmly contradicts Massing's thesisÔøΩbecause I "never responded" to his phone calls? For the record, Massing called the week my first child was born. But why doesn't the "journalistic record" speak for itself when it runs counter to Massing's views?

Dana Milbank
The Washington Post
Washington, D.C.
Michael Massing replies:

In retrospect, the September 8, 2002, article by Michael Gordon and Judith Miller about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction seems one of the most serious cases of misreporting in the entire run-up to the war. The piece provided a major boost to the administration's case for warÔøΩand proved to be wrong in almost every detail. Rather than own up to this and ponder what went wrong, Gordon offers excuses and rationalizations.

As my article noted, while most observers believed that Iraq had biological and chemical weapons, there was much doubt about the state of its nuclear program. It was the prospect of Saddam Hussein's getting an atomic bomb that caused the most fear about his regime, and it was this fear that the Bush administration most sought to fan as it pushed the case for war. Yet it had little concrete evidence to show that Iraq was actively seeking a bomb.

Enter The New York Times. In that September 8 story, Gordon and Miller, leaning heavily on Bush officials, offered the aluminum tubes as evidence that Iraq was actively seeking a nuclear weapon. The article did not simply raise this as a possibility ÔøΩit asserted it in bold and unequivocal language. "US Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts" ran the headline. Iraq, the lead declared, "has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today."

As my piece related, the Times story raised serious doubts among many nuclear experts, including David Albright. As I noted, Albright and his think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, favored tough action on Iraq, believing that the regime had WMD and so had to be contained through constant vigilance. But Albright also believed that the case against Iraq, to be credible, had to rest on accurate information, and, having looked into the matter of the tubes, he knew that many specialists doubted the assertions the Times piece made about them. Trying to alert the paper, Albright had several long conversations with Judith Miller, patiently explaining to her the skepticism many experts felt. Yet the resulting story, appearing on September 13 and written by Miller and Gordon, contained only a brief and dismissive reference to these experts' views. My article described Albright's dismay over this, quoting him as saying that the Times "made a decision to ice out the critics and insult them on top of it."

Anybody doubting my account of this can check Albright's own report, "Iraq's Aluminum Tubes: Separating Fact and Fiction," available at www.isis-online.org. In it, Albright writes that the Times's September 13 story "was heavily slanted to the CIA's position, and the views of the other side were trivialized." In the story, he added,

an administration official was quoted as saying that "the best" technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the CIA assessment. These inaccuracies made their way into the story despite several discussions that I had with Miller on the day before the story appearedÔøΩsome well into the night. In the end, nobody was quoted questioning the CIA's position, as I would have expected.

Albright goes on to note that he "wrote a series of ISIS reports criticizing the administration's claims about the tubes and its misuse of information to build a case for war," and that these became the basis for an article in The Washington Post on September 19, 2002, that disclosed the doubts some experts had about the tubes' suitability for use in centrifuges.

As Albright goes on to note, the Times's September 13 article, by carrying the categorical dismissal by senior officials of the dissenters' views, made those dissenters nervous about discussing the issue further. By contrast, reporters at Knight Ridder Newspapers, after writing about the dissent in the intelligence community, began receiving calls from sources eager to talk. Thus, the Times's heavy reliance on official sources and its dismissal of other sources may have discouraged potential dissenters from discussing their views with its reporters; in any case, as I showed, the paper neglected an important segment of analyst opinion.

Gordon mentions the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. The declassified version of this document offered a recitation of the intelligence community's official claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The one discordant note concerned the aluminum tubes. While noting that the intelligence community as a whole believed the tubes were intended for use in centrifuges, the document acknowledged that some experts disagreed, believing the tubes were intended for use in conventional weapons. Gordon, who wrote a story for the Times on the NIE, made only the briefest mention of this dissent; for the most part, his piece was a stenographic-like summary of the NIE's findings.

By contrast, Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay, noting the document's unusual reference to a dissenting view, decided to investigate further, and he eventually reached a veteran of the US uranium enrichment program who told him that the data on the tubes were far from conclusive. As my article recounted, Landay went on to write an article about how the CIA report "had exposed a sharp dispute among US intelligence experts" over the state of Iraq's arsenal. The contrast between the two accounts is striking.

Gordon refers to a front-page story he wrote about how the CIA's assessment that Iraq was unlikely to cooperate with terrorists did not support the White House's view about the immediacy of the Iraqi threat. (Oddly, Gordon gets the date of this piece wrongÔøΩit appeared on October 10, not November 10, 2002.) I found this article highly informative and so mentioned it in my piece. Alas, this was not enough for Gordon, who believes I should have given it more attention. But as my article noted, this piece was only one of a number to appear in the Times and other papers in this period offering an independent assessment of the administration's statements about the Iraqi threat. It was the sudden silence that set in in late October and that lasted until the start of the war that I found so troubling, and that I discussed at length in my article.

(Dana Milbank seems to have misunderstood this. If he will look again at my comment in the March 25 issue he will see that I described his article as one of the group of critical stories that appeared in October. I had to select which of these to cite. Without being able to reach Milbank and learn more about the reaction to his story, I decided to go with some of the others.)

Gordon cites as evidence of the Times's (and his) independence in these months two articles that he wrote or co-wrote in January 2003, both on statements issued by Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA. ElBaradei's reports were profoundly significant, offering the most definitive account of the state of Iraq's nuclear program after the departure of UN inspectors in 1998. From 1991 to 1998, those inspectors had by all accounts dismantled Iraq's nuclear program. And, citing the Carnegie Endowment report, I observed that it would have been "very difficult" for Iraq to conceal from the outside world any effort to resume that program. It's these facts that I said were "largely knowable" in the fall of 2002, not (as Gordon asserts) whether Iraq had actually resumed its nuclear program. That was knowable only after the inspectors returned to Iraq, in late November 2002. And it was precisely this issue that ElBaradei addressed in his two reports in January. After weeks of inspections, he stated, the IAEA had found no evidence of any ongoing nuclear activities in Iraq. And, he added, after extensive investigation, the agency had determined that the aluminum tubes were more likely intended for use in conventional rockets than in centrifuges.

So, on the critical issue of whether Iraq was actively seeking a nuclear bomb, the IAEA had found strong indications that it was not. And how did the Times cover these key statements? With two short, pro forma stories buried inside the A section. Contrast this (as I did in my article) with the long, front-page account by Joby Warrick in The Washington Post, which complemented the IAEA findings with interviews with weapons inspectors, scientists, and other experts to point out weaknesses in the administration's case about the aluminum tubes.

As to why the ElBaradei reports did not have more impact, Gordon speculates that the "public" may have discounted his testimony because the IAEA had "grossly underestimated" Iraq's nuclear efforts before the 1991 Gulf War. He also cites Colin Powell's "skills at persuasion." This is unconvincing. First, I doubt that the "public" had any recollection whatever of the IAEA's activities in Iraq prior to the 1991 Gulf War. Far more important in shaping the public's views were the statements put out by the administration and carried uncritically in the press. If the Times and other news organizations had given ElBaradei's statements more attention, the public no doubt would have, too.

Gordon's allusion to Colin Powell's persuasiveness is particularly interesting in light of all the questions that have been raised about his February 5, 2003, speech to the United Nations. The Times ran three front-page stories on that speech, one by Michael Gordon. While questioning some of Powell's assertions about Iraq's links to terrorists, Gordon offered unqualified praise for his assertions about Iraq's WMD. "The case Mr. Powell presented today regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction" was "remorseless," Gordon wrote. "Even the skeptics," he added,

had to concede that Mr. Powell's presentation had been an important milestone in the debate. Critics may try to challenge the strength of the administration's case and they will no doubt argue that inspectors be given more time. But it will [be] difficult for the skeptics to argue that Washington's case against Iraq is based on groundless suspicions and not intelligence information.

On the nuclear issue, Gordon wrote, Powell "presented new details to buttress the administration's case"; in particular, he cited Powell's claim that the United States "has intercepted aluminum tubes that had a special coating that would make them useful for making centrifuges to enrich uranium." Remarkably, Gordon did not see fit to mention the IAEA findings that undermined this claim and that he, Gordon, had twice written about in the previous month. So, at this key juncture in the debate on Iraq, Gordon uncritically transmitted a key US claim, one that the inspectors had effectively discredited. In the light of such reporting, is it any surprise that the IAEA findings had such limited impact?

Gordon's ruminations about why Hans Blix's statements received more attention than Mohamed ElBaradei's conveniently overlook any possible part the press may have had in this. A passage from Blix's new book Disarming Iraq is worth quoting in this regard:

While nuclear weapons are routinely lumped together with biological and chemical in the omnibus expression "weapons of mass destruction," it is obvious that they are in a class by themselves. The outside world's concerns about Iraq's weapons would never have been a very big issue if it had not been for Iraqi initiatives to acquire nuclear weapon capacity, and for the level of success it had attained by 1990 in enriching uranium. It is the more disturbing, then, that categorical and key contentions about continued Iraqi nuclear efforts and attainments, made at the highest levels of the US and UK governments from 2002 on, were simply wrong, and could have been avoided with a moderate dose of prudence.

And, he might have added, with more critical scrutiny from the press. The US press's intense focus on the Blix reports and its corresponding neglect of the ones by ElBaradei are, I believe, yet another illustration of the pack mentality I describe and criticize in my article.

Sarah K :

The problem is not that the media in the United States is free or not free. The problem is that our media filters the news through the cultural prejucides of the journalists themselves. As, I imagine, is the case in other countries. If you want a reasonably balanced account of an issue by all means read the Washington Post. But then check the same story at the BBC, Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle. It's not that our media tells lies, it's more that they have tyheir cultural baggae. It was the same with the Brits (with the honorable except of the BBC) in their coverage of the Northn Ireland conflict.

LoudSpeaker, chicago, Illinois :

Media in china is controlled by the state
Media in the US is controlled by jews
Media in china is much more reliable

For media manipulation look up Conrad Black, mortimer zucherman
For US politicain manipulation look up jack abramov
For manipulation of pentagon and government look up AIPAC and Larry Franklin

Brigitte Meier USA :

How free is the press?

The biggest problem of the world is not poverty, it can be resolved, but communication. The problem of communication will never be entirely resolved.

The Bush administration made it clear early on that whoever disagrees is ìun-Americanî; ìyou are either for it or against usî etc.

During the run-up to the war on Iraq, papers like the Boston Globe conveyed one message literally and a completely different one between the lines, in the juxtaposition of articles and images on each cross-spread. Did the U.S. turn communist that such measures were needed? To a large extent, the answer is yes. Patriotism turned into the reportersí veil behind which the awful reality was being hidden, to a large extent for fear of losing their job. The American society norm is hypocritical, and brutal in its ways of pushing so-called ìtrouble-makersî out. The Bush administration capitalized on that fear of ostracism to oblige reporters to toe the government line. Articles became excessively long, cramped with meaningless detail to appear ìfactualî and bury the most tragic events in the depth of endless text until they were left out entirely.

The Bush administration accomplished largely what it intended with its despotism, to render the press useless as means of information because so laundered of real life as to remain theoretical, and transform it instead into a Republican propaganda organ.

The people affected by the facts, especially the American produced, tragic facts, are seldom reported about in any terms other than the condescending ah-so-hopeful-and-positive-despite-the-hardship family picture, duly contrasted with the ìterroristsî, namely all those who refuse the propaganda.

The entire fear of terrorism and the increasing racism against Muslims in the U.S. was largely made possible by the complicity of reporters to the oppression of a realistic press. There is no law against a free press. The stigma against poverty was increased. It has a more potent effect to eliminate free thought than any law.

Accommodating, U.S.A :

If you are open-minded and are interested to explore an alternative view of how the U.S mass media is covering the Israeli ñPalestinian conflict, please take the time to watch the documentary film ìPeace, Propaganda & the Promised Landî. You can find it on at ì Google Videoî. Here is the link http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7828123714384920696&q=peace%2C+propaganda+and+promised+land&hl=en.

Information is power. Make you own mind.

Cover America first and talk about free press later :

What subject constitutes as hot news (relevant) and what does not, lies in the eyes of the viewer. Therefore the networks and media should try-not to disregard any important happenings in its coverage. However as there is limited amount of time and space for coverage, some topics make it and most don't.

With the world in turmoil, as it is now, war, plague, homicide, genocide, bombings, serial killers, pedophiles and some other topics are mostly covered on the air and print media. Carver believes in "there's no news like bad news" - Tomorrow Never Dies. In the latest scenario we have the networks poring over JonBenÈt Patricia Ramsey, 6 year old, - John Mark Karr case.

Briefly, the six year old, JonBenÈt was murdered - apparently by the suspect Karr. With the involvment of the death of a child this case is being followed rigorously. Some of the facts of the case are, JonBenÈt is an American - Karr is an American too. So the regard for an American life, especially of a child, is always high in America ofcourse, hence the coverage is justified.

Last year around the same time a teen Natalee Holloway, 18 years of age, yes that nice, cute girl went missing in Aruba. Her probable death has been attributed to three individuals (non-Americans) (Joran van der Sloot(17), the brothers Deepak Kalpoe (21) and Satish Kalpoe (18)) who might have sexually assaulted her and then ensuingly killed her. Now all the networks had PRIME TIME coverage over the issue; and for 6 odd months straight there was minimum amount of coverage of other happenings. To set things straight, there are reports that Natalee was all drunk on the night of her disappearnace, had performed some explicit acts in the bar where she met these three boys, and apparently was in consent (inebriated) for these boys to drive her back to the hotel after 'some-fun'. What happened rest is yet-to-be-determined. So one thing we can conclude is that (based on the facts reported), that in her drunken state - she might have had an orgy and things slid out of place - leading to her death. Now Natalee is an American.

Around March this year (2006), an incident involving the US Marines serving in Iraq came out. The actual incident happened last Novemeber (2005). There are many such incidents which have occurred but rarely come out - and which are ALWAYS swept under the carpet or ABSOLUTELY denied. But this one came out, unfortunately if I may add! A PFC Steven D. Green (21 years old, we know his age) and his comrades, serving at a check-post in the war-torn (or should I say war-induced & war-infuriated by American INVASION) country, noticed a nice and sweet Iraqi girl/woman from Mahmoudiya, pass by their posts.

Aside: We do not know her full name, we are STILL (STILL) yet to know her age, apparently her age as determined by FBI - I thought FBI worked inside the country not in Iraq! - is 25, while her neighbors claim it as 14 years old.

JonBenÈt Patricia Ramsey, six years old.
Mahmoudiya-girl, fourteen years old OR twenty five years old - YET TO BE DETERMINED(with all the modern technology in hand)
Natelee Holloway, eighteen years old.

Now what ensued was that one fine day these marines camouflaged themselves as Iraqis and stormed this girl's house and RAPED her and MUTILATED her body and also of her younger sisters (total killed - probably 5 or 6) and other family members and BURNT a part of her body and threw blankets over her. Ofcourse all this is allegation - and the marines are INNOCENT till proven guilty. Amazingly this story has been covered the least in American network. Oh did I forget to mention the nationalities, Mahmoudiya and others killed are Iraqis, the accused is American.

Now with these three cases and their coverage can we conclude anything at all about the American News Network and Coverage and can we go on one step ahead and conclude about the mindsets of Americans? Well I leave the conclusions to you, but let me write further.

Even before John Karr has been proven guilty, though he might have admitted to killing JonBenÈt - and his statments are supposedly contradictory to the evidence, he is being potrayed as the killer, by the media. Every news network in the country regarded the three individuals, in the Natelee Holloway case as killers even before the Natelee's body was found (it has still not found!) and Steven D. Green is a suspect of misdoing - he has been discharged from the US ARMY based on the reason that he had 'personality - disorder'.

Now what should I conclude? What should you conclude?

Few things stand out, if the victim is American then, the coverage tends to be rigorous and meticulous. If the victim is American then it is highly possible that the media will pass a judgement before the court of law has even reviewed the case. If the victim is NOT-American then, sorry my friend - better luck next time. Read this link,

THERE IS AN ABSOLUTE DISREGARD FOR THE LIFE OF A NON-AMERICAN.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/07/AR2006070701155_pf.html

Is this what American News Network all about? Has the US Army grown so callous that in order to save their reputation they have silently dismissed the soldier and his comrades? Has the American Media been warned by the Government/Administration, to not to cover this incident?

I always grew up in India, watching movies and channels and sitcoms of US and dreamt, truely there is a incipient sense of democracy and fariness and respect in every American individual. Alas as I see it today, it is but a dream.

However we should appreciate that in this great land, there were a few soldiers who came up boldly and reported the incident, but the Generals covered up the rape! In that way American is democratic but the governace is anything but! Another thing I like about is America is that I am allowed to write freely - or wait is the NSA/FBI/Home-Sec/CIA knocking on my door!

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave. (I have begun to have some doubts about the choice of the words)

Steven D Green might have enjoyed Mahmoudiya-girl for more time than the combined amount of time that all networks have aired this issue.

John, Omaha, USA :

We in the US has one of the most restrictive and worst press. It has been hijacked by the Republican administration. If anything is reported, it is anti-patriotic and aiding the terrorists. I think the Iranians have a freer press.

Arash Kamangir, Tehran, Iran (living in Canada): http://kamangir.wordpress.com/ :

From my understanding there are two different approaches to media freedom. One way is to have rules. Then for any single incident you, or a judge, will have to go through the rules and then find the appropriate law and find out if anything against the law has happened. If so, the law will also explicitly mention the corresponding punishment. This is the way advised in theory and practiced more or less in many modern countries. However, this definition is a bit too loose for many regimes, including the Iranian one.
A second, more "effective", approach to press "freedom" is to have a set of not very explicitly defined "red lines". These lines are not mentioned very clearly anywhere. Still, they are there and you should never cross them. Take the example of Shargh newspaper, which was recently closed on the basis of being offensive (see). I doubt if anywhere in the law it is mentioned that drawing a cartoon which may be related to the people in power is illegal. Yet, the newspaper is closed and nothing really happens; we are talking about a country in which a major fraction of people are living below poverty line. So, people obviously have thousands of other reasons to be worried about.
The fact that legal and illegal matters are not explicitly separated has another, maybe more disturbing, effect on the freedom of flow of information, if it exists at all in countries like Iran. If the red line is not carefully stated anywhere you may be very easily slipped to pass it, or the line may pass you. This means, even if you are carefully regarding all the unwritten rules, there still is the probability that if the administration wants to get rid of you they can find a law which convicts you. For example, when a few years ago the administration wanted to get rid of 20 newspapers in a single night they referred to an article which enables the police to arrest people who have not done anything illegal, if there is reason to think they would do so in near future. Major lawyers published open letters that the article is designated for stopping obvious criminals and not newspapers but the administration did not seem to have an ear for it. The interesting part was that the article which was referred was more than fifty years old and was not very much used before that night. So, even if the administration does not send anyone to arrest you, you do censor yourself. Who knows what may happen tomorrow.
I am sorry, but the "journalists working together" is basically fantasy. Haven't you heard how bus drivers were treated when they asked for having their syndicate?

Kim Yaman, Cary NC, USA :

I used to know what it was like to be able to rely on at least a few folks in the media to be objective witnesses to events. The media stood in for our eyes and our ears, photographing or filming or recording what happened and zapping it off to us. I know that the establishment of cheap punditry to replace expensive news gathering contributed significantly to that. But since 9/11, reporters have dropped a lot of their pretense of objectivity. They cry more (crying, for God's sake!), opine more, tell us their sad tales of how difficult it is to get the story or how the story affects them. They're no longer our eyes and ears; they are our on-air heartstrings and thought processors as well. Newscasts are becoming more like public zeitgeist diaries, corporate publicity agents, and celebrity blogs.
And speaking of blogs, there's been more casual interactivity with reporters since 9/11. Live news chats, for instance. Ugh. The public gets to ask questions of reporters that the reporters should be asking their sources. And the sources are never asked! Whoopee.

There's more blurring of the lines between news and government, as well as corporations. Public relations campaigns mask themselves as press releases or even as journalism. At the same time, there's been less actual interactivity with our government leaders as government officials restrict access to photo ops (and professional lobbying interests). There's no forum for the public to petition their government for grievance. We don't really protest anymore, we're just herded around to get the least bang for the buck, while tiny photo op stages are created to get the most bang for the buck. Even the most massive protests are roped off, bused miles away from what we're protesting, photographed, filmed, ordinanced, and investigated. And if we fit the profile, we might be allowed in to see our "representative government" leaders. Then the media colludes, filming and photographing the stage as though it's a live production featuring adoring fans instead of a simulacrum of support. Sa-weeeeet.
"Embedding" reporters during the Iraq War further blurred the lines between reporters and the government. We all recognize that when reporters agreed to become "embedded," they made an agreement not to report certain things. Sometimes they learned secrets that they held onto for months or even years, or until they had enough to publish a book. Then we'd hear that reporters and their editors knew our phones and Internet lines had been tapped for years now — only they didn't mention anything until the information was meted out during the PR blitz just before their book publication date. Tollbooth truth: Pay me $29.95 and I'll tell you what you need to know.
Or the "Plame scandal" that many reporters now tell us wasn't a scandal at all. It was an "open secret" and they all knew. Haha. Joke's on Joe and Jane Public. We had media reporters and pundits pimping this story for more than three years — reporters and pundits who sat around on Sunday news talk shows openly mused about "who knew and when," as if they were genuinely perplexed — and now they tell us they knew all along. Well, don't we feel silly being left out of that party?
At the same time, we have "media" figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore and soooooo many others who claim to represent us in sniffing out the truth. But they serve only a certain segment of the population, and they left objectivity in the dust long ago. Long before 9/11 — but 9/11 gave them gravitas. They're missionaries for a cause now.
Objectivity has been discarded in favor of what passes for "balance." The Center for Public Broadcasting even hired a consultant to make sure that "liberal" sources were matched equally with "conservative" sources — even when it meant digging up a shill from a rightwing thinktank to dispute a report on global temperature observations, or matching quotes from evolutionary scientists with quotes from professional lobbyists for the "intelligent design" camp.
I miss actual reporting. I wonder whether we'll ever have it again.
"Good night, and good luck." Indeed. This has been Karen Ryan reporting.

Vimala, Florida, USA :

A world Forumof Journalists should be established and it should establish norms for responsible and truthful reporting. By responsible I mean a journalist should reasonably check all facts before reporting, avoid frivolty and sensationalism. For example a Danish journalist published derogatory remarks about the prophet of Islam. Did it advance the cause of truthful reporting? On the other hand a critic of Islam as it is practised today deserves to be protected.

Kentucky, US :

We have according to the US Constitution a free press but it does not work that way in practice. Journalists must publish according to the dictates of the owners. Therefore, the US is not getting the true story with respect to US finances, global warming, Iraq and immigration.Most papers for reasons which I cannot understand tow the government line regardless of party affiliation. I have inquired of newspaper people why the US is doing this and destroying itself and all pretend they do not know. I think its trading access for the truth.The WP is a good example. If any paper with its writers and available information should have known the truth about Iraq, its the WP.They knew it was a bum trip with disaster written all over it but they published almost 30 editorials supporting the Iraq war. So we must conclude that there is a game afoot but we are not allowed to discuss it because the country is under intellectual occupation. We all know who are the occupiers.

GlobalMaven, Stephen Siciliano, http://highwayscribery.blogspot.com :


On the Aug. 22 post at ìhighwayscriberyî entitled, "The Bush Government: Your Friend," we took it upon ourselves to reprint a press release from the American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA) requesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) permit residents of Katrina trailer parks in Morgan City and Davantt, La., to talk with reporters, because they had prohibited them from doing so.

Earlier, March 5 to be exact, we did another post entitled ìReporters on Trialî recapping an article by ìThe Postísî own Dan Eggen regarding investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into possible leaks relative to the now infamous secret CIA prisons abroad and the National Security Agencyís domestic spying program, and the Bush administrationís plans to charge reporters under espionage laws.

ìhighwayscriberyî noted at the time, ìThatís absurd, of course. It is the journalists duty to keep government honest. Calling that spying because of the tiresome and weak argument that weíre ëat warí is the height of irresponsibility.î

Last week the highway scribe read in the ìSan Diego Union-Tribuneî that the Department of Justice was opposed to a Reporterís Shield law trudging itís lonely way through Congress, the reason for which is unimportant here because itís the DOJ's opposition itself that speaks to the larger question.

To top it all off, the two guys who wrote the book about Barry Bonds and his steroid use are being sent to jail for refusing to reveal sources.

So you be the judge as to whatís happening to reporters' freedoms here in this ostensibly freest of countries.

FEMA backed down when wind of the ASJAís campaign reached it. So binding together in unions and trade associations that actively defend our rights to write can work. As long as we can write we must make the issue an important one.

We draw up the story board, not Karl Rove and thatís the ultimate power and responsibility.

Andy Pham :

Freedom of speech is the most shared ideology. Since this notion of freedom was stipulated in the U.S. constitution, it has been repeated by the constitutions of almost any nation of the world, including that of the Communist regime of Vietnam, where I was born. But while this privilege has been strictly applied in the United States and other Western countries, not literally though, it has been interpreted by the other nations based on the needs to maintain the stability of their regimes. And these needs varied immensely according to the nature of the regime, cultural, geographical aspects, etc., of each nation. There is no need to say that, most of the time, these needs are proclaimed arbitrarily, and the conscious journalists are right to intervene.

As for Vietnam, most critics contain that press freedom does not exist at all. Even the official press speaks like a broken disk, or as if it is extracted from a computer data base. But to be fair, it should be noted that there has never been a press freedom since the printed press was introduced to Vietnam. Under the French colonization, speaking against the regime meant long detention and forced labor in an isolated island, often caged in an underground enclosure to prevent escape. Many of the current Vietnamese Communist leaders know this situation better than anyone else, because they were the very victims of such treatment by the French colonialists for speaking out what they believed in. And they knew that perseverance finally prevailed, as they experienced then, and later with the Americans in the Vietnam War. Therefore, what the Vietnamese Communists fear most, they kill it when it was still in the embryo: they crush the press freedom before it has a change to persist.

Consequently, if you want to struggle for the freedom of the press in Vietnam, you should never give up. If you choose to oppose the regime openly and quickly, you certainly will fail, especially if you opt for violent methods. I would like to offer the following story as a model of perseverance, ìthatís the straw that break the camelís back.î

A Vietnamese prelate, who was elevated to the rank of Cardinal by the Pope not long ago, often visited the U.S.A. looking for support for his Church in Vietnam. One day, some of his supporters asked him half-jokingly if he was in the U.S.A. on a mission for the Vietnamese Communists (because they have not seen him do anything for the freedom of speech in Vietnam.) The prelate retorted that his way of struggle is simple: He impatiently waits for the Communists to half-open a door to squeeze in. And with free-market and globalization, I believe that sooner or later the Vietnamese Communists have to open all doors, and what the Cardinal needs is squeeze in.

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