Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Your Side, My Side, And The Truth

A diarist at Daily Kos is rightly upset with the new policy at the Atlanta Journal Constitution to print letters to the editor even if they are filled with factual errors.

I haven't done this rant in a while, so this is a good springboard for me. There is a serious problem in journalism today with confusing balanced and objectivity. The GOP has learned how to play in this environment like a virtuoso being handed a Stradivarius.

Reporters are deathly afraid of being considered politically biased, so they will distort truth and reality in order to appear to not be taking sides. Our policy and our lack of respect for the constitution in this country can be explained by the phenomena of the "Overton Window" being used in combination of the current ethic of modern journalism.

An idea doesn't become radical and then become policy with a snap of one's fingers. There are stages it must go through to reach that point.

* Unthinkable
* Radical
* Acceptable
* Sensible
* Popular
* Policy

Today, "both sides" must get a fair shake. A few years ago torture was unthinkable as a policy of this country. So, the Republicans start off by saying the craziest thing imaginable. It gets equal time with reporters refraining from suggesting that the person is on drugs. As it gets repeated often enough, the idea becomes less bracing. It's like watching a scary movie for the tenth time. The event that terrified you the first time has become a bit more routine. Still shocking, but less so. Now the idea is just radical.

Events such as 9/11 transpire, and soon it becomes acceptable to debate if we should torture people to get information. As this dialogue and debate continues, the idea becomes sensible to many. Soon, we are watching an episode of 24 and Jack Bauer needs to torture somebody to stop a nuke going off on America, and the idea becomes popular. Now it's become unofficial policy.

The media are in denial about their role in these events transpiring. Without their willingness to be stenographers for lies, outrageous offensive acts to "balance" things out, we wouldn't be where we are today.

It seems so natural though doesn't it? If you asked somebody on September 10th, 2001 about what has transpired since, it would be more jarring. It's been less than six years to go from unthinkable to what our government is doing in our name, with the press either a willing or unwitting partner in the process.

Go back in your mind to early September 2001. President Bush's poll numbers were continually dropping after the honeymoon period. His numbers were inching lower to 53%. Imagine somebody on that day explaining the events that would occur but in a calm rational way.

On September 11th, Al Qaeda will attack America in a low tech way. They will use people with box cutters, who commit suicide and kill others by hijacking airplanes and crashing them into buildings.

In response we will subject people to strip searches, ban liquids, nail clippers, and other items on flights. We will bomb Afghanistan which is harboring Osama Bin Laden. Even though Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the attack, President Bush will say he isn't that interested in catching him. We will pull away from that fight to attack Iraq who we falsely claim are stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. They have none. Thirty-five hundred Americans will have died during the invasion. The cost to us will be between one and two trillion dollars.

We will suspend habaes corpus for Americans we think might be sympathetic to Al Qaeda. We will send people we suspect of terrorism to Syria to be tortured. Sometimes we will be wrong. We will torture suspected terrorists in Iraq. We will ship suspects to Cuba where they will be held for years without trials.

We will listen in on your phone calls, and emails. Our President will drop to Nixonian levels in the polls in six years. Democrats in congress will assist the wildly unpopular president in further spying on our phone calls. 70% of the country want us to leave Iraq but nothing is done.

Anybody guess how this future would poll on September 10th? It would have been offensive and shocking. That is what disturbs me the most. Oh, the Attorney General just perjured himself today.


The press is doing a horrible job standing up for our liberties because they don't believe it's their job to do so. They are being balanced. There is no way in hell that what has been done in our name could be acceptable without being distributed through the press favorably, or at least neutrally.

How many civil liberties, liberties taken with the constitution need to occur until our media decides that what exists today is one of the direct causes of their ethical stance?