The most vital insurer of a free and democratic country is an outspoken, unbridled, independent press. The framers of our Constitution and our forefathers understood this by making freedom of speech and press part of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The same cannot be said about the current administration who view freedom of expression with scorn and believe that the press is a tool to be used to further political agenda.
When the government uses the press as a tool, it takes away all of our rights and all of our freedoms. The independent messenger is really a plant or paid stooge, in the guise of independent reporting, independent press ceases to exist along with that check and balance of the government.
The current administration has taken these techniques to a new height. It has just come to light how the current administration tries to sway public opinion, using public money to foster their own political agenda. Reports have just come out that the Federal government has been producing “infomercials” under the guise of news stories. Without the public knowing it, these infomercials have been broadcast as if they were independent news stories, telling the truth as opposed to seeking to tell one side of a political agenda. Just recently, President Bush was asked during a news conference whether he thought that was appropriate. His response was in essence, that if the news stations that were being paid to broadcast these infomercials thought it was important that the public knew that they had been generated by the government, then they should inform their listeners. He with all of his great wisdom, failed to grasp or intentionally did not grasp the fact that it should be our government informing us when they are producing propaganda, along with the government informing us that it is our money that they are using to produce that propaganda. Bush did not seem to have any problems with the public not knowing when they were fed propaganda, as it is his propaganda machine that is spitting out one sided opinions.
To make matters worse, not only has the current administration paid for informercials under the guise of news stories, but they have also paid political talk show hosts, various sums of money, who mention or to bring up in their topics certain points that the administration wants to have discussed. These people are paid by the government in order to take a side of the issue the government approves of, and pretend that they are not paid for these political plugs, and to pretend that it is based upon independent thought. Further, these talk show hosts are being paid to use their “good will with their listening public” to sway the listening public to support an issue without having been told that the person who is propounding this point of view is now a paid political hack.
This would be bad enough, but the current administration full of all of its power and the belief that whatever they do is right have also used the press to sway the American populace to their political agenda in other ways. Current residents of the White House have conducted as few question and answer press related sessions as any occupant of that house in recent memory. He has intentionally not put himself in the position of answering questions and allowing himself to be called on the carpet for some of his decisions. Yet, when he does have these press conferences we now learn that there are political shields who are let in who have no press credentials to ask questions. These shields are apparently planted in order to ask “softball questions” or question and state opinions in favor of the administration so that it appears that an independent press on the side of the administration in all candor against the democratic party. One of these shields was given press credentials well before he ever worked for a legitimate news organization. The scariest thing about one of these shields is, that he has been called by his first name by your President obviously showing that the highest echelons of your government are complacent in these scams and shams.
While this is all going on, another branch of your Federal government, the FCC, with its conservative Republican appointees, are doing their best to influence what you see and hear on your televisions and radios. The FCC in the process of being given permission by Congress to fine any violator of its new moral code up to $500,000.00 per incident. The intent of this legislation and the use of it by the FCC is to make sure indecent speech or behavior is not allowed on television or radio. Of course, it is now the conservative right who determines what is indecent. Again, the administration who is determining what you see and hear on the political level, is now determining what you see and what you hear on the personal, entertainment and social level. To make matters worse if they could be, there is now legislation making its way through Congress, trying to make satellite and cable television and radio subject to the same FCC regulations. If this should be the case, no longer would you be able to even pay to hear speech and expression that you like because the FCC would have control over that paid for speech and expression and have the ability to determine even on cable and satellite what you as adults should be permitted to be exposed to.
This is all happening while the Democratic party and its allies sit back. We were stunned by the 2000 Presidential election, the 2002 fall term elections and the 2004 Presidential election. They currently are licking their wounds and seem unwilling and unable to fight back this onslaught of conservative Republican ideology. The press seems to be cowering from the same group. They have seen Dan Rather being forced off the air, most likely by setup from the right. They have learned that unless you play ball with this administration, you don’t get interviews and you don’t get access to the story makers. Our country is going through a tough time right now. We are slowly losing our rights and yet there does not seem to be call or mandate to getting them back. Once these rights are lost, history shows that they are not temporary lost, but permanently lost. Freedom of speech, the press and the First Amendment is the most precious thing that we as a democratic country have. The current administration is doing its best to take that away from us. It is up to you and to us and all freedom loving Americans to use those immortal words of Howard Beal “I am mad as hell and I am not gonna take it anymore”.