Tuesday, May 14, 2013

From Media Trust to Media Shock - Fed Journalist Wire Taps – Is the AP Alone?

No need to edify - the New Comparison - image from thefinancialtimes.com

The Associated Press is outraged that the federal government had been secretly taping their phone lines in an action which, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, was ““an unacceptable abuse of power." by the Obama Administration (Los Angeles Times).

Given the fact that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is on the hot seat for secretly targeting ”conservative groups, especially prior to the 2012 election(Washington Post), it is not a stretch of the imagination that the control with which the government allots itself, would be capable of insuring that their press behave.

When one considers the extreme bias that the media, in general, has shown towards this administration, compared to say, the previous administration, (recent history), it must come as a shock to those who believe themselves to be immune to oversight by a government, to find themselves the target.

The AP is rightly outraged, as should be the rest of the media that believes it to be immune from Lincoln-like tactics, yet, they should have seen this coming. When, as a group, the office of the President is treated as above reproach, deified, and fawned over as if it were, not an elected office, rather a monarchy, then one must expect that heads might roll. There is a difference between respecting the office, and doing the job that a journalist is born for, seeking out the truth and reporting that truth, regardless of how it may or may not be ideologically simpatico with journalist political leanings.

Example: the attack immediately following the attack on Benghazi , the State Department and, by virtue of national security, the White House, were made aware of an Al Queda link, yet, this detail was “edited out”, and Susan Rice, the White House, UN Ambassador, went on multiple television news shows, and blamed a ridiculous video, continuing to do so for several weeks (along with other members of the administration). (Global Dispatch) The fact that in-real-time the administration knew exactly what was taking place, apparently was shoved under the proverbial rug, and being an election year, the media dutifully looked the other way. Suddenly, the opposition who had been maligned (and are still maligned) had something (that would be those Republicans). Now one sees Tom Brokaw asking questions and appearing “shocked”. How much longer before those who dare to question, are also under surveillance?

Sounds like a stretch, but consider that the AP, doing its job, felt confident in its protection under the Constitution? Again, when one treats an elected official as if they were born for the office, then one is doing a disservice to their profession, to the nation, and to that elected official. Why the elected official? Take the past week and the multitude of scandals (for lack of a better word), with which the President is now faced. If one were to back up a bit, and have seen journalist take their profession at its face value, the fact that there were “watchdogs” for the people, may have made the administration take more care in its treatment of certain situations. If the press were not lapdogs, and were watchdogs as they should have been, then perhaps, just perhaps, there would be no taint on the administration at all – only a bit here and there, no unlike any other administration.

The fact that the press, in general, has lost the confidence of the American People, who get their news from a variety of sources rather, or not at all, in most cases, should not be lost on those who profess to be journalists. Perhaps if bias towards a particular group (Conservatives, or certain Democrats who dare to cross party lines), were not so evident in every facet of the news, from the local, to the national, there might be some trust regained. If news articles or broadcasts, including sports articles, fashion, food, were not so focused on the political, rather on reporting, perhaps they might regain that trust. The problem they now face is that if they were to do so, they would certainly be concerned that jobs, their privacy, their freedom might be at stake. Or perhaps that’s what has been going on all along. It is a stretch, given the antipathy between the pubic and the press, and the perception that the press is nothing more than another arm of the government. It is as the AP, and those who follow, will be viewed as the “Boy who cried wolf”.

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