06 Nov 2006

The Media Fifth Column and the War

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James Q. Wilson identifies precisely where, and by whom, the War on Terrror is being decided.

Once, powerful press owners dictated what their papers would print, sometimes irresponsibly. But that era of partisan and circulation-building distortions was not replaced by a commitment to objective journalism; it was replaced by a deep suspicion of the American government. That suspicion, fueled in part by the Vietnam and Watergate controversies, means that the government, especially if it is a conservative one, is surrounded by journalists who doubt almost all it says. One obvious result is that since World War II there have been few reports of military heroes; indeed, there have been scarcely any reports of military victories.
This change in the media is not a transitory one that will give way to a return to the support of our military when it fights. Journalism, like so much scholarship, now dwells in a postmodern age in which truth is hard to find and statements merely serve someone’s interests.

The mainstream media’s adversarial stance, both here and abroad, means that whenever a foreign enemy challenges us, he will know that his objective will be to win the battle not on some faraway bit of land but among the people who determine what we read and watch. We won the Second World War in Europe and Japan, but we lost in Vietnam and are in danger of losing in Iraq and Lebanon in the newspapers, magazines and television programs we enjoy.

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One Feedback on "The Media Fifth Column and the War"

Dominique R. Poirier

Never Yet Melted previously reported the creation by the DoD of a report whose title is For the Record, and whose reason d’etre is to inform people about important facts privately owned media seem to be unwilling to talk about. That’s a fact.

Then, I have a question, not a comment, to ask.

Would it be unconstitutional, or totally against the very principles and set of values of America to have the right to read an official, 100% State financed, written, illustrated and published newspaper?

If not.

It wouldn’t do any arm to the freedom of press, I think. It would just be the voice of the Government of the United States. Whichever Department or Agency publishes it, all other privately owned media would have the right to criticize or question its content, and the opposite as well.

Call it The Patriot, or The George Washington Times, for example. Something somewhat neutral, but with a clear cut and unmistakable identity.

Possibly, such publication would bring more cost than profit, but, never mind, since it is not the vocation of a Governmental organ to make profit.

Such newspaper could be sold for a reasonable, if not competitive, price; and it would have the financial capabilities to pay good journalists coming from the private sector and free to resign anytime. Such newspaper would not be influenced in any way by foreign interests and would not offer advertising space to private companies and NGOs.

As in the case of any other newspaper, one would find in it foreign affairs columns, financial columns, sports columns, cartoons, etc. There would be also an obituary, and a job opportunities column whose access, however, would be restricted to government hiring.
Presidential speeches, State of the Union and related would be published on it, thus any American citizen (as much as foreigners, of course) would have the time to read them carefully and fully understand them.

The Government would have the privilege to confirm, deny, or ignore, allegations, rumors and else through its own voice.

Competent and skilled professionals would be in charge to create and manage this newspaper so as to make it an attractive newspaper and to avoid at all cost to falling in the trap of a typically governmental media publishing clichés and platitudes.

Whichever could be the success and sales of such newspaper, it would exist and anyone, anytime, could have the possibility to know about the Government point of view on such or such issue at stake.

In order to make this newspaper as objective as possible and to avoid at all cost internal political bias, a board of trustees in charge of the editorial line could be elected. 50% Republicans, and 50% Democrats. Or, nine managers, as for the Supreme Court.

Is that a silly idea? If the National Public Radio exists; why not a national newspaper, then? I think many people in America would read it.



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