As readers of one of the few actual independent news services which is global in scope, Newsblaze readers are presumably interested in facts, and, in particular, the news.
Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer of you every year – I’m not referring to the death of print journalism, but the actual lack of interest in the truth. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that the only people of any profession less trusted than journalists are members of the U.S. Congress.
I am writing this today in part because Donald Trump could be elected President of the United States (where I reside and work, for now) and he has specifically stated that one of his first goals in office (after jailing his political opponents as any good South American dictator does) will be to identify journalists he doesn’t like and either sue them for reporting what he actually says and does, or charge them with criminal activity as serious as treason – again, for reporting what he actually says and does.
In other words, as a journalist in America I could soon face the same sort of repression as journalists in Egypt or other totalitarian countries.
Simply put, the First Amendment is Dying Because People Don’t Trust Reporters.
Politicians have been working hard to advance this distrust of reporters for decades because journalists are the only people in our civilization whose job it is to learn the truth and, worse yet in the opinion of politicians, spread that truth to the public.
The one thing which people who are doing bad things don’t want is someone to discover their lies, deception, theft and tricks and then tell everyone else what they found.
That’s the job of journalists, not to report on the latest fashion trend for pets, and it is understandable why people who lie, cheat,and steal for a living would object to us doing our jobs. It is hard to see why honest people who have little or nothing to hide would object to reporters telling everyone what they do.
The real question which puzzles historians and journalism professors alike is just why the average person doesn’t want to know the truth about things such as climate change, crooked politicians, discrimination, why police are assassinating unarmed black men, and how banks and politicians conspire to rig the global economic system for their personal benefit, and especially why no one who cost people their homes and retirement savings through currency manipulation has gone to jail, with the exception of one low level Muslim employee.
The big guys either got bailed out and kept their jobs, or quietly retired with pensions in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. (That’ll Teach ’em!)
That’s the sort of thing you wouldn’t know without a journalist finding and publishing the fact.
Another would be that every country in the world agrees there is global climate change, but NO Republican Senator believes in it.
What is this First Amendment Thing I Refer to?
For non Americans, and for the regrettably large proportion of U.S. citizens who don’t know the most basic parts of their own government, the First Amendment is the core protection of citizens from government corruption and dictatorship as well as the only check on many harmful business practices.
Without journalists you wouldn’t know you are being cheated or, for instance, that George Bush invaded two countries for no good reason virtually bankrupting the country, or that almost all of the 9/11 hijackers including their boss Bin Laden, were Saudi Arabians and had no connection with Iraq or even Iran.
In addition to protection of religious freedom which is wildly popular among the religious right in America, especially the evangelical movement which essentially believes The Bible is the ultimate authority on history, biology, morality, and essentially everything, the First Amendment also provides for freedom of the press and individual freedom of speech – that is, your right (in America) to say the government is screwed up – something which can get you jailed and tortured in lots of other countries.
Those freedoms all sounded pretty good to the founding fathers and much of the rest of the world. But the problem comes when same religious leaders and their flocks want to restrict the press from reporting on them, their activities, and those of their political favorites, as well as any other religion which disagrees with their own.
Many of them cite the Second Amendment (guns) as their only protection against people and politicians who want to ignore parts of The Constitution.
In other words the strongest supporters of the Second Amendment are also against the most critical portions of the First Amendment. As with people who pick and choose which parts of their religion they believe in, these people want to strictly follow The Constitution EXCEPT when they disagree with it.
That’s like Mr. Trump who repeatedly said he would only accept the results of this election IF he won.
Although Candidate Donald Trump has directly attacked the “Press” by forcing them into certain areas (corrals) at his political rallies so his followers can easily identify them, threatened them with lawsuits if they say anything he doesn’t like, saying at every possible occasion that the media is conspiring against him, and inciting his followers to yell at and even physically threaten working journalists to the extent that the Secret Service has had to escort some reporters to safety out of a Trump rally even.
He has even stated that if elected he would pass new laws making it easier to punish reporters he doesn’t agree with.
Of course Trump isn’t the only one, nor is the Republican Party the only one to blame.
Politicians in every party and of every persuasion have been attacking the honesty of and even denying the need for a free press for decades and, just as the Republican Party’s decades-long courting of of radical elements and especially racists in the American South (essentially the old Confederate States during the Civil War) the chickens have come home to roost.
Over and over, even today, the Republican governments of many of these states have made it difficult for blacks and other minorities to vote either by actual intimidation such as having voting take place at police stations, or refusing the vote to convicted criminals for life (which includes approximately one third of adult American males of African descent, and requiring forms of identification which are difficult for poor and elderly rural voters to obtain.
The voting commissions say what’s the problem with voting in police stations if you aren’t wanted? Well, for one, just being wanted isn’t enough reason to stop someone from voting but it is enough to get you arrested.
Also, given the number of unarmed black males who “accidentally” get shot multiple times in the back when running away, or sometimes even when lying on the ground, if you were a black man would you voluntarily go near a cop?
Blacks are somehow always the majority of voters who get “purged” from voter rolls forcing them to reapply for their rights. Recent cases include a 101 year old black woman, and an 18 year-old who had just voted in the primary election but who was purged from the voting roll.
Is There Some Connection?
Those decades of discrimination and playing to the worst instincts of less well educated and angry old white guys (I’m an old white guy but not angry at Blacks) has finally led to the Party of Lincoln selecting an avowed racist, sexist, arrogant, anti intellectual, anti science narcissist for President.
(Racist? Trump was sued for housing discrimination and was appalled to find black people doing the books in one of his clubs. Birther nonsense. Sexist? “I can just grab them (strange women) by their pussy and they let me because I’m famous.” Arrogant? “I have a very good brain. I mainly consult with myself. I know more about ISIS than the Generals.” Anti-science? He and his running mate along with all, ALL Republican office holders in Washington D.C., deny climate change and his VP candidate says there is no proof tobacco is bad for your health.)
But when reporters ask questions he doesn’t like, Trump threatens them or makes fun of them.
And this isn’t limited to Trump or Republicans, The Obama administration gives very few press conferences. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went a minimum of 265 days without holding a press conference while she was campaigning for President.
In fact Presidents, especially the ones who campaign on their intention to have an “open” administration, have tended to have fewer and fewer press conferences once actually in office.
Politicians have told the same lie so many times that more and more people are beginning to believe than when they say you can’t trust the mainstream news. And they are sometimes right!
Blame The Broadcast Press Too!
Not only are politicians to blame for people distrusting the press, the press itself, especially broadcast news, is to blame too.
“If it bleeds, it leads” is the mantra chanted in every broadcast news organization because Americans are so poorly educated that they turn off the TV news unless there is a scandal, war, murder, plane crash, or bridge collapse, preferably with a good body count.
Sure a murder is news, but far more important than some random mugging gone wrong is the fact that the planet is rapidly becoming uninhabitable, or that we are unprepared for a solar storm which will wipe out civilization by destroying everything that runs on electricity and those storms come about every 100 years – the last one was 150 years ago and wiped out all telegraphs – the only thing electricity was used for in the 1850’s.
TV news sees its job as keeping people frightened so they will continue to watch.
Politicians see keeping people frightened as a way to get them to spend money and ignore bad government.
But when you frighten too many people for too long, you get a demand for a strong dictator to “FIX” things – NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES.