Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bush’s War on the Press

The War on the Press
America's leadership is waging a war against the journalistic standards and practices that underpin not only a free press but our democracy. The Fourth Estate is withering under an unprecedented White House assault designed to intimidate, smear and discredit investigative journalism — and allow the president and his political cronies to lie with impunity.

On December 1, White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the U.S. “a leader when it comes to promoting and advocating a free and independent media around the world.” He added, “We’ve made our views very clear when it comes to freedom of the press.” Indeed. It's clear that the Bush administration doesn't believe in it, nor do they believe in our system of checks and balances that holds leaders accountable to the public.

If left unchecked this White House will continue to:
  • manipulate the media "message" by producing propaganda, putting journalists on the government payroll and tightly scripting all public events;

  • dismiss all dissenting views in the media as biased and politically motivated;

  • undermine public trust in journalism using the right-wing “echo chamber” to sow hostility toward reporters who challenge the official line; and

  • eliminate access to information making it nearly impossible for journalists to investigate vast areas of the federal government.
The Bush administration is more inhospitable to truth and an informed citizenry than any before it. In fact, the administration seeks the opposite: a public that buys a carefully constructed myth over reality. This deception has manifest in seven lines of attack:
  1. Infiltrating public broadcasting with party loyalists
  2. Manufacturing fake news and propaganda
  3. Bribing journalists to flack for the administration
  4. Gutting the Freedom of Information Act
  5. Deceiving media (and the U.S. public) about Iraq
  6. Eliminating dissent within mainstream media
  7. Consolidating media control into the hands of the elite
The damage already done is reflected in plummeting public faith in reporters and the unrelenting stream of lies flowing from the White House into mainstream news.

This crisis can be attributed in part to the failure of big media corporations and some journalists to meet the basic responsibilities of the press in a democratic society. But the Bush administration's wholesale assault on a free press is also to blame. This White House has gone well beyond the cynical maneuvers of past administrations and implemented a scheme to tear down journalism and erode civil liberties.

Free Press (my colleagues and I) has launched a campaign to defend democracy from the war on diverse and independent media. The campaign will exert grassroots and lobbying pressure to implement policies that hold our leadership accountable and ensure that abuses of press freedom are not repeated by this and future administrations.

With an unprecedented campaign to undermine and stifle independent journalism, Bush & Co. have demonstrated astonishing contempt for the Constitution. This report shows the scope and intensity of the administration's assault on press freedoms.To read the rest of the report, follow these links:

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