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Attacking Freedom of the Press – A Slow Ride to Socialism?

Posted on October 20 2009 4:35 am
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Cartoon depicting a decree enforced Sept. 27 by Honduras coup “president” Roberto Micheletti suspending constitutional rights of free speech and press, among other rights. (Courtesy NarcoNews)

RANKING members of the Obama Administration have publicly denounced and derided what they see as a major threat to their agenda – FOX News. This ongoing battle between the White House and a cable news outlet is just the latest example of the many dangerous obsessions of Obama’s White House: dangerously skewed priorities, image-obsessed leadership that expresses an ever-growing need for control, and the petty, undignified truth behind their campaign rhetoric of hope and change. 

“When one makes a Revolution, one cannot mark time; one must always go forward – or go back. He who now talks about the ‘freedom of the press’ goes backward, and halts our headlong course towards Socialism.”

— Vladimir Lenin, Communist Leader of the Soviet Union (1870-1924)

The White House’s anti-democratic, anti-free press effort to bring down a major news outlet – a move that most pundits agree is a public relations disaster in the making – is being led by (of all people) White House Communications Director Anita Dunn. As a former public relations executive myself, I’m astounded Dunn has made it this far in her career making decisions this idiotic. There was Rahm Emanuel —

And David Axelrod —

And let us not forget Chairman Mao loving Anita Dunn herself —

A columnist with the Baltimore Sun sums up the fracas well –

Where are their priorities?

I will take the press critics in the West Wing like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod seriously when they condemn MSNBC for the same sins and worse than Fox.

And I will take this administration more seriously when it starts doing the real work of governing instead of worrying primarily about its image and trying to silence anyone who would be critical of it.

— David Zurawik, Z on TV

Although a select few in Norway may see Obama’s rhetoric – mere words, carefully crafted by well-paid speech writers – as worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize (did his speech writers get to share in this Nobel Prize?), I liken it more to a highly successfully advertising campaign worthy of a Clio or an Addy® Award – an attempt to sell Americans a shell of an ideal.

Buyers’ Remorse

All too often, products fail to live up to their hype – as do politicians. President Obama has failed to deliver in any meaningful way, shape or form resembling his advertising campaign of Hope and Change.

The White House’s petty, strong-arm tactics with FOX News are hardly evidence of the new era of bi-partisan American politics repeatedly promised by Candidate Obama. On the contrary, this White House vendetta serves as further indisputable evidence of an administration that is perfectly content to further divide our nation by catering to the sentiments and musings of one segment of our society while openly and brazenly dismissing another.

Cenk Uygur, host of a low-rated satellite radio show, advertised in his analysis on the Huffington Post the reason why folks just aren’t listening to his show. In his editorial, Uygur declares himself an authority on media bias, labeling various news outlets/shows as either opinion, partisan or straight news.

Either he refuses to acknowledge, or simply cannot conceive that a subjective concept such as media bias is largely in the eyes/ears of the audience. It certainly cannot be credibly determined by a member of its own ranks.

But that screaming moment of hubris aside, his greatest affront was not in his lengthy, narrow diatribe on the horrors of biased media, but rather, his anti-democratic perceptions of the relationship between a government and the news media – stated upfront in his headline, “Why the White House is 100% Right to Challenge Fox News.”

A Threat to Democracy

The fact that White House leaders like Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Anita Dunn have focused such caustic vitriol on, and had threatened to cut off, a prominent news media outlet is a threat to democracy – not to be taken lightly be any American on the left or right.

In any free society, the power of the press is evident in its ability to influence national opinion and priorities, serve as watchdog over governments, and spark open, healthy debate over public policy. For this reason, government coups throughout history have always made government control over the news media an immediate priority. It’s a sudden and dramatic take-over supplanting legitimate news with endless propaganda.

But a sudden and forceful takeover isn’t the only way to gain control of a free press. It can be accomplished slowly, and insidiously; so slowly that many of us may choose to dismiss the warning signs – the proof – preferring to interpret the shift in media control as no more than a reflection of a shift in public opinion. That is a dangerous misinterpretation.

In a democracy such as ours, it is the role of the news media to gauge the legitimacy of a government. It is NOT the role of a democratic government to assess the legitimacy of the news media. When the government assumes such a role, our democracy has been turned on its head, and our government is no longer accountable to the people.

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