March 14, 2002
By Ernest Partridge
February 21, Ted Koppel closed his Nightline broadast with
an eloquent tribute to the late Daniel Pearl, which ended
with these words: "Evil, in all its forms, has no more potent
enemy than light. And those of us who called Danny Pearl a
colleague, have no greater debt to his memory than to follow
that light, wherever it takes us."
Sadly, that "debt" to the memory of Daniel Pearl has not
been paid by the American media, and there is no indication
that it will be in the foreseeable future. Instead, that media
refuses to "follow the light," and instead offers us ghosts
of falsehood and chases after shadows of trivia and irrelevancy.
Why hasn't the media "followed the light" to expose the criminal
manipulation of the Florida voting rolls, which proved sufficient
to throw the election to George Bush? (Cf. Greg Palast's article
in the current Harper's).
Why do the TV networks allow GOP operatives like Frank Lunz
to follow Presidential debates with counterfeit "focus groups"
designed, successfully, to draw public attention away from
Gore's command of the issues and toward "drama criticism"
regarding Gore's posture and Bush's "likeability."
Why did the media concoct and repeat outright slanders of
Gore (e.g. "invented the internet") while conspicuously avoiding
serious issues of Bush's AWOL from the National Guard, his
reputed drug use, and his record as Governor of Texas?
Why has the logical incoherence and legal absurdity of the
Supreme Court decision Bush v. Gore, extensively argued by
legal scholars, gone unreported and uncommented upon by the
mass media? Old news?" That qualm did not apply to the seven
year "life" of the unsubstantial "Whitewater affair").
Why do the media accept and report, without reservation,
the Bush/GOP claim that Enron is nothing more than "a business
scandal" with no political implications.
Why do the media sit silently as the Bush administration
shuts down access to public information - the raw material
of investigative journalism - by overturning the Freedom of
Information Act and the Presidential Records Act, and by stonewalling
congressional requests for information from Vice President?
Why are the Sunday TV "talk shows" overwhelmingly populated
with conservatives and Bush apologists? Why are responsible
and informed critics of the Administration such as Robert
Scheer, Mark Crispin Miller, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and
Vincent Bugliosi excluded?
Why must I now turn to foreign news sources such as the Toronto
Star, The London Times, The Guardian, CBC and BBC to learn
of the extraordinary hostility and contempt that George Bush
has brought upon our country and upon himself, from those
that we have heretofore counted as our friends and allies?
Why is the charge that Ken Lay was Bill Clinton's White House
guest repeated without rebuttal in the broadcast media after
that allegation has been conclusively demonstrated to be false?
And I could cite many more such cases.
Thanks to the delinquency of the American media, the above
"evils" are today safe from that "potent enemy" of which Koppel
so eloquently spoke: the "light" of truth. Instead, that media
distracts the public with such irrelevant circuses as OJ,
Jon Benet, Monica, Gary Condit, and now a Texas murder trial
and a California kidnapping.
In scarcely over a year, a Presidential Election has been
stolen. The Supreme Court, abandoning its role of protecting
the Constitution, has appointed a President. That unconstrained
President and his Attorney General have severely compromised
our First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, and compelling
evidence has come forth that government policy and appointments
have been exchanged for campaign contributions. In addition
the same President has seen fit to arbitrarily deny Congress
its oversight function and to unilaterally ignore numerous
international treaties, as the international community increasingly
regards the United States as a "rogue state."
About all this, the media are mute, and instead give us sycophantic
celebrations of the pretender in such TV programs as "The
Real West Wing" and "Profiles of Leadership."
There was a time when "the Fourth Estate" was the protector
of the public interest and our civic institutions, with a
governing commitment to "follow [the] light, wherever it takes
us." In this tradition, Edward R. Murrow lifted the scourge
of McCarthyism, Walter Cronkite dared to proclaim that the
Viet Nam War was unwinnable, The New York Times and Washington
Post published the Pentagon Papers, and Woodward and Bernstein
brought to light the crimes and misdemeanors that eventually
ended a corrupt and dangerous Administration.
Where is the journalistic profession now, at this moment
of extreme peril in the life of our Republic?
It is meekly serving the usurper regime as its apologist
Meanwhile the debt to Danny Pearl's memory remains unpaid.
Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in
the field of Environmental Ethics. He publishes the website,