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Butt Prints in the Sand

March 10, 2005
By Sheila Samples

Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When we must rise and take a stand,
Or leave our butt prints in the sand.

- author unknown

It's time.

Before this obscene, gaping hole gets any deeper, it's time we convinced the media to stop digging. As someone once said... and said... and said - time is not on our side. I couldn't agree more, because when you consider the media horror show of the last four years, it could get hairy out there unless we wake up, stand up, and do something about it.

It's time we told the media it's either them, or us. We need to pass them by, boycott their advertisers, protest them - shake them until their teeth rattle. It's time we realized there is no entity more to blame for the mess we're in nor for the needless loss of life than our shameless and treasonous media. The media is even more obscene than Bush and the glowering, power-mad warmongers who surround him in both his administration and in his Congress.

Face it. Bush gets away with murder for just one reason - because the media allows it, encourages it, and spends big bucks producing it. Bush's war-on-evildoers turned war-on-terror turned regime-change turned crusade-for-freedom-and-democracy is a media-orchestrated production, complete with banners, flag backdrops, bells and whistles. In case you haven't noticed what the rest of the world knew at the outset - the illusion of Bush as a strong, principled leader is also a media creation. Totally.

It is folly to think we can continue to sit on our butts and there will be no day of reckoning for the total breakdown of fundamental journalistic principles. I hate to keep dragging poor Walter Williams, the first University of Missouri Journalism dean, across these pages like some old worn-out Weekend at Bernie's skit, but the Journalist's Creed Williams wrote a century ago still applies today, and is a clear statement of journalistic ethics. Williams fervently believed that journalists were totally - and only - trustees for the public, and that anything less than accuracy and fairness in reporting the news was betrayal. He believed that suppressing or ignoring news that might embarrass the powerbrokers is indefensible.

Betrayal. Indefensible betrayal.

If Williams had an idealistic vision of what journalism should be, John Swinton, former Chief of Staff at the New York Times, was more realistic about what the business of journalism really is. In a confession before the New York Press Club, Swinton said:

The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.

Corporate giants such as Time-Warner, Disney, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Viacom, General Electric, and Vivendi own all media in this country; therefore, they own everything we see, hear, feel, smell or touch. They are our sensory masters. If it were not so, we would rise up against the racuous, political-agendae-driven, circle-jerk speculation by paid political activists that passes for today's news.

It's time we woke up and realized that not everyone who "journals" is a journalist, especially in the electronic media, and most notably on cable TV. Can you imagine the consternation of folks like Fox's Greta Van Susteren and CNN's Jeffery Toobin, attorneys who abandoned their law careers for the bright lights, if each were handed a pair of scissors and a jug of glue and told to "cut and paste" their transcripts, uh, after they pounded them out on manual typewriters?

How long would CNN's resident brain surgeon, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, last as a full-time "journalist" if Americans stopped dieting, refused a breakfast of Total cereal, and boycotted Walgreen's? Thanks to CNN, Dr. Gupta will save us a trip to the hospital - he will come right into our homes and perform the lobotomies.

"Mainstream media" is the mother of all oxymorons. To really appreciate "fair and balanced" in action, see Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed. Aside from daily humdrum chores of cleaning up George Bush's tortured rhetoric and rewriting quoted material to reflect what Bush meant to say rather than what he actually said; aside from covering up or completely ignoring critical matters such as a revengeful White House leak blowing the cover of a covert CIA agent and endangering the lives of contacts throughout the world, a stolen election, a teetering economy, the unconstitutional silencing of an FBI translator, billions of taxpayers' dollars missing in Iraq, rampant abuse and torture of prisoners, the cruel abandonment of veterans; the media continue to whoop it up in one huge journalistic Karaoke gig. There seems to be no end to their capacity to embarrass themselves by singing along to the propaganda track furnished them by the White House.

The entire mainstream media apparatus appears to be in "stand down" mode, much like NORAD was on the morning of September 11, 2001. With malice aforethought they ignore the destructive blips on their news screens, knowing full well the majority of Americans will not venture beyond what they are told to believe. Most Americans have no idea of what is actually going on in the world, either at home or abroad. Most accept without question Bush's recent pronouncement during his news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin:

I live in a transparent country. I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide open and people are able to call people to me (sic) to account, which many out here do on a regular basis. Our laws and the reasons we have laws on the books are perfectly explained to people. Every decision we make is within the Constitution of the United States. We have a constitution that we uphold.

Think about that. Think about it while you're waiting for the media to report that policemen across this country are tasering our children in classrooms to shock them into submission - zapping the elderly in nursing homes to keep them docile and obedient, handcuffing students and dragging them off to jail for wearing "anti-American" peace symbols on their T-shirts. Think about it while you're reading the repressive Patriot Acts I and II that literally strip the Bill of Rights from the US Constitution that Bush says he is so proud to uphold.

You'll have time to think, and to read, if you're waiting for the media to report that many veterans are being stripped of their pay and benefits, are being charged for food while lying wounded in hospitals, and are being charged a fee (tax) for their health coverage. You'll have plenty of time to think before the media breaks the news that, just last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was hit with a lawsuit in an Illinois federal court charging him with being directly responsible for the torture and abuse of detainees in US military custody. The lawsuit, far from being frivolous, was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First on behalf of eight men who were subject to such treatment and, if there is a God, Rumsfeld will be convicted of violating that most "quaint" of documents, the US Constitution, as well as federal statutes and international law.

Those who don't read foreign media will never know that the International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI) this week found both Bush and Tony Blair guilty of a series of charges, and found they deserve life sentences for war crimes and genocide in Iraq.

Kohki Abe, a professor of law at Tokyo's Kanagawa University, said Bush and Blair should face the "maximum penalty available." He added that they should have been tried in the International Criminal Court, but admitted that, for "political reasons," they would not be prosecuted. Abe explained the ICTI had been set up so that acts such as those Bush and Blair are guilty of "do not go past without the criminals behind them being tried."

Like all thuggish bullies, George Bush, who is ever more deluded by both his senses and his judgment, is getting so full of himself he's itching for a new fight. He told a cheering crowd at the National Defense University this week, "We will fight the enemy, we will lift the shadows of fear and lead free nations to victory. No matter how long it takes." So, Bush is back on the hunt, and he says ironically that he will topple "tyrants who don't respect the rules of warfare."

The darkness is closing around us. If ever there was a time in our history for the media to just do the right thing - that time is now. It's time the media faced the fact that, sooner or later, Bush will pick a fight with someone who's capable of fighting back, and then ratings and profits won't matter. When that mushroom cloud hits the fan, it will affect us all, and it will be too late to do anything about it.

And nothing will remain but our butt prints in the sand.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at rsamples@sirinet.net.

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