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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.