It always strikes me as odd when people think they get rights without responsibility. Our nation’s press has seen themselves this way for a long time. The New York Times has become an editorial rag, rather than a news source. Our “trusted” television network news organizations have twisted the facts (or ignored them completely) to further their own agendas. The “scoop” outweighs wisdom and, often, the facts. I would like to say that this is a new phenomenon, but it’s not.
Back in the the 80’s I remember Peter Jennings of ABC News covering the Iran Contra hearings. (I still can’t figure out why Congress has proclaimed themselves the judiciary branch and able to hold hearings anyway, but that’s another topic.) For “National Security reasons” countries were given letter codes and individuals number codes during the televised hearings. I was just a young pup at the time, but I still recall Peter Jennings whispering “remember, ‘G’ is China” and wondering why he thought giving that information to the television audience was more important than “National Security.”
It’s not just the US press either. Recently, Prince William’s location in Afghanistan was given up by the press. Not only did this
put him in danger, but it gave the location of hundreds of other soldiers to enemies who watch the news. Who needs intel when they can just watch television or read the newspaper to find out where the troops are? The security of individuals and the war effort against terrorism took a back seat to getting the story out first. Troops had to be moved, William had to come home, realizing that his presence there had now become a liability to his fellow soldiers, but the press got their story.
The situation was discussed on O’Reilley the other night and one guest was a reporter from Las Vegas. He didn’t break the story, but he did say that it had to be done. His opinion was that if they didn’t tell the story, it would be censorship. In case you missed the ignorance (and arrogance) here, let me remind you that the censorship laws refer to the government limiting the press, not to the press limiting themselves. The intent of the “free press” is to protect the people from a corrupt government, not to endanger people, or the country, with careless reporting. In fact, a little self-censorship would do the press and the rest of us, a lot of good.
There is an old saying: “your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.”
Truth be told, it would do the world some good if the press would remember that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Any freedom ends when it infringes on the freedoms of someone else.