The Media's Role in Federal Government Cover-upsBy Jean Duffey
Most Americans, regardless of their political persuasion, have an abiding distrust for our federal government. We know our national leaders lie to us, but we feel helpless to do anything about it. Forthright investigators are discredited for trying to reveal the truth, (See Investigators, Bill Duncan and Russell Welch) and whistle-blowers are punished, while "team-players" are rewarded. We hear about shredded or lost documents, but no one is held accountable. We are weary of Congressional hearings that tip-toe around the real issues or go into closed-door sessions in the name of "national security." Our federal government has too much power, and we have none. Worse still, we are in a Catch-22 situation - power corrupts and we bestow that power via the polls.
Not too many years ago, news reporters seemed to do a better job of holding our leaders accountable. Our Constitutional right (and protection) of "freedom of the press" still exists, but it doesn't seem to be doing much for us lately. That's because our federal government controls the press. Oh please - not another conspiracy theory!
I truly hate to suggest a conspiracy explanation of anything. Mainstream Americans generally won't buy it, and mainstream media's favorite sarcastic topic for editorials, at least in Arkansas, is "conspiracy nuts." (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Editorials "This week's conspiracy theory" and "Conspiracies behind every rock") So, imagine how vicious the suggestion of a conspiracy might be attacked by the media if they are accused of being involved themselves. However, I'm going to stick to this conspiracy theory, but bear with me - I will qualify the role of the media.
I think every American can accept as fact that our federal government is engaged in a deliberate and calculated cover-up of information. Federal officials, appointed and elected, have many secrets. Some secrets may be kept legitimately for purposes of national security, but some secrets are nothing more than a cover-up of the dirty deals and illegal activities of our officials. This is where the conspiracy begins - with dirty officials protecting themselves and other dirty officials, which expands to officials protecting their cronies for favors, which expands to staff members who are rewarded for their loyalty. This web of protection and deceit is next to impossible to escape. Those who have tried to expose it are handily discredited or even destroyed, because the government is in charge of investigating the government.
At one time, the media was supportive of a legitimate whistle-blower but not these days. That's because they're part of the conspiracy, and here is how I want to qualify that accusation. There are different levels of culpability, and I don't believe the media deliberately participates in the conspiracy. They are, however, negligent and maybe even reckless. So, am I saying media reporters, editors, and producers/publishers are ignorant? No, I'm saying they're lazy. So, am I accusing them of being unethical? Absolutely.
My notion revolves around the media's acceptance of the government's "official" position on a subject. Once a government agency has taken an "official" position, mainstream media, especially network news, will not challenge it. This is not just an observation, it is an unwritten policy confirmed by several seasoned reporters. The deaf, dumb, and blind acceptance of an "official" press release from the government fits very nicely into the American way of life - do as little as is necessary to get that paycheck. Put in your eight-hour day, but no longer without compensation. Exert enough effort to keep the boss off your back, and, by all means, don't make waves.
My brother very eloquently describes today's method of reporting as the three R's - rip, read, and write. The government takes advantage of this three R's method by employing their own news writers to feed the lazy media. There are a reported 10,000-plus federal employees who are responsible for inundating the media with press releases. Just think about that for a minute and try to iminage how many press releases are being sent every day to every major news media source in the world. All a reporter has to do is rip a news release off his fax, and he's got his article for the day. And the real beauty of it is, he doesn't even have to verify the information or its source. It doesn't matter if the information is inaccurate or even a bald-faced lie - it's an "official" statement from the government, so the reporter's butt is covered.
On the other hand, what happens if an ambitious reporter wants to investigate the dubious subject of a government news release? He (or she) enters the game with three strikes against him. Strike one: The rest of the media has already given the government's "official" position credibility by reporting it as factual. Strike two: The government agency who put out the release is the keeper of some, if not all, of the evidence proving the information is not accurate. Strike three: If the reporter discovers a fraud, the rest of the media attacks the work and defends their originally reported position (either because they have been made to look like lazy fools, or because they don't want to disturb their cushy status quo three R's method of getting information, or both).
Bottom line - a forthright investigative reporter who challenges the establishment will have hell to pay. Just ask Gary Webb, Micah Morrison, Chris Ruddy and Emmett Tyrrell, to name a few. This is not to say those reporters don't make mistakes. After all, look what they're up against. They had to dig up censored information the old-fashioned way; I believe they called it wearing out the shoe leather or something like that. Rather than giving these gritty reporters a pat on the back, the rest of the media turn on them. Instead of following up the investigative reporters information and joining the effort to dig for more, they attempt to discredit the reporter, and they take up the government's banner and defend that ever-sacred "official" position.