Environmental Ethics
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Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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The Gadfly Bytes -- March, 2002

Following the Light

Ernest Partridge
"The Online Gadfly"

Published in The Democratic Underground, March 14, 2002

On February 21, Ted Koppel closed his Nightline broadcast with an eloquent tribute to the late Daniel Pearl who was recently executed by his al Qaeda captors.  Koppel closed 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.

In particular:

  • 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 did the TV networks allow GOP operatives like Frank Luntz 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, Sixth and Eighth 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 and propagandist.

Meanwhile the debt to Danny Pearl's memory remains unpaid.

For more on "Media Delinquency," see my "Night Falls on the American Democracy."

Copyright 2002 by Ernest Partridge

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .