FRAMING THE DISCUSSION
How often have you read words to the effect that a highly placed source close to the investigation revealed xyz today under condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case… Blah… Blah… Blah…. ?
Is your first thought that just really must be something juicy that I can barely wait to read? Or do you stop and wonder how untrustworthy is the person who was supposed to protect information who instead divulged it?
Do you also think about how unscrupulous the person was who received the information and published it without concern for the consequences? The more fundamental question is do you believe that the whole world has a right to know everything a government agency is doing?
Is there ever a need to protect anything from public disclosure? The government sometimes has to classify information to protect sources whose lives would be in danger and to avoid revealing methods by which the data was collected.
Whatever the American public knows, our enemies around the world also know. That is simply a fact of life.
Do you feel sympathetic for Bradley Manning revealing sensitive U.S. military information? Do you admire Julian Assange for making it known? Do you think Edward Snowden is a traitor or a hero or somewhere in between?
Have you delved into all the nitty-gritty details of the incident in San Francisco? Is there a legitimate reason a law enforcement agency would want to stop a leak within their Department? That is a totally separate issue from how they go about trying to plug the leak.
Does a journalist have a right to publish anything he or she becomes privy to? Without understanding the entire case, how would the writer estimate the implications of such disclosure?
Does it even matter or is just getting a scoop and public acclaim an uncontested ultimate goal which overrules all other considerations? War correspondents often have to agree not to disclose locations and other sensitive info.
I still remember when Geraldo Rivera went on Fox News live shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and drew marks in the dirt showing where they were and how they got there. He was quite appropriately disinvited from accompanying the troops.
It all comes down to whether one considers his or her own career as tantamount to the national well-being.
The next point of contention comes into play when a journalist is convinced that their role is that of apologist for a particular ideology. The flipside of the disclosure of secret information is the suppression of matters which the public has every right to know.
All the major influential news media in Hawaii are controlled by the Democrat Party. Oh, I doubt there is any actual deed of ownership. Not even a signed agreement. Just a tacit understanding that perpetuating the status quo is the media’s proper role.
Therefore any conservative upstart candidate does not deserve to be heard and his or her message should be buried. The most effective way to do that is simply to ignore and refuse to cover the campaign.
It’s really hard to say whether a liberal society leads to a liberal media or whether a liberal media leads to a liberal society. One thing for sure is that they go hand-in-hand.
During the last 25 years or so in this internet age, print media has lost its dominance in influencing public opinion. 24×7 cable news coverage was a big deal 35 years ago. Now websites and social media provide real-time access to both breaking news and analysis.
PUTTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE
There is now a real opportunity for conservatives to get our message to the people. Most of our fellow travelers in this world are followers and lurkers. They are the lemmings who plunge over the cliff if somebody charismatic leads them there. So, we need to recruit qualified men and women to provide objective alternatives without trying to lead anybody anywhere.
Many misuse their rhetorical talents for self-aggrandizement and personal enrichment. But journalists must recognize their responsibility to the public trust. It is an awesome privilege to be one of those who document an epoch in human history.
We know what has gone before us in the world only through the eyes of those who wrote about it either contemporarily or in retrospect. If this world is still here a hundred years from now, and there is some doubt about that, what will people know about the year 2019? None of us is going to be around in 2119 to reminisce about it.
THE STAKES ARE HIGH
We could go back 160 years to the administration of President James Buchanan in 1859 and read about events that led up to the War Between the States. Now we mostly hear it called the Civil War, but it used to be more commonly understood as what it really was. It wasn’t civil. It was a conflict that tore this country apart.
Lest we go that route again, we all need to start thinking of ourselves collectively. Rather than fanning the flames of divisiveness, journalists would be commended to emphasize those common beliefs and objectives that draw us together as a nation.
It really is not complex. It is the simplest thing in the world. Have integrity. Do what is right. Write the truth.