THERE SHOULD BE A LAW AGAINST THAT!
Here are Gary's thoughts on the matter...
My wife and I just happened to watch Rumsfield's press conference this morning. Most of it was about how the media reports of civil war in Iraq were a complete misrepresentation of the situation there. What was the ReuterÂs headline for their article on the press conference? Rumsfeld says potential exists for Iraq civil war. In other words, if you say that no civil war exists, you are saying that the potential for civil war exists. I told my wife and she just rolled her eyes. This stuff is like a comedy routine. During the press conference, the media was asking Rumsfield why the war was so misreported, and he responded that he really didn't know how these things get so confused. To help him out, let me suggests that the answer is that the media knows that no government official will call them out on their bad reporting, no matter how they twist the truth.
Since the media's role has become so pivotal in winning the war on terror, if I were in Congress I would propose a bill that made it a crime to intentionally misrepresent a government spokespersons statements on the war in order to mislead the American public and give aid and comfort to the enemy (isn't there something about this in the Constitution?). The bill would, of course, be attacked by the ACLU as banning free speech, but I say that misreporting the war, creating crises where there are none, is the same as shouting fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire. It puts people at risk for no reason other than to create a news story. I don't know whether or not the bill would pass, but I would love to hear who would argue that freedom of the press includes the right to misrepresent a government spokesperson's statements in order to mislead the American public and endanger the innocent. After all, if the news media is free to create problems by their reporting, why can't they shout fire in crowded theaters in order to report on people hurt in the aftermath?
In related news, Investor's Business Daily (subscription required) had a poll that discovered only 20% of the American people had heard about the Saddam tapes where he was discussing Iraq's WMD program. Again, the problem with the Mainstream Media is too little reporting, not too much. They have set themselves up to intentionally filter out news the doesn't support their views. They all know how inherently dishonest this is, but they see their mission as leading the American public as more important than getting the news out. This is why my shorts -full disclosure- of the newspapers are doing so well (Gannet (GCI) and the New York Time (NYT)). Given people's natural tendency to turn away from news sources that leave them in the dark and toward news sources that actually inform them, these shorts are something of a sure thing.