Sunday, July 02, 2006

PRAIRIESON: The War Of the Times

The War Of the Times

I am a strong advocate of a free press even when a majority of that press may hold views different from my own. At heart, I am a Jeffersonian to the point of being a frustrated libertarian simply because I do not trust government, regardless of form, to ensure the press does a better job than it would otherwise do.

The BBC is a perfect example of a government-run media conglomerate that is also out-of-touch with many of the very citizens that pay for its upkeep. Even when Thatcher was PM, she had to deal with a very hostile media (to the point the British journalists were denied access to the opening of the Falklands War).

Further, even in a democracy, government operations are often controlled at the bureaucratic level where loyalty to the taxpaying voter is questionnable at best. I am sure most government workers are like everyone else but the corporate mentality can often overrule common sense; there are so many examples of this one could write a book (and many have).

By "free press" I mean "free of prior restraint"; no one is free from consequences of what they publish after-the-fact if that published material defames, slanders, abets a felony or reveals classified secrets. It is doubtful the NY Times could've survived WWII if it had, say, come out in support of Nazi Germany during the height of the war. Not only would public opinion have been against it, the government had sufficient powers to shut the NY Times down as an overt enemy operation if it had so chosen (under the powers Roosevelt had at the time).

Even if the NY Times had simply published daily updates of ship movements in the Atlantic during WWII, that would've been enough to get the publisher and responsible editors some hard jailtime. Why? Because the press does not have an unrestricted privilege to disclose whatever it chooses and for obvious reasons. While I prefer the press remain free of prior restraint, it is critical to the survival of a free press that it know, clearly, where the boundaries are.

The NY Times just recently crossed that boundary. Those responsible should've been immediately charged with violations of confidentiality laws or any other laws that cover illegal disclosure of classified information. By doing nothing, this simply emboldens the press -- for whatever motivation -- to release classified information in the future regardless of the harm it may do to the country as a whole.

After this episode, what is to prevent some small radical rag from publishing American troop movements to alert the enemy, perhaps as an editorial protest against the war? They can claim the same press exemption and if nothing is done against the NY Times they can also point to that as defense.

We hope editors and publishers will be responsible but when one looks at what the left is willing to publish as "fact" these days, it should raise concern in all Americans that something has undermined the once-noble press. It does not matter what that is, only that it now threatens the very lives of Americans and the war on terror.

The problem is this: the Supreme Court has, in the recent past, given the media a pass for disclosing classified information. Further, the media is a brotherhood in many respects and they can be expected to defend one of their own in a case before the government. Bush and the Attorney General may be taking this into consideration before doing something more harsh against the NY Times.

The NY Times justified its recent criminal act by claiming it served the public's "right to know". The American people do have the "right to know" that, in this case, the NY Times has hidden the real story between the lines of the offending story: "We don't care if we get you killed."


Anonymous z said...

What a wonderful piece....thanks, Prairieman.
On this subject,anybody catch MEET THE PRESS this Sunday morning re; the press and their job to keep the gov't honest!? it was difficult to watch, especially Russert's sit-in hostess, Andrea Mitchell...she was brutal and so biased she couldn't refrain from smiling as she belittled and mocked Wm Bennett. Neither could Dana Preist. Wm Safire and John Harwood from the WSJ were totally on the Left's side on this was actually humorous to even see they'd included a Republican on the panel. RED LETTER DAY! They accused the White House of using this NY Times situation to keep Americans' minds off the fact the WH isn't handling the immigration problem or gas price problem....and then, in the same breath, used the problem the WH has with the press in general to smoke screen the fact that the Swift program's been dangerously revealed. difficult Times, huh?

Thanks,Prairieman......great job....z

9:36 AM  
Blogger EuroYank said...

Excellent point and a Great Post! You are a "True American," and I mean that sincerely!

10:37 AM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

EY Thanks for posting--and you're always welcome here! Yes, Prairieman is one of our best writers. He always makes a clear, interesting post!

11:40 AM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

P.S. I hope he sees your wonderful comments!

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Pat Waske said...

Excellent piece, Prairieman! The NY Times was absolutely guilty of treason, in my view. So, too, is the informant who leaked it. I hope that individual is found and prosecuted for treason. It would go a long way to putting an end to these dangerous leaks.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent piece prairieman,theres three political parties in the US,the Republicans,the Democrats and the Press.Ane they pretty much all side with the Dems.The Times has shown that itself to be journalists firsts and Americans,if at all and that would be an after thought.Patriotism ,the love of country and the need most of all for secretcy and discretion in time of war to the jaded New York elite of the Times is like the stuff of so many stale and half-finished cock-tails at some equally jaded penthouse party somewhere on the east side.You're right,they should be before a court and facing charges.J'Mac.

5:08 PM  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

When they find the actual leaker he or she needs to be promptly executed. This treason has to STOP!!!!


5:49 PM  
Anonymous Prairieman aka "Prairieson" said...

Wow, thank you. It is an honor to have something of mine posted at such a fine blog.

You really have done a bang up job with this blog, Donal. I mean that in all sincerity (and I thought that before you published my little piece).

Thank you all for the nice words.

7:48 PM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

Well, that's what ya get for writing something really, really good! Hey, you want to go by 'Prairieson' or 'Prairieman'?

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?

8:10 PM  
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