Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Lowell Thomas and the role of journalists in western society
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The role of journalists in the adversary system of American democracy should not be underestimated. The system of checks (stops) and balances that exists between Congress, the executive branch and the judiciary has an additional element: oversight by the media.
In the pre-Watergate era the press ignored Presidents' girlfriends and congressmen's drinking problems.
Perhaps because of the lies told repeatedly by President Nixon during the Watergate investigation (1972 - 1974), the media has sent been zealous in examining the lives of the powerful, extending to their personal lives.
Is the US media truly free? All that men print or mention in the media is subject to threat by big money. If an influential man does not want a story to be aired by the media there are several ways to bring pressure to bear. One of the chief forms of leverage is to convince advertisers not to take ads in the media. That cuts off the income that media companies need for survival. Money speaks!
Conversely, powerful people can make sure that certain stories Will appear in the media. Lowell Thomas wrote stories about the dashing Lawrence and the underdog Arabs so as to influence Americans to feel more passion about the war against Germany, said Thomas. He wrote them, he said, at the request of powerful people.