One thing that's been a universal theme here and at other "reality-based" blogs the past few years has been the utter shock and awe we have all felt upon seeing the brazen lying by the mainstream corporate media.
Almost every day you can find the most infuriating examples of how they have been constantly lying to the American people, at the behest of their corporate "management" (read: neo-cons and Republican cronies). There's plenty of blame to go around, of course, but how things got to this disgusting level of propaganda isn't the point I'm pursuing here.
Because the big question has been "how do we stop them?"
The ubiquitous answer is "well, you can't stop them, because they're protected by the First Amendment."
Well guess what? There are limits to the First Amendment, and we all know what they are. Follow me behind for how we can make this work.
There's that old saying "you can't yell "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theater". But that's not what I'm talking about, either.
I'm talking about professional responsibility.
Here's the example: Your doctor is not allowed to lie to you. Why? Because your life, your health, your very person depends on your Doctor.
Imagine, if you would, a perfect Republican world where Doctors could hide behind the First Amendment. They could tell you that you have cancer, and show you fake reports from "experts" who back up the claim, in order that you go to their cohort's clinic for months of expensive treatments, from whom they receive kickbacks.
If you caught a doctor doing this, he or she would rightfully lose their license and probably go to jail.
The point is your doctor cannot hide behind the First Amendment. Have you ever heard a corrupt Doctor use this defense? Of course not. Because it's freaking RIDICULOUS.
Same if you had a plumber come to your house and tell you that your leaky faucet wasn't just a leaky faucet and in fact required you to have your entire plumbing in your house replaced. If you caught the guy at that, he would be busted, probably lose his license, and face fines and theoretically jail time. Why? Because it's corrupt. We all know it's corrupt. And have you ever heard of a corrupt plumber using The First Amendment for his defense? NO. Because it's freaking RIDICULOUS.
Yet, just to use two examples in the news today, Newsweek can give Karl Rove, somene who is known to be not only a liar, but a corrupt liar, a writing gig designed to influence public opinion. Rove will then pass along whatever he's supposed to say from "above". People who believe Rove may then make decisions which will, as they have in the past, lead to deaths of other human beings, and will, as they have in the past, lead to other crimes being committed.
There are diaries here today describing how the media is actually giving this known liar, this known treacherous and dangerous crook, a pedestal from which to spout even more lies. And then rather than calling him a liar, simply saying "others dispute his statements".
And NBC news has reported a brazen lie about the election in Venezuela having no foreign observers, and stating that if the referendum passes it will make Chavez "president for life", which simply isn't true. No matter how you feel about Chavez, the truth is that if the referendum passed it would simply abolish term limits.
These are just two TINY examples from my last few minutes checking out the headlines here.
And everybody feels helpless. Because they "know" that these companies can hide behind the First Amendment.
Well hiding behind the First Amendment is like terrorists hiding behind women and babies and using them as Human Sheilds. It's disgusting, it's cowardly, and it's wrong.
It's time we passed some laws to commit the corporate media, especially those using the public airwaves (and it's time we owned up to the fact that the "Cable Spectrum" is in fact just as much a part of the public "commons" than the airwaves dominated by the dinosaurs of broadcast networks), as well as newspapers who are big enough to have be part of a journalistic oligopoly in their respective cities, to licensing requirements that will FORCE THEM TO DO THEIR PROFESSIONAL BEST TO TELL THE TRUTH.
And make them responsible to their readership, their customers, who happen to be other human beings who are making decisions in their lives based on this information provided by these companies.
The SAME WAY you make decisions based on what you are told by other professionals -- doctors, lawyers, carpenters, plumbeers, mechanics ---
It's time to force the cowardly lying Fred Hiats of the world to act like other professionals in our society.
Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the American population believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. Whose fault is that?
Whose fault is that?
Who else could possibly be at fault for that? There's NOBODY that could be at fault for that EXCEPT the "professional" mainstream media outlets.
And BECAUSE they lied, people died, people were maimed and horribly mutilated, children and women were raped and massacred, trillions of dollars vanished from our pocketbooks, and massive looting of our government took place.
There will always be fascists and quasi-fascists and neo-con thugs and pirates trying to take over the government. Always. And for the same reason you keep a lock on the door of your house, a sane, mature society is supposed to have procedures in place to ensure that these kinds of people are not ABLE to achieve power.
One of these is the press. If any of our work and energies is to succeed, we need to have a real press. One that's professional, one that's responsible, and one that is forcibly held to certain standards.
My doctor can't deliberately lie to me and then hide behind the First Amendment, and neither should anyone in the public trust, and the mainstream corporate media is held in the public trust, even if they're owned by GE.
The Republican Party should be obsolete by now -- if we had an actual responsible and professional press in this country, and if we had a Democratic Party that wasn't mostly complicit and corrupt, the Republican Party would be an embarrassing historical remnant of our recent history. Most people would be as likely to publicly profess being a Republican as they are being a member of the KKK, or a Communist. History has proved that they are utterly wrong about everything. Everything. Yet Karl Rove has a gig at Newsweek and can go on talk shows and spread his inhumane lies, and we're still subjected to his "version of reality" by this media.
My point being, one of our first and primary goals of winning enough power after the 2008 elections needs to be reforming the corporate press, so that this ugly period of American history cannot repeat itself. Our future literally depends on it.
License the corporate media. Enforce standards. Sue, fine, and jail those who deliberately act in a conniving and irresponsible manner, the same we we deal with other professionals who <abuse their positions</strong> to deliberately lie, cheat, and steal.
Many seem to be missing my point here, so I would like to add a comment made below by Number5:
Do you think Judy Miller should be allowed to sit in on war planning meetings, get inside intel, then report in the NYT without telling anyone she was in the secret meetings? Legally?
Should Dick Cheney be allowed to go on nbc and reference an article he helped write without having to disclose?
Should NBC be allowed to take ad money from companies profiting from government contracts then put their spokespeople on the air as military experts, without having to disclose?
These are where I think the diarist is going, and the line I draw in first amendment protection.
That's exactly what I'm talking about here.