The Press and Liberty

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” – Thomas Jefferson. This expression of reliance upon a free and independent press as a necessary component of liberty not only found its way into our Constitution but has been a bulwark of our culture ever since. Yet today the freedom of the free press is faced with unprecedented challenges.

In 1786, to Dr. James Currie, Jefferson wrote: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost.” In 1808, in answer to an address, he wrote: “The liberty of speaking and writing guards our other liberties.” To General Washington, in 1792, he wrote: “No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free, no one ever will.”

Of course the technology of today has brought us sources of information and means of expression that would have been unimagined in Jefferson’s day. Yet the principle remains intact and is in danger of equally unimaginable threats today.
Among the greatest restrictions on the ability of the people to gain access to the information they need to be the “censors” of government are media consolidation, government secrecy laws and sadly, the unwillingness of the general public to demand more of their information sources.

Media consolidation has two aspects: six corporate conglomerations now control more than 80% of the media sources in America; and those six conglomerates are no longer subject to any rule that they serve the public.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin has proposed action by that body on media ownership rules by next month. This comes after earlier attempts by the FCC to loosen the rules limiting ownership were rebuffed by the Federal courts. At several hearings around the nation the public spoke out loudly against further relaxation of these rules as not being in the public interest.

Fundamental to this issue is the fact that all radio and television stations broadcast over publicly owned airwaves. In granting a license to use these airwaves the public has a right to both impose conditions and insure that broadcasters serve the need of the public to be fully and fairly informed. The FCC has in recent years dramatically abdicated its role in this regard.

Local radio has nearly ceased to exist, being replaced by automated programming created by a centralized national system. The result is that in many smaller cities there is no local programming at all and consequently no means for local authorities to get word out to the public about disasters or other emergencies.

Of the national broadcast media, the consolidation is combined with over-commercialization so that there is no real objective news source available and we are limited to “newstainment” programs that feed us garbage. This is not a free and independent press of the kind Jefferson said we needed for democracy to survive. In fact, the interests of government and big media are so closely intertwined that for all practical purposes we have only that information the government wishes to give us.

Yes, there are exceptions and yes the internet has blossomed with new sources for information. But for the most part what we find on the internet is derivative news and information – lacking is the kind of investigative fact finding that only trained news organizations are likely to provide.

If national conglomerates control the newspapers, radio, television, cable and satellite services as well as a substantial portion of the web, there is not the kind of robust “censorship” of government Jefferson deemed essential to liberty.

A bipartisan effort is underway to bring all this to the attention of the FCC and hopefully it will help. But unless the FCC re-imposes the public service standards rules it scrapped in recent years, reverses the process of media consolidation and takes seriously the words of Thomas Jefferson, our nation will suffer greatly.

No better example can be brought to mind than the abject failure of the media to raise questions and slow the rush to war with the invasion of Iraq. We cannot afford more of such failures to question and investigate. Americans need to wake themselves from the deep sleep we are in and learn to read, ask questions and demand more from the not-so-free press of today.

It can begin by contacting your elected officials and demand that the FCC radically change direction.


  1. DejaVuAllOver

    Yeah, Carl, I couldn’t agree more. But in all fairness, our Congress (which probably doesn’t deserve to be treated fairly) is between a rock and a hard place, mostly. I think Jimmy Carter put it best when he said that US politicians are mostly powerless to confront the zionists. Politicos need MONEY and a SYSTEM to get elected, and once they’re there, they won’t bite the hand that feeds (or fed) them.

    But that’s where WE come in. I CAN speak my mind, at least for now. Although there are zionist forces trying VERY hard (the FCC under Miller, among many others) to shut people like me down. And time is running out.

    But thanks to CHB and y’all for contributing to free, untainted speech in the USA. It’s getting scarce……

  2. DejaVuAllOver

    Actually, I think I meant “…the FCC under Martin….” Sorry. Not very good with names, sometimes. Must be….. whadayacallit…. Alzheimer’s or something like that…..

  3. EffPee

    Maybe this wouldn’t be a problem if journalists would just abide by the rules and not upset people. If we only had a group of wisemen to screen what got published and ban anyone who didn’t play nicely…

  4. SEAL

    Thank you, once again Carl, for explaining in such a concise easy to understand outline how the great, dependable, reliable, trusted protecters and defenders of american freedoms – the mainstrean media, the once reverred and feared free press – has become nothing other than the propaganda vehicle for the administrative division of our government and their controllers.

    I think most of us can remember how we scoffed at TASS, the single communist government controlled press of the old soviet union, and not believing anything they printed or published. Everyone knew whatever they said was strictly propaganda. Well, guess what folks? The only real difference between that and what we have in our country today is the number of corporate government controlled media.

    But our system is not so obvious as the old soviet one and only one news agency. Having several different mainstream “news” agencies and television shows competing for viewers gives the appearance of legitimate news organizations to be believed and trusted. They are even allowed to disagree once in a while and effect their own personal “slant” on some issues. But the astute observer will see that the end game message is the same from each of them – whatever the adminstration wants you to think is the truth.

    Yup, when you see through the camophlage, you realize that we no longer have a free press to keep polititions and government officials from lying. Investigative reporting is history, non-existant, just read what the government shills have given you to read, say it with conviction, and make sure your hair is perfect.

    Yup, we have the best propaganda system ever created. Now, we must wonder what the next group to inherit it on January 20th 2009 will do with it?

  5. AustinRanter

    Corporate Control of the Media

    I’m moving on up in years. At an early age I remember television’s birth and making its way to major cities. I was born and raised in a major Texas city and when television emerged there were only 2 channels to view for about 4 hours per day. Actually, TV was a supplement to radio programs such as “The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Amos and Andy, and the Jack Benny Show”. Of course there were many other famous radio programs of the time and they did work the imagination in a way that TV couldn’t.

    For most of my young adult life, newspapers were the primary source of news, despite the fact that TV and radio provides regular news broadcast.

    Today…well, newpapers, TV, Internet, magazines, and radio are big business. They are an important part of our society’s economy.

    Unfortunately, nearly all media outlets have been consumed by major corporations who don’t hold the same values regarding newspapers and how they conduct their responsibilities to the public as did Jefferson Thomas. These corporations don’t care about or have the same values for responsibilites that any other media outlet to the public… that they own as well.

    Corporations now have to power to impose a major influence over who is elected to office…and we all know that politicans are well known for repaying those who they owe their success of being elected.

    As the writer of the article “The Press and Liberty” stated that America needs to wake up out of their deep sleep…but is that even possible now…are the corporations influencing Americans to somehow stay asleep until they gain complete control over the U.S. Government?

  6. DejaVuAllOver

    What’s so bad about corporate brainwashing? It keeps us all stoned, catatonic and distracted. And best of all, it keeps us morons happily fighting Israel’s wars.

  7. Carl Nemo

    Spot-on DejaVuAllOver…! Am I anti-semitic, absolutely not; but, I’m anti-Israel, along with their control and influence over our Congress, the Executive branch and the mass media of this nation.

    We as a nation are being “played” to our very destruction;ie., absolute and total…!

    Old line commies would be envious of how well Israel has taken over the U.S. and put this once great nation on the fast-track to destruction.

    If the Zionists were truly smart, they’d ease up and make sure we don’t perish because if the U.S. goes down they’l be eaten alive in a NY “second”…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  8. AustinRanter

    Politicans, regardless of affiliation aren’t working for their constituents. Their only real relationship with “We The People” is to use the public credit card to manipulate power.

    The Press, now a corporate control center over government, provides the crisis management for politicans who do their dirty work for them in exchange for keeping them at the helm of power and constituent control.

    Meanwhile, American citizen are surrendering more and more to both the government and corporation in exchange for carrot dangling entitlements and corporate welfare to save them from their daily woes, which are controlled by government and the corporations.

    Yawwwwwwwn…I think I’ll go back to sleep. Might as well, my neighbor is.

  9. DejaVuAllOver

    Well said, Carl. I worked in the media for quite a few years; I know how sick, racist and corrupt it is, in general. That’s why I love the Internet, it’s what TV should have been.

    The zionists, any way you slice it, are BADfreakin’ news, or something else that rhymes with news.

    A million people dead, for no reason, and this SAME filth is doing everything it can to tell us war with Iran is a GREAT IDEA.

    When will we stand up to the riff-raff that makes the Nazis look sane? (at least Germany had some legitimate beefs after WWI…) WWIII won’t be pretty. We’d better get wise, FAST.

  10. SEAL

    I wish I was up to commenting on some of these things that are going on right now. I’ve been relly sick lately with a new chemo treatment. But it is supposed to strengthen my bones and that is critical. If we can’t stop the deterioration I will windup in a wheel chair.

    But I have to point out something that I don’t believe most people realize about how a WWIII will be fought. It will not be like WWII with countries lined up on opposing sides of a battlefield bombing and shooting at each other nor will it be nuclear.

    If we invade Iran, that will set off the third world war. However, we will be attacked by China cutting off our products. About 80% of everything we consume comes from China. Iran will cut off the oil to everyone. There are nations that cannot function without Iranian oil. Consequently, those nations will be our enemies in every way they possibly can. The Saudis and Venzuela will undoubtably shut of the oil to us, maybe everyone in order to bring the world to it’s knees and stop the war.

    The reality is that the world runs on oil. We can’t fight a war without oil. Our great military would be powerless without it. Our troops would be stranded with nothing but hand weapons, surrounded, and outnumbered 50 or a 100 to 1. They would be slaughtered. Thretening everyone with nukes would not restart the oil, it would destroy the fields.

    Imagine a world without gasoline. There would chaos and anarchy. People in this country would not know how to survive. The only thing America produces is food but how to process it and get it to people without petrol?

    So, the danger in Bushco starting a war with Iran is that it would demonstrate who has the real power in this world. And, once acquired, they will not give it up.

  11. Carl Nemo

    Hi SEAL…

    Sorry to hear about your post-chemo tribulations. In the past I’ve recommended you look into graviola, a South American herbal concerning cancer treatement etc. You’ve no doubt taken the traditional route; ie., chemo which is fine, although graviola wouldn’t hurt you in your post chemo recovery process.

    My suggestion is for you to go to Swanson Vitamins and get yourself some greenfood supplements such as powdered barley greens or a container of the their combo greens. Their Super Green Max Plus or Green Max powder is recommended You simply dissolve a tablespoon in water and chug it down. I like greenfoods myself and many complain about their taste, but you and I being of similar metal can chug almost anything down if necessary…no?! 😉

    Barley itself has a huge concentration of immune system friendly factors the same as alfalfa and wheat grass juice. Swanson’s products are freeze-dried components of these recommended green food compounds. If anything it will give you a leg up in your recovery.

    I’d also recommended you purchase some of their calcium boosting supplements. Their most recent release is MenaQ7 which facilitates calcium absorption and their Coral Reef calcium that is the most bioavailable source of calcium to the human body. Again its’ Swanson out of Fargo, ND. I have no financial interest in this company other than they are my main choice for purchasing high quality vitamins at a reasonable pricepoint.

    The world will be a lesser place without you good buddy…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  12. Sandra Price

    I’m not sure I understand what your want Phil…..Do you want our news regulated? By whom? Not the government, please! We had a Democrat in the White House and conservative news and television grew under the tension. We have a Conservative in the White House and where is the Liberal reaction?

    The best the Liberals can come up with was Michael Moore and Al Gore. I remember the 40s where Hollywood was nearly 100% Republican. There was no Liberal movement except for Communism that went too far trying to influence the Studios and ended up being blacklisted.

    I know which news stations and newspapers are liberal and I overlook that slant. But what I find untolerable are the Conservative news coverage as they land heavily on religion. That does not fit either.

    America is drowning in ignorance and apathy. Don’t blame the media, look at the schools and families. Anyone over the age of 40 should know who started this war for oil. It was very apparent that Bush 41 wanted the whole world for him to draw on.

    Every President in the last 20 years has given the people what they want. They want handouts, welfare, health insurance and they are willing to give up security, academics and honesty just for their safety nets. Look at the choices we face in 2008…….The Republicans want a Christian Constitution and the Democrats want a redistribution of wealth.

    Apparently America wants leaders like Bushco who will find their dirty oil, pay for all their health care (if pressed) and get them to Paradise. What more could any of us want?

  13. Carl Nemo

    Superbly stated and spot-on Sandra Price…!

    Our national epitaph will simply be; ie., if there’s anyone left to write one…

    Here lies the ruins of a once great nation, it’s demise through ignorance, apathy, and greed…

    Carl Nemo **==

  14. Phil Hoskins

    Sandy, in reply to your question “what do I want?”

    I fail to see how the government should not have some control over public airwaves. That would be like the government having nothing to say with regard to elections.

    The public owns broadcast airwaves and therefore should require as a condition of their use (as it used to) that broadcasters prove that they serve the public interest as a part of their use. Now reasonable people can disagree on how to define that, but it seems to me that is a fair requirement as an alternative to the government setting up its own public network.

    Further, it seems to me reasonable to insure that the First Amendment is given some force by keeping any single owner from having undue influence over the expression of the “free press” by owning too much of the media outlets in a given market or nationwide. It does not seem unreasonable to provide that one cannot get a broadcast license if one also owns a newspaper in the same market. It also seems reasonable to me to not give a TV license to anyone holding a radio license.

    You may rationally place the blame for our dismal political scene on the voters themselves, but if they are only going to get at most six versions of corporate information they will never know any better.

    I am advocating opening the public information supply to more and more diverse voices. I think that is a key to recovering our republic.
    Phil Hoskins

  15. DejaVuAllOver

    One thing I never understood, and still don’t. The ridiculous “this war is about oil” doesn’t make any sense. Oil has gone up, not down. It’s getting scarcer and more expensive. And anyone with the IQ of a birdbath doesn’t attack someone else hoping to get favorable treatment in the world marketplace.

    The only thing I can figure is this: The zionists have ALWAYS argued, since 1910 or so, that supporting them (Israel) will create “stability” in the Middle East and will help US control the OIL. The fact that this has proven to be complete horsepuckey doesn’t matter. Our zionist media keeps endlessy repeating this nonsense, hoping it will keep us calm and distracted.

    These wars have almost NOTHING to do with oil, other than being a smokescreen (no pun intended) for Israel, as usual. The zionist neocons started this mess, and they bloody well intend to escalate it. Their cover has ALWAYS been “it’s about OIL….” But hey, if MY people had spent 4000 years trying to take over the “Promised Land” and still hadn’t succeeded, I’d be getting pretty desperate, too.

    I do agree that this country will be in deep doodoo without oil, but only for a while, if we’re smart. The problem is not insurmountable. Mankind did OK for 10,000 years before, and with a little (maybe a lot of) self-discipline and some very creative technologies, we can adjust. But I doubt we will, personally, because we’re too arrogant, fat, stupid, spoiled and rotten. But I’m not going to give up, because that would be too pathetic for words.

    Our depraved politics will be our undoing, not our lack of energy. We COULD survive just fine, though not comfortably, with the oil produced here, for a little while, anyway. But there are a lot of bankers, capitalists and fat-cats who don’t want to see their empires crumble, however. And guess what? These guys are the ones who finance our MEDIA, through ADVERTISING. (sorry for taking so long to get back on-topic….)

    So, between the nature of capitalism and a very old racist movement, which has found it’s latest sanctuary here in the US media, we’re constantly being fed ONE BIG PILE O’ DUNG. If there is ANY way out, it hinges on us being able to adapt QUICKLY. And that won’t happen with out a major consciousness shift. So PLEASE, let’s TAKE OUR MEDIA BACK and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

    And SEAL, my prayers are with you. Thanks for doing your part as I imagine it was difficult.

  16. SEAL

    Yeah Carl, I got it the first time and I’m checking it out with my doctors before I injest anything into my body. I have to be sure nothing will conflict with what they are doing. I know you understand that. Thanx again.

  17. Carl Nemo

    Hi SEAL…

    Thanks for the reply. Setting aside the graviola reco, the green juice, calcium supplement suggestions are benign and in no way will affect you in a complex fashion other than to aid you in proper calcium uptake. I’m rooting for your total recovery.

    My Dad passed away this Veterans Day, aged 87, a veteran of WWII and Korea; ie., a combat infantryman, an appropriate day for his passing … :)

    Carl Nemo **==

  18. Carl Nemo

    Hi DejaVuAllOver…

    When Bush entered office in his first term, oil was about $12 per barrel. It’s now pushing $100. Bush and his patrons in the “oil patch” have no interest in oil being supplied at a reasonable, sustainable price, they want to bleed the people of the earth dry of their lifes savings and assets for access to this very necessary, life-sustaining commodity.

    George Bush, H.W. Bush, and the Bush clan are war-based, free-booting criminals plain and simple…!

    Easy oil; ie., low-sulphur, cheap to extract and refine oil is getting scarce, but oil as a whole is not scarce as yet. The people of the earth are being squeezed by an international criminal cabal that want to suck the very life’s blood from this planets citizens.

    In addition their contrived war on terror makes sure maximum tension is excercised in those regions that are the source of this resource; ie., oil.

    It’s really simple in that they control the industrial “food supply” for healthy commerce; ie., oil and they have succeeded in making it’s pricing dear…!

    They need to rounded up and brought to summary justice, but the US Congress is a complicit, enabler of this ongoing criminal conspiracy.

    Carl Nemo **==

  19. keith

    Don’t expect the FCC to re-impose their long-standing (but now discarded) “fairness doctrine” for broadcast media anytime soon. That’s because they, too, have crawled into bed with the big broadcast media conglomerates they are supposed to be regulating.

    In case after case in recent years, the FCC have incrementally dismantled long-standing, so-called “balanced access” regulations that have insured the public interest was served by requiring that a number of different broadcasters be licensed in each market.

    Unfortunately, the FCC, under the clear direction and encouragement of the Bush Administration, have now turned long-standing regulatory policies that used to be based solely on a broadcaster’s demonstrated potential to provide those balanced services to the public into grand “frequency auctions” where broadcast licenses now go to the highest (usually corporate conglomerate) bidder.

    The natural result is that we now have just a handful of media conglomerates giving us our “news”…and most of these are the so-called “entertainment” mega-companies.

    The one fatal flaw in our Constitution is that our founding fathers never dreamed that all three branches of our government (along with the so-called “free” press) would become so thoroughly corrupt…and all at the same time.

    As I and others have noted in numerous other posts, most (if not all) of the checks and balances that were carefully crafted into our system of government have now been so completely corrupted by money and influence to the point that they are no longer effective.

    That’s largely because our founding fathers never envisioned that the so-called “free” press they enshrined into our Constitution would, itself, become so thoroughly corrupted by media outlets that, themselves, have become large, corporate, money-hungry conglomerates.

    It has often been said that we don’t get the government we deserve; we get the government we allow. And we have allowed the FCC to “short sheet” the many checks and balances that were once placed on the broadcast industry that served our country well in the many decades since broadcasting was first invented.

    So, in that sense, we are now simply reaping what we, ourselves, have sown.