Despite all the bloviating by conservatives about freedom and liberty, conservatives in congress, the White House and the mainstream media-of which there are many-continue to sound anything but pro-freedom. In the wake of the NY Times, Wall Street Journal
and LA Times
articles concerning the Treasury Departments tracking of financial transactions, conservative politicians and pundits have shown their ignorance of American values by suggesting a clampdown on the news media on the grounds of national security. But despite president Bush himself having touted the program years ago, the Wall Street Journal
and LA Times
reporting the story as well, and the fact that any terrorist worthy of our attention would know their finances are being tracked, the right wing has nonetheless focused their ire on their favorite whipping boy-the NY Times
Congressman Peter King (R-NY) who called for criminal charges to be brought against the NY Times and conservative radio host Melanie Morgan’s assertion that she would have “no problem with him being sent to the gas chamber”, referring to NY Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and the times reporting of the Treasury Department’s international finance tracking program.
Then, on June 29th, Fox Radio host Brian Kilmeade, of Fox’s Brian & the Judge show suggested on the radio and then later that day on FoxNew’s Fox & Friends that the US should set up an “Office of Censorship” to crackdown on “secrets being leaked”-in Kilmeade’s own words “preserving our freedom by preserving our secrets because war is not free.” Kilmeade was backed up by co-host E.D. Hill who again suggested an “Office of Censorship” might be prudent while questioning the show’s guest, Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth. Hayworth and the other shows guest Andrew Napolitano both disagreed that an “Office of Censorship” would be a good idea despite Klimeade and Hill’s assertion that a similar office had been set up during WWII to screen news stories.
These are the most extreme examples of the widespread conservative ranting on this issue, but they certainly do not represent a fringe opinion. Conservatives have been very open about their animosity toward the media, especially the NY Times, and have even created a widely espoused myth known as the “liberal media”-but for anyone to claim that an “Office of Censorship” is a proper solution to their perceived bias in the media is simply “un-American”-to borrow a right-wing term.
But let’s consider the company that Brian Kilmeade, E.D. Hill, Peter King and Melanie Morgan are keeping in their idea of an “Office of Censorship”, criminal prosecution and capital punishment for news editors. For instance, is there any doubt that Hitler would have been in favor of Melanie Morgan’s gas chamber solution for renegade news editors? Come to think of it, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Propaganda Ministry led by Joseph Goebells comes to mind in comparison to Kilmeade and Hill’s “Office of Censorship”. The Nazi Propaganda Ministry controlled newspapers, magazines, public meetings, books, art, music, movies, and radio. Any viewpoints deemed threatening to Nazi tenets or government were censored or eliminated from all media. This, unfortunately, is what Kilmeade was suggesting, and even sadder is his unashamed admittance to suggesting one of the most un-American concepts one could ever think of. Ironically, in making his case for an “Office of Censorship”, Kilmeade referenced the Nazi’s while speaking about a censorship program set up by FDR during WWII on the same June 29th broadcast of Fox & Friends mentioned earlier-“you don’t have any freedom if the Nazis are the victors. You have no one to trade with if Western Europe falls. That’s the reality. You’re in love with the law, but I’m in love with survival”. Is that what we’ve become-a nation of scared, survival minded boobs, willing to abandon the laws and concepts this nation was built upon because some draft dodging buffoon likes to play fear politics? I think not Brian Kilmeade!!
Also keeping company with Kilmeade, Hill, King and Morgan, and pointed out by guest Andrew Napolitano on the Fox & Friends show, would be King George-no not George W.-but King George of England, who imposed controls over newspapers in America and England. So not only do these people think it a good idea to emulate Nazi Germany, but apparently they would have no problem reverting to the conditions that in part led to our revolution.
Could these people be any more clueless to what it means to be an American?
The most cogent defense of the press during the past couple of weeks has to be reporter Dana Priest’s rebuttal of Bill Bennett’s contention that the various “leak” stories being criticized by the right are illegal. Priest said on the July 2nd edition of Meet the Press-“Well, it’s not a crime to publish classified information. And this is one of the things Mr. Bennett keeps telling people that it is. But, in fact, there are some narrow categories of information you can’t publish, certain signals, communications, intelligence, the names of covert operatives and nuclear secrets.” Indeed!
Not only is it not illegal, but freedom of the press is one of the most important, if not the most important of our freedoms. This is unequivocal, and the First Amendment clearly states that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press. With this in mind, it is mind numbingly frustrating that despite advocating Nazi style Offices of Censorship, prosecution of news editors and even capital punishment, foolish conservatives in Congress, on FoxNews and the rest of the right-wing echo chamber are respected as all-American “patriots”, while the true champions of our hallowed First Amendment rights among progressives are slandered as treasonous terrorist-lovers. It’s all very frustrating-until you consider that all of this is simply election year Republican shenanigans aimed at firing up the base-and then we should just be angry.
Thomas Jefferson once said that “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost”. I don’t think this could be stated any more plainly. Take heed conservatives!!