26 May 2002

Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press

Simply put, this book is the read of the year - every concerned American should read this book. Investigative journalists speak out on the obstructive forces they encounter when they have written the truth about powerful entites that would rather not have the truth announced. Courageously, they stuck to thier principles and fought the righteous battle, sticking to the course, and became even more vigilant in their research. Lost homes, financial ruin, public discrediting, blacklistings, legal challenges - it would be easy to say "OK, I'll change the story" or "Whatever you want me to say boss". It's my take that these individuals are real heroes, sacrificing personal security, esposing family and friends to humility and ridicule, all for the sacred adherence to an fundamental American cause - freedom of speech.

Libertarians always are quick to argue that "censorship" can only occur by government edict, that private entities that exercise suppression of speech are not censoring, for it is their ownership of production and accompaning right to limit their employees. But as we rapidly move to a state where there are a handful of media content providers, who exercise complete control over the channels and modes of mass communications, this assertion just isn't true anymore. If a reporter discovers voluminous mounds of evidence that indicates a given food additive is harmful, but yet not one of the major media conglomerates will air or print this information, is that not paramount to censorship? For now, he could write a web page and detail his findings, but that's not a mass medium, not unless he has deep pockets to pay for servers (in addition to all the time and money spent researching) and more essentially, it's not immune to a bigger content provider pulling the plug on the site, with legal hounds or just simply forcing the upstream bandwidth provider to turn it off.

In addition to private enterprise, high powers in the executive branch of government also seek to the constraints on free speech. Restricting speech under the guise of national security, threatening and imploring news outlets to cease airing messages deemed risky, or inappropriate, not by the public, but by the whim of the executive administration. Measures have been orchestrated to place organizations like the FBI and CIA "above the law", and make them answerable to nobody. Freedom in American seems to dissipate every day.
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