Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Bush dynasty's notion of press freedom

Am I exaggerating when I say the Republican Party is increasingly authoritarian?  Check this out: As bodies recovered, reporters are told 'no photos, no stories' by Cecilia Vega San Francisco Chronicle 09/13/05.

Outside one house on Kentucky Street, a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division summoned a reporter and photographer standing nearby and told them that if they took pictures or wrote a story about the body recovery process, he would take away their press credentials and kick them out of the state.

"No photos. No stories," said the man, wearing camouflage fatigues and a red beret.

On Saturday, after being challenged in court by CNN, the Bush administration agreed not to prevent the news media from following the effort to recover the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.

But on Monday, in the Bywater district, that assurance wasn't being followed. The 82nd Airborne soldier told reporters the Army had a policy that requires media to be 300 meters -- more than three football fields in length -- away from the scene of body recoveries in New Orleans. If reporters wrote stories or took pictures of body recoveries, they would be reported and face consequences, he said, including a loss of access for up-close coverage of certain military operations.

This administration wouldn't be satisfied with the press unless they all become exactly like FOX News.  And it's not like the press has been doing its job of acting as a watchdog on the government as it is.  What if the press had spent less time obssessively covering missing white women and sensational murder trials, and more time covering federal emergency preparedness?  Maybe there would have been fewer surprises all around due to Katrina - and fewer lives lost.


blueneighbor said...

The press accepts these limits and censors itself.  The sad fact is that the press is as incompetent and compromised as FEMA.

We have third-world institutions, led by unqualified hacks, accountable to no one.

And a citizenry that is so poorly educated, so poorly informed, so lazy, disinterested and self-centered, that they have not even noticed.

Somethin' gotta change -- soon.

bmiller224 said...

The press did stand up for themselves on this one to some extent.  CNN went to court to prevent the military from blocking access to the New Orleans cleanup.

But they have been far, far too willing to go along with Bush's Potemkin events and accept absurd restrictions in other areas.  They've been congratulating themselves for acting like real journalists for a few days in New Orleans.  It was probably a new experience for some of them.

But the mainstream press is quickly reverting to form: emellishing facts to make favorite lines work, going along with Bush's making Michael "Brownie" the scapegoat for the FEMA failure and turning their attention away from Chertoff's role, passing along Bush's fake claim of taking responsibility, and so on. - Bruce