Sunday, July 13, 2014

YOUR HELP PLEASE

I need your help.  Can anyone please identify a director of a school of journalism in the United States of America who is standing up for journalism.    Please send me the name and any supporting evidence.

To avoid confusion, let me emphasize, I'm not looking for a name of a university president.   As we all know, the world could be ending and a university president wouldn't stand up and say a word.   We don't expect university presidents to provide intellectual leadership on any issue facing the country be it needless wars, climate change, inequality, sexual assault or a sport that causes brain damage.  University presidents aren't essential for democracy; journalism is.  I'm looking for directors of schools of journalism, those who should be setting journalistic standards for the next generation of journalists and who should be outraged at the Obama Administration using the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers wanting to tell the truth about what the secret government is doing.  

As John Kirakou points out in his Guardian article, "Obama's abuse of the Espionage Act is modern-day McCarthyism," the administration's actions are "meant to send a message to anybody else considering speaking truth to power:  challenge us and we will destroy you."

How does Obama compare to other presidents?   Kirakou summarizes it succinctly.

"Only ten people in American history have been charged with espionage for leaking classified information, seven of them under Barack Obama. The effect of the charge on a person's life – being viewed as a traitor, being shunned by family and friends, incurring massive legal bills – is all a part of the plan to force the whistleblower into personal ruin, to weaken him to the point where he will plead guilty to just about anything to make the case go away. I know. The three espionage charges against me made me one of 'The Obama Seven.'"

What was Kirakou's crime?   Why was he prosecuted?   The reason should outrage every citizen, every journalist and particularly every director of every journalism school.    He talked to reporters.  Here's Kirakou's description: 

"Two of my espionage charges were the result of a conversation I had with a New York Times reporter about torture. I gave him no classified information – only the business card of a former CIA colleague who had never been undercover. The other espionage charge was for giving the same unclassified business card to a reporter for ABC News. All three espionage charges were eventually dropped.
So, why charge me in the first place?
It was my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA's torture program and for confirming to the press, despite government protestations to the contrary, that the US government was, indeed, in the business of torture."
Torture used to be something other countries did; the USA would not tolerate such inhumane treatment.   That has changed.   Now the United States prosecutes someone like Karakou for talking about it and the message is loud and clear to anyone looking to tell the truth about the secret government. 

As ProPublica reports, "Despite promises to strengthen protections for whistleblowers, the Obama administration has launched an aggressive crackdown on government employees who have leaked national security information to the press."

Where are the directors of America's journalism schools?   Why aren't they objecting to a concentrated attack on free speech?

With the passing of one America's great journalists, John Seigenthaler - a journalist's journalist -  it made me realize it is time to ask a question as free speech has come under increasing attack by government and as the press has devolved into such incredible lapdogs:  where are the journalists?

Now, it's more important than ever for the directors of schools of journalism to stand up and fight for 1st Amendment rights because so many so-called news organizations have abdicated their responsibility.  In his article "How the 'War on Terror' Became a War on the Constitution," Peter Van Buren correctly notes far too many of America's professional journalists are failing at the basics:  holding government accountable.

"Sadly, as the Obama administration is moving ever more fiercely against those who might reveal its acts or documents, the bulk of the media have acquiesced. Glenn Greenwald said it plainly: too many journalists have gone into a self-censoring mode, practicing 'obsequious journalism.'"

Please, if you can identify a director of a school of journalism who is raising hell about the Obama Administration's attack on whistleblowers who are so essential in a democracy, please let me know.  Put their name and school and links to articles demonstrating their objections in the comments below.   

Thank you. 

P.S.   I wouldn't expect network news executives to object.   Lapdogs don't bark; they just wimper.   When journalism fails, bad things happen.   

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7 comments:

  1. You're right to ask -- but they can't say anything bad about Obama. They sang hosannas to him for so long that to turn on him now would destroy their credibility with even the few people who still think Obama's the messiah.

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  2. The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication was among the signatories to last week's letter.

    http://www.spj.org/news.asp?ref=1253

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  3. I will think you will some fodder at http://www.washingtontimes.com/staff/christopher-harper/
    Christopher Harper
    Temple University

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  4. I just finished reading the AEJMC letter.

    In addition to the letter itself being a sad little mewl of complaint, the signatories are, to a one, completely unknown persons outside of their own circles. Example:

    David Cuillier, President, Society of Professional Journalists

    No disrespect, David Cuillier, but your name isn't going to get anyone sweaty with fright. Nor, Beth Parke, Executive Director, Society of Environmental Journalists

    Again, no disrespect but environmental journalists can't even run off the whackjobs who think climate change is a myth. You think they're going to get Obama to stop harassing everyone who challenges him?

    The President of the United States does care for two-tenths of a second what the presidents of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association, the American Society of News Editors, the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association, the Association of Opinion Journalists, the College Media Association, etc. think or feel.

    Why isn't the New York Times on there? Oh, right. You mention how they tried to cover a story and couldn't get a quote. I admit, that's surprising, because the New York Times is the president's biggest national booster. In the pursuit of being "fair" and "impartial," they assiduously refrain from dwelling on bummers.

    Where, oh where, is the Times' blockbuster coverage of the children blown up as "collateral damage" by drone bombs? Why are there no articles about the millions of people who cannot find work? 16 million children in this country live in "food insecure" households. When was the last time the Times ran that on the front page in 72 point font? But that, and lots of other nuisance details rarely get mentioned.

    And you wonder why you're all losing your jobs? Dull, flaccid articles that duck the harsh questions. Timid, fearful writing that reads like a 9-year-old's apology to a scary great-aunt. Desperate attempts to look "hip" and "fresh." (Here's a clue: I don't want smirking anchors who leer drunkenly into the camera while they air yet-another propaganda piece about how America is No. 1. Why would I want the equivalent in print?)

    Don't go after the president. Go after his enablers. Stop holding up the New York Times and all the other eggsucks as paragons. Use your memberships for something other than ineffectual "me-too" e-mail petitions.

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  5. A highly worthwhile piece: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/7/lowell-bergman-investigativejournalismpressfreedomjamesrisen.html

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  6. Karl,

    Pretty depressing that you got all of four replies.

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