Monday, September 15, 2008

Speaking Out

During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Al Gore made the dubious statement, "I invented the internet." If you remember nothing else said during that campaign, you probably remember that. One could only conclude that Al Gore was either delusional or a liar. I was a staunch supporter at the time, but even I was left speechless. Why would he say such an obviously untrue thing? I couldn't defend him to all the naysayers who mocked my choice for President. Even today, when I mention global climate change, people say to me, "Oh yeah, well after Al Gore invented the internet, he invented global warming. It's just a ploy to get in the White House."

But what if that's not exactly what he did say. And what if what he did say was absolutely true? Recently, I discovered the whole story and the whole story makes me sick. The media knew the truth and yet chose to ignore it. Instead, they kept repeating biased distortions, otherwise known as lies. If there had not been such a campaign of lies against Gore, the last eight years might have been quite different.

But this is not about Democrats vs Republicans. This has to do with lies and inuendo corrupting the foundations of democracy. In a democracy, the public deserves to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and it is the sacred duty of the media to be as impartial as humanly possible in delivering that truth. But that's not what we got then and not what we're getting now.

Maybe I am being naive, as some suggest, to think that 'the truth' is out there and can be reported without bias. Granted, each of us has our own perspective and each of us sees 'the truth' differently. But to publish lies when you know they are lies is to break the public trust. Others have said that I am mistaken to believe there is a mandate for such a trust and that to maintain a free press, we must let them be free to report as they wish. Government regulation would be the death of the free press. True. But who is advocating government regulation?

If we are to have a media that is dedicated to reporting the real news (as opposed to Hollywood gossip) as completely and truthfully as possible, then we need to hold the media to that standard. If we excuse their lies and biases as business-as-usual or as an exercise in freedom, then we will never get anything better. It isn't this way everywhere, it hasn't always been this way here and it doesn't have to be this way forevermore. In the end, the public gets what it is willing to settle for.

I can't speak for America. I can only speak for myself. But the voice of America is the chorus that emerges from the cacaphony of individual voices. And that doesn't happen when we just shrug and walk away.

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