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If a country is rebuilt, and the media doesn’t report it, does it make a sound?

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I often wonder why the “mainstream media” behaves the way that it does when covering the “news.” There are numerous possible explanations for it, but that is not the purpose of this essay. My purpose here is to discuss the nature and effect of their behavior, and whether it constitutes treason. I don’t say that it is necessarily intentional, but in this case, I believe that intentions are irrelevant in light of the potential results. IANAL (I am not a lawyer). Having said that, let us proceed:

This, according to the ‘Lectric Law Library, is the legal definition of treason:

TREASON – This word imports a betraying, treachery, or breach of allegiance.

The Constitution of the United States, Art. III, defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort. This offence is punished with death.

This is the only crime (that I know of) in which the Constitution itself prescribes the death penalty. With a crime and punishment this severe, it is critical that we define our terms clearly. What is aid and comfort?

Well, according to the legal dictionary over at FreeDictionary.com, this is:

AID AND COMFORT. The constitution of the United States, art. 8, s. 3, declares, that adhering to the enemies of the United States, giving them aid and comfort, shall be treason. These words, as they are to be understood in the constitution, have not received a full judicial construction. They import, however, help, support, assistance, countenance, encouragement. The word aid, which occurs in the Stat. West. 1, c. 14, is explained by Lord Coke (2 just. 182) as comprehending all persons counselling, abetting, plotting, assenting, consenting, and encouraging to do the act, (and he adds, what is not applicable to the Crime to treason,) who are not present when the act is done, See, also, 1 Burn’s Justice, 5, 6; 4 Bl. Com. 37, 38.

I believe that upon even a cursory examination of the mainstream media’s coverage of the action in Iraq and elsewhere, the case can be made that ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and other major media outlets are guilty of, if not treason, then skirting treason by a hair. The networks have long been biased in their coverage, but with the run-up to Gulf War II they seem to have slowly become unhinged. An extensive gathering of examples can be found here.

A quick survey of the blogosphere and some news outlets will turn up many letters and photos of all the positive accomplishments of our people (both military and civilian) in Iraq. Yes, there are bad things happening. But there are many more good things being accomplished. By and large, the Iraqi people see this, and are grateful for our help in freeing their country and rebuilding their infrastructure.

The media, however, has consistently front-paged the bad news, with only an occasional positive story to leaven the mix. The enemy has picked up on this, and is using it to his advantage. How many videos have you seen lately of kidnap victims? have you ever noticed how close the photographers can get to a terrorist who is in a firefight? Ya think they might even be playing to the cameras?

Al-Jazeera is bad enough, but when the enemy knows that it can wear down the resolve of the American people with the help (conscious or otherwise) of a willing American media, there is not much difference in the end.

When you are providing the vehicle by which the enemy propagandizes to America, and no attempt is even made at a critical analysis, are you not giving aid and comfort? When a well-known reporter has publicly stated that he would not inform American troops of an impending ambush so that he could get a story, is he not describing an act of treason? These are people who seriously had to have a discussion about whether or not wearing U.S. flag on their lapel during broadcasts would violate their “journalistic integrity!”

Consistent negativity. Minimizing accomplishments. Magnifying failures. Running a negative subject into the ground (Abu Ghraib). Constant moral equivalence. I believe, to turn a phrase, that this is a soft treason that can have the same effect as a small rotten spot in the center of a mighty oak. If not dealt with quickly, the tree will eventually fall, rotted from wthin.

No, I am not against free speech. The First Amendment, in concert with the Second, was meant by the Founding Fathers to form the bedrock of our society by guaranteeing the rights enumerated in our Constitution. On the other hand, we don’t need a jingoistic, unthinking propaganda machine for the U.S.; our actions can and do speak for themselves. But if a school is rebuilt or a hospital re-opened, and no-one reports on it, in the minds of many Americans it never happened.Without a true balance to news coverage, the enemy has a much better chance of winning. Ironically, the enemy will show his gratitude to the folks in the media by butchering them, along with all the other Western “infidels.” Let’s clean out that rot, folks. Too much is at stake to ignore it any longer.

cross-posted to Confessions of a Jesus Phreak

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About Scott Bell

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    Get thee to a nunnery.

    And Saddam said, “What? You dare report that my regime isn’t peachy? Off with your head you miserable little reporter scum.”

    Yes, to defeat Saddam we must become Saddam. It’s so simple. How could we have failed to see this?

    Thanks for the enlightenment. Let’s do it. Hey, I saw a guy whose flag wasn’t at half mast. Off with his head–the unpatriotic, treasonous maggot. The other day this lady looked like she was about to cry when she saw images of dead Iraqis. Off with her head! My dad said that he didn’t like the idea of war. Oh, the squirrelly bastard. I’ll have to report him to Big Brother.

    Enough with my fun making. This post is absurd. It uses ideas of treason and head lopping off as a way to threaten people into a certain mode of reporting, a certain outlook. That is like trying to get your middle school track team to run faster by showing them images of dead bodies that were gored by the bulls at Pamplona. How do you potty train your kids? Show them pictures of the castrated penises of bed wetters? All we need are the thought police, or the Stasi, or some SS troopers. What the hell?

  • http://www,casperbass.com/ Casper

    It seems to me to be very similar to the lack of reporting of all the planes landing okay; it’s the bad news that gets attention. “If it bleeds, it leads” is still very much in effect in quite a few news rooms.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    It’s not treason, but it is bias. And it deserves mention.

    It’s an election year. The economy is improving. Kerry’s only chance to win is if the media:

    A) Buries all the good economic news

    B) Buries all the good foreign-policy news (including positive news from Iraq)

    C) Overplays the bad news in foreign-policy (especially bad news from Iraq)

    A+B+C=Kerry winning in 2004. Which is what the mainstream media wants…

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    The corporate media wants Kerry instead of Bush. The media is only negative when there is a Republican in charge (I’m extending this from your comment, RJ). The press loved Bill Clinton. It all makes sense.

    My ass! Clearly, the Democrats want the media to be negative when Republicans are in power and positive when Democrats are in power. The converse goes for Republicans. Ideally, the media isn’t supposed to be biased–it’s not supposed to flip one way or the other. Corporations own the media. Corporations love Bush. If anything, the corporate media is doing its best to make Bush look good. Why else don’t they point out what a freaking moron he is? My first question as an interviewer would be, “Mr. President, you’re stupid, aren’t you?” Yah, it’s biased. You all just want it to be ultra biased. You want to completely leave reality behind, Ministry of Truth style. Well, apparently a good portion of the American people aren’t quite ready for complete and constant deviations from the truth. But if you threaten to cut of our heads, we might be more accomodating.

  • http://www.jesusphreaks.com/mt Scott

    Dirtgrain,
    Unfortunately, your kind of response was what I expected.

    And Saddam said, “What? You dare report that my regime isn’t peachy? Off with your head you miserable little reporter scum.”

    Perhaps you should re-read the entire post. Then maybe you’d see the last paragraph where I clearly defend the right of free speech in America and point out that we don’t need a jingoist propaganda machine.

    Thanks for the enlightenment. Let’s do it. Hey, I saw a guy whose flag wasn’t at half mast. Off with his head–the unpatriotic, treasonous maggot. The other day this lady looked like she was about to cry when she saw images of dead Iraqis. Off with her head! My dad said that he didn’t like the idea of war. Oh, the squirrelly bastard. I’ll have to report him to Big Brother.

    See above.

    This post is absurd. It uses ideas of treason and head lopping off as a way to threaten people into a certain mode of reporting, a certain outlook.

    No, I used the idea of treason as a jumping-off point to emphasize the seriousness of (perhaps)unintended consequences. There is no threat implied anywhere in the post.

    Ad hominem attacks, followed by building a straw man and attacking it, instead of debating what I said on the merits?

    No, sir, I’m afraid it’s your comment which is absurd.

  • http://www.jesus.com Just Call Me Jesus

    Hello, my name is Jesus Christ and I do not approve of this message.

    If George W. Bush doesn’t quit using my name in vain, I swear to God, my Father, I am going to rapture his ass on the spot!

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    “The corporate media wants Kerry instead of Bush. The media is only negative when there is a Republican in charge (I’m extending this from your comment, RJ).”

    The “corporate media” does seem to want Kerry instead of Bush. Sorry. Just because they are “corporate” doesn’t mean they are Republicans. We all know that rich, white, powerful Dan Rather is a Democrat, for instance.

    And the media, in my opinion, was anti-Gore in 2000. (They were also anti-Bush, but perhaps less so.)

    The mainstream media has more power in this country than almost anyone will admit. They play a large role in deciding our elections. In this election, they seem to be intent on destroying Bush.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Dirtgrain

    Scott said: “Perhaps you should re-read the entire post. Then maybe you’d see the last paragraph where I clearly defend the right of free speech in America and point out that we don’t need a jingoist propaganda machine.”

    So, Scott, we are supposed to ignore every paragraph but the last? Excuse me for noticing what you wrote in the other ones.

    As for your “jumping off point,” I questioned it entirely, calling it absurd. So you did not mean it to be threatening–but that is how it reads to me. So, we just have a problem with message sent, message received. Then again, if you were expecting my “kind of response,” then you must have understood that your piece would seem threatening. You achieved your “unfortunate” goal.

    There is no ad hominem. I questioned your post–I did no attack your character or anybody else’s character. Look up ad hominem.

    I think you are labeling my sarcasm as a straw man tactic. The sarcasm was meant to point out the absurdity of your piece. That is not a straw man. Look up straw man. That I addressed your points about treason and head lopping off is not a straw man either–you chose to write about it, and I responded to what you wrote.

    As for the merits of your piece, how about a question? If reporting the truth gives the enemy comfort, is that treason? It seems that you suggest that certain parts of the truth be hidden in place of certain parts of the truth that you claim are wrongly hidden. You argue to fix a supposed lie with another type of lie. I can’t stress how wrong this is. We need the whole truth, good and bad.

    By the way, do you know that it is illegal for the US to use propaganda on its own people? That has relevance in considering the government’s role in telling the media what to report and what not to report.

    RJ, you need to follow the money. Some corporations give money to both candidates, hoping to have pull no matter who is elected. And there are those, like George Soros who support Kerry (I have blogged about Soros on many occasions. He is an evil man. By the way, I don’t like Kerry so much, but I like him better than Bush). But the majority of corporate money is going to Bush. Bush is all about corporate welfare. He cuts corporations’ taxes. Hell, with these tax shelters, it seems like they aren’t paying much in taxes at all. Bush is about deregulating. Let them destroy the environment and pollute without restriction. For corporations, Bush is more money, more money, more money. You want to know more about it? Look into the Carlyle Group (see The Ex-Presidents’ Club and also Chronology: The Bushes And The Carlyle Group (this has links to related articles)). If you don’t believe that Bush gets a lot more from corporations than Kerry, see OpenSecrets.org (click on the “Who Gives” tab at the top and then click “Industries.” Here you can search by industry and economic sector). Corporations own Bush; corporations own the media. You do the math.

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