Media's Role During the Nation's Crisis: Investigative Journalism or Cheerleading?
Interview by Between The Lines' Scott Harris
With flags waving on television screens and from millions of car antennae, there is a public demonstration of unity and determination across the country to confront and defeat the terrorism that took an estimated 6,000 lives on September 11th. But while this new patriotism sweeps through the nation, voices of dissent during this crisis have in some instances met with harsh condemnation and even suppression.
Rage against those who don't follow the prevailing line on the terror attacks was seen in the recent firing of Dan Guthrie of the Grants Pass Oregon Daily Courier who criticized President Bush for hiding in a shelter during the assaults in New York and Washington. When Tom Gutting wrote a column titled "Bush Has Failed to Lead the U.S." in the Texas City Sun, the newspaper terminated him and ran a front page apology. In covering a Sept. 29 peace demonstration in Washington D.C., the New York Times chose this deliberately inflammatory and misleading headline: "Protesters Urge Peace With Terrorists." Comedian Bill Mahr, host of television's "Politically Incorrect" lost many advertisers after he commented that the U.S. was cowardly in "lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer later denounced Mahr and warned that "Americans ... need to watch what they say, (and) watch what they do." This comment was deleted from a White House transcript of the press conference, according to the New York Times.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with journalist and author Danny Schechter, executive editor at Mediachannel.org, who, over the last four decades, has worked for both corporate and independent media outlets. He examines the role of the press since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Danny Schechter's latest book, published by Akashic Books, is titled "News Dissector: Passions, Pieces and Polemics 1960-2000," covering his four decades as a journalist and activist (To receive Between The Lines Weekly Summary and/or Q&A, email firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com).
Visit Schechter's media watch Web site at: <>www.mediachannel.org