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imperialism & war | media criticism

Corporate media silent on bill to repeal Iraq Use of Force Resolution

Ron Paul is at it again, this time teaming up with a democrat to repeal Bush's blank check for war. Since this story is being ignored elsewhere I felt it needed reporting here. This is a good read on how corporate media really works (or, more accurately, fails to work).

Here's an interesting story.

It's an important one, and it's not being covered.

After Colin Powell spoke to the UN Security Council yesterday, a bi-partisan bill was introduced in Congress by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Ron Paul (R-TX). It wasn't just any bill - this is legislation that looks to repeal the Iraq Use of Force Resolution passed by Congress in October.

If you're wonkish about these things, you might recall that similar legislation was put forward a couple of weeks ago by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). It didn't get more than a mention here or there in the press, but it's important to note that DeFazio and Paul's bill is different. Jackson's "sense of the Congress" bill, if passed would have taken the body's "temperature" on the issue. That's all.

DeFazio and Paul's effort goes beyond the thermometer. Faced with the administration's Rush to War, DeFazio and Paul are looking for a prescription. If they were to get this one passed, the outcome would be legally binding, and the October bill then outright repealed. Congress could at that point thoughtfully revisit the issue of Iraq - the danger it presents and the costs of war.

Big story. Right?

So, where's the media?

Yesterday, DeFazio and Paul conducted a press conference that the major media outfits were invited to. Did you see it on C-SPAN? Nope. CNN? Nope. Did you read about it in the New York Times? Nope. They were all invited to attend the news conference. How about the Washington Post? Nope. But the story nearly saw daylight there. Almost. Almost? Almost.

"We decided not to run it," says a low-level staffer.

Why not?

"Hold on," I'm told, as he runs to check.

"Because our editor decided not to run it."

It's as simple as that. One gets the sense that one best take it or leave it.

"Leave a message in his voicemail."

Back to yesterday's press conference....after this low-attendance event, and later in the day, DeFazio appeared on The O'Reilly Factor: seven minutes of airtime, the usual back and forth, until the mic is silenced, the lights lowered, and O'Reilly has the last word. War.

Other than a handful of local radio interviews, a small story here and an AP wire there...that's the sum total of major coverage.

No Imus. No Chicago Tribune. No ABC News.

Major bipartisan legislation opposing a war nobody wants, and what do we hear? The sound of media silence.

Where's the American media?

Perplexing, isn't it? Especially given that yin and yang make for great journalism. Informing the public interest makes for legitimate journalism. Why the silence?

But wait...what's going on over in this corner?....

We've got Colin Powell running around Capitol Hill today, pumping hands and begging for the Blessing to War. Where's the media? Oh, the media is covering Colin Powell. They monitor his every breath and movement.

In the surreal world that is today's media, Colin Powell has no opposition. None. There is no alternative view. None. In this Kafkaesque place, Reps. DeFazio and Paul didn't conduct a press conference yesterday. Nor did they introduce legislation that counters George Bush and Colin Powell's world view...a world view, mind you, that the world doesn't share.

Colin Powell tells us that the next 24 hours are crucial. Crucial? Apparently not crucial enough to hear the voices of dissent - even Congressional dissent. Why have the voices that question....moderate voices, voices of Moms and Dads and scout leaders and nuns and grandmas...why have they gone silent? Why is their legislation invisible?

Ask that our media do us a favor, and report the news, instead of choreographing it.

Ask that they cover DeFazio and Paul's bill to repeal the Authorization for Force on Iraq. Whether that bi-partisan legislation is in keeping with the editorial page views of some in the American media is frankly immaterial.

It's a news story. An important one. It mirrors the views of many Americans - most, if you believe the polls - and it's barely being covered.

Many have taken the time to write me about this article, and I thank them. To those who have argued that the media has no obligation to report this story because it is not news or "major" legislation, let me say this...

I beg to differ that this is not a major piece of bi-partisan legislation. I think one can define "major" in several ways. The method I am using is by virtue of its national and international importance.

Certainly, the mainstream media cannot publish news about every piece of legislation that runs through Capitol Hill, but this is not just any piece of legislation.

The media is charged with informing the public interest. I am aware that AP and Fox mentioned the story, and that was addressed in my piece. This however does not consitute the type of coverage one would expect on such an important bill, one that runs counter to Bush and Powell's view...one that runs counter to world view and for that matter, polled American opinion. For the record, a review of Lexis/Nexis or Google at the time I wrote this article, would clearly indicate that our media had dropped the ball. As with the Washington Post, they decided simply "not to run it." Not the press release, reference to the press conference, or the AP story.

The American press does not exist to merely report on those items of legislation which are "likely" to pass committee. Were that the case, the minority party should simply pack up and go home, no? The press exists to report on issues of public importance...public interest. I realize that this is not the prevailing view among some who practice journalism. But fortunately, there are many for whom this is the prevailing view.

Were the press informing on this piece of legislation, and were the public so inclined, they would then have the opportunity to pressure their representatives to bring the bill to the floor. That is what democracy is all about...the will of the people.

When our press refuses to publish stories which impact the public interest, they are defeating the will of the people before the game so much as even begins.



Agree with DeFazio and Paul? Dial up the Congressional toll-free switchboard at 1-800-839-5276 and urge your Congressman to sign onto their bill, H.J. Res 20, which aims to repeal the Iraq Use of Force Resolution.


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