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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/10/22

Nuclear Threats - Part 6 - The Power of the Press to Crush Dissenting Opinions - The Reagan Years, the Past, and Today

Message Robert A. Leishear, PhD, PE, ASME Fellow

The truth cuts through the lies of the Press. In 1981, 250,000 protestors marched on the Capitol building to protest President Ronald Reagan's policies. National TV stations reported that all of those people came to Washington, D.C. to applaud the President's job performance. Today, the Press conceals fatal dangers in nuclear power plants and nuclear missile defense.

Through deceit and censorship, the Press stands as the greatest threat to Freedom of the Press.

The U.S. Air Traffic Controllers' Strike

Considering the strike first, I was there at the protest when I was a union member, and the facts did not look like the nightly news on ABC, NBC, and CBS. Younger folks cannot recall when there were only 3 national news networks, and smaller TX news stations located in cities like Baltimore and D.C. Cable. Cable News had only been invented a year earlier to change the world of communications. Most people still watched the 'big three'.

Early in Ronald Reagan's presidency, this day of protest was preceded by a national Air Traffic Controllers' strike. As the strike approached, TV stations feared that there would be grave dangers to air travel if the striking controllers stopped working. Fears of plane crashes and fiery deaths headlined the nightly news. After all, these controllers managed the complex tasks of directing multiple passenger jets and small aircraft as they buzzed into and out of airports across the U.S.

What the Press did not know, and could not report, was that Reagan had opened three six-month-long, top-secret schools throughout the U.S. to train enough controllers to man every airport in the U.S. I met one of these controllers, who told me that he went to the Chicago training center.

Reagan Destroyed the Strike

The big day of the strike approached, and President Reagan told the Air Traffic Controllers that they would be fired if they did not go back to work. They chose to strike for a better contract. Reagan fired them.

'On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan begins firing 11,359 air-traffic controllers striking in violation of his order for them to return to work'.

'Two days earlier, on August 3, almost 13,000 air-traffic controllers went on strike after negotiations with the federal government to raise their pay and shorten their workweek proved fruitless'. 'The same day, President Reagan called the strike illegal and threatened to fire any controller who had not returned to work within 48 hours'.

On August 5, an angry President Reagan carried out his threat, and the federal government began firing the 11,359 air-traffic controllers who had not returned to work. In addition, he declared a lifetime ban on the rehiring of the strikers by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). On August 17, the FAA began accepting applications for new air-traffic controllers' (click here).

Reagan was not angry; he was in control. Airline safety was in capable hands, and the public was completely unaware of President Reagan's carefully crafted decisions and actions to overcome a national strike. His actions were called a secret, but those actions look more like lies.

Figure 1: Washington, D.C., Capitol and Washington Monument
Figure 1: Washington, D.C., Capitol and Washington Monument
(Image by US government)
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A National Protest Against Reagan's Policies

A month later, on September 18th, the AFL-CIO rented the D.C. subways for the day for anyone to ride the subway downtown to the Capitol. People met at the Washington Monument, which is located at one end of a several-block-long grassed area called the Mall (Figure 1). There were many speakers throughout the morning, including Coretta Scott King.

When the protestors started the short march to the Capitol, the Air Traffic Controllers led the mass of people. They chanted 'Ronald Regan ain't no good, send him back to Hollywood. The Washington Post was one of few news sources who accurately reported the truth - almost. They said that 'Some of the demonstrators chanted, Hey, hey, he's no good. Send him back to Hollywood', a reference to Reagan's former days as an actor'.

The Press Lied About the Protest - Lies from the Past

The shocker came when I went home to Baltimore that evening and turned on the 6:00 news. ABC, NBC, and CBS all reported the same story in a video clip. The camera panned the crowd that stretched from the Capitol building back toward the towering Monument to George Washington. Then, the camera focused only on President Reagan. He said that he was amazed that hundreds of thousands of people had come from all over the country to support his policies. The facts were smashed by the Press.

This video report was the complete news that the entire country received. Newspapers like the Washington Post reached only a fraction of the country in those days before the internet. By silencing the opposition, the Press crushed Freedom of Speech and destroyed Freedom of the Press. The Press did not act under some government mandate of secrecy, the Press lied.

Slanting the Truth - Lies from the Distant Past

To further consider what we learn, the information that we are taught frequently differs from the facts.

When I was young, I was taught that the U.S. Revolutionary War started in front of a church on a green in Lexington, Massachusetts. I believed this story for most of my life, and technically this fact is correct.

However, I visited Lexington a few years ago, and that church is on one side of the three-sided green. On another side of the green, the Buckman Tavern still stands.

A sign in front of that tavern states that militia met early in the morning inside the tavern. The battle started near dawn. Actually, the battle started in front of the tavern.

From what is known of taverns, beer drinking is the thrust of taverns. In other words, a few beers were the likely start of the day before the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired (Figure 2). I can almost picture the militia men raising their beer mugs and yelling "Let's kick the Redcoats back to England".

The story of a fight in front of a church rings of greater purity than a story of rowdy beer drinkers starting the war that founded our nation. However, beer drinkers ring more of the truth, given that the militia were outnumbered by nine to one.

'At dawn on April 19, some 700 British troops arrived in Lexington and came upon 77 militiamen gathered on the town green. A British major yelled, "Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels."

The heavily outnumbered militiamen had just been ordered by their commander to disperse when a shot rang out'. When the smoke cleared, eight militiamen lay dead and nine were wounded, while only one Redcoat was injured' ("Battles of Lexington and Concord", click here). 'This was the shot heard round the world'.

Are these past teachings dishonest, or simply a slant of the truth to make the events sound better? Those misinformed people who repeated this lie for decades were not dishonest, but those who planted this seed of dishonesty lied.

Figure 2: An artistic rendition of the Battle of Lexington Green
Figure 2: An artistic rendition of the Battle of Lexington Green
(Image by The American Revolution Institute)
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A Long History of a Dishonest Press

In support of U.S. government policies, William Randolph Hearst distorted the facts in his newspaper to influence people in the U.S. to support the 1898 Spanish American War. He lied.

Hearst's 'stories were greatly exaggerated. One headline infamously read "Blood on the Roadsides, Blood in the Villages, Blood, Blood, Blood." Shortly thereafter, the USS Maine exploded (the facts of who caused the explosion are still unclear, and the evidence we have indicates error on the part of the American troops on the ship, rather than terror by the Spanish). Hearst authorized a column entitled, 'Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain'. 'This publication caused the American public to reach a fever-pitch of frenzy. America soon entered into a war against Spain. (Click Here).

In other words, Hearst did not know what sunk the USS Maine in the Havanah, Cuba harbor. However, he wrote that the Spanish sunk the ship for certain (Figure 3). I was taught from history books when I was young, that Hearst knew that there was no attack on the Maine. Whether he was certain or not, he catalyzed a war with Spain without facts, which is a lie for certain.

Figure 3: Pure fiction - A Spanish attack on the Maine with a make-believe drawing.
Figure 3: Pure fiction - A Spanish attack on the Maine with a make-believe drawing.
(Image by Heart newspapers)
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Lies Can Kill Us

Also, when I was young, I was taught that the Press should be objective. However, I have found that sometimes the Press takes the high road to present objective news, sometimes the Press slants the news like history reports of the Buckman's Tavern story and the Spanish American War, and sometimes the Press takes the low road. Then, the Press outright and deliberately lies to us.

With respect to nuclear safety from explosions, their lies can have deadly and disastrous effects on our lives. Throughout our history, the Press periodically lied to us to control public opinion.

Figure 4: North Korean Missile Launches
Figure 4: North Korean Missile Launches
(Image by North Korean Government)
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The Press Lies Today

The Press continues to lie to us. The Press and our government inhibit Freedom of Speech and stamp out Freedom of the Press by silencing dissenting opinions. Explosion threats from nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants continue to be concealed from us (Figure 4).

The Freedom of the Press demands great responsibility but is sometimes scarred with great dishonor. We have been lied to so often, and so completely, that we believe we are safe from nuclear weapon attacks and nuclear power plant explosions. We are not safe, but if we act now, we can ensure our safety from explosions in war and in peace.


After writing this article, I noticed that my examples do not portray the Press very well. That is not my sole intent, since members of the Press generate many extraordinary accomplishments. However, my overriding interest is to prevent loss of life during possible explosions during nuclear power operations and nuclear attacks.

To this end, I discussed a long history of cases in this article, where the Press lock-stepped with government to promote and enforce government policies. Specific cases are presented by way of persuasion.

I have now documented this cutting-edge research in 35 publications (See references at leishearengineeringllc.com). Some are peer-reviewed engineering magazine, conference, and journal papers. Some are non-peer-reviewed Op Eds.

If my discussions in this six-part series of articles and previous publications were swept away entirely, I would again write that the next nuclear power plant explosions can be stopped, U.S. nuclear missile defenses are inadequate, lives can be saved, and the government and the Press stand in the way of saving lives.


These threats to life are further discussed in "Press censorship and the nuclear power plant explosions that still bang at our doors", Click Here; "Deceit is the core of nuclear power explosion safety", Click Here; "Nuclear Threats - Part 1, We are not safe if North Korea fires nuclear bombs at Us", click here"; "Nuclear Threats - Part 2 - A fight for Freedom of the Press to say that we are not safe if nuclear bombs are fired at us", Click Here; "Nuclear Threats - Part 3 - Our government lies to us about nuclear safety - Radioactive explosions in war and in peace", Click Here; and "Nuclear Threats - Part 4 - Take action against U.S. cover-ups in nuclear power and nuclear missile defense", Click Here, and "Nuclear Threats - Part 5 - An Incoming Nuclear Plant Explosion Disaster- Zaporizhzhia Near Missed This Next Disaster".

(Article changed on Dec 10, 2022 at 6:14 PM EST)

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Robert A. Leishear, PhD, PE, ASME Fellow Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Robert A. Leishear, PhD, P.E., PMP, ASME Fellow, Who's Who in America Top Engineer, NACE Senior Corrosion Technologist, NACE Senior Internal Piping Corrosion Technologist, ANSYS Expert, AMPP Certified Protective Coatings Inspector, NACE Cathodic (more...)

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