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It Is Time For A National Spotlight On The Media

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It is time for a National Spotlight on the Media. I don't mean a candlelight vigil. This is not about mourning; not about keeping hope alive; not about lifting a lone flame, not even in prayerful numbers, against the oppressive wall of darkness. This is about turning on floodlights, shining a beam of insistent knowledge, casting a ray of illumination at the heart of deception, cynicism and cold money motives, to tell moguls, editors and reporters: We see you. I would stand in front of the studios and offices of Fox News, CNN, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and aim a simple flashlight at their door. Forget the White House, the Capitol and the local Federal Courthouse. They do not control the narrative. They do not frame the questions; and at the end of the day (when the evening news comes on), it is not the President or the Pope or the Chief of Police who gives the explanations. Say to MSNBC, CBS and the Washington Post: We know what you are doing. If our collective will is strong enough - if our purpose is true enough - if we move in the right spirit, will they listen to a beam of light? Then when they come to ask, or if anyone wants to know, "Why are you standing here?" we will frame the questions, and we will give the explanations. We will ask: For what Noble Cause are American soldiers dying in Iraq? After all, you are The Media. You are The News. You are not just a mirror of America, like some kind of empty, blank slate that fills up with random notes. It is your job to make sense of the world, to tell us what is really going on. Why are you not performing your job? And what should we call a Free Press that only presents part of the picture, distorts the meaning of the picture, and tells us outright lies? How is it that a majority of Americans seldom or never hear their own views echoed and amplified in the mainstream media, but are told what to think and what to think about by an alien voice that makes them feel isolated in their opinions? How is it that the majority of Americans understand perfectly well the most fundamental truth about American politics in the modern era, a fact that is virtually never heard or mentioned or investigated: that regardless of which party or leader controls the White House or the Congress, the same Owners are calling the shots? Too much, too often, the insurance companies write their own regulations; the HMOs make the rules they abide by; the energy companies, the timber companies, the mining companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the auto makers, the defense contractors, the banking sector defines legislation to their liking and their privilege. And on and on, the profit of momentary advantage takes precedence over the long-term interests of local community values, sustainable development, even life and health and safety of the common people. And who made the choice to leave out the facts, to make-believe pink is purple, and to fill the screen with titillating distractions? We see you, hiding there, pretending you are not the instrument of change, pretending you are not the wall itself that keeps us prisoner of your will. How is it that important committees in Congress can be confronted by evidence that demands impeachment of the President of the United States, can face wrenching battles of conscience and political will that decide the fate of the nation by a single vote or two, and be a story that rates not a mention, not a paragraph, not a phrase in any of the major newspapers and news outlets of this country? How is it that hundreds of thousands of people can fill the streets in protest against works of evil done by government in their name, while the message of a few hundred people holding a counter-demonstration on the fringe is given equal weight and equal or greater time? How is it that massive numbers of people can turn a spotlight toward issues of grave national concern, putting hands and hearts and feet to a path that one news director deems "not newsworthy," while one influential pundit marginalizes and dismisses their efforts with prominent and well-reported spite? How is it that poll after poll, not once but numerous times, repeated over the course of more than a year, shows a majority of Americans favor due consideration of evidence by the august body of our national legislature, and impeachment of President George W. Bush if the facts so indicate, yet hardly a columnist will touch the story, no network tracks the development, and nary a commentator salutes the national will? We see you, pretending you are the voice of the people, pretending you serve our interests. How many times must a white dove sail, before this land is our land? It's time for a National Spotlight on the Media.
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Michael Butler is a poet, performing artist and political activist. He voted for Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential Election.
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