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Editors and Publishers: Political Censors

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Editors and Publishers: Political Censors

This column has been producing some extremely interesting reactions from certain journalists, editors and publishers that seem to place their partisan Republican views over normal journalistic ethics. Since the Democratic Voices column started 5 years ago, we have been exposed to recurrent examples of these tendencies among a minority element in media circles.

As long ago as 5 years, an editor of a small South Dakota newspaper threatened to prosecute because I faxed him a column for consideration as a free editorial submission. He was outraged at my criticism of Bush and his ties to Big Oil. A publisher of a couple of Georgia weekly newspapers wrote to say that he would never publish any of our writings and added his opinion that we obviously never ran a business or worked a regular job. He added some praise of Bush and insult to Democrats. He was most outraged at our criticism of Bush's excessive tax cuts for the Super Wealthy.

A publisher in central Tennessee told the editor of a weekly newspaper to stop printing our column in that newspaper because I wrote that Bush dropped the ball by not preventing the 9-11 terrorist attacks despite ample pre-attack intelligence. The column stated that the policies of the Bush Administration toward the Taliban over an oil pipeline may have helped provoke the attacks according to a book written by two French intelligence experts. I called for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney for incompetence. The Republican publisher decided that the citizens of that community should not be exposed to such strongly critical views of George W. Bush.

Over the years, editors and publishers from Louisiana to California to New York have added personal insults and political attacks in response to free submissions of this column. Our most recent Republican assaults came from small newspapers from Maine and Montana. The Maine editor wrote this response:

"Please don't bother me with your ranting and raving. Put your energy into
something positive, support your views of what you would do or what you
would like your representative to do in a positive manner instead of just
Thank You

We had advocated the impeachment of Bush and Cheney for lying to the public and abusing their offices. The positive solution was the impeachment and removal from office of Bush and Cheney!

The Montana response came in the form of a whole series of emails. Here are a couple of examples:

(1) "You're Nuts!"
(2) "Liar! Liar! Liar!
That's the only answer liberals have to the Great Liberator.
Get's some new material, Ladies.
No editor or publisher should ever make personal attacks or political insults on anyone submitting their views on any subject for possible publication. This experienced writer finds such responses encouraging but novice writers may not. Citizens should be encouraged to get involved in public political discussions instead of discouraged. Editors and publishers have moral and ethical obligations to serve the public good and encourage the democratic process. They have an ethical obligation to present all political points of views to their communities. All political points of view should ideally have access to the public forum of the local newspaper opinion page.
Editors and publishers certainly have the right to refuse to publish anything they do not want in their newspapers. Broadcast media and billboard companies should not be permitted to censor paid ads but newspapers are in a different category. Readers do not have to buy or read specific newspapers. Billboards ads are forced on drivers. Broadcast media are using public airwaves at essentially no charge for private gain.
Viacom, Clear Channel and Lamar are all media companies with billboard divisions that have censored paid ads from Democratic groups in blatant acts of political censorship. MSNBC dropped the highly rated Phil Donahue talk show in what looks like to most observers as an act of pro-Iraq War political censorship. The large defense contractor General Electric has a huge financial stake in MSNBC.
There seem to be a tendency among Bush Republican partisans in the media to silence the voices of opponents instead of responding to them with thoughtful, intelligent responses. This tendency is unfortunately not confined to media circles. It is very common in Bush Republican government and political circles. It is very dangerous in a free nation and should be widely condemned!

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic talk Radio http://www.democratictalkradio.com ). Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com .
Feel free to publish at no charge without prior permission.
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Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio and author of the Democratic Voices opinion column.
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