he fight to preserve the Web from corporate gatekeepers
joins media reformers, producers and educatorsand its a fight that has
only just begun.
I want to tell you about another fight were in today.
The story Ive come to share with you goes to the core of our belief that
the quality of democracy and the quality of journalism are deeply entwined.
I can tell this story because Ive been living it. Its been in the news
this week, including reports of more attacks on a single journalistyours
trulyby the right-wing media and their allies at the Corporation for Public
As some of you know, CPB was established almost 40 years
ago to set broad policy for public broadcasting and to be a firewall between
political influence and program content. What some on this board are now
doing today, led by its chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson, is too important, too
disturbing and yes, even too dangerous for a gathering like this not to
Were seeing unfold a contemporary example of the age-old
ambition of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell
the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable.
Let me assure you that I take in stride attacks by the
radical right-wingers who have not given up demonizing me, although I retired
over six months ago. Theyve been after me for years now and I suspect they
will be stomping on my grave to make sure I dont come back from the dead.
I should remind them, however, that one of our boys pulled it off some two
thousand years agoafter the Pharisees, Sadducees and Caesars surrogates
thought they had shut him up for good. Of course I wont be expecting that
kind of miracle, but I should put my detractors on notice: They might just
compel me out of the rocking chair and back into the anchor chair.
Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control,
using the government to threaten and intimidate. I mean the people who are
hollowing out middle-class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters
of the working class in a war to make sure Ahmed Chalabi winds up controlling
Iraqs oil. I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into a slush
fund and who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to
see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets. I mean the
people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate
their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation
becomes unpatriotic heresy.
Thats who I mean. And if thats editorializing, so be
it. A free press is one where its okay to state the conclusion youre led
to by the evidence.
One reason Im in hot water is because my colleagues
and I at NOW didnt play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism.
Those rules divide the world into Democrats and Republicans, liberals and
conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job
if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each
side an opportunity to spin the news.