Audacity of Censorship,
Natalia J. Garland
Senator Barack Obama evicted three reporters from his campaign
airplane on November 2, 2008. The reporters were from the the
Washington Times, the New York Post, and the
Dallas Morning News. All three newspapers endorsed Senator
John McCain for president. There are two concerns regarding
Obama's decision to deny further campaign access to these three
reporters. (1) They were reporters--not columnists or
editorialists--working for a daily publication and responsible for
delivering unbiased news to the public. (2) They worked for
newspapers which endorsed the opposition, and that prompted the
public to question if Obama's decision was vindictive.
The Obama campaign
stated that the evictions were to allow room for reporters from
Obama's hometown newspapers, the Chicago Tribune and the
Chicago Sun-Times. These reporters had not traveled with
Obama on a regular basis. Is that accurate, or is that the only
reason? After the eviction of reporter Christina Bellantoni, the
Washington Times published an editorial about the evictions
and Obama'a stated rational.
This argument, however, collapses upon closer examination. For one
thing, there is no getting around the fact that all three
newspapers kicked off the plane just happened to endorse Mr.
McCain. Moreover, Mr. Obama's supporters have been furious with
The Times when it publishes stories that are not favorable to
their candidate. One was an Oct. 10 report by Barbara Slavin of
The Times about Mr. Obama's efforts to delay signing an agreement
with the United States on the status of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Another was a piece by reporter Joseph Curl pointing to Mr.
McCain's role in mobilizing support for the Iraq troop surge,
which Mr. Obama opposed. Viewed in this context, the Obama
campaign's decision to remove Miss Bellantoni smacks of being the
latest effort by Mr. Obama and his supporters to retaliate against
reporters that ask tough questions. After Barbara West, a reporter
on WFTV-TV in Orlando, had the temerity to ask some tough
questions to Joe Biden, the Obama campaign cancelled an interview
with Mr. Biden's wife, Jill. Obama supporters even called for Miss
West's ouster. After a reporter for KYW-TV in Philadelphia pressed
Mr. Biden too forcefully on some matters, the Obama campaign said
it would grant no more interviews to the station. When WGN Radio
in Chicago announced it would interview Stanley Kurtz, author of
several unflattering investigative pieces about Mr. Obama,
supporters of the candidate flooded the station with telephone
calls and e-mails demanding that Mr. Kurtz not be put on the air.
It is a disturbing pattern. If this is how Mr. Obama acts as a
candidate, how would he treat the press as president?
At this late point
in the presidential campaigns, it is clear that yellow journalism
has played an important role in the popularity of Obama. There
have been under-reported affiliations of and transactions by
Obama which would have ruined the campaign of any other candidate.
Were it not for certain cable news programs, we would not know the
full extent of Obama's connections with Rezko, Farrakhan, Rev.
Wright, Ayers, Khalidi, and ACORN. We would not have had
discussion of the controversial remarks made by Michelle Obama,
Joe Biden, and Rep. Lewis (who compared Senator McCain to the
racist George Wallace). If McCain had had connections with a
political radical such as Ayers, the major media would have
investigated thoroughly and his campaign would have been
Without freedom of
the press, the public cannot engage in critical thinking or make
informed decisions. How could Obama have managed the situation
differently? Anyone who has ever attended an office Christmas
party knows how to draw names from a hat. Obama could have made a
fair selection by putting names in a hat and drawing out three
random reporters to be evicted. Then, nobody could suspect
vindictive behavior. But, by deliberately choosing three
reporters from newspapers which endorsed McCain, the public
cannot help suspecting an act of retaliation.
What can the public
do to obtain factual information? (1) Read policy statements on
government websites such as the White House, Senate, and
Congressional websites. (2) Read and print policy statements and
speeches posted on the candidate's website. (3) Access the voting
records of elected officials. (4) Understand the difference
between objective news and opinion-related articles. (5) When
reading opinion-related material, use critical thinking and look
at the author's resources. (6) Vote for candidates who respond
positively to disagreement. (7) Express yourself!
(Written 11/03/08: bibliography available.)
another essay on a similar topic, see A Fleeting Political Movement, Part III
Until we meet