Tags: Faceless | Assassins | Freedom

Faceless Assassins of Freedom

Monday, 29 August 2005 12:00 AM

Today, ambush journalism transacted from behind the coward's camouflage of anonymity is universally practiced by those in the news business who have agendas to advance that they dare not be caught fathering in broad daylight and by their less-conspiratorial cousins who think it's cool and a way to ape the big-timers.

Now that the former profession of journalism – at one time indeed a noble one – has surrendered to the temptations of letting its pencil be nudged by unseen, unclean hands, there is serious doubt whether it will ever be able to regain its once-proud position in the pantheon of honored walks of life. Doxies of long standing, even reformed, rarely make it back into polite society.

News media-ocrities who engage for pay in anonymous assassination are of a far-lower order than whores who openly peddle their favors on the streets without hiding behind veils.

Does the absence of anonymous sources make life more difficult for genuine journalists? Certainly it does, but then they are not expected to take vows of comfort.

Will failure to cultivate anonymous sources cause honest reporters to lose some stories. Of course, but it is fewer than one might think, provided those reporters get out of their newsrooms, stop taking phone calls from the johns who want to exploit them and start looking in all 360 degrees for facts, not agenda-driven fiction. In the trade that is known as digging, or it was.

Digging is never easy. It is always work, hard work, something fewer and fewer reporters deign to perform as graduates of schools of communication (some of which actually had the honesty to drop the word

But is it worth the sweat?

It might be interesting to know whether Newsweek, the New York Times, CBS, CNN, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and the Tampa Tribune would now rather not have owned the fallacious stories they foisted on the public, thus avoiding the resulting pain and embarrassment.

From the way news "outlets" keep right on doing it, the answer must be: "Pain? What pain?"

Instead, they seem hell-bound to outdo one another in racking up anonymous-source stories.

Newspapers and networks that flirt with anonymity, get caught with their pants down and then make a show of hitching up their britches, vowing never to be embarrassed again, pay a price they don't seem to comprehend. When readers and viewers are fed the next dose of anonymity, how are they expected to know what to believe and what to disbelieve?

Most people haven't the time, or inclination, to sift through every story, trying to determine when they are being diddled and when not. Instead, they begin to take every story with an ever-larger grain of salt, inching up to the point where they won't believe anything the press says.

At stake is the news media's veracity, its believability, its integrity. But that doesn't seem to bother them very much. Why should it? That's not what they are selling anymore.

That of course is unfair to those still in the news business whose wares are more factual than fraudulent. Skeptics suffer also when they wind up scoffing at reports that are factual. But how are they to know? It becomes an accelerating, self-destructive circle.

Although in earlier days serious debate over anonymity would have been inconceivable, today in newsrooms with any integrity left the subject of anonymous sources may be occasionally treated to a modicum of belated and perfunctory re-examination.

However, in those newsrooms there is always someone – usually with benign motives – who will advance the lame, shopworn argument that a modest usage of anonymous sources "in special cases" is all right. One hopes they do not raise their daughters on illogical nonsense.

All of the New York Times-like instances of anonymous-source stories that blew up like trick cigars were "special cases" of one sort or another.

So, the absolutists are on far-safer ground than the wishy-washers.

Even so, all of that is not the overriding reason why falsehood through anonymity has no place in American journalism. The real reason is something called the Bill of Rights.

Why has American journalism been provided in the Bill of Rights a license unique in all the world? To honor journalists? To reward publishers? Not at all. They are not a special breed apart from any other American citizens.

Freedom of the Press is there, amended in as a cornerstone of the Constitution, for one reason only: to safeguard for the American people the ready availability of reliable information.

If Americans are to control their own government, as the Founders intended, they must be able to cast informed votes based on accurate information.

Where else, other than in the press, broadly defined as technology escalates, are American voters to obtain such accurate, uncontaminated information?

Journalists, then, have been entrusted with the holy task of providing the fuel essential to the very survival of this Republic. Anything short of the absolute forswearing of anonymity won't cut it.

The values this unparalleled country was founded upon are simply too precious to risk losing, especially by bartering that birthright for something so indefensible as a source of tainted information skulking behind the soiled skirts of craven anonymity.

Even children have no respect for the kid who hides behind the screen door where he imagines he cannot be seen as he sticks his tongue out at his playmates.

Why do the leftist news media embrace so warmly the practice of ambush journalism by anonymity? Because, seeing their Marxist-based agenda falling on its face both here and abroad as it is increasingly rejected by voters at the polls, they are daily more desperate to manipulate those votes by showering readers and viewers with unreliable – often outright false – information.

No wonder they are so frantically pumping out their party line by handing megaphones to anonymous sources who share their discredited agenda for influencing elections in the leftward direction they have ordained for America.

If they succeed in hornswoggling the American people, it will be because they first betrayed the very right of Freedom of the Press that allows a free press to do its best – as well as its worst.

The great hope is what historians keep discovering to be a thread running throughout the annals of America: Somehow, despite wars and depressions, and possibly due to this nation's agrarian origin, these remarkable people have never lost their keen ability to recognize what they smell when they smell it.


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Today, ambush journalism transacted from behind the coward's camouflage of anonymity is universally practiced by those in the news business who have agendas to advance that they dare not be caught fathering in broad daylight and by their less-conspiratorial cousins who...
Monday, 29 August 2005 12:00 AM
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