(started March 30)
Evidently, I don't know how to access the newspapers via the internet. I read today in the Fresno Bee a story entitled "Newspapers Can Be Sued Over Political Figures' Lies". I can't find it now on their website nor can I find it on the LA Times website (where it originated).
But the article talks about how the Supreme Court (couldn't find it there either) "refused to shield the news media from being sued for accurately reporting a politician's false charges against a rival". The politician in question called some other politicians (city council members and a mayor) "liars", "queers" and "child molesters". Evidently, this was either not true or unprovable and the politicians so maligned took umbrage at the accusations being printed. The case does not mention whether the paper in question printed the allegations as fact or not. It merely says (within the confines of the newspaper article) "the law has placed a burden (albeit a minimal one) on the media to refrain from publishing reports that they know to be false".
Is that so? The media needs now to research every quote they get? Every newsbyte they catch must now be double and triplechecked in order to ascertain the veracity of said politician? All of us know that politicians lie as easily as they intake free brunches. So, now reporters must prove that the politicos are being honest. And, evidently, they need to go dooor to door and ask people if it's true they're queer, liars and kiddie touchers. Otherwise, they're not allowed to print what public figures say. So, can I sue the entire country's newspapers for WMD's in Iraq and Iraq's ties to al-qaeda and the "ongoing fight by our government for women's rights in Afghanistan"? Or is this a ruling tied strictly to local pissing contests that involve offended public figures?
The story that has encouraged the Supreme Court to rule that all newspapers must be self-censoring if they don't want to get spanked by the federal government is one "that started ten years ago when the Daily Local News in West Chester, PA printed a story headlined: 'Slurs, insults drag town into controversy'. It reported that the city council in nearby Parkesburg had been torn apart by shouting matches and fistfights." In 2000, the trial judge dropped the newspaper from the case and ordered that the person making the accusations pay the complainants, but it seems the newspaper was put back in last October (though that part of the case has not yet been tried).
(continued April 1)
So, I get printed by the media as stating that George Bush is the nation's worst mass murderer from his stint as Governor of Texas (he put something like 137 people to death), he is responsible for around 1,600 American deaths and around 100,000 Iraqi deaths, he has the morals of a Boy Scout group leader caught with kiddie porn, he's a liar, a drunk and a drug abuser. But I either can't prove these things or it can be said by others that these are merely my opinion and not fact. The newspaper prints what I say, but doesn't endorse it as fact. It prints as fact that I said it and in context of whatever the story is (i.e. I hold a protest vigil outside one of Bush's so-called Town Councils, because I was asked to leave after the GOP people saw an offensive bumpersticker on my car that said "Better Dead Than Red Stater").
The newspaper can be sued for covering what they might see as a story of interest when, in the context of that story, they print my arguments verbatim?
This is censorship at the highest judicial level. This validates Fox News and their pro-Bush rah rahing. This validates going after Dan Rather and company for running a story they did not research deeply enough. This validates embedded journalists who feed us only what they are fed by the military propagandists. And this completely invalidates anyone who wants to print the truth or their version of it if it steps out of line with the established order. In the meantime, Robert Novak is still on the loose even though he is the one who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the world. Interesting, too, because every other journalist who merely followed up on his story have been hit with contempt charges for refusing to give up their sources' names. And Seymour Hersh is being called a traitor and perhaps investigated for exposing our government's attempts to spy on Iran within Irani sovereign soil against all international treaties it's signed.
So, don't print any story about anyone calling your local poobah a poo-poo head unless you have pictures that show him with actual feces in his hair and don't take the administration to task for their illegal activities. But, by all means, ruin a CIA agent's career, because her husband went public to refute an administration lie.
By the way, I did finally find the article on the LA Times website, but they want money from me to even let me see it. And the Fresno Bee didn't seem to archive it. I don't know why. They paid something to reprint it. you'd think the press wanted us to have access to the printed word. Then again, maybe they're taking self-censorship to another level.