By: Wayne Brown
I found myself looking back at some of the stories that hit the front pages over the past few years. I thought about some of the controversy surrounding them at the time. I could not help but wonder what would happen if you took the same story line and changed the players, in essence, you moved it up in time to fit the present. Let’s look at a few examples and see what it looks like.
Who can forget former President, George W. Bush going to the ground zero site shortly after the tragedy of 9-11. It was a moment in which America was angry and confused and wondering what to do next. Bush took off the coat and tie, slipped on a jacket and went out to shake the hands and thank the brave souls who worked tirelessly and in some cases, risk their own lives, in an attempt to reduce the impact of this terrible incident in our history.
Fast forward to today and put Obama on the same site with the same tragic backdrop. How quickly would he denounce the evil “dedicated Muslims” who carried out this deed. How much resolve would he show in his determination to track down every last soul who had a part in this sinister plot and see that they paid for their actions. Honestly, I do not know if I have ever heard the man even speak of this event and his feelings about it. Perhaps we should pay close attention this September 11 to see if he uses his Presidential powers to cancel memorials associated with the event much like he did for National Prayer Day.
I have to wonder how Obama would have faired in landing on an aircraft carrier like George Bush did when he went out to welcome our troops home. Bush was criticized for his grandstanding and staging an event to capitalize himself on the coattails of our fighting men. His military record was attacked from every direction. How do you suppose the media would address Obama landing on the same carrier today? I would venture to guess the press would be very positive on all accounts. At the same time, I have to think to myself “where is Dan Rather on the issue of the birth certificate?” I find this especially amusing in light of the fact that Rather went to such great lengths to blow himself up in his own foxhole over the military records of George Bush. Does the skepticism surrounding Obama’s birthplace not intrigue the newsman in Rather enough to warrant an in-depth investigation on his part. Not this time, Dan’s afraid of what he might find and that it might all be true.
Now, we cannot visit this line of thinking and imagining without remembering the infamous Dixie Chicks episode while they were on the concert trail in Europe. Ms. Maines could not find it within her power to keep her mouth shut and just sing. After all that was what she was paid to come there and do. No, she needed to take a shot at George W. Bush that followed along the lines of how ashamed the Dixie Chicks were to be from the same state as George W and to be associated with a country that had such an ignorant man for a President. The Chicks took a beating and still are to some degree but it did not come from the media as it should have. No, it came from the American people who were, for the most part, outraged at such a reckless demonstration and lack of responsibility with regard to free speech.
Now, move things up a few years and bring in Obama. Let’s imagine Ms. Maines comment to be something along the lines of publicly observing that Obama is a Muslim and that his religious doctrine and beliefs will drive Christianity from America’s shores as well it should. Where do you think the media would be? You can bet the Chicks are going down again but it will be because the media will bury them this time and a silent America will watch.
I am sure there are a number of other media situations in which this supposition would have some different and interesting outcomes on the part of both the players and the involvement of the media. I will leave that to you to imagine now that the ball is rolling.
The media in America is and has been for far too long working in a mode never imagined by the Founding Fathers of this great country. If, at the time, they could have envisioned a process by which the media on a national scale would be in someone’s pocket from an ideological standpoint or inserting themselves into the role of not just reporting the events but interpreting them to the listening public.
If the Founding Fathers could have envisioned such an occurrence in our future, then I have to wonder whether freedom of the press would have been included in the Bill of Rights document these men so carefully crafted. The press was to be the watchdog, the public and prying eye that cried for accountability from those on all sides and cut little slack to anyone coming under their scrutiny. Somewhere along the way, we lost that direction in the media.