‘I would have no qualms about seeing such sentences executed’

See, it’s just a funny joke, killing journalists who don’t write what you want to read:

It is improbable that the framers of the Constitution anticipated a situation in which the press were entirely given over to seditious, anti-American policies. If they had, it is likely that their modus operandi would be similar to that for any faction found guilty of high crimes. Trials for treason and the requisite sentences would apply, and I would have no qualms about seeing such sentences executed, no matter how severe.

Except when it’s not:

CPJresearch shows that this year alone, five journalists have been targeted and killed for their work in Pakistan–three of them in Baluchistan. More than a dozen journalists have been killed in the province since 2008. Local groups tend to put the numbers of journalists killed higher, but because of the political turmoil it is often impossible to discern the reason for an attack as many journalists straddle the line between political activism and reporting.

Just last month, Baloch, also a longtime local correspondent for ARY Television, was shot by unidentified assailants. Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist, wrote after Haq’s death that the journalist had been threatened by the state-sponsored Baloch Musalah Diffa Army in November 2011 and had subsequently been named on a hit list issued by its spokesman.

I’ve watched with disgust as journalists laugh off verbal attacks on their trade from wingnut critics who can’t handle facts, as if violent rhetoric never leads to violent acts. I’ve watched as news bosses cozied up to people who denigrated their employees and devalued their work. And every time some angry right-wing crowd turns on a reporter, or a crew member, or an editor, I wonder when it will finally get to be too much, the “lamestream media” and the “rope, tree, journalist” and the dark muttering about treason.

I know I talk a lot about what we do wrong, in the news business. I talk a lot about all the awful things that are done (and not done) but never for one minute do I think good journalism is unimportant or passé or no longer necessary. Why rage against the dying of the light if you hate the sun? Why bother criticizing something unless you want to make it better? I despair at the failures of our national press corps in no small part because i know how critical its function was once and could be again.

And I know about other places, where “jokes” about executing reporters aren’t funny, they’re THURSDAY, and the men and women who get up every day and go out and try to tell the world what the hell is going on around them despite the very real possibility they might end up dead for it deserve better.


8 thoughts on “‘I would have no qualms about seeing such sentences executed’

  1. Of course you know that when called on this, the conservatives are gonna say he was just kidding.
    As in “Who is gonna rid me of this meddlesome priest? Just kidding! Ha ha. LOL ”
    I don’t know this Erik Rush guy. But I know that there are people who remind me that Rush Limbaugh is always a gentleman.

  2. Until the world is perfect, the news (reporting facts as they are) will always call attention to things that are in need of change.
    So is it a surprise that the radical right will call it social engineering and radical? If you want a press that calls for things to stay the same, you can look at Faux News and the cold war Tass and Pravda (as portrayed in jokes on how they could take any negative event and spin it as a glorious victory for the USSR
    But have these folks not taken civics class and learned how the 4th estate was a vital part of the American Revolution? And what would these folk do if the press took the role of watchdog to heart?

  3. “I’ve watched with disgust as journalists laugh off verbal attacks on their trade from wingnut critics who can’t handle facts, as if violent rhetoric never leads to violent acts.”
    You know, when media outlets decided it was okay to treet Fox News as a real journalistic outfit, not a propaganda mill, I sorta knew the jig was up. I can’t remember the specific incident but there was something that happened during the Bush years which caused the press to tell all the foul-mouthed liberal bloggers to stop being mean to Fox News. And that was followed shortly thereafter by the White House Correspondents Assn. deciding it would be OK for Fox to have Helen Thomas’ storied seat in the WH Press Room. If you don’t have more respect for your own profession than that, well, I have no use for you.
    And then the AP went full “fuckitall” and started delivering donuts to the McCain campaign and all that and I just knew it was over. The institutional media no longer exists to perform the function it was created to do, which is gather news, disseminate it, inform the public, look at issues, whatever. Such as the institutional media ever did that — and it did, on occasion — it no longer saw that as its job. Now, the institutional media saw its job as protecting the status quo, as creating fairy tales about American exceptionalism and disseminating that. Not about delivering the truth to your doortstep but deliveirng what sounds true. What people want to be true or what could be true, if you click your heels three times.
    And that doesn’t mean to say there aren’t people out there doing good work, because there are. There is good investigative work going on but by and large the crap that gets disseminated to the average American is not that good stuff. It’s Yahoo news, Associated Press, Gannett garbage.

  4. Journalism, when practiced correctly, is a noble profession. It was my original career choice until life circumstances derailed my 4-year degree plans and I went with a 2-year associate’s degree in healthcare for expediency’s sake. Nowadays, I’m glad I didn’t go that route, because unfortunately, Southern Beale’s assessment of the modern MSM is spot on. I already know from my brief stint in the pharmaceutical industry that I can’t stand being in a job where my ethics are compromised.

  5. After looking at my local TV News page, I wonder if the question should be larger. Admittedly, I don’t buy into the argument that at some past time people were better (even if the people in the time of the framing of the Bill of Rights). In this case, I remember that there was a time when one in prison existed strictly on putrid rations unless they were fortunate enough to have someone supply them with the necessities of life.
    News page has a story about how prisoners are suing to get dental floss. (warning – this may not be as clear cut as the news story in that apparently the jail has offered loops of floss. And floss has been used in prisons for all sorts of inventive purposes, but that isn’t apparent from this source.). Comments on the web page include a lot of crude jokes about why would the prisoners need pearly whites. Totally missing the fact that dentists clearly call for flossing as part of dental health, poor dental health is linked with many ailments in other parts of the body such as an increased risk of heart attack, and the clear moral obligation that when one has someone as prisoner they are responsible for their welfare (last point being missed on all sorts of comments on other stories).
    My initial reaction to such is to rue the decline of morality – admittedly to my embarassment as being the same as people who keep commenting on every crime asking what the world is coming to.
    But the more I think of it, I start thinking of Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents” Basic premise, ironically written in the late 20s, is that as the world develops that people will have increasing problems in coping with the constraints of society. With electronic news media and even FBI dreams of collecting the entire world of electronic information transfer, if there is a problem anywhere in the world, it comes to us as if it is nextdoor. While a person in the 1800s would only hear about buggy accidents of immediate friends and family, news treats us to the worst of auto accidents throughout the nation (or world). And these folks aren’t coping with the increased information load (and journalism adds to the problem by covering the most heineous and sensational).
    And to get people to tune in, as basic survival, the news must give teasers every 5 minutes that punch you in the gut so you want to tune in.

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