Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And Now… The Fairness Doctrine. The Struggle Continues

Media bias is not a problem unique to America. Blatant partisanship in what purports to be news coverage has been a problem in Israel for a long time. Now there is a bill in the Israeli Knesset regulating the publication of polls in the days immediately prior to an election,

According to the Jerusalem Post,“MK Yisrael Hasson (Israel Beiteinu) will hold a special session of the Economic Affairs Committee on Wednesday to discuss banning the publication of exit polls while the ballot boxes are open for voting. Hasson chairs the panel.

“The meeting was set following the profound questions that have arisen regarding the media’s conduct and its influence on several crucial events in the Israeli reality; the disengagement [from Gaza in 2005], the Goldwasser-Regev-Kuntar swap deal [in July] and the Kadima primary last week,” Hasson said on Sunday.

It was important to examine whether the media had became the decision-maker, he said. “In other words, to check whether the watchdog of democracy has turned against the landlord.”

The media issues in Israel are identical to those in America . Newspapers and radio create a bandwagon effect, creating a self fulfilling prophecy by manipulating the public’s impression of itself.

During recent elections for chairmanship of Kadima, the ruling party, many thought that biased news coverage unfairly influenced the outcome. According to the Jerusalem Post, “Hasson’s initiative is a result of allegations against the
Israeli media and the way it covered the primary, accusations that went
as far as to say that new Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni won the race
thanks to media coverage that was clearly biased in her favor.

It has also been claimed that the publication of exit polls
while the ballot boxes were still open, as well as in the days
immediately before the primary, influenced the final result.”

I am bringing up Israel’s problems to propose insights and strategies for the defense of free speech. That will be a major battle in the next two to four years. In congress, the numbers are stacked against a fair hearing on this issue. Midterm elections and public opinion are factors that work in defense of free speech. If talk radio and conservative blogs are targeted by demagogic legislators, we can and must bring television news coverage to the discussion. We must also target stealth editorials and double standards. It is an uphill battle, but one that we can not walk away from. Free speech issues and basic fairness are issues that resonate with the American people. There are the halls of Congress and the courts of our land. Then there is the courtroom of the human mind, and that is open 24/7. We have to get in there and testify.

There is an old story about a cowboy in the days of the wild west who sat down to a card game. He anted up and picked up his hand. Someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, ” Hey buddy, this game is rigged. You don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.”

The cowboy looked up at the man who spoke to him and said, “I know, but it’s the only game in town.”

That is the battle we are faced with. The game is rigged, but there is a Greater Power who put us in this struggle for whatever reason. The truth of an idea has a strength that can not be overcome by its minority status . The faint persistent voice of conscience and truth strikes fear in the hearts of tyrants. If we have lost this election, we remain chosen to speak our portion of truth. It is an illusion to believe that human effort is the total picture. “Der mensh tracht und G-tt lacht”, it is said in Yiddish. “Man plans and G-d laughs.”

There is a Greater Hand at work here. We are walking a winding path. From above it can be seen where it leads. We must do our part. When the cause seems hopeless, persistence in struggle becomes a prayer. Sphere: Related Content

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