Provoking Liberty – The Use and Abuse of Media in 21st Century America
“The liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state.” John Adams, 1780
“Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1782
“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” – Benjamin Franklin, 1731
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1805
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free,
it expects what never was and never will be.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1816
In the late 1980’s Norm Chomsky’s book, Manufactured Consent, developed the theme you hear repeated almost daily today on the airwaves of Conservative Talk Radio. That is that the “Main Stream Media,” as it is erroneously named, has become a corporate controlled giant which controlled the opinions of most Americans by the use of a “propaganda model” which discouraged dissenting opinions and limited choice when it came to sources and types of information. In doing so it became an “arm of the Democratic Party.”
In the ensuing thirty years, much has changed the landscape and the operational model of the “Main Stream Media.” No longer does can it rely on advertising revenue and much has been made of the need to adapt to the new Internet Era models of revenue generation and basic business survival.
But in the discussion, something gets missed about the way the media is portrayed and used by both sides. In addition to what it – the MSM – has become, there is the issue of how it relates to each sides agenda, both politically and socially. In the era of “fake news,” the discussion becomes even more important. Does the right to free press (and by extension speech) really mean that there is a right to print falsehoods for political gain? Is there really a right to skew information to promote a social value?
Who decides what it valuable and what isn’t? Who decides what is correct and what is not? Madison once suggested “pruning” of the “noxious branches” of the press to allow the “proper fruits” to be yielded. Did he mean the tabloid press? Or just the ones with which he disagreed?
Today we take a short look at the press and the changes it has undergone, with particular emphasis on the recent events it has influenced both good and bad.