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When my local news station ends their broadcast of the evening news, they always say something along the lines of, “Celebrating 125 years of broadcast excellence.” When I hear them say that it truly angers me, as from my perspective they are anything but excellent. But this is not just about my local news channel, it is about journalists in general, from those who work at the many local stations across the nation all the way to the high profile anchors at the 24 hour news stations like FOX and CNN.
Are you aware of the fact that the Society of Professional Journalists have a code of ethics to which they are supposed to uphold? The Preamble to this code states ” Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.”
One of the points these journalists claim to uphold is that they will test the accuracy of information and that deliberate distortion of the facts is never permissible. Yet their reporting often proves that they do, in fact, distort the truth. Whether they intentionally misrepresent and mislead the people who watch their broadcasts can only be answered by them, but the truth is that they are guilty of misleading the people due to their lopsided and biased coverage of the news. And nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to reporting stories concerning gun violence.
Take any of these shootings that happen in public places, be it the shooting spree at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora Colorado, or Newtown Connecticut, the news media had a field day covering each of them six ways to Sunday. You couldn’t turn on the TV and watch the news for weeks following each of these shootings without hearing some reference made to them, be it stories about the victims, or someone, or group, saying that something must be done to curb this increase in gun violence. When people hear that over and over they actually begin to think that every gun owners is a ticking time bomb, and they could go off on a shooting spree at any time, taking many innocent bystanders along with them.
Sure, it is tragic when something like that happens, but think about the facts for a moment. There are roughly 311 million people living in this country right now. An estimated 40-45% of the households in America are homes in which there is at least one firearm, meaning that Americans own an estimated 70-80 million firearms. So, when someone does go off the deep end and commit one of these senseless shooting rampages, they are a statistical blip on the screen. Yet the way the news reports on these stories you would think that these type shootings are a daily occurrence, and that all gun owners are as mentally unbalanced as these kids who commit these atrocities.
Why is it that the news ONLY mentions guns when something bad happens? Why don’t we ever hear them reporting on the times that guns are used to PREVENT crime? I bet these reporters wouldn’t like to learn that, according to a 1993 study by Gary Kleck, Ph.D. in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University, that Americans use firearms an estimated 2.5 million times every year to PREVENT crime. How come we never hear them report about any of the instances when guns are used to defend life and property? Instead, all we hear is about when they are used in the commission of a crime. Does that sound like the news media is giving you a fair and unbiased story regarding the use of firearms in America?
Not only that, but when a shooting of the nature as the one that took place at Sandy Hook, where guns where used to kill innocent victims, the story gets round the clock coverage. But what about Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry? Who’s that you say? I figured you didn’t know about him because the news barely reported on his death. But Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed with a weapon that was part of the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious gun walking operation. The Justice Department’s plan was to allow licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, (a person who makes a purchase on behalf of someone else), hoping to track the weapons to Mexican drug cartel leaders.
Oh, but I suppose the death of one Border Patrol Agent isn’t newsworthy, especially when the gun used to kill him was part of a botched Justice Department Operation. We simply can’t have the news reporting over and over about that, people might actually begin asking questions about the things their government is doing, and that simply won’t do. I wonder what would have happened to Richard Nixon had the news not hounded him day in and day out over the Watergate Scandal? But that was then, and this is now. The world has changed and it appears that journalists simply don’t have the integrity, or spine, that they used to.
There’s something else too. The news HAS reported on the ties to mental illness and all these terrible acts of violence. But of course they were committed by people with mental illness, no one in their right mind is going to do the things these, (for the most part), kids did. But, I have yet to see any serious reporting on what types of medication the shooters in these killings were taking at the time they occurred. After all, studies have shown that these anti-depressant drugs do cause suicidal tendencies among certain people, as well as violent behavior in others.
But then again the news doesn’t want to report on that either. You want to know why? Next time you watch the evening news, pay particular attention to the advertisements during the breaks. If your station is anything like the one I watch, a good number of the ads are for pharmaceutical companies offering drugs for a wide variety of ailments. It simply wouldn’t be good for business if the news began reporting that the drugs their sponsors were giving to our kids were, at least in part, responsible for them going on these shooting rampages.
And there is one more thing I’d like to address when it comes to the news, and their lopsided coverage of these stories about gun violence. Inevitably, after one of these shootings, the talk turns to the people asking their elected representatives to ‘DO SOMETHING.” And inevitably that SOMETHING, comes in the guise of new gun control laws.
The news media is all too willing to give plenty of air time regarding stories concerning our elected representatives and their attempts to ‘DO SOMETHING’ by passing some new law which does this, or that, thereby supposedly protecting the people, who have been frightened out of their mind because of the news media’s biased reporting on guns in the first place.
But, if the news media was fair and impartial, they would ALSO be reporting on the fact that the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and that Congress simply CANNOT pass ANY type of law which infringes, (limits, or encroaches upon), our right to own firearms. Due to the nature of a right, they simply can’t do it, not legally any way.
In 1859 the Texas Supreme Court held that “The right of a citizen to bear arms, in lawful defense of himself or the State, is absolute. He does not derive it from the State government. It is one of the “high powers” delegated directly to the citizen, and `is excepted out of the general powers of government.’ A law cannot be passed to infringe upon or impair it, because it is above the law, and independent of the lawmaking power.” That means that the right to keep and bear arms is out of the reach of our lawmakers, no matter how much they think it is in the public good that they limit that right. But of course, the news won’t report this truth to the American people.
The news also won’t tell you that, “`The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the milita, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right.”
Nor will they tell you that in the 1787 case of Wilson v. State, the court ruled, “To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege.”
The news won’t report these things because they want you to believe that guns are scary and bad, and that anyone who owns a firearm is a serious threat to your safety. They want you to believe that government DOES have the power, and authority to legislate away your rights in the name of public safety.
Of course they will tell you that they simply don’t have time to report on these facts, as I have presented them to you. But tonight, as I was watching this evenings propaganda, they did find the time to devote more than ten minutes of a half our broadcast on the story about the Sacramento Kings being up for sale, and possibly moving to Seattle Washington. But of course THAT is serious news and is worthy of one third of their entire broadcast, while the fact that your government is, once again, attempting to infringe upon your rights IS NOT newsworthy.
So, in short, all I have to say is this. The news media is no longer committed to telling you the whole story, or the truth. They are the ministers of propaganda and lies, and if you believe everything you hear while watching them, you are a damn fool.
The old saying is that the truth is out there, and it will set you free. But if you want the truth, you need to look somewhere else, because you damned sure aren’t going to get it by watching the news. But then again, maybe that is what people want, or maybe what they deserve. After all, Mark Twain once said, “Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.” So maybe people are simply no longer worthy of the truth. If that’s the case, then when the truth finally comes up and introduces itself to them, they are going to be in for a rude awakening, and they may realize that the people they trusted to give them the truth were in fact manipulating their thoughts and opinions with biased and lopsided reporting.
January 9, 2013
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross can be reached for comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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