The Banks County News
September 8, 2004
What has happened to the press?
Once, not too long ago, Americans had the right to free speech, to a free press.
If there was something fishy going on, there were reporters who took the initiative to pursue those hunches and come up with the truth.
Thats not the case today. With a few exceptions, the world of media in all its forms have been swallowed up and digested by a few giant corporations. Ruthless corporate raiders, like Bushs buddy Australian Rupert Murdock, have managed to suck up anything available or unavailable like a vacuum cleaner.
Control the presses, the radio frequencies, the networks, and youve got the whole world in your hand.
We used to have an anti-trust law, one that provided business owners with fair competition and the American people more than one choice. But, thats not the case anymore. The antitrust law has been gutted and served up as the main course for mega-industries, like Ruperts. This alien invader has succeeded in the takeover of our airwaves on all frequencies and newsprint. He went after the locally owned stations, took over family-run operations and blitzkrieged his way to being a major propaganda-driven (a/k/a Fox News) media dictator, all with the Bush administrations blessings. After all, he has given substantial financial support (millions) to various Republican candidates, including Bush. He gets to operate tax-free and Bush gets the benefit.
Yet, that is only part of the story of how we lost our right to free speech and the right to know what our government is doing.
Right from the start, the Baby Bush administration made it difficult, if not impossible, for news broadcasters and journalists to get to the truth. Ask too many questions and you get the boot from the press conferences at the White House. (Makes a good reporter wonder what there was to hide.) Calls do not get returned, interviews are denied. How do you fill airtime? How do you fill those column inches? The bottom line is economics. Media in all its forms are businesses and they have to produce to sell.
CNN was the only news outlet that even mentioned the comprised status of the anti-trust law. No one seemed to notice because all the focus was on revenge and war.
War and its trappings, no matter how truthful the reporting, sells. The people had no idea that the images or words before them were not in context or were complete misrepresentations of the actual facts.
Youre either with us or against us, said Bush. To question his judgment or his authority was called treason.
While the U.S. was in a virtually news black-out during the conflict in Afghanistan, the international press, unhindered by such chains, filled the void with what was really going down.
The reporters in the field were discovering another objective not publicly discussed, the oil line that runs across Afghanistan had to flow. It wasnt. The Taliban cut it off.
So before the jets were in the air and the troops on the ground, the real deal was going down with Halliburton/ Brown and Root to get the oil going again. The lucrative contract had already been drawn up, signed and blotted before the first bomb hit.
Even when that news broke internationally, few news stations or newspapers or Americans paid attention.
Heck, we were bombing a desolate country into smithereens, killing Taliban, Al-Qaeda and anyone else who got in the way, including our own troops and allies. We didnt care. We wanted the guy in the turban and it didnt matter who or what stood in our way.
Collateral damage was the catch phrase, anticipated killing of the innocent. We were supposed to go along with the deaths of innocent men and women and our own troops and allies because the capture or death of the devil Bin Laden required sacrifice. Rumsfield explained away the lives of innocent people and our own sons and daughters with two innocuous words.
But, no one was supposed to be finding out about these economic purposes.
Bad news for Baby Bush. What he hadnt even considered was the rest of the world and its participation in what was believed to be an honorable conflict and a possible global threat. International news reporters were in the field and through them, the facts began filtering back. CNN world news reported the events from the beginning. A year later, American media finally rose up from bended knees; some of the American public recovered their senses. This news was disturbing. It wasnt supposed go down like this. Bomb our own forces? Fire on our allies? Wait a minute.
The public was beginning to lose confidence. The military had failed to capture Bin Laden. He was free and it was exasperating the Bush triad and trying the patience and conscience of the American people.
The anti-war murmurs began. Innocent blood on our hands? Shot up a wedding party? Made us into terrorists?
The pubic relations dream was turning into a nightmare. Losing ground in the polls! Oops!
With the cat out of the bag and running rampant across the globe, Rummy and Cheney put their heads together and came up with a plan to appease the American public. Iraq, yes, thats the ticket. Saddam and Bin Laden: cohorts. Well say we have information that Saddam has complied weapons of mass destruction and plans to use them on us or pass them to the terrorists. Hey, lets make it really scary and say he had nuclear capabilities and plans to use them on us.
Most fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Including the press.
Of course, what wasnt said to the American public, at the time, was that Halliburton was already onboard for oil operation and production, as well as contracts to get power and communications up and running. The fees would conveniently cover the multi-million dollar asbestos civil suits and leave several million in profits.
(Those annoying asbestos workers were actually holding the conglomerate responsible for their lung cancers and mesotheliomia. And some of them didnt even have either of the diseases
yet. Some European press agencies insinuated Halliburton had purchased the company, with full knowledge of the suits. Not a wise move, unless you happen to be in the good graces of the vice president of the United States. Connections, its all about connections. Moreover, those connections can prove to be very advantageous if such a class-action suit reached the US Supreme Court.
The diversion to the axis of evil worked, created a renewed fervor and distracted attention from the ineptitude of the operation in Afghanistan. Now, we had to bring down a ruthless dictator out to kill us all. Bin Ladens buddy. And, as an afterthought, establish a democracy for the downtrodden Iraqi people. Yeah, like they cared about the Iraqi people.
One would think that after the blatant lies told during the Daddy Bush administration in the first war over Kuwait, there would have been some debate on the issue. Remember we were going over there because the evil Saddam was throwing babies out of incubators. Of course, later, it was discoverd that the woman who appeared in the new spots talking about the babies was actually the niece of the Saudi Arabia ambassador to the U.S. acting as a downtrodden Kuwaiti woman begging for help, following a script provided by the public relations firm hired to sell the war to the American people.
As Baby Bush stood firm in the face of worldwide criticism, denounced the United Nations and insisted a danger existed, produced what are now known as false documents, the pressure on the media began again. This time, the administration set up selected embedded journalists, so the American people could see what was really going on, well, sort of. Some of that footage had to be censored, some of the remarks by the soldiers deleted. And no shots of the coffins carrying our dead men and women home. Dont talk about the radiation sickness and contamination from depleted uranium ammo and tank shields.
By acquiescing to the political pressure, the media became culpable in the administrations dishonest agenda. Enabling Bush and his administration, rather than exposing it for what it is and what it has done to endanger America and the rest of the world.
Thousands of lives have been lost due to lies. Thousands have been maimed. Thousands have been made homeless. And the liars have yet to be held accountable.
There was a time when members of the press would be howling having caught such a scent like bloodhounds. Not so today.
These days, the mainstream press is just a ghost. A haunting memory of what it was like when men and women sought and wrote the truth and their employers were not afraid to report it.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.
By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
September 8, 2004
A hurricane Ill never forget
One place you never want to be is in the path of a hurricane. Reports of the destruction Hurricane Frances is causing throughout Florida reminds me of a scary vacation I had in Daytona Beach more than 10 years ago.
I was at the beach with three friends when reports of the approaching hurricane first came. No one seemed concerned. The people of Florida were going about their business as usual. No one was being evacuated or boarding up their homes and businesses.
It was more of a tropical storm than a hurricane, so the Florida residents werent too concerned. I guess they only panic when a big one is coming. Not us Georgia girls, who cringe when a heavy wind comes up. We were scared.
We were on one of the top floors of the hotel and we could feel it swaying from side to side. I called the front desk in a panic and asked where we were to go. The guy who answered asked why we wanted to go somewhere. The hurricane, I screamed into the phone. He told us not to worry and to just stay in our rooms.
As it got worse, we could hear a high pitched whistling sound. It was kind of like the sound of a train coming full speed ahead toward you, only worse. So, we had the swaying hotel, the whistling wind and then rain started coming through the glass door on the balcony into the room. The carpet was wet and it was starting to puddle up.
We decided there was nothing we could do and no one else seemed concerned, so we tried to go to sleep. I finally fell asleep to the sound of a friend singing gospel songs to herself. I guess she thought we wouldnt make it through the night.
Of course, we did make it through the night, and there was very little damage in the area. A few signs were down and some cars were damaged. We made it through without any problem and headed for home.
A few years ago, I was at sea on a cruise when another hurricane came through. We heard the reports ahead of time and I wanted to back out, but my friends wanted to go ahead with our trip. It was a rainy and bumpy cruise but I made it through that hurricane unharmed too.
My hurricane stories are nothing compared to the devastation and fear that has gripped Florida in the past week. I cant even imagine what they are going through. I just cant comprehend leaving your home in fear, not knowing if it would even be there when you returned. And what about the nightmare of evacuating hospitals, nursing homes and even prisons?
I love the coast as much as anyone, but its times like this that make me appreciate the North Georgia mountains. Lets all remember the people of Florida in our prayers and thoughts as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Frances.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached by email at AngieEditor@aol.com.