Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A lie does not equal one side of a story

I was asked to clarify something to which I referred in an earlier blog about journalism. Namely the lack of fair and thorough reporting in the US, especially when it comes to the Bush administration.

Here's how it works:

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tells a lie. He tells congress - officially - that there were no accounts of any reports of civil liberties being denied or abused because of the Patriot Act, which gives the government lots of leeway to track down real and imagined "terrorists" within the US.

This lie is reported as "one side" of a story, instead of questioned, which puts the "other side" of the story (that's a lie) on the defensive.

First, if anyone had investigated, they would have found that his statement - apparently one of the few things he could remember - was not true. Several complaints had in fact already been registered to the FBI, all of which went to his office.

Result: misinformation put out to the public.

Generally, it was reported this way: "US Attorney General Gonzales says that, despite concerns about the Patriot Act, no civil liberties have been reported to be denied or abused."

Do you remember that story? I do because I didn't believe it.

So the "other side" of the story is defensive, saying that there have been civil liberties abuses.

Those who are certain there have been abuses - or even those who have actually filed abuse complaints - sound like weak whiners. Or bitter liberals. Or just plain liberals who "hate the Bush administration."


To those "critics," the response is simple: those people don't like Bush. They do not bother to even try to find or tell us the truth. It is simply their way or the fairway.

The fact that there were complaints of civil rights abuses and complaints before Gonzales' testimony for congress was later reported, but not in a way that would challenge his dishonesty.

Except on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC program, which was reported long after Gonzales testified.

The only way a lie should be considered a story is when something is reported to be a lie.

For example, the story *should* read, "US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to congress today when he assured them there had been no complaints of civil liberties abuses due to the aggressive enforcement of the Patriot Act. In fact, before his first appearance before congress, six were confirmed by the FBI and forwarded to his office..."

This would put the liar on the defensive, rather than the truth tellers.

But thanks to so much misinformation and outright lies told by the memory-challenged Gonzales, the judicial branch of government has been hijacked; it is the first domino to fall in the long line of tumbling judicial domino's that are disabling the branch.

It starts at the top.

If the folks at the top, like Bush, don't respect the rule of law - ignoring it, snubbing their nose at it or not care about breaking the law because they know they won't be held accountable - how do they expect any of us folks down the food chain to respect it?

If government leaders tolerate or even perpetuate lies rather than facts; if media news chiefs don't make certain their reporters question sources - especially those known to misrepresent information or outright lie, the voting public remains ignorant and misinformed. Which keeps the abusers in power.

To get the truth, reporters need to make certain they do their research - or have time to do it before they're expected to tell the listening, reading or viewing public.

If news organizations are understaffed or staffed with too many inexperienced reporters, little research gets done so the "other side" of the lie is not reported. I remember one major national story that wasn't even recognized as a major national story because none of the inexperienced reporters (cheaper labor) was old enough to remember the initial event that made it such a huge deal.

Without the necessary knowledge or research, the "story" only goes out as the same old BS "he said," "he said," news, rather than reporting the actual facts - like the truth - or include any perspective.

If "we report ... he said x and she said y ... you decide." That is not journalism or reporting. It's transcribing what people say, whether it's a lie or the truth.

Meanwhile, speaking of the judicial branch: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby had his 30 month prison sentence commuted by President Bush because Bush said Libby's family had suffered enough.

This is a boon to defense lawyers everywhere! Because according to the law, judges are never to consider family and other extraneous personal matters when determining the sentence of a convicted criminal.

Since the president himself has done it, watch for defense attorneys to ask judges to consider these personal matters when the judges before whom they appear determine the sentence for their clients.

There is still a year and a half of the Bush administration to go, and I cannot even imagine the amount of destruction to the government and the nation this guy and his henchmen will generate.

Sadly, Democrats come across as weak, powerless and incapable to do anything about these extraordinary abuses. They complain about the horrors of the administration, but then do little or nothing to stop or even curb them.

They can't stop this administration's hubris, arrogance and outright criminal destruction caused by an ignorant, incompetent, spiteful administration that chooses to live in denial of the wrath it has created in its own nation and the world - leaving in it's wake the bodies of thousands upon thousands of innocent victims and courageous military service people killed from Louisiana to Iraq.

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