Whatever Happened to Media Watchdogs?
When I was growing up, I learned in school – in my Civics class, particularly – that the press had a very important role in a democratic republic. It was to serve as a watchdog over those we put in power, and it was to report as fairly and accurately as possible all that we needed to know to vote responsibly. Their watchdog function served as a curb on those leaders who might abuse their power or make decisions based on politics or personal gain. When a leader violated our trust, the role of the press was to report it fairly and without bias. A free press was very important for maintaining a free society.
Needless to say, if those days ever really existed, they are gone now. The mainstream media’s handling (non-handling? ignoring?) of the Benghazi terror attack in 2012 clearly demonstrates that their loyalty is not to the American people, but to those politicians who share their vision for America. And our politicians have no qualms about doing what they can to influence the media’s coverage. Politicians can make horrible mistakes – mistakes that cost the lives of Americans, even the life of an ambassador, the President’s representative – and they know that the media will cover for them. And they will not hesitate to remind reporters that “cooperating” is in their best interest when they dare to report on the politicians’ failures.
Reporting on the Benghazi terrorist attack is a glaring example. Most media outlets showed very little interest in telling the story and were willingly covering for the administration. Fox News, however, pursued the story diligently and how were they rewarded? They were excluded from a State Department conference call that was supposed to allow media outlets to ask questions about Benghazi. Shortly after that, they were not allowed to attend a CIA briefing about the attack. Most disturbing of all, however, is what Greta Van Susteren shares on her blog, Gretawire:
And then as I was sitting at my desk thinking about the reporting since September 2012, I thought about the weirdest of all and the worst of all for me personally! I remembered a disturbing phone call from a good friend in the Obama Administration. I have known this friend for years. The call was a short time after 9/11 (maybe Oct. 2012?) In the call, my friend told me that my colleague Jennifer Griffin, who was aggressively reporting on Benghazi, was wrong and that, as a favor to me, my friend in the Administration was telling me so that I could tell Jennifer so that she did not ruin her career. My friend was telling me to tell Jennifer to stop her reporting. Ruin her career?
In 20 plus years, I have never received a call to try and shut down a colleague – not that I even could – this was a first. Here is what I know: Jennifer is a class act….experienced..and a very responsible journalist. One of the absolute best in the business – no axe to grind, she just wants the facts.
I told my friend before I go to Jennifer telling her she is wrong, I need proof she is wrong, strong proof and you need to be specific – what are you saying she is getting wrong? We went around and around — including the statement again that this was just a call as a favor to Jennifer and me to save Jennifer’s career from reporting incorrect information. I got no proof. Zero. I smelled a rat. Favor to me? Hardly. My friend was trying to use me. I feel bad that a friend did that to me, tried to use me for a dirty reason. I knew then — and it is now confirmed by BIPARTISAN Senate Intelligence Committee — Jennifer was getting her facts right. I think it is really low for the Administration to stoop this low.
It is beyond low; it is scandalous. For the majority of the mainstream media to complacently accept and actively promote the administration’s lies about Benghazi and then for a member of the Obama administration to actually try to influence the one major news outlet that is diligently reporting on the attack is unbelievable. Well, it would have been unbelievable in an era when the press actually did its job as a watchdog and an advocate for the people.
If you ever had any doubt that the Obama administration has the media in its pocket, this story should remove it. We do not have a watchdog media, we have a lapdog media and a government that will twist arms to keep the media its lapdog. What freedom we have left is at serious risk.