Letter: Media Play a Crucial Role

Monday, August 12, 2013


To the Editor:

The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation recently hosted a worthwhile panel discussion in Hanover as part of the foundation’s 2013 Speaker Series. The topic: “The Role of the Media in Civil Public Discourse.”

The effectiveness of civil discourse depends upon the information readily available to the public. A case in point is the recent revelation that former two-term GOP Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire emailed Edward Snowden on July 15 stating in part: “I believe you have done the right thing in exposing what I regard as a massive violation of the United States Constitution.” A transcript of Humphrey’s note and Snowden’s reply is available via Google; enter “Reader Supported News Gordon Humphrey.”

Except for alternative media sources, I wouldn’t have known about this. The Valley News and The New York Times apparently found the story unworthy of publication. Perhaps they were put off by the primary source, Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian of the United Kingdom. But during his 12 years in the U.S. Senate, Humphrey served on the Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Judiciary committees. As he puts it: “I think I have a good grounding to reach my conclusion.”

Much significant information is available only through online media sources such as Democracy Now, Reader Supported News, The Real News Network, Truthout, MoveOn, Nation of Change, FAIR and the like. For example, how many followers of mainstream media are aware of the provisions of Section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, and Section 1078 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act — both signed into law by President Obama? Specifically:

∎ Section 1021 authorizes the U.S. military summarily to arrest, render and indefinitely detain without charge or trial anyone, including American citizens, merely suspected of aiding al-Qaida or any undefined “associated force.”

∎ Section 1078 authorizes our government to prepare and disseminate propaganda (euphemistically called “public diplomacy”) not only abroad, as before, but now in the United States.

Without knowledge of such matters, how can meaningful public discourse on them take place? We are inadequately informed by the mainstream media. Yet an informed electorate is all that stands between democracy and tyranny.

John Karol

Orford




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