Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Tree Falls in the Woods IV

I’ve come back early from my sabbatical from the blog, -not because of the Sarah Palin circus, -and not because of this sad, puerile election cycle in which no one wants to acknowledge the immutable and disgusting factor that has long ago determined the eventual victor regardless of what any polls might say today. I am writing because of a far more important series of recent events that I see as a criminal attack on our Republic, its rule of law and its values.

Scores of journalists were arrested and detained at the recent Republican National Convention in St. Paul Minnesota. We’ve written extensively on this blog about the horrendous ineptitude and venal calculations made by the American media when covering an important news story, or ignoring historic crimes in the making.
Once again, an attack on our country’s foundation is getting no substantial media coverage. Crackdowns on citizens' rights in China receive more media coverage by our newspapers and news networks. Currently, there is no outrage. There is no investigation. There is numbing silence. What’s particularly gruesome about this; is that it concerns the Fourth Estate itself.

Wake up. The constitution you live under is now null and void and this is not America anymore.

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner is about to commit what can only be seen as a violation of the Constitution in my estimation: she is in the process of deciding whether or not to press felony riot charges against several journalists. Anna Pratt of The Minnesota Independent is one of the few journalists discussing this as the civic disaster that it is. Pratt reported that AP journalists, AP photographers, along with local St. Paul Pioneer Press photographers, and even a New York Post photographer were arrested or detained. I am listing the names and their outfits here, if only to give you, both reader and citizen, some sense of the scope of this tragedy befalling our way of life in the United States:

Tom Aviles, WCCO photojournalist
Charlie B, MTV Think blogger, Viacom
Anita Braithwaite, Glass Bead Collective
Wendy Binion, Portland IndyMedia
Geraldine Cahill, The Real News
Eileen Clancy, I-Witness Video
Paul Demko, The Minnesota Independent
Amy Forliti, AP reporter
Ben Garvin, Pioneer Press photographer
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Art Hughes, Public News Service
Suzanne Hughes, The Uptake, volunteer
Ted Johnson, Variety
Olivia Katz, Glass Bead Collective
Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now!
Alice Kalthoff, editor
Jon Krawczynski, AP reporter
Joseph La Sac, Pepperspray Productions journalist
Ed Matthews, University of Kentucky photojournalism student
Jonathan Malat, KARE-11 photojournalist
Stephen Maturen, The Minnesota Daily assistant picture editor
Britney McIntosh, University of Kentucky photojournalism student
Matt Nelson, University of Iowa student
Jason Nicholas, New York Post freelance photographer
Mark Ovaska, Rochester freelance photographer
Christopher Patton, The Daily Iowan
Elizabeth Press, Democracy Now!
Matt Rourke, AP photographer
Sheila Regan, TC Daily Planet
Lambert Rochfort, Pepperspray Productions journalist
Seth Rowe, Sun Newspapers, St. Louis Park
Jeff Schorfheide, The Badger-Herald photographer
Mark Skinner, University of Nevada Las Vegas Rebel Yell reporter
Ania Smolenskaia, The Real News
Matt Snyders, City Pages
Nicole Salazar, Democracy Now!
Vlad Teichberg, Glass Bead Collective
Dean Treftz, U-Wire
Nathan Weber, Chicago-area freelance photographer
Jim Winn, University of Kentucky
John Wise, MyFox national editor
Dawn Zuppelli, Rochester IndyMedia

These are only the names I know of. Even Fox and its parent News Corp are trapped up in this Orwellian dragnet. Rupert Murdoch, who claims to love newspapers, doesn’t seem to think much of the rights they exercise and represent for Americans.
In the last three days, a few Democrats and Republicans, all of whom I count among my friends have said “it’s not so serious”, that I’m “overreacting because Amy Goodman was among those arrested”. Arrested, I corrected, in what I recognize as a clear misuse of martial power by the police.
Amy Goodman identified herself as "Press" and was immediately cuffed and led away: your right to know was cuffed and led away with her.
One friend of mine volunteered that the “reporters and photographers merely got swept up in the confusion”, that they were “too close to the action” and “had only themselves to blame”.
There is no such thing as “too close” for a reporter or journalist. If it’s up to police in riot gear to determine a reporter’s proximity to an event, than that my friend is the end of the country. I ask you my fellow Americans: How will we know the truth from the lie? How will we know anything at all?.…
I’d ask Republicans to consider:
What if police had arrested the National Enquirer reporters following John Edwards as he was off visiting the woman with whom he’d had an extramarital affair?
Would it have been a violation of the people’s right to know then?
I’d ask Democrats to consider:
What if police had arrested the reporters following the Jack Abramoff scandal?
What then?
But the reporters covering the preceding news stories weren't immersed in a riot you might say
well neither were the journalists listed above. They were covering protesters. They were covering a response by citizens that certain powerful people and interests did not want seen or heard. All we know was that many windows were broken by protesters, -and that's all we're allowed to know. Since when is it the police's job to decide who should see and report on an event? In my home town of New York city, it dates back to the Tompkins Square park riot of 1988. Twenty years ago.

I’d ask all of you to think hard about how much of our political system there is left to defend seven years after the attack on the World Trade Center Towers and on our Pentagon.


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