Sunday, May 20, 2007

CNN Supports Censorship?

So, this morning I watched Howard Kurtz on "Reliable Sources."

There were two items of note.

First, there was a panel discussion on the Opie and Anthony suspension. No mention was made of the massive protests and account cancellations by XM subscribers in response to the suspension. Instead, the general tone of the discussion, as guided by Kurtz, was, "We really do need to put limits on what people can say in public- even on satellite radio where there's currently no legal way to do it."

(Note: the only defender of Opie and Anthony, and people like them, was the woman from National Public Radio. Michael Medved proposed the broadcast industry come together to create a definite set of rules to be enforced on all levels, and the other guy- I forget his name and association- wanted to hold XM responsible and punish it for hiring Opie and Anthony for the purpose of being offensive. I felt like I was watching three people- counting Kurtz- shouting, "Please! Please censor us!!" with only one person daring to suggest that free speech was a GOOD thing.)

Then, at the end of the broadcast, Kurtz did an item on the presidential debates, pointing out in particular Ron Paul's performance in the Republican debate. His opinion: people like Ron Paul should never be allowed into the debates because only people with an actual chance of election should be allowed air time.

Now, I have no use for Ron Paul. If Paul were the Republican nominee and there were no Libertarian nominee, I'd likely vote for any Democrat except Hilary Clinton. But Kurtz fails to recognize that no candidate has a chance of election unless he gets media coverage. By locking Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and other also-rans out of debates and coverage in favor of the media darlings Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, and McCain, Kurtz would in effect set up a system where the media chooses who the voters will vote for.

Some would argue, of course, that the media does this already. All the more reason, I say, to vote with one's clicker... and tell the media outlets why you're not watching their stations anymore.

Ron Paul deserves equal treatment with Giuliani by the media- not because his supporters have slammed online opt-in polls, not because of a controversial stumble in the last debate, but because he is a candidate for President like Giuliani is- equal under the law- and also, like Giuliani, he had held elective office before and has substantial financial backing. In an ideal world I'd like ALL Presidential candidates treated equally regardless of past elective office or financial backing, but there are limits to air time.

For Kurtz to call for Mike Gravel Ron Paul, and every "second tier" candidate to be excluded from media coverage- especially when Ron Paul has broken out of the less-than-1% doldrums in New Hampshire and comes in second in fundraising there among all Republicans*- is elitist in the extreme. Kurtz wants to become kingmaker for American politics. It's time for us as media consumers to dissent- and to demand more democratic conduct from those who bring us the news.

(Ironically, in the show immediately after Kurtz's- Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer- is an appearance by Ron Paul. Probably a repeat of his interview by Wolf the day after the South Carolina debate, in which he is MUCH more coherent than he was at the debate. Obviously Kurtz's position is NOT CNN's... thank God.)

* Nearly $17,000 at a single fundraiser. Romney's the golden boy with over $100,000 raised there, but McCain and Giuliani haven't raised as much as $15,000 there yet.

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