The Press

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In
my article, "The
Future Is Not Hopeless
," I cite a number of public-opinion
polls that demonstrate the public’s aversion to big government and
its skepticism toward the ability of politicians to improve their
lives. The polls I cited were actually only a few of a great many
that have shown the same results over the past decade or two.

And
yet, how many times have you read of such polls in the newspaper
– or heard anyone on television discussing them? I’ve never seen
or heard a single reference to them.

Given
the continuing and decisive voting in public-opinion polls for smaller
government, you would think that a journalist interviewing one of
the many presidential candidates of the past year or so –
or one of the debate moderators – would have asked a question
along these lines:

Many public-opinion polls have shown that the American people in
general would much prefer a government that’s much smaller, does
fewer things, and reduces taxes accordingly. Do you agree with that
sentiment? And whether or not you agree with it, do you plan if
elected to propose an overall reduction in government?

Why
have you never heard such a question asked?

In
my opinion, it’s because almost no journalist has any interest in
reducing government, and in fact most journalists will deliberately
ignore any suggestion that people want smaller government.

For
years, it was easy to assume that the great majority of reporters
and journalists were liberal or pro-Democrat. Now, in recent years
there’s been much talk that conservative Republicans dominate talk
radio and such TV channels as Fox News and MSNBC.

Both
viewpoints are understandable, but I believe they miss the point.

While
individual reporters may be Democrats or Republicans and even strongly
partial to their chosen parties, the most important characteristic
of the press in general is that it is pro-government.

When
the Democrats controlled the White House and Congress, conservative
reporters like Brit Hume never used their position to point out
the failures of government programs. And now that Republicans are
riding high, even long-time Democrats like Chris Matthews (who worked
for Jimmy Carter, Tip O’Neill, and various Democratic senators)
are cheer-leading the war in Iraq and various other Bush programs.

Part
of the reason for such sycophancy is, of course, that they don’t
want to displease those in power and risk losing access to news
and interviews. But it’s also true that most of the people who go
into the various communications fields are social reformers at heart.
They may disagree among themselves over which reforms they want,
but there’s little disagreement with the idea that government is
there to do the reforming.

If
you have any doubt that the "liberal media" will support
George Bush as easily as Bill Clinton, think back to last year.
Virtually every TV report on the Iraqi War carried a caption on
the screen that said "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Do you
think it’s a coincidence that all the networks eschewed such phrases
as "War in Iraq" or "The Invasion of Iraq,"
and happened to light upon the same phrase to describe the war?

Of
course not. They simply repeated the phrase that was carefully chosen
by the Bush Administration to divert attention from the fact that
the U.S. military was invading a country that had neither provoked
nor threatened America.

You
couldn’t find a more compliant press in communist Romania at the
height of the Cold War.

January
3, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
Browne Archives

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