Must our press be politely correct?

There are a few symbols or sacrosanct positions in this land of ours that defy criticism, that are untouchable. They are purportedly self-evident truths, and as such we are forced to pay homage to their representative icons.

Mere intent to challenge these icons can be quickly and widely denounced as treason, in its worst case; or politely incorrect behavior, as the most venial offense. And among these icons, one stands as the most brilliant star in the American political firmament… its stature gaining as the power of the nation grows in the world, both militarily and economically. The icon: the presidency of the United States !

This most important icon, the box of authority for our elected demigod- selected this last time around, inspires majesty and power supremacy, both without equal in the annals of history. Majesty with all the vanity-trappings that dwarf any possessed by past kings, emperors, princes of the church… and other rulers of myriad serfdoms of whatever type or form. As for power supremacy, there is great comfort to many Americans in knowing that much of mankind is trembling with fear. Fear not so much of America ’s military, but the weaponry it commands… the WMD that are real, true and tried, to be used at the discretion of this knighted holder of political morality: the President of the United States .

Touching on this thorny subject of power, a Swedish history professor made a very apropos comment to me this week: “The world community should wake up, and soon, to the long-touted, but now absent, balance of power in the US government. Before, it was your problem… now it’s the worlds. This earth can always cope with all sorts of dictators trying to change the geo-political makeup of parts of a hemisphere; but it cannot be at the mercy of hallucinatory, buffoonish arrogant heads of state that have such terminal, destructive power in their hands. It’s not Americans that most nations fear, but the people they elect, and the lack of checks and balances in their government.”

One would be hard pressed to refute the naked truth since for decades the Senate has abdicated its right to be the body empowered to declare wars. Time and again it has de-facto delegated that power to none other than the Commander-In-Chief, and if that is not scary, I don’t know what is! If everyone in the world can see that… why can’t we?

Our media have been so politely correct going on three years now that much of the printed and broadcast material has been but a slightly modified version of a White House newsletter and little else. Those briefings attended by the press corps at the White House, or at the Pentagon, became for the most part a display of unduly politeness… and an affront, a mockery to responsible journalism.

It has also become sacrosanct to accept as an article of faith that our leaders, those at the very top, simply do not lie, not in matters of national security. So even the most blatant lies can be passed on by our news media as truth; or “exaggerations”… but only when a slap in the hand seems appropriate to create a sense of fair play.

In our treatment of polite correctness with Bush and his administration, we have even outdone the punctiliously polite Greek, who in the old story told by F. Anstey, while performing the funeral of an infant daughter, felt bound to make his excuses to the attendees for “bringing out such a ridiculously small corpse to such a large crowd.” Such has been the apologetic treatment of our self-blindfolded and mute media to the pillaging of truth that has been taking place… at the White House, the Pentagon and elsewhere. Never have so many lies been passed on as truths… or exaggerations, which is more of the same.

Why would a free press choose not to be free… excessive politeness perhaps?