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The Need For And Role of Journalistic Integrity: Thwarting Breitbart Bias And Propaganda

  • Posted on: 22 July 2010
  • By: GreyHawk

More manipulation, propaganda and incitement stir the airwaves and reverberate through the internet as the Shirley Sherrod controversy unfolds before us. This marks yet another time that a heavily edited, doctored and flagrantly erroneous video was successfully used to smear and tear down a target of the right-wing. And yet again, the source was found to be lacking integrity; the story told by the video a complete fabrication. But the public and officials still choose to react to such trash without question, even after repeatedly finding that the source has intentionally deceived and mislead in order to affect negative change.

How can we stop this mad dash toward insanity and push for a greater degree of accountabilty, if not from the sources of such misdirection then at least in some form or capacity that prevents a knee-jerk reactionary response to such trash without a pre-requisite pause to question and verify?

Perhaps we can't. Then again, perhaps by driving home the growing facts regarding the importance of personal due-diligence, it may be possible to at least provide some underlying guidelines to protect against further future misdirections. In the spirit of optimism that such efforts would prove useful, here's a list of documented distortions made by Breitbart, taken from Big Falsehoods: An updated guide to Andrew Breitbart's lies, smears, and distortions over on Media Matters. Each link goes to the appropriate entry on that site, where there's more information about each event:

Updated July 21, 2010 3:24 pm ET

Following the dissolution of Andrew Breitbart's smear of former Obama administration official Shirley Sherrod, Media Matters provides an updated look at how his sensationalist stories have been based on speculation, gross distortions, and outright falsehoods.

Over the jump, I'm concluding this piece by quoting selected excerpts from Holding America To Her Principles from the USPatriotsUnited blog, with permission. The excerpts focus on the importance of a free and independent media, and provide some hints to the role that such a media should play in our society today. I selected them in particular because they provide some insight about the "how" and "why" the rise of the blogosphere and citizen journalism in prominence is a result of the failure of the traditional media to faithfully discharge its role.

If you find this post useful, please talk it up and send links to it far and wide. We must, as a nation of concerned citizens seeking a better & brighter future, start encouraging others like us to do our part to quell the fires of incitement.

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On Signing Statements

  • Posted on: 18 March 2008
  • By: GreyHawk

One of the biggest abuses of Presidential authority by the Bush Administration has been the use and misuse of Presidential Signing Statements in order to create and extend a precedent for the President's capacity to "legislate from White House" -- above and beyond the President's inherent authority to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."1

In a recent online discussion, the following passage was brought up in order to broach -- and presumably rebut -- the topic of the Bush Administration's abuse of signing statements by justifying their use through the explanations provided by the Clinton Administration.

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"These functions [signing statements] include (1) explaining to the public, and particularly to constituencies interested in the bill, what the President believes to be the likely effects of its adoption, (2) directing subordinate officers within the Executive Branch how to interpret or administer the enactment, and (3) informing Congress and the public that the Executive believes that a particular provision would be unconstitutional in certain of its applications, or that it is unconstitutional on its face, and that the provision will not be given effect by the Executive Branch to the extent that such enforcement would create an unconstitutional condition.
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"Clinton did it too" doesn't make it right, however; while there are valid reasons for the inclusion of signing statements and the use of same in the place of a Presidential veto, the current implementation as practiced by the Bush Administration -- and thus setting a precedent for all future Administrations, regardless of party affiliation -- amounts to a frightening dissolution of the checks and balances placed upon the branches of the government by our founding fathers.

Below, I'll provide some additional context pertaining to the excerpt above and follow up with an excerpt from the Georgetown Law Faculty Blog that provides at least four major reasons why the Bush Administration's practice is objectionable.

IANAL: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV and I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.