By James R. Hanson
The Columbus Dispatch has made its first attack on The Liberty Voice. Given the out-sized article with no significant news value, it tells us something more significant about the Dispatch.
In “Political newspaper voices its freedom” (Sunday, 7/5/08) Sarah Pulliam expressed the judgment of the Dispatch that the threat created by the Voice is worth a full column and a double headline. Publisher John F.Wolfe receives a free subscription to the Voice, as do members of the editorial staff. Pulliam knew what she had to do. It was a “hit job” the main subject of which was that the owner of three Mean Bean coffee shops said he wasn’t asked, and he did not want a Liberty Voice newspaper box on the pubic sidewalk in front of his shop in Delaware. Meanwhile, the Mean Bean in Powell was thanked in The Liberty Voice newspaper for distributing the newspaper as they have done since the paper began in November of 2007. This coffee shop is just down the road from where publisher/editor Sherry Clark lives and she obtained permission from Mean Bean staff pursuant to her practice for all indoor locations. Pulliam didn’t check the other side of the story with Clark.
Outdoor newsbox locations, i.e. on public sidewalks, as Pulliam points out were confirmed as perfectly legal by the Columbus Public Service Department—and similarly recognized by the cities of Powell, Dublin and Delaware—to be protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
It’s not like falling off a log, setting out to compose, print and distribute your own newspaper with no big financial backing. The weakness, but also the strength of the Voice‘s financial support is that it comes from various individuals who think it is a good idea. Will there be enough money for the next issue? There’s a major depression coming shortly that will make regular monthly output of the “fiercely independent newspaper” a tour de force, if it isn’t that already.
Clark is gutsy. Mary Tyler Moore thought she had heard this as a compliment by her radio station boss (Ed Asner), blushing until he snarled “I hate guts.” Dan Rather got permanently sidelined for it. It’s a quality missing in every one of those New York Times columnists who write so well and so knowledgeably but present a false face to their readership by being so excellent. By their silence they appear to agree that 9/11 was caused by 19 Arab nobodies who made the U.S. air defense plead incompetence.
If the Times were to tell the truth, although its pain would be great, it could not only save its country, it would preserve its name in history as the Rock of Gibralter for human civilization. The Dispatch, even though the editors might not see this, is waiting for someone else to make the move. As the Times looks away, it must take primary responsibility for our present problems, simply by its silence.
Like the Times, it should be understood that the Dispatch cannot always be virtuous, and cannot speak some truths. It dare not embarrass its friends—good manners, but also because the Dispatch cannot break out of the community it serves if it is expected to have advertisers and readers. It is a business, and faced with a tsunami called “the internet,” it is a business threatened with extinction. The Times has the same problem, reflected in periodic announcements of personnel cuts. What the media are proving now is that democracy can’t work the way it is supposed to, because our commercial Fourth Estate, in order to survive and be effective, must shape and shade the truth, while also maintaining silence about extremely important cracks in the foundation of our republic.
A single example demonstrates how a medium like the Dispatch must work. In 2004, in the lead-up to the presidential election, it ran a string of editorials critical of George W. Bush that led one to think we were about to witness something unprecedented in almost a century: Dispatch endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate. It shouldn’t have been a shock, but it was, nonetheless—the Dispatch picked Bush.
One sufficient reason: The Columbus Defense Construction Supply Center, employing some 4,500 people in Columbus, was one of the federal establishments being considered for relocation of functions as the election approached. If the Center or any large number of its employees were moved, the loss of the expenditure of their reliable federal salaries, multiplied by resulting loss of jobs and loss to businesses which were benefiting from this federal artery, would cause an economic heart attack. After the election, with Columbus in good stead, 500 jobs were transferred to the Center. And it has just been announced that a $29 million Armed Forces Reserve Center will be built on its grounds.
Smart move? A few years ago engineers showed that if the Titanic had not tried to avoid the iceberg, it would not have sunk, because the scrapes flooded three holds, not just the one at the front. As the Dispatch steers to miss a political iceberg, The Liberty Voice, America’s White Rose, bears in mind the many similarities of the 1930’s German Republic and yells “Hit it head on!” to fellow US citizens.
The Dispatch cannot print a truth, no matter how important it may be, even to the survival of our way of life, if it does not fit its economic/political/personal status and self-image. Major magazines, even self-styled “truth” magazines such as The Nation, have the same problem. For all, the most intractable subject is the treason committed by the Bush administration in its complicity in 9/11, which is the key to our future. Everything we value, all that we do, all that we can expect in the future, has been affected and changed by that event. If the truth had come out in 2002, when the Dispatch editorial comment on Thierry Meyssan’s book The Big Lie was “Just read the title,” we would not be facing the radical change in our society that we are now facing, underlain by National Security Presidential Directive 51, allowing martial law if there is a “catastrophic emergency”—a nuclear bombing of a city, the devastation of cropland by drought or flood, an earthquake, economic depression, poverty or disorder, “regardless of location” as defined by President Bush or his successor, who would then set up his own emergency government. Not only does this meet the definition of tyranny, there is also no provision for future elections in NSPD-51.
Should that day come, those who view The Liberty Voice as an island of decency will officially become “terrorists,” to have even less voice than that to which the Dispatch now objects. People will read the Dispatch for instructions on proper conduct to keep in line with the New World Order.
The Dispatch won’t have to change a thing.