News Release

First Amendment in Jeopardy?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER
Professor of media studies at New York University, Miller is author of Boxed In: The Culture of TV and author of the forthcoming Spectacle: Operation Desert Storm and the Triumph of Illusion. He said today: “It’s all too easy to use the need for operational security as an excuse to abridge our democratic freedoms.”

JANINE JACKSON
STEVE RENDALL
Jackson is program director of the media watch group FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). She said today: “White House officials have shown that they’re going to restrict and even manipulate information in this bombing campaign, but it’s not journalists’ role to aid them in that effort. We need critical, independent reporting now more than ever.” Rendall, FAIR senior analyst, said today: “Attempts at ‘information control’ always accompany U.S. military actions. The White House’s latest efforts to squelch dissent and shape the news are chilling and out of place in an open society. Just as troubling is the willingness of mainstream news outlets to sacrifice independent judgment to government desires.”
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JANE KIRTLEY
Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, Kirtley wrote the recent article “Fighting Back Against Information Shutdown, at Home and Abroad.” She said today: “The government’s attempts to pressure the media regarding the airing of bin Laden’s statements are totally illegitimate. Government directives like this, especially to a regulated industry like broadcast and cable, carry the force of coercion, if not the force of law. The government should not be the arbiter of what is appropriate for the public to see and hear. What is one person’s propaganda is another person’s news.”

NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He said today: “In May 1991, the Washington editors of 15 major American news organizations sent a letter to Dick Cheney — then secretary of defense — decrying what they called the Pentagon’s ‘virtually total control’ over coverage of the Gulf War. Today, the government’s efforts to constrain media coverage are even more extreme. As a practical matter, the First Amendment is in peril. The independence of news media is essential to democracy.”
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JILL NELSON
Author of Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience and a columnist for MSNBC, Nelson said today: “Freedom of the press and freedom to dissent are as important now as they have ever been. The job of the media is not to act as a cheerleader for politicians and the military — we’ve seen this before to our detriment.”

DANNY SCHECHTER
A former producer with CNN and ABC’s “20/20,” Schechter is executive editor of the MediaChannel website. “We seem to be in for a new period of censorship, self-censorship and the muzzling of dissent,” Schechter said. Meanwhile, he commented, “music still has the power to do what journalism does so rarely: reinforce empathy, caring and a sense of a world with other possibilities.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167