Role Of Editors in Preserving Democracy By US Speaker David Mark

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  • Posted by: Imoh Robert

The United States has a lot of strong traditions in freedom of the press. As I mentioned yesterday, there are constitutional amendments protecting press freed oms. Still the U.S. is far from perfect in its press operations. But it does have a robust history of trying to scrutinize and report on those in power. Not just in government, but in business, sports, and other influential parts of society.

Sometimes the most you can do is put a question to a public official, even if they don’t want to answer.

Here’s an example of an ABC News reporter tenaciously trying to ask questions of a high government official. In this case House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is poised to become Speaker of the House – second in line of presidential succession – if Republicans win the majority this fall. This reporter is asking him about a recent Republican National Committee resolution effectively defending the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.

That’s a hallmark of free and open democracies, where journalists can aggressively question government leaders, even when they don’t want to answer.

And conflict between the media and election officials was a staple of former President Trump’s presidency. That doesn’t mean however, that it’s subsided with President Joe Biden in power.

Trump was a Republican who had an intentionally adversarial relationship with the press. Going as far as to call them an “enemy of the people,” among other taunts. And Biden a Democrat, representing the two major American political parties. But Biden has faced considerable scrutiny.

President Biden has a reputation for saying what he thinks. That got him in trouble from time to time during his 36 years as a senator. It’s something he had to suppress during his eight years as vice president under President Barack Obama. And Biden must be even more careful about this as president, with the world’s eyes upon him.

But Biden has from time to time, made insulting remarks against reporters. Including using a profanity after responding to a Fox News reporter known for hard-edged question.

Biden did later call the reporter, Peter Doocy to apologize. And Doocy, to his credit, laughed it off with good humor.   

Still, it’s hardly the only example of President Biden barking at reporters who ask questions he does not like. And that’s an important lesson for covering those in power. Not to let elected officials try and intimidate journalists.

A key tenant of political reporting is skepticism of those in power. Skepticism goes back to the runup to the Iraq War in 2002, and really to the Vietnam era.

We’ve seen the U.S. media do a pretty good job of this lately with tensions rising over a potential Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The U.S. government has taken the unprecedented step of declassifying intelligence to show what officials call Russian intentions to invade and take over Ukraine.

This was the subject of lively discussion on Feb. 3 during a CNN segment.

An important tactic in U.S. political journalism is trying to catch public officials in acts of hypocrisy. That is, saying one  thing and acting a different way.

Jan. 6 footage

Reaction of Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.)

That same day also saw a heated exchange between AP Diplomatic Writer Matt Lee and State Department Ned Price on declassified information about Russia setting up a “false flag” about Ukraine operations. Here is how it played out.

And here I must note for the record that I’m speaking on behalf of myself, David Mark, private citizen. Not at all for the U.S. embassy in Nigeria or the State Department more broadly in any way, shape, or form.

And this is the story that followed the clip challenging the State Department spokesman.

Looking for evidence? Trust us, Biden administration says

Associated Press, Feb. 5, 2022

Along these same lines, we’re seeing troubling lack of openness about what U.S. military planners are up to regarding Ukraine. It stands in stark contrast to the opening of the Iraq War in 2003, and other conflicts in which U.S. journalists were embedded with American troops.

Where are the embeds?

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Author: Imoh Robert

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