Monday, September 08, 2008

Fear and the Result of Our Decisions: Media, Palin and Iraq

I recall keenly the days of the run-up to the Iraq war. How many journalists--including those I knew and admired--drew back from criticism of obvious gaps and flaws in the logic leading to the conflict; who, despite stories of critical importance for the future of the nation hanging before them, left them hanging in the group-reinforced fear that they would be accused of a lack of patriotism if they were to report them.

And so they were left to be reported long after--in books looking back at the clear issues, landmark errors, and trail of missed opportunities that has led to the fatal outcomes we now see before us.

The issues were there at the time. To be reported.

They were not.

Today, they are again being cowed, by an equally powerful fear of unnecessary intimidation and restraint, the consequences of which stretch far beyond those that we have seen in Iraq.

At a time when we are at war, the economy in shambles, when today Fannie and Freddie Mac are, for the first time in their history, in effect being nationalized, we are being swept by emotion and fear--career fear--into ignoring a situation that would likely send us tumbling into the unknown.

In reaction to vague, short-term threats regarding gender, they fail to report issues that have nothing to do with gender, yet have the longest term consequences--namely, those concerning the preparedness of a candidate for Vice President of the United States, running alongside an elderly and chronically ill Presidential candidate.

Instead--just as in the run-up to Iraq--each is making the easier choice--to join the risk-averse chorus of personality pieces, each, in the same diffusion of responsibility that had such a major role in leading us into the war in Iraq, taking the route that leads away from fact, regardless of gender.

As in Iraq, reporting fact--regardless of pressure for a mindless conformity and silence--represented actual patriotism, providing the nation with the information it needed to make a reliable and authentic decision, so reporting the facts here--regardless of pressure for an unthinking conformity represents a true balance, a true equality, a true lack of bias.

This is a time of difficult decisions. However, those decisions--your decisions--matter. We have seen this.

Report it. Don't be cowed.