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America Needs A Fifth Freedom – Freedom From The Press

by Norman Liebmann
February 4, 2000

"The power of the media devolves not on what it can disseminate, but what it can suppress. Its disservice to the American way of life became acute when it realized an omission is as good as a lie, and capitalized on it."

The definitive lesson of history could be summed up in one plausible vignette - Herod, on his way back from Calvary, saying, "I would never have gotten away with it without the Media on my side." As likely, if Paul Revere had been a journalist he would have ridden through town and countryside shouting, "The British are coming, but not to worry - it's only about sex." (It's worth reminding, the press took the same mitigating position with regard to Jack the Ripper.) In our own time the media is the crabgrass of American culture. They have demeaned their profession to where its name serves as an all-purpose catchword of derision. Even children say as they chide laggards in the race to the swimming hole, "Last one in is a journalist."

The Clinton eight year nightmare is scheduled to lapse, and, if experience instructs us, the Republican Congressmen and Senators will be replaced by similar sinecures, spineless catatonics; other Trent Lotts and Dennis Hastarts, whose malfeasance and cowardice in office will be a steep undertaking for incoming ciphers to parallel. New faces might leave the government superficially refreshed, but the media will never recover. As a profession, journalism is permanently and irrevocably dishonored. Its disgrace will remain abysmal and eternal. The American people distrust journalists, and now rate them further down on their shit list than used car salesmen and the current crop of civil rights leaders. Even the most ardent pro-life advocate would re-think his position, and consider as acceptable - abortion in cases of "rape, incest, the life of the mother", and the possibility the fetus might grow up to go to journalism school.

Journalism is a profession that desperately needs to be on truth support. It has over-advertised its competence. It says much, that with an army of professional newsmen present, the definitive film of the John F. Kennedy assassination was taken with an 8mm camera by a guy named Abraham Zapruder who makes women's dresses. It proclaims journalism to be as un-alert as it is inexact.

TV commentators are overestimated - particularly by each other. With the exception of anchormen, those sartorially splendid hamsters that the Networks have made their designated choke points in the flow of information, most newspersons are not as lavishly paid as they would like it to be believed. The networks recognize them as ego-freaks that can be under-recompensed in exchange for promoting them as lower tier celebrities. Gaudy examples of this are Margaret Carlson and Eleanor Clift, exponents of lobotomy journalism, who command no respect, and so they settle for visibility.

It does not work in the journalists' interests or indulge them egotistically to be represented as they truly are. If Hollywood ever sees fit to make a film about Jack Germond, he would lie on the floor, kicking his feet and screaming until they agreed to have him portrayed by Robert Redford. Consistently, when Sam Donaldson looks in the mirror he sees a knight on a white horse. You can't get more delusional than that.

Even that elite claque on 60 Minutes, all politically a little to the left of each other, are the overrated "cream" of an overrated industry. Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes' hood ornament, is, in fact, a Channel 5 kind of guy who lucked into a Channel 2 kind of job. Mostly octogenarians, their contracts call for regularly scheduled oxygen breaks (which is why they are frequently referred to as oxygenarians.) They nap in hyperbaric chambers and can only be awakened by hearing the incantation "…All that and Andy Rooney." (CBS counts on Rooney to keep the show's liberal content slopping over the top.) After having satisfied themselves they have once again saved the world in fifty three minutes, they toast each other with special 60 Minute Martinis (Instead of a pimento the olive has a Viagra tablet in it) then they all pile into a CBS limo and are trundled off to a plastic surgeon for a gang face lift.

Increasingly, the entire Directory of TV Newspersons reads like a Who's Who of the Cosmetically Challenged. Most use the same surgeon to perform these procedures, which may be why Larry King and Barbara Walters are frequently mistaken for each other. It seems idle that all these people should have their faces lifted when it is their journalistic standards that could do with some elevating. (Here we are in the third millennium, a thousand celebrity interviews later, and Walters still has not found her way beyond the question, "How did you get your start in show business?")


Conservative journalism couldn't be any more of a fiefdom than if it had parapets and was surrounded by a moat. It prefers to make its own small corner of that profession a clubby playpen awash in cockamamie noblesse oblige; its mission - to see to it that Americans get their daily-recommended dose of condescension.

Lamentably, conservative and liberal journalism is the yin and the yang that constitute the Kiss-Ass Press. Because of the effete character of the "not ready to rumble" conservative journalists, highly placed Democrats know they can count on never being rebuked, just receive some good-natured niggling. Even William F. Buckley Jr., celebrated for his pointed whimsy, has never left a mark on Bill Clinton. Apparently, his wit has the edge, but not the reach.

If Bill Clinton seems invulnerable it is because he has never been in a fight. His opponents haven't got the balls, and they won't let anyone else use the arena lest the comparison reveals how cowardly they have been, and for how long. The conservative press feels it has served its cause by pretending Trent Lott is not cringing.

On any scale on which journalists weigh or measure, beauty and truth do not register, and perversion and treason do not offend. They do not care that Washington is a bureaucratic disorder run by a power mad Arkanshmuck. Had they done their job faithfully, the White House would have been roped off for the past seven years with crime scene tape.

The Networks' Evening News programs are cuspidors for political analyses and bilge pumps exuding slovenly reportage. With the media's indulgence, Bill Clinton has not only been allowed to lower the bar of public integrity, but has been permitted to shitcan the established parameters of all by which anthropologists measure any entity as human. Either journalism is an insult or it's nothing - in either case it has no justification for its existence.

It's possible the media has reconciled itself that Clinton is a certified traitor, liar, pervert, rapist, and a fraud, and it seems a trifle late to speculate on whether he has other imperfections. It is their pragmatic view, it's not necessarily news if, beyond its customary malodor, a skunk has halitosis, too,. So, like Monica Lewinsky, the press is inclined to take Bill Clinton as he comes. Currently, the media is faced with deciding whether his State of the Treason Address was Clinton's final slime-burst of lying rhetoric or a feint of misdirection to draw attention from a contemplated coup d'état. They are dealing with that critical determination in the manner in which they confront all moral urgencies - with head on avoidance.

The applause greeting Clinton's entrance into the House chamber was less an expression of admiration than marveling at seeing a pig that had learned to strut. Apparently, to politicians, porkers and Presidents are more admirable when they are brazen. As with all liars (for all Democrats lying is hobbycraft) Clinton's addresses are self-discrediting so not much need be said about it. He conveyed, with his customary smugness, a message that was easily read between the lines - that, thanks to his shoring up of the welfare state, we still live in a country where anyone can make a million dollars - or even less. (We are informed, after Bubba's marathon address, Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical - should our President convert to Catholicism, no priest will be required to sit through any Clinton confession in its entirety.)

Inevitably, Bubba paid tribute to Hillary with a counterfeit salute, which so touched her, she paused in distributing poisoned apples to children in the gallery the Clintons rented for the occasion. This brings us to the apple-polishing Press who, in fact, can't buff a fruit or anything else without contributing to its delinquency.

It would be a mercy if someone would put a bounty on anyone who uses the word "compassionate" within the Beltway. Unhappily, the media is convinced for every compassionate answer they are obliged to come up with another compassionate question. The mild approach of the White Press Corps conveys what investigative journalism would be like as practiced by the Brady Bunch. Indeed, all the Washington mediacrats are less journalists than journalist impersonators. No real journalist could walk down Pennsylvania Avenue and leave a single ass unkicked.

The White House Press Corps is composed of ritualists. They fantasize themselves as a jeweled-sword-carrying and moustache-waxed escort attending Clinton at his coronation. Just as the media writes obituaries in advance, the media has already filed its account of Clinton's fascist takeover, and is ready to run with it. Until then, Clinton remains The Paparazzi's President. He has made the White House his harem and the Press Corps his cadre of willing eunuchs. They follow him everywhere, winding around his legs, panting and slathering happily like neutered dim-witted spaniels, craving his approval. It took only a pat on the head from Bill Clinton to turn a once virtuous profession into an ethical latrine.

In reporting this President, the media finds veracity is irrelevant. Clinton is a liar's moon in full illuminated disk. Finding the proverbial grain of truth in this White House is a drilling operation that would daunt Exxon.

Ours is a careless media, journalism in chronic sans souci, a stuck-dumb press, numbed by its own success. It is characteristic of the media, in its relentless excusatory mode, rather than condemn Clinton they do his rationalizing for him. The media does not care that Clinton is a moral pauper and an ethical dwarf, that he can't wave bye-bye without being accused of lying; that his check is no good, and even his handshake has been known to bounce. Yet, to get to the end of the line of journalists waiting to endorse his lies is a three-day march with full field pack. The press keeps corroborating him, and, in so doing, further damages its credibility. (Like somebody cares.)


The media does not care that Clinton has aggravated racial strife, rather they laud him for making bigotry more cost efficient.

The media does not care that Clinton has failed to improve education. They are content that he has ennobled ignorance.

The media lauds Clinton for his sexual conquests, ignoring the fact that Monica Lewinsky is the sexual equivalent of airline food. (After the scandal broke, Teddy Kennedy gave Clinton the benefit of his experience, cautioning, in consideration of Monica's bulk and buoyancy, this broad would not be likely to drown so obligingly.)

The media is susceptible to cheap sentiment; they doxologize Clinton, the president who shed the original crocodile tear, the prototype from which all others were fashioned to flow. While the world witnesses Bubba stabbing friends in the back, the media reported only his ostentatious weeping for fallen comrades.

The media does not question Clinton's patriotism, though it's told he cannot start his urine flow unless the Secret Service lifts him off the men's room floor and slips an American flag under him. (This is unlikely to become a presidential tradition.)

The media does not care that Clinton, in a burst of Wagnerian inspiration, decided to make the State of Israel his scapegoat for the failure of midnight basketball.

The media praises his budget busting medical programs, ignoring that he is the source of a national cultural infection, the hygienically neglected foreskin on the public groin.

The media does not care that Clinton has "domesticated" them, and made himself the wrangler of a herd of journalistic geldings.

The media does not care that, although Clinton is a convicted perjurer, he is still licensed to practice law in that perpetual updraft of political corruption called Arkansas. In any other state but Arkansas his license to lick postage stamps would have been revoked.

The media does not care that Clinton misuses public funds to buy the votes and the souls of minorities, and in so doing is giving the nation a financial hernia.

The media does not care that the Democrat party is an ethical sewer in a condition of terminal clog.

The media does not care that the dominant influence on Clinton's astronomical chart is Judas rising, or that he is a handpicked emissary from the Pit, using the Oval Office to recycle Biblical sin. They only see Clinton waving a Bible on his way out of church (but not King James struggling to reclaim it.)

The media does not care that this treasonous President is not what he seems, that he is not only a wolf in sheep's clothing, but an Ethel Rosenberg in Julius Rosenberg's clothing.

The media does not care that Clinton is a hypocrite, not by choice, but by intuition, and that his hypocrisy is deeper than visceral, it's chromosomal.

Most contemptibly, the media does not care, nor is it aesthetically revolted by the knowledge that Clinton is adored by Rosie O'Donnell.

The advent of Clinton reveals journalists as programmed to deceive and divert. As a result, this chapter of Humanity is uninformed and destined to muddle through the corridor of history caroming between atrocity and calamity. It is unarguable, after his seven years in office, owing to media dereliction, Americans do not know sheep shit from anchor chains about the Clinton criminal cabal - certainly the media has not told them anything Clinton wishes them not to know. Thus the American people have bypassed the media and made their judgements intestinally, i.e., if it's visceral - it's reliable.

The founding fathers offered America their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor. Clinton never had any to give. Instead, he now proposes to give America – Hillary – infamous juggler of accounts, stealer of FBI records, perpetrator of land grabs, White House travel office calumniator, fabricator of "vast right wing conspiracies", blackmailer, backstage manipulator, character assassin, child exploiter, cattle futures rigger, anti-Semite harlot of Jerusalem, fat-calfed, bad hair day bitch. She is the barracuda telling the great white shark where the wounded flounders hang out, the annelid worm leeching the lifeblood of the nation through her bloated-bladder-husband host. Small wonder she has became the darling of the chronicles, the paragon of the press, and Bill Clinton's living legacy.

The power of the media devolves not on what it can disseminate, but what it can suppress. Its disservice to the American way of life became acute when it realized an omission is as good as a lie, and capitalized on it. The media gets the last word and they get it everyday. Its insult is delivered so routinely we have become tolerant of it. In fairness to the nation, the media establishment's most liberal newspaper ought to change its slogan to "All the news that's fit to taint."

Now comes the insult turned to injury; that media-sourced alert that the U.S. must stand ready to yield its sovereignty. It has dispatched as its herald emeritus, the trusted and avuncular Walter Cronkite, to break the news to us that the welfare state isn't enough, and that America needs a global enema. Apparently, Uncle Walter has found some new kinky interests during his retirement.

Liberalism is the spirochete for which the media is an accommodating host. So far it has resisted both penicillin and patriotism. It may be that we cannot restore the media to political health, but we can at least make the nation aware of its program of ongoing subversion. An initial measure that might be instituted - as journalists are issued press credentials, they should have their citizenship revoked and be relegated to the status of resident enemy aliens. America is being held hostage by the government/media cross-collusion. Both are in a holding pattern over a single message - that truth is unavailable.

America needs a Fifth Freedom – Freedom from the Press.

Norman Liebmann is a former television writer (Johnny Carson, Dean Martin; wrote and produced Chico and the Man, and created the characters for The Munsters (who are all named after his relatives) and a brilliant and insightful columnist/humorist. Please visit his website Firehat, a treasure trove of Clinton and Media bashing.


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6 feb 2000