A couple hundred years ago, as the United States was just getting under way, I believe the media’s job was a little less important. With the population at a fraction of where it is now and less of the country actually settled, chances are that everyone knew at least their congressperson and word probably spread pretty quickly to the community about any wrongdoings by someone in power. Now, with over three hundred million people spread throughout almost every inch of land in this country, the majority of us who do not have political contacts depend on the media to let us know of the corruptions occurring amongst the people in charge of us. The New York Times (although failing in many other ways) fulfilled this duty back in December of 2005 by letting its public know about George W Bush’s spying on US citizens without warrants. The White House demanded to know who the leak was so they could clean house (just like they did when it was discovered who the leak of the Plame case was; oh wait, no they didn’t), but NY Times reporters Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau refused to give up their sources. Now, over two years later, Jim Risen (who has since written a book) has been served with a grand jury subpoena in which he has been ordered to reveal his sources or face jail time (much like Judith Miller did.) The media did its job; without Risen and Lichtblau letting the world know about this secret who knows what would be going on right now. The administration (and its neocon mouthpieces) is claiming that by revealing the secret, Bin Laden and crew now know of our techniques; as if they had no idea the United States has the technology to listen in to people’s phone calls. Nothing has happened yet, no one is in jail, no one has even been forced to testify, but it is definitely something we all need to keep an eye on. When a reporter goes to jail for doing her or his job there is a serious crack in our Democracy.
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