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CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists), a non-profit that supports press freedom worldwide, held their annual awards dinner in New York this evening. According to the CPJ website, this years awards were given to journalists who faced “imprisonment or other persecution for exposing realities in Egypt, Turkey, Ecuador and Vietnam.”
In an interesting twist, Lara Logan, the evening’s host, was dropped from the program and replaced by Scott Pelley of CBS News—presumably because of her leave-of-absence from 60 Minutes, over its recent ‘Benghazi’ story. During the last year Ms. Logan has questioned the U.S. government’s version of reality in Afghanistan and Libya. Various people we spoke with, including CPJ officials, said they didn’t think it would be appropriate for CPJ to protect/defend Ms. Logan.
Additional drama came from Ecuadorian protesters, outside the Waldorf, upset that their countrywoman Janet Hinostroza was getting a CPJ award inside. Some Ecuadorians (including journalists) we spoke with said that she was a shill for the U.S. government and her activities were undermining their country. In 2012 Ms. Hinostroza was forced to take a leave-of-absence from a show she hosts in Ecuador.
LE Observation: With institutionalized government (and news organization) deception, and widespread personal disorientation—the truth is harder to come by, and the journalism needed for society to flourish is rare indeed.
Photographs: Stephen Wise
Anthony Lewis reporter and columnist for the New York Times, and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, died today at age 85. LE met Mr. Lewis in 2009, at the CPJ Awards Dinner, and asked him what he thought the U.S. should do in Afghanistan? He didn’t hesitate, saying — “We should get out.”
Commentary: In matters of American foreign policy, Anthony Lewis understood the U.S. had been unjust in not acting in situations that called for it (Rwanda & Bosnia) — “Clinton Fiddles While Bosnia Burns,” NYT March ’93; but also unjust in using force in situations that didn’t call for it (Iraq & Afghanistan).
Photograph: Stephen Wise
And yet what have those same news organizations done to confront the murderous bastards, policies and lies of their own government — which have destroyed millions of lives over the past 10 years? Very little, in fact they’ve been a party to it.
Artwork: Darren Sylvester
Commentary: It would have been nice to have heard just one media elite say that the Arab Uprising is more akin to the Russian Revolution than the American Revolution. We didn’t hear it. Back in May, Natalia Dmitriyevna, widow of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, told LE “there are analogies” between the Russian Revolution and the Arab Spring.
The forces of anarchy driving the Arab Spring betray their disorder by their indifference to the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria as well as the Palestinian cause. As with Lenin’s formula, the peasants are the losers amid the destruction — where one elite replaces another and declares victory.
“But massacre by Bolshevik troops was not the worst of the evils which confronted the long suffering peasants…the peasants abandoned their farms and sought safety in the towns, which could neither feed them adequately nor give them shelter. They came like hordes of locusts which ate up everything in their path. They died in their millions. No accurate figures were ever made available; nor could they be made available, though Sverdlov computed that some 27,000,000 were affected.” The Life and Death of Lenin, Robert Payne (Simon and Schuster, 1964)
With the ‘civilized’ world disregarding the lessons of the past and devolving into tyranny and anarchy, journalists face multiple challenges (and threats) especially when their objective is to ‘bear witness to the truth.’
Photographs: Stephen Wise
The Committee to Protect Journalists held their 22nd International Press Freedom Awards dinner last evening in New York. The event was hosted by PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill. David Boies was the dinner chair. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, was honored as were four journalists from Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan and Liberia.
Lhamo Tso (lower photo), wife of Dhondup Wangchen, accepted his award. Mr. Wangchen remains in a Chinese prison for producing a film the Chinese government didn’t like.
Photographs: Stephen Wise
The indifference, even complicitness, of American leaders with Israel’s unjust policy towards the Palestinians can be traced to the billions of dollars in aid to Israel that has made its way back into the ‘war chests’ of elected U.S. officials, through organizations like AIPAC.
We asked David Boies, prominent First Amendment lawyer, about the ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited funding of campaigns. He agreed that is was a bad decision, adding that “corporations are not people,” and that the decision had the effect of putting “Congressional dysfunction on steroids.” The case had turned on the interpretation of the justices in the majority that the First Amendment applied to corporate donations.
The conundrum for any society seeking to be free is not to be undone by the wrongheaded exercise of freedom.
In an unrelated event this week, The New York Times reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested to Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, that British soldiers had helped to liberate her country from the Nazis during World War II.
Commentary: Wasn’t it Great Britain that helped to create the conditions, and harbor the individuals, that ultimately produced Hitler and the Nazis, and the World Wars? In the words of historian Harry Elmer Barnes*: “The Kaiser made much more strenuous efforts to preserve the peace in Europe in 1914 than did Sir Edward Grey.” Perhaps Ms. Merkel felt pressure to say anything to get Mr. Cameron to support her solution to the European Union’s budget woes.
As an important source of news and commentary, Der Spiegel needs to help the world see the bigger picture — including the role anarchists have played and continue to play in society. Hopefully Der Spiegel is not on the side of anarchy, as is The New York Times.
*Barnes–The Genesis of the World War, 1926
Commentary: Media elites like to sneer at what they call ‘low information voters’ (LIVs) — when in fact they helped to create LIVs by misleading, misinforming and manipulating the public. Now they’re saying: Vote DoDo.
It’s interesting that the 2012 U.S. presidential election may be decided by just a few votes — while many votes don’t matter. Sadly, a victory for either Obama or Romney is not a win for the country. The democratic ‘process’ is not enough to produce responsible leaders and citizens. But those who are fomenting revolutions in the Middle East would have us believe it is.
Lotus Editions has chosen David Brooks of the New York Times as this year’s recipient of the Hogwash Award. The award is given each year to an American journalist or commentator who is ‘mucking-it-up’.
Mr. Brooks likes to talk about the ‘real world’ and yet in a recent column said the U.S. federal debt was only 73% of GDP. Even the most corrupt bureaucrats say that it’s 115% of GDP. The actual number is quite a bit higher. Back in May LE asked Mr. Brooks about the reckoning still ahead for the United States. He said: “We’ll get through it, we’ll be fine.”
Commentary: As long as the elites see fit to deceive, manipulate, and mislead the public — we will not be fine. The country can’t begin to fix its problems if it doesn’t admit where it is and how it got there. David Stockman, Budget Director for President Reagan, said recently the “total debt on the U.S. economy” is $53 trillion (3.6x GDP).
Hogwash soap comes from SallyeAnder Soaps, a family business in upstate New York. It has been called The Best Soap in America — A Perfect Scrub for Mechanics, Gardners & Kids (and now Journalists).
Photographs: Stephen Wise