Before 9/11, George W. Bush was not a popular president and he received much criticism early in his presidency. After 9/11, when the nation was trying to rebound emotionally from this tragedy, Bush’s approval rating went up. Why? After 9/11, the mass media did not challenge him on his facts and allowed him free range to pursue his agenda -- a permanent “war on terrorism,” the occupation of Iraq, approving torture, secret CIA prisons, an end to habeas corpus, and widespread spying on Americans. Criticism of Bush was viewed by the media brass as being unpatriotic and dissenting opinions thus received little air time. Red, white and blue banners decorated the screens of the 24-hour cable news networks and the news anchors wore their new American flag lapel pins. The only “debate” on the news was between the right and the far-right.
Today, with the Obama presidency less than a week old, the President has issued executive orders to close the Guantanamo gulag, ban torture, grant more access to federal documents under the Freedom of Information Act, freeze pay for White House staff, provide for more openness in government, and to end the abortion “gag rule.” Most of the debate today centers around Obama’s economic stimulus plan. Although a central theme in the Obama campaign was to end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home, the tanking economy and home foreclosures are the main focus right now.
Writing directly to our representatives and to the president is one way to make our views known, but that does not hold the president’s feet to the fire. To do that, we must hold the electronic media’s feet to the fire and demand that they present a wide range of views. Write to the cable news networks that set the tone for national and international news. Try blogging and micro-blogging on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace to help bring democracy to the media. We can even -- if we are bold enough -- record a video editorial from our home computers and post it on YouTube. Remember, the Executive Branch is supposed to be equal to the Legislative and Judicial branches. Bush basically turned the presidency into a kingdom and we can take some solace in that fact that Obama has at least dealt with some of the more troubling dirty deeds of the Bush administration. But there is much more work to be done….