By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Some may think the recent assaults on the Press are new, or unprecedented, but they’re not. From President John Adams to President Donald Trump excoriating the Press is always the first refuge for politicians who want to keep their secrets, failings and even their misrepresentations of facts from public scrutiny.
Is the Press left-leaning? Perhaps disproportionately so, but whether leaning right or left, evidence-based reporting and thoughtful opinions are necessary to ensure our freedom; a word that has seemed to have slipped out of vogue lately.
Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said, “The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to bare the secrets of government and inform the people.”
From Alabama to Washington DC and around the globe, the powerful would rather rule without the bright light of journalism shining on their actions.
During the 2017 Legislative Session, APR will have five reporters covering the State House. APR’s journalists will out-number most media outlets 4 to 1, with the goal of informing, educating and altering the citizens to every action taken throughout the months ahead.
Alabama native Black also said, “The Framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.”
We at APR know the wrath of petty despots all too well, and we have also endured the label “fake news.” I wrote over 500 articles on Mike Hubbard before he was convicted on 12 counts of felony public corruption. All the while being called a liar and a false news source. Those in the press even did this. And when they were not selling our stories without attribution, they were casting doubt of our character.
Good journalism by its very nature is adversarial. There are plenty calling themselves journalists who are in reality just stenographers regurgitating the false promises and corrupt policies fostered by politicos. Taking a politician at their word is to suspend disbelief, or swallow the vaguest of truths to repeat a lie.
If a politico can’t co-opt a reporter, he or she will try to discredit them. Are all journalists honest? Do many have an agenda? All journalists are not honest and many have agendas but as famed news anchor David Brinkley observed, “Numerous politicians have seized absolute power and muzzled the press. Never in history has the press seized absolute power and muzzled the politicians.”
Journalism doesn’t need to be courtly or “impartial” to be accurate; it just needs to get the facts right. As journalist Glenn Greenwald, stated, “A journalist who is petrified of appearing to express any opinions will often steer clear of declarative sentences about what is true, opting instead for a cowardly and unhelpful ‘here’s-what-both-sides-say-and-I-won’t-resolve-the-conflicts’ formulation’Worst of all, this model rests on a false conceit. Human beings are not objectivity-driven machines. We all intrinsically perceive and process the world through subjective prisms. What is the value in pretending otherwise?”
So as we at APR will be unleashing the dogs of journalism in the halls of the State House, we promise to give our all, to be honest, accurate and fair.
But don’t expect us to roll over to have our bellies rubbed, because the view only changes for the lead dog.