Diane M. Grassi
The Fourth Estate is dying
By Diane M. Grassi
June 19, 2009

It was on June 21, 1788, that the United States Constitution was officially adopted with its ratification. And it was at that time that its ratification was contingent upon suggested changes to the Constitution, thereafter.

Leading up to the Constitution becoming effective, there were numerous debates among the states, namely that the Constitution did not go far enough in protecting personal rights and liberties and would provide a necessary buffer from infringement by the government on the fundamental rights of the people.

The document simply failed to specify what fundamental rights would be protected from abuse of power, by the federal government and especially in times of emergency.

And it was in the first session of Congress in 1789 in which 12 amendments were proposed, of which 10 were ultimately ratified on December 15, 1791. These amendments became known as the Bill of Rights.

The people were rightfully concerned that the Constitution must remain true to its intent: to prevent the misuse of its powers and to protect those very fundamental rights it was charged to protect.

Not the least of such rights was Amendment 1, and its often referenced freedom-of-speech clause. Its main purpose is to provide protection or a deterrent against censorship by the government and its officials. And it is implicit that the First Amendment be invulnerable when a law or government action is at issue.

And it is crucial that the press remains the watchdog of the people, in order to help decipher fact from fiction and for it to report the facts.

If we fast-forward 300 years, we still have two Houses of Congress, more unaccountable than any time in our history, an Executive Branch, creating its own shadow government within the very walls of the White House, and a Judicial Branch which has evolved into an activist judiciary. And most unfortunately, we have a press corps, a/k/a the media, which no longer remains accountable to the people and at every turn fails to remain objective in its reportage.

It was Thomas Jefferson who noted in 1799 that "Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light."

But sadly on June 24, 2009, in perhaps the most egregious exercise in blurring the lines between fact and fiction, ABC News, one of the three largest news broadcasting networks in the U.S. and throughout the world, will broadcast its programming from the Blue Room in the East Wing of the White House.

But even more stunning and unprecedented in White House history, it will broadcast a prime time special titled Questions for the President: Prescription for America, an ABC News production. President Obama will answer questions, pre-selected, pre-scripted and censored, by ABC News and the White House.

The intent is to "inform" the people of Obama's new healthcare plan, which has not been seen nor discussed by the Congress, and remains a mystery as to its details, not publicly disclosed. No opposition questions or representation of any ideas other than those of Obama's, ABC's or the Democratic Party will be permitted.

So essentially, conservatives and Republican lawmakers felt justified referring to it as a paid infomercial, not a "news" program. Usurping the Congress and the will of the people is anathema to abuse of power.

The nationalization of U.S. healthcare, as important and personal a matter as it is to every American, has now been hijacked, along with the public's airwaves. If Obama's intentions for the American people cannot withstand honest and unscripted dialog and discourse, but rather necessitates an imposter shilling as a news network, then it will fail the American people.

But do remember if you decide to tune in on Wednesday, that "The most effectual engines for pacifying a nation are the public papers....A despotic government always keeps a kind of standing army of news writers who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, invent and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper." — Thomas Jefferson (1816)

© Diane M. Grassi


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Diane M. Grassi

Diane M. Grassi is an investigative journalist and reporter providing topical and in-depth articles and analysis on U.S. public policy and governmental affairs, including key federal and state legislation as well as court decisions relative to the public interests of average Americans... (more)


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