I was recently listening to Jim Lehrer (at least I think it was the News Hour) and they had a point-counterpoint about the recent New York Times article which disclosed the Bush Administration's "covert" activities relating to bank records. The Editor of the Times even bothered to justify himself. The Bush administration did what any fascist government does when challenged by the press: it treats the press as traitors who are threatening "National Security."
I'm relatively certain that if you read this blog, I don't need to convince you of the frightening overtones and slippery slope that the Bush Administration's argument contains. Nonetheless, there was a talking point I found so particularly hilarious and insidious, I just had to mention it.
During the News Hour, the pro-Bush guest (excuse me if I can't remember his name) that the New York Times is a "for profit" entity and therefore made this decision in order to sell newspapers. How dare they, he said, put their own profit above the security of the United States. I'm sure if this was said once, it will be repeated again and again. Republicans are nothing if not automated to stay "on message."
What is stunning about this argument is that the Bush administration is a firm believer in the market to regulate things like health care, social security, the environment, schools and prisons. It believes the basic social infrastructure is best left to for-profit enterprises. He's farmed out half the war effort to private contractors (I won't say Halliburton, whoops), he's pushed privatization across the board. Even Vouchers for Private Schools, which are, in fact, charging for the right to earn an education.
Amazing, therefore, to claim that the Press having a profit-margin somehow means they cannot be trusted. If anything, the press living and dying by its journalistic impact makes sense (the idea that people will read well-written journalism notwithstanding). It makes far more sense than a state-controlled (or even approved) Press. It makes far more sense than a profit-margin attached to AIDs medication in the Third World, or leaving environmental controls up to an industry that's eyes are on their bottom line.
Truthfully, though, after all this time, it's become imperative to stop responding to the arguments being made, and to start responding to the reason behind the arguments. The Bush Administration and its supporters do not make consistent statements and their talking points shift expediently. When these massive contradictions appear, they indicate that those in the opposition must attack the meaning, not the "message."
The Republican Party's consistent message is that questioning them is akin to apostasy.
It believes that all things should be controlled by large, for-profit corporations, except the most valuable commodity of all...information.
They won't say those words, and no one can make them. But that is exactly what they mean.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.