[sixties-l] Alternative Press

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Thu Feb 01 2001 - 16:59:34 EST

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    Forgotten History - Friday, January 5, 2001
    "Little known facts and overlooked history"

    The Press

    Freedom of the press is something that we
    Americans take seriously. Since it is
    written right there in the Constitution,
    nothing should get the press more angry
    than when their own members are denied of
    these rights. Sadly enough, this is not
    true. History shows us that when it comes
    to freedom of the press for alternate
    points of view, the mainstream press is
    silent, and usually sides with the
    government. This has been the case for
    the last hundred years.

    "The Appeal to Reason" was a highly
    popular magazine that reached its peak
    prior to the first world war. Its
    writers included journalists like Jack
    Reed and Upton Sinclair and had a
    circulation that would be comparable
    to today's "Time Magazine." It was a
    socialist publication that was very
    critical of the America's involvement
    in World War I. For this, it was denied
    the use of the postal service, and since
    all publications used the mail service,
    the effects would eventually destroy the
    publication. Did anyone in the press speak
    out in its behalf? No, they did not. In fact,
    the mainstream press stood by the
    government's actions and praised them.

    The Liberation News Service was an
    alternative wire service that spoke out
    against the war in Vietnam. It was very
    critical of U.S. involvement and provided
    a service to the mainstream press by
    providing sources of information for them.
    The reality was that the mainstream press
    was so out of touch, that they needed the
    content and contacts that services such
    as the Liberation News provided. During the
    war, the Liberation News became the target
    of the CIA, the FBI and Military
    Intelligence. The FBI went so far as to
    break into their offices, destroy their
    equipment and set fire to the building. The
    CIA set up informants to spy on the service,
    which is forbidden under the CIA's charter,
    while the FBI moved to discredit them.

    What did the mainstream press say to these
    gross violations of the first amendment?
    Nothing. Throughout the war in Vietnam
    underground papers became the target of
    the government's Gestapo tactics while the
    press sat by and allowed this to happen
    without saying a word. Only when the
    government of Richard Nixon sought to go
    after the press, in the same fashion as
    they had done to the alternate press,
    did the corporate press bring up the
    rights of reporters. In other words, only
    when it happened to them did they become

    During the past year we saw another example
    of just how contemptuous the press and the
    government are of the first amendment. It
    was during the Democratic convention when
    the offices of the alternative media were
    raided and shut down by the LAPD. The
    reason they gave to raid and close
    alternative coverage of the convention was
    that there might be violence at a rock
    concert that night.

    A New York Times reporter asked a highly
    influential Gore operative whether he
    agreed with the action. The Gore people
    responded that they supported the police
    action. So much for the freedom of the
    press. We don't expect anything for
    liberal Democratic administrations, since
    this and all of other incidents that have
    been mentioned took place under the
    Democrats. However, did you see any
    coverage of this gross violation on any of
    the networks? Of course not. What history
    tells us is that the corporate press has
    historically done its job. When they and
    the government have faced any opposition,
    the press has allowed the powers of the
    government to attack and destroy
    alternative points of view. This is the
    history of our press.

    Sources: Interview with James Weinstein,
    editor of IN THESE TIMES


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