Freedom Fry

Look at that freedom fry! A collection of political hotlinks and original articles.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Collapse of the Fourth Estate

7:05 PM

It's finally happened: The disillusionment of Misha Cohen. I now know that our fourth estate, our free press, has totally crumbled.

I just got back from Washington D.C. where as many as 300,000 protesters marched many blocks around the White House, packing the streets. And yet, when I turn on my T.V., open my newspaper, and search Google news for coverage, the day after, I find little about the protest. I find "tens of thousands of protesters in Washington D.C.," in various places. Hmm, tens of thousands. Is that 40,000? 50,000? Two million? I see that the National Park Service no longer releases estimates of crowd size. The press, as a whole, simply accepts this. They don't even feel that it's their duty to do a study of it themselves. How can we not get an accurate, impartial estimate on the number of people in an area? I see various presentations of the numbers: 300,000, 250,000, 150,000, 100,000. The police chief, Charles H. Ramsey, when asked if there were 100,000 protesters, answered, "They probably hit that." However, when asked further if they had gotten 150,000, he said, "That's as good a guess as any." For some reason this latter was not always reported.

Then there's the paucity of photographs, audio, and video of the event. Where is the media? What is the internet good for? Advertising? Why aren't there full, archival mp3 versions of all the speakers who spoke at the rally (including Rep. Maxine Waters [D-Calif.], Rep. Barbara Lee [D-Calif.], Greg Palast, Jessica Lange, Ralph Nader, Cindy Sheehan [who gave a very articulate speech], Al Sharpton, Etan Thomas from the Washington Wizards, and Joan Baez)? Why aren't there videos of all of them? Why aren't there videos of the marching? Why aren't there hundreds of photos of the protest, showing you the scale of the event?

There were helicopters flying overhead all day. Was the media not allowed to photograph the event from the air?

It took hours of searching to find a photo like this (on the San Francisco Chronicle website):

It gives you some idea of the size of the event. Then there was a single video on the Capitol's premier paper, the Washington Post. And that's pretty much it. Most papers included a single, non-enlargeable image along with the article. Usually the image was of an angry mob of protesters. The protest, however, went off peacefully, with only three arrests. It was a time of chanting, determination, and excitement, rather than of violence or even much anger.

Is the media this much owned by the government, that it can no longer publicize—accurately—criticism of the administration? Is it so owned by the advertisers that it must spin reality to suit the desired readership? The answer is, "Yes."

Some of My Photos

Metro Stop at 11am or soBush - missIon accompLIshEDOn the way to protestListening to speeches at the Elipse, pre-march
Waiting to protest on Constitution Ave.March begins!In front of the White HouseLooking back from in front of the White House


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