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The manipulated press

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The manipulated press
cartoon ?I think the media sometimes cause more conflicts than the Republicans.?

The manipulated press

An informed electorate is essential for the American democracy to function properly. One would think that the much-touted 24-hour news cycle would contribute to that objective. However, confusion and disinformation is often disseminated as the media race to be first on the air or in print.

Nothing is more stimulating to ratings or newspaper sales than a good old-fashioned brouhaha. The current three-pronged attack on President Obama by the Republicans has captured the nation’s attention. Obama must respond simultaneously to renewal of the criticism from the Benghazi attack, alleged politically motivated IRS abuse of conservative applicants for 501(c)(4) status and the inspection of Associated Press telephone records to find the source of a leak with national security consequences.

Early reports find justified criticism of the White House, but as evidence emerges, the facts become inadequate to sustain an attack on Obama. The media dismiss much of the controversy that they have generated as the result of political partisanship, but many blacks view the personal attacks as being racially motivated.

Republicans leveled a vicious attack on UN Ambassador Susan Rice last September for delivering a false account of an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed in the Sept. 12 attack including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Rice’s report to the nation came three days later.

Rice had no involvement in the Benghazi attack. Her only role was to communicate to the public the statement of facts that had been prepared by the State Department and the CIA. Nonetheless, the Republican attack against her was so severe that she had to remove her name from consideration as Secretary of State to succeed Hillary Clinton. Recently released e-mails from the White House indicate that neither Rice nor Clinton nor Obama had any role in determining the substance of the talking points that served as the basis for Rice’s response.

Similarly, the president has no role in the administration of the IRS except to appoint its director, with the advice and consent of the Senate. So far, the Republicans have obstructed such consent. Obama has asked for the resignation of the acting director of the IRS, who has complied. Only the U.S. Treasurer has administrative review of the IRS.

The press has publicized the discrimination in the IRS against “Tea Party” and other conservative organizations seeking 501(c)(4) status, and they have erroneously suggested that Obama is involved, but they have failed to inform the people adequately about the nature of the problem.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January 2010 in the case of Citizens United that corporations and unions could spend their funds on ads in support or opposition of candidates for public office. Prior to this ruling, corporations and unions could contribute to Sec. 527 political committees that supported or opposed public policies, but did not name candidates.

After Citizens United, there was a rush to find another form that would provide tax exempt status as well as permit active politicking. The social welfare provisions under Sec. 501(c)(4) seemed to meet those needs, and the contributors need not be identified. The IRS did not prepare adequate guidelines for reviewing the flood of applications.

Neither the Benghazi situation nor the IRS problems reflect adversely on President Obama. The AP situation is still under review. Clearly, the major media have to be more careful about becoming the spokesmen of prominent persons with considerable hostility toward President Obama and fictitious complaints.