Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Media: Clinton Censorship OK

Is the media hypocritical on censorship when conducted by Democrats versus Republicans? It would seem that this may indeed be the case. The media likes to claim that President George Bush's Administration is clamping down on civil rights, although they have a difficult time citing any actual examples of such. However, when the Clinton campaign really does exercise press censorship, the media is largely silent.

According to the Politico online magazine, GQ magazine was poised to run a story that would have been critical of the Hillary Clinton campaign. This in itself is a relative rarity in the current media. However, by threatening to withold access to former President Bill Clinton, the campaign managed to force GQ to pull the planned story. Editor Jim Nelson then tried to claim that this was normal procedure,
“I don’t really get into the inner workings of the magazine, but I can tell you that yes, we did kill a Hillary piece. We kill pieces all the time for a variety of reasons,” Nelson said in an e-mail to Politico.

He did not respond to follow-up questions. A Clinton campaign spokesman declined to comment.

This is normal procedure? I can believe that magazines kill stories all the time, but the fact is that no media source would have been willing to kill a story critical of a Republican in return for access to a former president. The Politico claims that Bill Clinton's star status gives his wife's campaign unprecedented power over the press, but I find this rationnale suspicious. The Poliltico also tries to make equivalency by writing,
The 2004 Bush campaign banned a New York Times reporter from Vice President Dick Cheney’s jet, and Sen. Barack Obama threatened to bar Fox News reporters from campaign travel.

Somehow, I cannnot see the equivalence between the 2004 Bush campaign banning a writer who was known to be hostile to the campaign and forcing a media organ to print what a campaign wants to be printed. The one simply denies personal access to the candidate but does not try to influence what is written, whilst the other is actually practicing censorship- something the press claims to be very much opposed to. Even the Politico admits that "But a retreat of the sort GQ is alleged to have made is unusual, particularly as part of what sources described as a barely veiled transaction of editorial leverage for access."

One would think that a press which genuinely wants to defend their editorial freedom would be up in arms over this blatant attempt to shape how events are reported, especially since the spiked story was apparently news, not opinion. However, the majorioty of the media have beeen completely silent on the affair. And unfortunately this is entirely unsurprising.

Let President Bush try to listen to foreign communications and the press screams about First Amendment rights. Let there be discussion of prosecution for publishing illegally leaked national security secrets in the New York Times and the press screams about their freedom to report whatever they see fit. But if Hillary really does exercise censorship, the press emits a collective yawn. Apparenlty Democratic censorship is OK to the Press. Cross-posted on NewsBusters.

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