Monday, January 30, 2012

The national debatable: freeing the press, or sneering at it? Media madnes

Listening to the moderator of the national political debates is always instructive; the boos come  much freer than the nods of affirmation. “Freedom of the press” wobbles back and forth in national mood but not, I think, in its function. But I will digress.

My mother always had one sweet taste in her mouth all her life. It was remembering being a young secretary in the years of Prohibition, but only somewhat about alcohol. I remember where it took place; it was a small, two story brick building on the way to downtown. The black paint reading “Press” was by then faded.

It was election time and the Ku Klux Klan in the county had announced that if they lost the election the county newspaper would never report it. The entire staff assembled in the building; a man with a 30-30 deer rifle was posted on the roof; they awaited the results. My mother always giggled as she told the story of how the men tried to get the secretaries to take a swallow of the “coke cola” drink they were passing around. It was in the time when, I think, every newspaper desk had a bottle in the top drawer – a lot of reporters didn’t get intimidated by Prohibition, either. When President Roosevelt enumerated the Four Freedoms, few quibbled about the Press.

It has never been easy to wallow in printers’ ink, lots of ups and downs in its history. I remember when I wrote an article that was in the New York Times one Sunday. The editors sent a “stringer” up from New Orleans to get an interview and a couple of pictures. He drove up in a ten year jalopy that was some kind of wreck. When I asked him about it, he told me he had a 450 motor in it that could out outrun any KKK car in the South. He also had a foot long telescopic lens so he didn’t have to get any closer to a riot than he had to. Smart guy. He then confided to me that the reporters “were going to keep hitting the South over the head until we could go where ever we want to and not be afraid.”

Personally, if I were a presidential candidate in these debates, I wouldn’t do a lot of sneering at the press. These guys are hard losers. The women, too. 

Do you ever wonder what Paul would have to say when reading such a blog? Considering the predictable difficulties he had in getting those church newsletters out from prison I suspect he would just laugh and say, “The more things change the more they remain the same.”

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