WEEK FIVE: CONTROLLED DISCUSSION QUESTION —- MEDIA IN AMERICAN POLITICAL CULTURE
Below is the assigned topic for this week’s assignment. Just below the assigned topic is an exemplary paper written by a former student during the Presidential election of 2016. That paper was written to lead off a class discussion on the role of media in American politics. Please note from reading the paper that although it used the Judith Miller case as an example in the debate about “abuse” by the media, it focused much more on related political matters in its discourse.
The approach to the assignment this week will be somewhat similar to last week’s yet different as well. You are asked to carefully research the Judith Miller case, the role the Grand Jury played in flushing out Miller’s sources and how she sought to protect them from revelation to the Federal Grand Jury. Then, you are also being asked to make a crucial judgment on whether or not her non-cooperation with the Grand Jury of evidence she had in her possession warranted the court to incarcerate her until she decided to cooperate.
Your written response to this assignment requires a critical, analytical, coherent and logical paper of no more than four short paragraphs with a total WORD COUNT of 250 WORDS ONLY that must capture the essence of the assignment. Works Cited are in addition to WORD COUNT.
The use of the MLA system applies to this assignment and so are instructions to avoid use of personal pronouns, contractions and citing encyclopedia as a source. The paper becomes due on FRIDAY 7. 2020 at 11:00 p.m. sharp. Please ensure that you carefully follow instructions. It is in your best interest to do so. Please post your paper below the one provided for your review.
In America, the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and by so doing gives mass media a very special role in shaping, informing, engendering and disseminating information without any prior restraint.
(A) Do you think the American press (radio, television, newspapers, etc.) tends to abuse this freedom?
(B) Did the media abuse its power in the case of the CIA Leak and the incarceration of Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter, for failing to provide a Federal grand Jury testimony in a criminal investigation?
(C) Does the media abuse its power in the ongoing current debates about politics in America?
Example of a Critical, Analytical response to Assigned topic.
Mass media is often referred to as the Fourth Estate (Branch) of government because of the power it wields and the oversight function it exercises that are rooted in the Constitution. Since the late 17th century, the media’s key role in democratic governance has been recognized and remains a fundamental principle of modern day democratic theory and practice. Does ‘freedom of the press’ means the news media can say or write anything it wants? The media shapes public opinion and is often influenced and manipulated by different interest groups.
The political power of the mass media arises from several of its vital functions: news making, interpretation, socialization, persuasion, agenda setting and framing (focusing on the essence of the issue at hand rather than a particular topic). Media can promote democracy by educating voters, protecting human rights, promoting tolerance among social groups and ensuring government transparency but it can play anti-democratic role by sowing fear, violence and division. The media is often used as a proxy in the battle between rival political groups, sowing divisiveness rather than consensus, suspicion rather than trust, hate speech instead of sober debate which often contributes to public cynicism and democracy decay.
Media has constraints in its role to play positive in new democracies by monopolistic ownership and stringent government controls. Unethical journalistic practices and the use of media organizations by various vested groups sometimes prejudice certain individuals or groups contribution to the media’s inability to fulfill their democratic function. The media is protected by the freedom of expression and the “Free Flow of Information Act” which allows a journalist to protect identity of a confidential source and this right is balanced against the public interest. Disclosure could be compelled to prevent a death or kidnapping or an act of terrorism. Media organizations have pressed for years for a qualified reporter’s privilege at the federal level but have been unsuccessful.
Judith Miller Former New York Times Reporter was jailed for refusing to testify against news sources in investigations about the leaks of the CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media. She was jailed for 85 days in the Lewis Scooter Libby (Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff) case for failing to disclose to the Federal Criminal Grand the sources of her stories . She testified before the grand jury after receiving what she calls a voluntary and “non-coerced” waiver from Libby. This is an example of a reporter preserving the time-honored principle not to reveal the identity of a confidential source.
In the current political discourse in the U.S., the media claims to be an impartial arbiter which appears to be ironical. The press appears to have become more sensational and opinionated. And during the recent presidential campaign, when debates were staged, the networks seem to have a different objective than the candidates. The networks want to make news and the candidates want to win supporters. Recently, in the CBNC debates, the process got out of control when the moderators tried to expose personal weaknesses and bait the candidates into attacking each other. The purpose appears to help the ratings and the tweets go up for that media source. Right wing media figures praised Donald Trump’s Sexist attack when he said of Hillary Clinton, “I think the only card she has is the woman’s card. If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote.” That statement is indeed a sad commentary on American women. It is sexist, bigoted and misogynistic.
http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/media/features/9226/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Judith Miller: A Reporter’s Journey Simon &Schuster, p381.web.
Jordan Fabian: political correspondent, “Trump turns fire on Obama” The Hill 1625 K Street, Washington DC 20006, April 30,(2016).web
Louise Schubert, Thomas R. Dye, Harmon Zeigler “Irony of Democracy” 2014 print
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