First Amendment And Second: Aljazeera Reminds Us How A Free Press Helps

Back when Al Gore sold his failing cable network to Aljazeera, there were many delicious jokes about how the propagandist for the green fraudsters was making a killing off by getting money from the heart of the fossil fuel empire.

There were also conservatives who make the presence of the Arab-Sunni-related network a matter of national security.  Cliff Kincaid, for example:

“At a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about gun violence and the murder of innocents, Al- Jazeera wants access to tens of millions of American homes to promote its own brand of anti-American violence and terrorism. For the sake of our loved ones, we have to say no.”

OK, I admit I would have been happier if Glenn Beck could have snagged the network. But I still think Kincaid went over the top. For one thing, I doubt that any Aljazeera’s connections to terrorism are greater than our own government’s, or even the case that could be made against many other corporations. Singling out Aljazeera seems like propaganda for other questionable people, to make us assume they are safe.

I don’t like Aljazeera’s Sunni associations and assume they will taint their news. But they posted this piece attacking the proposed US attack on Syria, despite that fact that the Sunni governments in the Middle East want the US to attack Syria. More significantly, they posted a story on Sunday, “For Some Blacks, Gun Control Raises Echoes Of Segregated Past.”

“Eight years ago, Rick Ector had just pulled into his driveway in Detroit after work when two men approached him. They asked for money and pulled out a gun. He handed over his cash, and they left. Though he reported the incident, to his knowledge, the two men haven’t been caught. ‘If I survive this incident, I will no longer depend on the police, who have a legal obligation to protect me,’ Ector recalls thinking. ‘I had to do what I needed to do to protect myself.’ Ector had never before owned a gun.  After the incident, he not only legally armed himself; he became a certified firearms instructor and a National Rifle Training counselor; he now runs the Rick’s Firearm Academy in Detroit.”

The story was an excellent and much needed piece of journalism that probably reached places the NRA couldn’t normally gain a hearing. It would have been a shame if it had never happened.

I’m not claiming that Aljazeera’s existence is justified by this one story, or that even half their stories are untainted by their connections and bias. That’s not the point. The point is that the best hope for conservatives to be able to get at the truth is for there to be as many different media news businesses as are able to survive in this economy.

No media company can afford to put out news that no one is receiving. No media company can afford to not try to expand its audience. Even two liberal networks competing with each other have an incentive to try to run a story when they can that will, if possible, catch the attention of conservatives.

Conservatives should, thus, denounce incorrect biases but still welcome every new news source that starts. In that multiplicity of competing voices, valuable information is more likely to leak out. The only other strategy would be to hope to create one and only one news source that always presents the truth. And that is both economically non-viable and potentially much more dangerous.

Everyone is biased. That is a given. But the more biased news agencies that compete, then the more likely the truth slips out.