Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blatant Abuse of Journalistic Power

For years the mainstream media outlets were primarily ABC, NBC, and CBS. Then the advent of twenty four hour news coverage came by the likes of CNN a creation of Ted Turner. Multiple twenty four hour news networks now exist which include FOX, MSNBC, FOX BUSINESS NEWS, and others. During the rise of conservative talk radio, the medium gave rise to conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, Mark Levin, to name a few. The mainstream media cried foul because the influence of these conservative hosts began to significantly affect the outcome of elections. Now there is a rise of Libertarian talk show hosts on both radio and on television. Fox Business News showcases Judge Andrew Napolitano on “Freedom Watch” and John Stossel on “Stossel”. Though Fox gives these individuals a platform, it may be argued that Ron Paul and his libertarian leanings largely inspired this awakening of the American public regarding libertarian views of government. Proof of the popularity is exemplified in the fact that for two years in a row with 30 percent of the vote Ron Paul has won the CPAC straw poll followed by Mitt Romney trailing 7 points behind him this year.

The television network which has built its reputation on being “fair and balanced” has proven itself to be nothing of the kind. Fox News Network , a tentacle of News Corporation, Inc. owned by Rupert Murdoch, committed the unpardonable sin to those who love freedom and liberty beginning in 2008. Ron Paul was excluded from the Fox debates, minimized, and demonized by their pundits with right wing political philosophies. History is repeating itself. On February 15, 2011 Fox News aired a segment, reporting on the results of the CPAC 2011 straw poll. The video used to accent the report was, in fact, from the CPAC straw poll in 2010, when there was a larger group of Mitt Romney supporters. The booing in the audio was quite overwhelming. Unfortunately this exposes Fox to be no better of a journalistic source than CNN, MSNBC, and others who deliberately distort and spin newsworthy information. When other videos posted on YouTube are viewed, the booing is not anywhere near as prominent as in the video used by Fox News. They even refused to use CSPAN’s footage which also had omni-directional microphones and clearly reveals that the boos were not anywhere nearly as prominent in the audio as in the Fox News piece. The news network is now clearly proven to be nothing more than one more arm of the government propaganda machine.

Fox today issued a correction to their news piece and an apology to Ron Paul for their “mistake”. Many journalists realize that it is nearly impossible to mix up video footage which aired one year earlier with current footage, which is readily available at multiple locations on the web. The program feature clearly attempted to downplay the influence which Ron Paul has made in the minds of many Americans, especially among the youth. When viewing the footage from CPAC 2011 Live’s website, the cheers and standing ovation by a majority of the crowd contradict the footage used by Fox News. This shows a deliberate attempt to cast Ron Paul’s victory in the straw poll in a negative light. This example shows how Fox, along with other news networks, are deliberately attempting to shape the news and popular political opinion. Shame on Fox and every other network that deliberately lies to their audience! In short, this event highlights the need for Americans to get their news from multiple sources and become free thinkers, not accepting anything they hear on a main stream media station or web site. In many respects, one must go to alternative media sites in order to get the “real” story or at least the facts which are omitted from the main stream media’s coverage. The outcry, in great part, forced Fox News to retract and correct their program piece. This retraction shows signs that true Constitutional Conservatives are growing in number and influence. Perhaps hope still remains that this Constitutional Republic may be saved.

Shays' Rebellion

A historical event transpired in the year 1786 which eludes the memories of many Americans. The History Channel aired a one hour documentary entitled Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America: Shays' RebellionAmerica's First Civil War” in 2006. This historical marker could arguably be the single most important event in all of American legal history. The event was dubbed “Shays’ Rebellion” due to the fact that one of the key figures involved was Daniel Shays, a former captain during the Revolutionary War (Richards, 2002). The ramifications of this rebellion located in the western counties of Massachusetts would reverberate throughout American history.

The Rebellion exemplifies the fact that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate to provide a national government under which all Americans would unite. Under the Articles of Confederation the federal government was nearly powerless. The founding fathers so hated the monarchical rule of England that they formed a government whose limitations prevented it from functioning properly. In legal history the Articles of Confederation were the first official legal documents governing this newly formed nation. The extreme limitations the articles placed on the federal government reveal themselves in this example from Article IX: “The united States in congress assembled shall never engage in a war, nor grant letters of marque or reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the defense and welfare of the United States . . . unless nine States assent to the same”.

The second reason why Shays’ Rebellion remains significant to American legal history is exemplified by the fact that “habeas corpus” was suspended for the very first time ever (Minot, 1786). In order to quell the uprising among those farmers, the governor of the State, seeking help from the Federal government, suspended habeas corpus and arrested the rebels, two of which, “John Bly and Charles Rose” were executed (Phillips, 2007, p.17ff). During this time peace officers were given broad, sweeping powers to capture and arrest the individuals causing the social upheaval (Minot, 1786). The rebels prevented many debtor courts from opening and holding trials due to the fact that many of those trials would be judgments against them for taxes and monies owed to lenders in which the “courts ordered their land taken in payment” (Peet, 1996, p.21ff).

Lastly, Daniel Shays and his rag-tag band affected legal history because their insurrection was the lynchpin which influenced the already planned Philadelphia Convention three months later, which would eventually produce the United States Constitution. Szatmary (1980) observes George Washington’s thoughts regarding the rebellion’s influence on the meeting in Philadelphia, saying “the revolutionary war hero attributed his own presence at the Constitutional Convention in May to the Massachusetts troubles”. The single most important legal document in American history birthed from the actions of individuals who refused to be taxed unfairly, despised the wasteful spending and debt of the government, and refused to have their natural rights denied.

In conclusion, little doubt exists pertaining to the significance of Shays’ rebellion and its effect on the minds of the framers of the Constitution. Clearly one must view this historical event with reverence, because it solidified the founders resolve to produce a document which would not only protect its citizen’s natural rights, but bring about a form of government which could hold the nation together and function with broader, yet limited powers. The result being every public official from the President of the United States to the city Mayor must take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” (Armed Forces Oath of Office). If there be any who doubt the significance of this rebellion, remember that the Constitution remains to this day the supreme law of the land.

by William Tolp


Armed Forces Oath of Enlistment. (2010).

Articles of Confederation. (1777).

Cutler, R. (Producer). (2006). Shays’ Rebellion---America’s First Civil War [Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America]. South Burlington, VT: The History Channel

Minot, G.R. (1786). History of the Insurrection in Massachusetts.

Mary, E. (2000, June). Shays’ Rebellion and the Constitution in American History. School Library Journal. 167.

Peet, R. (1996). A Sign Taken for History: Daniel Shays’ Memorial n Petersham, Massachusetts. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 21-43.

Phillips, C. (2007, Feb). A Day to Remember. American History. 17-18.

Richards, L. (2002). Shays’ Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Szatmary, D. (1980). Shays’ Rebellion: The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection. University of Massachusetts Press.