Daily Archives: May 5, 2009

The Rule of Law and the Press

It’s hard to fathom that the consensus amongst the punditry is against prosecutions for torture. They give all their reasons, but the essential proposition is to let war criminals go free. Not prosecuting means ignoring our laws and treaty obligations. How can we have the media openly calling for flouting the rule of law?

Maybe this is the logical endpoint of cable news and its ilk. When the world is viewed through a political prism, the law disappears. The only thing that matters is who wins and who loses in the partisan game. I don’t know. It is upsetting, no matter the cause.

Let the newspapers die. Yes, they did have some role in helping uncover some of these crimes. But perhaps the overall harm they have done to the republic, at this point in time, is greater. They were terrible in the lead-up to the Iraq War. The current op-eds are full of pundits allying themselves with war criminals.

I am reminded of Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Specifically, when he encourages the reporters to “write that novel you got kicking around in your head — you know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know — fiction.”

The press portrays themselves as essential to the function of democracy. But the story of them being a check on governmental excess — hasn’t that become a fiction? Even when the government engages in heinous war crimes, they want to pardon them.