Tuesday, May 16, 2006


"FBI checking reporters' phone records"

According today's Christian Science Monitor, the FBI "acknowledged that it was seeking reporters' phone records to investigate leaks about secret prisons in Europe and warrantless wiretapping."

Up until today, I believed that the President's warrantless wiretapping activities would not work against them in the eyes of many average Americans. The response among my students, middle to upper middle class white Christian conservatives for the most part, reflect the I am not doing anything wrong, therefore I am not concerned about privacy; the President is keeping us safe by surveillance, so I don't mind.

There seems to be a belief among people I meet that the President and his men can be trusted to work for our security and are not violating rights.

This story today may tip the balance. Not that a large white middle class Christian minority will be overly bothered at first. Many seem to think having secret prisons in Europe to torture U.S. prisoners is necessary to our national security and telling on the government for doing this was wrong.

However, the freedom of the press to tell what the government is doing in an open democratic society is a basic right.

This may a turning point.

If the mainstream American press becomes convinced that this administration will violate all known standards to press its agenda to and prosecute members of the press, the administration may have to fight an uphill battle from the cub reporter to the evening anchor. It may be the Walter Cronkite moment.

I think this, and then I rethink. In the days that Cronkite turned against the war in Vietnam and the support of ordinary Americans turned away from the war, there was no Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. There was no powerful alternative to the networks or mainstream press.

It may be now that conservative talk radio has such a strong hold on the thinking of many Americans, a wholesale rejection of this administration--this regime--by the mainstream press would lack the ability to influence the supporters of the administration.

So, we will see. We will hear.

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