Journalist, Celebrities, and the First Amendment

I’m a regular listener to NPR, but really didn’t know much about anchor Bob Edwards beyond his nice delivery and occasional quips. But this editorial, adapted from a lecture he gave at the University of Kentucky, struck me as remarkable (if not a little meandering).

Media conglomeration, suppression of dissent, the failure of the media to fulfill its most basic role in a democracy… all the biggies. “The press didn’t wait until the intern scandal to ask tough questions of Bill Clinton, so why is the incumbent getting a pass?” he asks. “We cannot take a dive just because the country is at war. Indeed, our responsibility grows in times like these.”

It reminds me of why I studied journalism, and why I continue to persist in the fantasy that there’s still a journalist alive within me, just waiting to get out. It also reminds me of how endangered genuinely committed and idealistic journalists are today, and how frightening the future could be if things don’t change.

Also a good read, Roger Ebert talking about more than movies. He summarized my feelings on Michael Moore’s frothy Academy Awards speech, and touches on President Bush and his godmongering and celebrities who venture into politics.

Even I’ve rolled my eyes at some popstars and their manicured-fist waving against the war, dismissing them outright. But Ebert makes some good points, and a comment in this MeFi thread made me realize that there’s no reason why a celebrity’s view on politics should be any less valid than that of your average self-involved pundit-wannabe blogger geek.

I don’t feel so embarassed about enjoying Tim Robbins’ anti-war rant now.

For what it’s worth, much of what little respect I had left for Madonna as an artist evaporated when she decided at the last minute to pull her protest video. The old Madonna, the amazing Madonna, would have released it… then gone on Saturday Night Live and ripped up a picture of the Shrub.

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