Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Questions Journalists never ask

AUG. 4, 2008

Having recently returned from a national journalism conference, I was
reminded how most national mainstream journalists nowadays fail to ask
the most basic of questions of powerful corporate executives or
government officials. This is especially true in regards to issues of
war and peace, where many journalists and commentators seemingly
continue to act as government stenographers at best, and cheerleaders
at worst.

Since 911 of 2001, many journalists have begun to fear that being
watchdogs of freedom will brand them as disloyal and anti-American.
Here are some questions you will most likely not hear in the next few
months from mainstream journalists.

Questions for President Bush:

• If everything you warned about regarding Iraq was demonstrably
false, why should you – or anyone who has supported your policies – be
believed about anything regarding Iran or anything else for that

• If the United States is the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons
in wartime against civilian populations, where does this nation get
its moral authority on this issue?

• On Iraq, you defer to "the commanders on the ground" to make
decisions regarding war and peace. Under the U.S. Constitution, have
you not surrendered your role as Commander in Chief?

• Why have you deliberately equated "supporting the troops" with
supporting your war policies – a practice that has encouraged the
questioning the loyalty and patriotism of those that have questioned
your policies?

• Conventional wisdom holds that "the surge" has worked and has thus
vindicated you. How many Iraqis and American soldiers died during this
"surge" and has your idea of "progress" made the war legal?

Questions for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

• By taking impeachment hearings "off the table," did you not
unilaterally disarm Congress in your effort to end the Iraq War and to
hold the president accountable for starting an illegal, immoral and
unnecessary war?

• What has Congress done to ensure that the president cannot wage yet
another illegal war before his term is out?
Questions for John McCain:

• You voted to prohibit U.S. military personnel from utilizing torture
("enhanced interrogation techniques"), yet you sided with the
president to exempt the CIA from this prohibition. Doesn't this
loophole render the prohibition meaningless?

• In response to heat from your own party, you have backed away from
your own legislation calling for comprehensive immigration reform. You
now state that it will come only after the border is "secure." What is
the definition of "secure" and does it involve a timeline? Does your
change of position on the issue an example of "straight-shooting?"

• All your experience did not help you in making the decision to
support the president on illegally invading and occupying Iraq. You
now support an open-ended deployment in a volatile environment –
depending on conditions on the ground. How much are you prepared to
spend– in dollars and lives?

Questions for Barack Obama:

• One of your steadfast positions in the primaries was your opposition
to granting immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated
with the White House in spying on Americans without warrants. Why have
you now changed positions?

• The president and vice president have amassed unprecedented
executive power. Will you reverse this, including ceasing the practice
of signing statements that thwart the intent of Congress?

• You appear to believe that the Afghan War is a "just war." How long
are you prepared to stay there? How much money and how many lives are
you prepared to lose?

Questions for CNN's Lou Dobbs & Other anti-Immigrants:

• You are always quick to point out that you have nothing against
legal immigrants. However, on "the street," this disdain [and the
accompanying hate crimes] is focused on brown peoples. How do you and
the people you have stirred up, distinguish between "legal" and
"illegal" immigrants without resorting to racial profiling?

• Every evening, you tie the notion of broken borders and illegal
immigration to the future of this nation. Do you honestly believe that
your nightly obsession is contributing to a more perfect union?

Question for the mainstream media:

* You in fact do ask the tough questions – not of the strong and
powerful, but of those that question the strong and powerful. When can
we expect to see a return to the journalism that is preoccupied with
protecting freedoms as opposed to the bottom line?

Rodriguez can be reached at or Column of the
Americas, PO BOX 85476 - Tucson, AZ 85754

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