Censorship is an insidious brutality. In this
challenging time in America’s history, you would think citizens
would want more debate, not less.
But after four years of planning, on Sept. 23 the Congressional Black
Caucus and Fox News will host a 2008 presidential debate in Detroit focused
on minority issues. Predictably, John Edwards was first to announce that
he wouldn’t participate in a debate aired on Fox News. Later, both
Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama announced they would join Edwards’
boycott. Obama’s spokesperson commented, “CNN seems to be
a more appropriate host.”
Of course, Rupert Murdoch has used the troika of “blood, sex and
patriotism” to build his media empire — an empire now poised
to acquire the Wall Street Journal, an expansion of concern to at least
some WSJ readers. But Murdoch’s gift to America has been huge. His
Fox News Channel finally broke the stranglehold of network television
news anchored by elite liberals.
Choice is good. Consumers don’t want CBS, CNN, or PBS off the air.
It’s just nice to have Fox News as well — and the ratings
Tell that to the Democrat presidential hopefuls. They believe fewer options
are better and that debate in a democracy should be controlled, no matter
who gets hurt. In this case, it was the Congressional Black Caucus, not
exactly a right-wing outfit.
BNW loosely plays a bit of a Fox News role in that each month we publish
ideas that run contrary to the establishment Oregon media. In this state
that means being pro-business and pro-job creation. When you take the
unorthodox, anti-establishment position, the ugly hand of censorship soon
creeps in, in its many not-so-disguised forms.
Emboldened by the results of the ’06 election, the Democrat takeover
of the legislature, and the re-election of Gov. Kulongoski, the left in
Oregon has become more aggressive in their intolerance of opposing viewpoints,
especially when those viewpoints are critical of elected leaders. What
should be the media’s job — challenging the powerful and the
status quo — is now considered bad form. Consensus is celebrated,
even in journalism where it was once anathema.
This year, we have heard from a number of people, including current and
potential advertisers, who have requested that back page columnist Lars
Larson be removed. A cursory review of Larson’s columns reveals
no particularly outrageous items, certainly no hanging offenses. But Larson
is the magazine’s most vocal “conservative,” and the
most out front in his opinions. Some see Larson’s swipes at the
status quo as grounds for firing; we see his disregard for blind consensus
as a healthy contribution to the free exchange of ideas. The only thing
to be gained by his removal is that the goal posts for discussion would
be moved closer to the prevailing orthodoxy that threatens this state.
Another recent example of this stifling attitude comes from Oregonian
columnist Steve Duin’s blog post on June 14, “Randall Pozdena
Goes Nuclear.” Duin blasts the Governor’s Council of Economic
Advisors’ June discussion in BNW on Oregon’s economy. Writes
Duin, “Given a soapbox, Randall Pozdena, managing director of ECONorthwest
and a former member of the Oregon Investment Council, promptly sets fire
BNW has received an unprecedented number of positive calls, emails and
comments on this report, most highly complimentary of the candor, freshness
and unvarnished truth behind the opinions that were shared. For many in
the Oregon business community the comments stood out positively, in particular,
because of their candor.
And yet here are a few of Pozdena’s quotes that the Oregonian’s
Duin finds incendiary:
• “We don’t have a welcome mat set out for business.”
• “There is basically no inventory of industrial land …
We turned a perfectly good rail yard into the Pearl District.”
• “We chased off the forest products industry. We have trampled
all over property rights.”
• “My model of Oregon politics is that it’s captive
to two forces: the public employees union and the teachers union.”
Not exactly barn-burning stuff, but if your consulting firm counts a
number of government clients, and still you’ve had the guts to tell
the truth about the state’s underlying economic conditions, you
just might find yourself on the fault line of Oregon politics. Not a very
comfortable place to be.
First Lars Larson, then the governor’s own economists. Who will
Shh … be quiet now.
Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would
not let our enemies have guns; why should we let them have ideas?
--- Joseph Stalin