Updated — EDITORIAL: Does the United States have a free press and a healthy democracy?

Does the United States have a free press and a healthy democracy?

Here’s the big news – expect to see it on CNN, ABC News, MSNBC, Fox and in banner headlines across all the major newspapers tomorrow – as well as hearing all about it as the hot topic on the campaign trails as Obama and McCain share their thoughts on the issue – or not…

71% of Americans polled oppose the United States taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Let’s phrase that another way: the overwhelming majority of Americans favor an even-handed approach to the Mideast conflict.

If Barak Obama and John McCain are more interested in the views of the American people than they are in pleasing AIPAC, then they will duly take note: they are currently both seriously out of line with the common sense of ordinary Americans.

If the press has any interest in speaking truth to power, then they will be drawing attention to the significant results of the new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of 18 countries that found that in 14 of them people mostly say their government should not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Journalists of conscience and responsible news organizations will give this issue the serious attention it deserves.

But if, in the coming days, you hear little to nothing about this poll — either on TV, in the press, or on the blogosphere — then it’s time to reflect on whether you’re living in a free society.

* * *

On the other hand, setting aside the idea that the Fourth Estate has a vital role to play in protecting our political freedom, there is a fascinating wrinkle to this poll’s findings on American public opinion: If most Americans think that the US should adopt an even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they sure as hell didn’t pick up that idea from watching TV!

So much for the idea that this uniformed citizenry is made up of empty vessels ready to be filled with whatever ideas Rupert Murdoch might wish them to hold.

Update: Wondering how wide the coverage on this poll finding has been? So far, not one US newspaper has bothered covering it.

Al-Arabiya noted:

Even Americans overwhelmingly said their government should not take sides.

In a finding that goes against the common assumption that Americans overwhelmingly support Israel, seven out of ten Americans said they thought their country should not take sides in the conflict.

In other words, the public in the Middle East just learnt — much to their surprise — that most Americans are not as rabidly pro-Israeli as Arabs have been led to assume we are. But apparently that’s something that’s of no interest to the US media.

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6 thoughts on “Updated — EDITORIAL: Does the United States have a free press and a healthy democracy?

  1. Carol Elkins

    Political positions, and media positions, are dominated by a tiny minority of fear mongers. In this case, the fear of Muslims, aka Palestinians.
    However, it is also true that the polled public, in large measure, IS terrified by Muslims. The polled public just hasn’t put two things together, i.e. giving Palestinians a break and appeasement of Muslims. The “American People” has disqualified itself as a viable source of opinion. “They” are ignorant and like it that way. That enables politicians and media moguls to do whatever they feel like doing.

  2. Carol Elkins

    Let me say what I think this way:
    If Americans were asked, “should we be fair to both sides?” They would say “yes”, because it feels good to think that we are fair.
    If they were asked: “Should we defend Israel against terrorists?” They would say “yes”, because it feels good to be against terrorism.
    Will they pick up the inner contradictions that lie beneath the question that they were actually asked? Highly unlikely.
    Do poll questions allow for nuanced response? Absolutely not.

  3. Henry Pelifian

    This is a great fundamental question that Mr. Woodward has posed and it ought never be taken for granted:

    Does the United States have a free press and healthy democracy?

    Our elected leaders seem to be out of touch with the American people on the Middle East. How many other major issues are they out of touch on or opposing the American people on? Does major legislation often benefit the American people or special interests? There seems to be no real debate on the issues. The great instrument of television, the public airwaves, is usually not used to air major issues, promote debate, provide information and facts for a healthy democracy to flourish on a daily basis.

    Most Americans get their “information” and “facts” from television, which unfortuately does a poor and inadquate job. In fact, it is not the responsiblity of television news and programming to provide the necessary information on which a healthy democracy can exist or sustain itself. The print media often does a far better job in providing the facts and information needed for the American public. Alas, the American people are usually living on a diet of junk news on television for information.

  4. alan stuart

    the basic truth was answered above in the way the questions were posed.

    a more troubleling fact that was NOT reported by either type of medium [press or tv] was the increase in support to isreal of $ 155 million snuck into the recently signed “emergency” war supplemental bill.

    i think this brings it close to three billion dollars a year. BILLION

    in comparison to what to Palestine?

    now why is a question like this posed to people?

    and why in the world do we keep sending them yet more and more new and sophisticated weapons with which to kill and maim?

    i’m sorry i just do not understand.

  5. Buush Mohamed

    If people are really misinformed, its the american people, i really pity them for they believe what ever they see in there partisan media, can they google every issue they doubt.

Comments are closed.