Guest Writings by Prof. Jake Highton
Jake Highton: John Roberts, Jimmy Crow and the Ku Klux Court
media: consistently and corporately conservative
won after all
Highton will teach one class in Fall 2011
sports players need their unions
via Laborcide in Carolina
will never die
Jake Highton American workers had little to celebrate on
Labor Day 2010
media reputation is left unstained
From the 12-9-2007 Daily Sparks Tribune
Reproduced by permission.
Copyright © 2007 Jake Highton
The Death of the Fourth Estate is a gross exaggeration. The New York Times will probably be published in print centuries from now despite the suggestion by its publisher that the paper might not be printing in five years.
Be that as it may, anyone who still has a starry-eyed view of the media should read this book. Indeed, the title ought to be: No Media Reputation Left Unstained.
Bob Woodward, Katharine Graham, Judy Miller and many other media stars are indicted. The sainted Times itself is justly lambasted.
Items for the Journalistic Hall of Shame:
The Times in 2005 delayed a story for a year before disclosing that the Bush administration had sanctioned a program of secret, illegal spying on U.S. citizens by the National Security Agency. And, it did so at the request of the White House. That is hardly an adversarial press in the Land of the First Amendment. In that story the Times waited until the 25th paragraph to mention that Vice President Cheney had briefed Congressional leaders on the program. Only at the very end of the story in the 48th paragraph! did the Times admit that the program was an assault on the Constitution.
The Gary Webb episode was one of the greatest betrayals in U.S. journalism history. Webb, reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, wrote a Dark Alliance series in 1996 linking the CIA to drug trafficking. He was praised by his editor and given a bonus with a note: Remarkable series!
Then the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times attacked Webb and the series as one of the most venomous and factually inane assaults on a professional journalists competence. Webb correctly characterized the Contras of Nicaragua as the CIAs army. But no matter.
The editor, Jerry Ceppos, who has applied to become journalism dean at the University of Nevada, Reno, wrote a letter to the Post defending the series. It was never published. Finally, Ceppos caved in under relentless assault. He repudiated the series. He said he didnt want to get into a war with the newspaper Big Three.
When Ceppos retired in 2005, an article in the online Narcosphere, written by Luiz Gomez, characterized Ceppos as a Judas who had stabbed Webb in the back. Webb was exiled to the Cupertino, Calif., bureau. He resigned and eventually committed suicide.
The press had killed Webbs career. In effect, it killed him too. Subsequent admission by the CIA vindicated Webb.
Ceppos? He will probaby get the endowed chair at UNR and teach media ethics. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Ceppos was indeed named new head of the UNR j-school and will be Prof. Highton's new boss.]
Graham, publisher of the Post, showed courage to pursue the Watergate exposé. But she turned into a gutless wonder, later declaring that the press was overstepping its bounds in its investigative fervor.
Bob Woodward, the dogged reporter who pursued the huge Watergate story, became a flack. He churned out insider books, one particularly pleasing to President Bush.
Judy Miller, a New York Times reporter, may have done more than any other individual outside Bush to start the Iraq War. She was more loyal to big shot sources than to the truth. She became a cheerleader for the war, regurgitating press releases and supporting White House lies.
The collapse of the governments case against Wen Ho Lee in 2000 represented one of the greatest humiliations of a national newspaper in the history of journalism. The Times was guilty of the persecution of Lee, leading to his solitary confinement under the threat of execution, his denial of bail, his shackling, the loss of his job, his anguish and terror endured by the scientist and his family.
The book opens on a happier note with the parody of the Tedium Twins on MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour on PBS (now the The News Hour with Jim Lehrer).
The twins are Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer. Their telecast was narcotizing, carrying a tone of reverence.
They purported to bring on speakers from the Left but they were always lukewarm liberals. The media have little leftist broadcasts. The reason is simple: advertisers will not support progressive programs because they are poison at the box office.
Cockburn and St. Clair, publishers of the leftist newsletter CounterPunch, boast of their 3 million hits online daily.
But CounterPunch has no impact.
Page one of the New York Times? It has impact.
Ask Judy Miller and Wen Ho Lee.
income tax needed
From the 4-19-2007 Daily Sparks Tribune
Reproduced by permission.
Copyright © 2007 Jake Highton
The horse-and-buggy days vanished a century ago but Nevada still has a horse-and-buggy government. It needs to enter the 21st century. And that means it needs a state income tax.
The mere hint of raising taxes is political heresy. It is the ultimate third rail of American politics. But the truth is that Nevada, with an ever-growing population, can ill afford to nickel-and-dime its way in the face of greater and greater needs.
Once again we hear from the governor and the legislators in Carson City that the state has no money for programs, or, that programs must be underfunded in order to balance the budget.
K-12 schools are badly in need of funds for new buildings and repair of old ones. Metropolitan school districts are crying for more funding. Higher ed was told to slash its budget, threatening jobs of part-time instructors and loss of many class offerings.
State roads are crumbling. Potholes abound. Road improvements are needed in Las Vegas to ease traffic tieups and frustrating commutes. Highway funding is projected at $4 million short of need. A report just released notes that the state spends more for prisons than on education and health services.
A Nevada appeals court is essential with ever-increasing case loads for judges. Nevada needs annual sessions of the Legislature to replace outdated biennial sessions.
In the gubernatorial debates last fall, Jim Gibbons kept pointing to rival candidate Sen. Dina Titus while declaring: "Shell raise your taxes. I wont."
It is doubtful that Titus would have dared to raise taxes. But she should have. She should have boldly declared something like this: "Look, I dont like tax increases any more than you do. But the state needs more revenue and it needs a more reliable income.
Dependence on the state sales tax and hidden taxes for everything is inadequate in the 21st century. We can no longer continue doing what we did yesterday.
It might take decades for a gubernatorial candidate to be brave enough to state what has been obvious for a long time. But that day must inevitably come.
Case in point: Governor Gibbons says there is no money for a proposed full-day kindergarten. Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, instead of leading, follows. He agrees with the governor.
"Full-day kindergarten is a good-sounding project," Raggio says. "Unfortunately, it cant be funded this session or probably the next session (2009)." He further laments that such a plan would cost about $130 million, adding: "With all the other needs and the revenue shortfall, its not realistic."
Hit gambling and corporate welfare first
Daily Sparks Tribune 4-29-2007
An income tax would cure the problem. Everyone knows that education is the key to progress and advancement of the state and individuals.
The annual report Quality Counts 2007 (Education Week, 1-4-2007) is devastating. And embarrassing. It lists Nevada 44th among the states for student proficiency in math, reading and graduation rates. It ranks Nevada 43th for student chances of going from kindergarten through college. So many rankings list Nevada near the bottom in nearly all areas.
People rail about big government. But big government is necessary if Nevada is ever to come close to meeting modern needs. The problem is nationwide: people want services excellent schools and excellent roads but they dont want to pay for them. Another measure in the Legislature should be passed: a bill amending the state constitution to allow a lottery.
Some Republican lawmakers, opposing a lottery, pretend that those who play lotteries are people who can least afford it. We heard similar arguments four decades ago when most states would not allow gambling. Now most states have set aside moralistic qualms, permitting various forms of gambling because of the needed revenue.
The real reason Nevada does not permit lotteries is obvious. Casinos. They refuse to have any competition, even the humble purchase of lottery tickets. A lottery would generate something like $50 million annually for schools.
But casinos run this state. Ask political candidates who need money for their campaigns. Note too the statewide curb on smoking. Casinos are exempted.
As Steve Sebelius, editor of CityLife in Las Vegas, writes: "Nevadas golden rule: the casinos have the gold and they make the rules No matter how much big casinos pay in taxes, it doesnt give them the right to run the state in a way that only benefits big casinos. "
An income tax should be progressive: the more you earn the more you pay. Both a sales tax and flat tax are regressive, the poor paying as much as the rich.
Until it has a state income tax, Nevada will continue to be one of the most backward states in the nation.
Jake Highton is a longtime journalism professor at the University of Nevada-Reno. He is the author of Nevada Newspaper Days A History of Journalism in the Silver State. (Heritage West Books, 1990)
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
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