Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When checks and balances (and audiovisuals) fail...

Last night, we filled the Rabb lecture hall at the Boston Public Library with more than 300 people who came for When Checks and Balances Fail: The Media and Civil Liberties in the 2008 Election.

But checks and balances weren't the only thing that failed -- the audiovisuals did too.  Host Barry Nolan planned to show several video clips that highlight both the problems with media coverage of civil liberties and the threats that journalists have come under for trying to do their jobs -- but the audio wasn't working.  So here they are now:

Why does it take a comedian to let the air out of the supposed controversy over Barack Obama not wearing a flag lapel pin -- and did it really deserve so much media attention in the first place? Discussion starts at 2:10 in the clip above.

Dan Abrams of TPMtv -- a project of the blog Talking Points Memo -- helps to shine some light on the absurdity of "lapel-gate" as well.

Similarly, The Daily Show, on Comedy Central, provided some of the best coverage of the summer's Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which said that Guantánamo detainees must be allowed to contest their imprisonment before a judge -- and the absurdity of some mainstream media coverage of the issue.

Meanwhile, reporters themselves have come under attack for doing their jobs, including at the recent Democratic and Republican conventions:

This video shows Amy Goodman of Democracy Now being arrested at the Republican National Convention.

Then there's an article about the arrest of AP photographer Matt Rourke, including the last photo in Rourke's camera before he himself was taken away.

ABC News also has this story about the arrest of Asa Eslocker, one of its producers who was arrested during the Democratic National Convention.

And finally, even Fox News reporters found themselves in trouble during the Republican National Convention.

As panelist Ellen Hume, of the MIT Center for Future Civic Media said, "The fight for civil liberties and the fight for journalism are really the same fight."

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