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February 7, 2011                    Vol. 1:2    



Where do you get your news information? If you're like most people today, it comes from a variety of sources. In fact, a Pew Report released March 2010 found 92% of Americans get their news from multiple platforms. And, when it comes to our sources for news, the Internet is now the third most popular, behind national and local televised news programming, and ahead of print media and radio. (Read the Full Report)


Not only are you likely to get your news from a variety of sources; but, you are probably growing increasingly skeptical of what you are being provided. Much of what is sold as news today appears to be more about editorializing and swaying opinions than simply giving the facts.


So, do we just give up on the news media? Of course not; however, we need to recognize it for what is. Perhaps, now more than ever before, we must become more interactive in our approach to understanding the news - we must consider not only the information but the source, as well.


In our feature article, Capstand Executive Director, Linwood Bragan, considers the relationship of the news media with those it seeks to "inform". Hopefully, it will give you something to think about. Whether you agree or not, we would like to hear your thoughts on this and other topics we address.


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With Best Regards,

Bob Signature

Bob Waldrep


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Verify - Then Trust!!

By Linwood Bragan

Linwood Bragan 

Leading in the polls in his race for mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel, while presidential Chief of Staff once infamously stated, "never let a crisis go to waste." After the recent murders of Judge Roll, Christina-Taylor Green, a congressional aide and three elderly Arizonans along with shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, some might say, the Mainstream Media has modified that quote to, "never let a tragedy go to waste!"


It seems the Mainstream Media has made a schizophrenic call: when in the aftermath of this tragedy they libel and slander Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party Patriot movements, and other conservatives, while demanding that they, in turn, must remain civil or utterly silent in their own response. As is often the case, on both sides of the political spectrum, "Civility" demanded by those who show none is being wielded as verbal gunpowder against the backward "natives" in a clash of civilizations.


Cortez and hundreds of conquistadors conquered tens of thousands of Aztecs and destroyed their civilization by employing technologically superior weapons to their strategic advantage. Today's media - both left and right - seek to employee television, radio, Internet, Facebook, Twitter, newspapers, and magazines to attack their own political enemies.


The media acknowledged there is no evidence to link their enemies to the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. Yet, even as surgeries were being performed to save the lives of Congresswoman Giffords and other victims, some in the media speculated (in actuality) slandered Tea Party Patriots and conservative talk radio. They searched their archives and quickly came up with interviews of Congresswoman Giffords discussing the political technique employed by Sarah Palin of placing a "target" on her district.


Armed with this tidbit of information the perfect media storm began to blow at gale force. Here was their evidence, incontrovertible truth, and proof that Sarah Palin was the dangerous figure they all feared.


Of course, a strange thing happened on the way to the witch burning - more evidence of targeting districts became known - "Darn it!" Before Palin did it, the Democrat Leadership Council did the same thing. Well that certainly didn't stoke the bigotry the Mainstream Media wished to inflame. What to do? The obvious answer, once again, ignore the evidence.


When the murderer's best friend came forward, and told the world he didn't listen to talk radio, he didn't like politics, he was not in the Tea Party Patriots, the media response was, again - ignore the evidence, repeat the lie. When the murderer's ex-girlfriend said that he was a pot smoking, Communist manifesto reading, conspiracy theorist that believed the government was trying to control us through grammar, media reaction - ignore the evidence, continue the big lie!


Having savaged Palin, Limbaugh and the Tea Party Patriots through the weekend, when the targets of their media bile responded, what was the media's response? Initially, they stuck to their strategy and ignored the evidence. When forced to abandon that position because of overwhelming evidence of their own hypocrisy, they then ran into a second line of entrenched defenses - the demand for "civility".


This new-found "civility", seems simply a coward's way of demanding they not be hit back for verbally lashing out at someone first. Mildly disingenuous is this call for civility that came so late. Those who would label dissent under the current administration as being divisive, labeled it as patriotic, in fact, a duty during the Bush presidency.


During the Bush presidency, the lack of "civility" now called for was often missing as those on the left presented: 

  • Bush as a Nazi;
  • signs proclaiming "Bush lied, people died";
  • Bush and Cheney burned in effigy; American flags being burned;
  • a Hollywood movie about President Bush being assassinated;
  • Bush was ignorant, illiterate, ill-informed an idiot;
  • alternatively, Bush was brilliant and deliberately planned 9/11 to murder 3000 Americans;
  • Bush, Cheney, and Palin all lynched on Halloween.

  All the while this was hailed as political speech, appropriate political theater, mindful dissent, satirical comedy or simply something to be ignored. The hypocrisy is breathtaking!


But it is not just the left that has engaged in such. Backing up from this newfound strain of "derangement syndrome", the Palin strain was preceded not only by the Bush strain, but yes there was a conservative variety out there. We can't overlook Clinton derangement syndrome.


Yes, this virulent variety ran far beyond the facts of Bill Clinton's own personal history. While campaigning against his first presidential run, I had no problem pointing out the irrefutable evidence that Clinton had lied, admitted to smoking marijuana and committed adultery; however, I did not fall prey to the more hyperbolic charges being made, such as his conspiring in the deaths of dozens of Arkansans. Unfortunately, some on the right bought into the claims made in a "documentary", The Clinton Chronicles, enumerating the many conspiracy theories of dozens of deaths all of which supposedly inured to the benefit of Bill Clinton.


The problem with conspiracies, as with all "shared" secrets, is more than one person knows about it. And when it comes to criminal behavior, especially repeated behavior, and public crimes of this kind of notoriety, somebody's big mouth is going to brag and tell about it.


Think about it. If a small band of White House staffers cannot covertly break-in to the oppositions offices at the Watergate without it becoming front page news; or, if the CIA can't covertly haul a terrorist picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan, fly them on a plane that doesn't officially exist to a prison that no one knows about and interrogate them there without reading about it in the New York Times; then how in the world are dozens of people to be shot down on the public streets of Arkansas and Washington D.C. without someone connected to the dirty deed blabbing about it?


No, I'm not Bill's biggest fan, but he didn't pull the trigger on Vince Foster or anybody in Arkansas. The Clinton Chronicles were embarrassing to conservatives and they ought to have been.


The problems of libel, slander, vicious backbiting and gossip are numerous. They're rightly called sin, for that is what they are. They're right there in the "Big Ten" handed down at Sinai (no I'm not talking about Midwestern football, but the Ten Commandments). As with all false witnessing it promotes injustice and false judgment. The greatest casualty is the Truth.


Almost everyone knows the witness' oath: "Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?"


That oath is designed for three purposes: 

  1. "That you will tell the truth" - that you will not tell or commit a lie.
  2. "The whole truth" - that you will not omit some of the truth, thereby, allowing a lie to be believed.
  3. "And nothing but the truth" - that when your testimony is fully heard a reliable record of the truth of what you witnessed and a truthful impression of it will be left with the jury, so that they can rightly do their job in rendering a proper verdict.

That's why perjury and false statements in court or to government investigators are such damning things. It cost Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby his freedom and law license. It cost Bill Clinton an impeachment and disbarment.


Lies destroy reliability! Crucial to the survival of our Republic is a free flow of reliable and truthful information regarding our government, governing officials, and their policies. Citizens denied reliable information cannot accurately vote for or against candidates for office, support or oppose public policies or political stands. Their ability to discern the events and affairs is degraded by the deliberate distortion of the truthful record of events.


I personally have no problem with members of the Mainstream Media choosing sides politically, philosophically, socially, morally, religiously, economically, or even emotionally. But what I do object to is the deceit in covering up an agenda they are pushing.


Yes, I'm not happy when they push an agenda which opposes my own; there I stated the obvious. But my unhappiness doesn't poison the body politic. However, their lack of integrity, when denying their own subjective perspective, or worse yet, lying about their supposedly objective reporting will prove damaging to our political system and possibly ruinous to this Republic.


Seeing as how it is unlikely for some outside influence to suddenly make the Mainstream Media report dispassionately, objectively and accurately it falls to us to seek out these three characteristics.

  1. Develop a healthy dose of skepticism - it will do no harm.
  2. Guard against cynicism - an intellectual cancer, and
  3. Seek out reliable sources of information - don't forget to check up on them, too.

The Holy Bible tells us in various passages to be shrewd as serpents and gentle as lambs, to be discerning of men and spirits, to examine the Scriptures, to rightly divide the Word, and to be able to give a reason for the hope that springs within us. For those of you spiritually inclined, the principles drawn from the passages referenced will hopefully inspire you to further examination of the information that you receive, as well as, its various sources.


For those seeking a secular reference point for instruction, I direct you to someone who had to combat this problem every day in his professional and personal life - Ronald Reagan. Irrespective of whether you like him or not he offered some sage advice on dealing with those with whom you are suspicious.


Reagan was famous for a saying he applied to his political and national enemies, the Soviet Union and their supporters, in the US and worldwide.  In all dealings with the communists President Reagan made it his policy to, "trust but verify". 


"Verifying - then trust!" This should be the slogan, the new watchword, for today's discerning students of public affairs when dealing with the sources of information that assails them. This is true whether you lean to the left or the right, or are dead-on center; and, whether the source is the professional or elite media or it's the homespun Internet variety. Truth is just that important!




Linwood Bragan serves as the Executive Director of CapStand.

He is an Attorney, Counselor & Consultant based in Alexandria Virginia. Mr Bragan has an extensive background in political activism having served on numerous political camnpaigns and, most recently serving on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Counsel and Legislative Assistant. He was also an Assistant Attorney General - Associate Counsel for the Alabama State Banking Department. He has lectured in 20 states on political activism, finance, organization and elections.


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