Op-Ed: If the media is watching Big Brother, who is watching them?

January 30, 2004
by Gerard Valentino

The recent debate over public records provisions in Ohio's concealed carry law
sent the media into full blown fits about infringing freedom of the press and
their self-proclaimed position as protectors of the common person from abuses
by Big Brother. Hearing them describe their defense of the commoner conjures up
images of valiant crusades headed by knights in shining armor - and reeks of
elitism and shameless self-righteousness.

It also requires we ask the question, if the media is watching big brother, who
is watching them? The sad, painful answer is that nobody protects us from the whim of
so-called journalists concerned more with pushing their own agenda instead of
reporting the news. The concealed carry debate is a glaring example of how
journalistic integrity takes a back seat to the leftist agenda of most

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Legal Professor Kent Markus, a proponent of gun control who helped write the
1994 assault weapons ban, has admitted publicly that studies exist to prove, and
disprove, the effectiveness of concealed carry laws. You would assume the
media portrayal of such laws would mirror the scholarly split on the issue.
After all, if economists, sociologists and statisticians can not agree, there
must be clear compelling evidence for both points of view. (To be fair, I
don't think there is compelling evidence that concealed carry laws increase
crime, but that's another article.)

But that's not what happened. Every major media outlet in Ohio spoke out against
allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. Funny how their in-
depth research did not produce a single pro-concealed carry article, regardless
of the mountain of pro-concealed carry evidence readily available. Even a
feeble effort, properly directed to fully research the issue, should have yielded
at least one.

Term limits is another area where the media fell victim to a case of
journalistic amnesia. Recently, Andrew Welsh-Huggins, of the Associated Press, released an op-ed disguised as a news story, in which he opined that term limits help the legislative process. The reporter conveniently left out any evidence to the contrary - including Senate President Doug White's admission that term-limited Senators are afraid to override Governor Taft because it hurts their chances at choice state level political appointments. The fact that Taft won every major battle with the
legislature during the current session was also noticeably absent from Andrew's

Regardless of whether a votes-for-jobs deal was struck between Governor Taft
and the Senators in question, the mere inference of such impropriety demands - based on their self-proclaimed position as our protectors - a thorough investigation, to determine if this is a case of government abuse.

Instead, editorial boards statewide chose to fight for their right to investigate law-abiding citizens that apply for concealed carry permits. Journalists across Ohio apparently care more for equating law-abiding citizens with sex offenders than holding public officials responsible for possible impropriety.

Such a shameful and morally bankrupt attempt by journalists to push their
agenda at the expense of all Ohioans casts serious doubts on how and why news
is reported. Watchdog groups at the national and state level make repeated unsuccessful attempts to
curtail the traditional media's hold on the means of shaping public opinion. This is not surprising, considering the media controls the means for mass distribution, and will not allow one of their own to become a victim of the

Constitutional rights granted by the First Amendment freedom of the press will
not allow the government to require a permit or licensing process to report the
news - an ironic twist considering the media's call for strict government
control over the Second Amendment right to bear arms. In fact, unlike the right to carry a concealed firearm, there is no test, standards, background check or defined
training required to become a journalist. Apparently, all it takes in many Ohio newspapers is a pad of paper, pen, typewriter or word processor, smugness and an elitist attitude.

Ultimately, the general public needs some assurance the vigilance and journalistic integrity of those that report the news is beyond reproach, but we all know the story about leaving the mouse in charge of the cheese - you're left with no mouse and no cheese. Leaving journalists to police themselves has proven to be just as effective. We're left with journalists that knowingly use faulty research (or worse, plagiarism), editorial boards concerned more with sensationalism than news, and journalists determined to keep their jobs and the status quo.

Based on today's journalistic standards, my guess is Woodward and Bernstein are
ashamed to call themselves reporters.

Gerard Valentino
OFCC Central Ohio Coordinator

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