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THE MEDIA-RIGHTWING POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GAMBIT RENEWED: HOROWITZ AND REPARATIONS


institutes servicing their manpower and technology needs.

With the Horowitz case we are

back to this super-selectivity: it is an ad that challenges a position

supportive of black people by some of their spokespersons, and it is a refusal

to publish this ad that the media latch on to. The ad is offered by a rightwing

creep who is funded by the same wealthy reactionaries, foundations, and

corporations who have underwritten Dinesh D’Souza, Lynne Cheney, Christina Hoff

Sommers, and the Thernstroms. Just as these individuals have great access to the

media, so now does Horowitz, in contrast with his earlier years of non-access

and invisibility when he was not so funded and offered less welcome views.

A case similar to that of

Horowitz occurred back in 1991- 1992, when Holocaust denier Bradley Smith

offered an ad to many college newspapers in order to "stimulate discussion" on

the claims of a holocaust. His ad was widely rejected by college newspapers, but

the case never made the front page of the New York Times, and the Times not only

gave Smith modest attention, it made it very clear that "it is not a first

amendment issue" (ed., Jan. 15, 1992). In the Times and elsewhere in the

mainstream media Bradley Smith’s historical errors and insults to the heirs of

the victims completely overpowered any thought that editors rejecting the ad

were suffering from the "political correctness" sickness. This was an ad that

could be rejected on some higher principle, perhaps related to the political

muscle of those who would be upset by it.

The March-April 2001 issue of

Utne Reader has an article by Karen Olson entitled "Palestine Exhibition

Denied," describing the problems faced by Dan Walsh in trying to get exhibitions

of his large collection of Palestinian solidarity posters. Walsh has found that

on rare occasions such posters can be exhibited, if "balanced" by an exhibit of

Israeli posters, but they are never considered for exhibit on their own in this

country. But this constraint on free expression has been discussed only in the

Utne Reader, as the same forces that preclude such an exhibit also rule out the

media’s considering this a free speech issue.

Similarly, when an

America-Jewish journalist with the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle was fired in

January 2001, immediately after publishing "Quest for Justice," an article by

Judith Stone critical of Israeli policy, this fact flowed through e-mail

networks but was not a free speech issue in the mainstream media. Neither is the

incessant pressure that the pro-Israel lobby and activists exert on the media,

that make the press in Israel itself notably more open and critical of Israeli

policy than the U.S. media. Neither was the firing of Michael Lopez-Calderon

from his job as an elementary school teacher at the Rabbi Alexander S. Gross

Hebrew School in Miami Beach, Florida in February 2001, which resulted from

outside complaints about his writings critical of Israel, despite the absence of

any claim of less than satisfactory teaching performance.

The idea of ad rejection on

political grounds being a newsworthy "free speech" matter is actually comical.

Papers and TV stations regularly and systematically reject ads they find

objectionable, often because they would offend advertisers, but also because

they object to the content of messages from peace groups, labor unions, and

others. Adbusters has been trying for years to get its "Advocacy Uncommercials"

on the TV networks, but without success. When the New York Times ran three major

advertorials in 1993 lauding the North American Free Trade Agreement, it refused

to accept critical ads that would disturb the hugely political message. A full

account of such politically- tainted or advertiser-protective ad rejections

would run to thousands of pages.

Consider also a major

violation of freedom of expression such as the exclusion of Ralph Nader from the

national political debate during the last presidential election. This was

immensely important, with national political significance, but the New York

Times found it perfectly OK on the ground that the differences between Bush and

Gore were substantial, and adequate, in the opinion of the editors (editorial, "Mr.Nader’s

Misguided Candidacy," June 30, 2000)! This big time free speech violation was

also perfectly acceptable to the rest of the mainstream media, so that all their

musings and reflections on Horowitz’s gambit stand exposed as hypocritical

horseshit.

At a deeper level, reflection

on the virtually complete exclusion of Noam Chomsky, the late Herb Schiller,

Walden Bello, Stephen Steinberg (author of Turning Back), and Samuel Epstein

(author of The Politics of Cancer), among many others, from debates on public

policy issues, and the media’s sourcing and accommodation to corporate and state

interests and policy on many key issues, suggests that the problem of "freedom

of speech" in this country is structural and deeply rooted. This is why a

"propaganda model" can explain why the Horowitz gambit becomes a "free

expression" issue, but not the exclusion of Ralph Nader from the presidential

debates.

 

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