The 2004 Election and Censored News

by Peter Phillips, and Kate Sims

Election 2004 is a serious test of democracy in the US. Perhaps no other time since the 1930s have we been so dangerously close to institutionalized totalitarianism. No-fly lists, prison torture, domestic spying, mega-homeland security agencies, suspension of habeas corpus, global unilateralism, and military adventurism interlocked with corporate profit taking are all spurred on by a media-induced citizen paranoia.

Corporate media is in the entertainment business and fails to cover important news stories voters need to make election decisions. We need information about our country's leaders. These are the people making decisions that impact all of our lives. We need to know who our leaders are and what they are doing. What are their backgrounds, their motivations? What policies and laws are they enacting? What actions are they undertaking, with or against our consent? We don't need to like them, but we do need to know about them. A participatory democracy needs people to be aware of issues. We need active engaged voters. Unfortunately close to 50% of us will not vote in the upcoming election.

Project Censored at Sonoma State University in California has just released their annual list of the most important news stories not covered by the corporate media in the United States. http://www.projectcensored.org

Might citizens be more interested in voting if they know that wealth inequality was rapidly increasing in the US, and that the top 5% of the people have gotten richer and the rest of us poorer in the past five years? Which presidential candidate would be most helpful in reversing this trend? Most of us won't know if the corporate media doesn't tell us the story.

Might the 50 million voters who will cast their ballot on an electronic voting machine be concerned that the major investors in the voting machine companies are some of the top defense contractors in the US and that the firm that developed the security software for electronic voting is made up of former CIA and NSA directors?

Would many Americans be concerned that a conservative right-wing organization has replaced the American Bar Association as the main vetting group for federal judge appointments? Or would there be concern for our returning military vets if it was widely known that many are permanently contaminated with high levels of radioactive depleted uranium (DU) and non-depleted uranium (NDU). (NDU is actually more radioactive than DU)? Might this concern increase among young people of they knew the extent of government plans to reinstate the military draft in the US?

How much would we trust the corporate TV news if we knew that many major corporate broadcast groups filed legal briefs defending Fox TV's position in a case against whistleblowers that it is not against the law to lie to the American public on TV?

There is strong evidence for the veracity of each of the news stories these questions address. If the American people knew the truth they would undoubtedly want to vote for representatives who would seek to make positive changes. Yet these stories remain uncovered by the corporate media and the American public remains uninformed.

The only way to not live in a completely totalitarian society is to participate in the one you have. The foundation of democratic society is an informed and aware electorate. A free society is like a good set of teeth. Ignore it and it will go away. If you want shiny, healthy teeth, take care of them. If you want a shiny, healthy democracy - pay attention!

Peter Phillips is a professor of sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored. Kate Sims is research coordinator for Project Censored. Censored 2005 is now available in bookstores nationwide.

Peter Phillips Ph.D.
Sociology Department/Project Censored
Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Ave.
Rohnert Park, CA 94928


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September 2004

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