Skyscrapers rise to incredible heights and stand in impressive glory thanks in large part to an unseen network of columns, beams, and trusses. The United States likewise defies gravity, ascending on an invisible framework — a masterfully engineered system of self-government founded on and held together by the beliefs expressed in our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. One of those beliefs is freedom of the press.

From the earliest days, the press was viewed as an essential part of the more perfect union. “Were it left to me to decide whether to have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” said Thomas Jefferson in 1787. Washington also held the press in high regard. “I entertain a high idea of the utility of periodical publications, magazines, and common gazettes. I consider such vehicles of knowledge more happily calculated than any other to preserve the liberty, stimulate the industry, and ameliorate the morals of a free and enlightened people.” Such cannot be said today.

Today’s press, instead of preserving liberty, is more happily calculated to preserve the ill-gotten gains of the liberal agenda. In case you haven’t noticed, the promoters of social reform are using the power of the courts to usurp the authority of the Government. What was once a balanced process — three governing branches working together to create policy reflecting the will of the people — has been tossed on its side. With nothing to stop them, activist judges are now rewriting the books, while like-minded members of the press pave the way. The next election could determine whether this loophole remains open, a fact not lost on the press and those exploiting the system to further their cause.

Another way today’s press differs from that of Washington’s time is in its treatment of industry. Instead of stimulating it, today’s press is more likely to be found squelching it. Washington would be surprised by the papers today. He would wonder why so much business coverage is negative. Knowing what’s at stake in the coming election provides some insight on this, if not the answer itself. The party of the press is at its best when industry is at its worst.

Possibly the greatest change in the press, then till now, however, is its departure from basic decency. Far from promoting higher morals, today’s media is forcing us to accept moral decline and the new censorship of political correctness. The PC movement is little more than a behavioral straightjacket for a valueless society, and the press has played a key role in creating both.

The prejudice of the press is now so blatant and widespread that it’s almost accepted as normal. Even the media is aware of it. In fact, one writer, New York Times reporter John Tierney, went so far as to make it a story. While attending a press party during the recent Democratic National Convention, Tierney asked 153 journalists who they thought would make the best President. Reporters and analysts working outside the Beltway favored the Democratic candidate by a factor of 3-to-1; among those working in D.C., the ratio was an astonishing 12-to- 1. This begs the question, “who does the press really represent?”

Looking for answers, I contacted the Society of Professional Journalists. This is what I found on its Web site: “The Society of Professional Journalists is dedicated to the perpetuation of a free press as the cornerstone of our nation and our liberty. To ensure that the concept of self-government outlined by the U.S. Constitution remains a reality into future centuries, the American people must be well informed in order to make decisions regarding their lives, and their local and national communities. It is the role of journalists to provide this information in an accurate, comprehensive, timely, and understandable manner.”

When I read this, I was at the same time encouraged and disheartened. Encouraged because, after all these years, someone still remembers how the press is supposed to function. Disheartened because I now realize the press isn’t even true to itself, let alone the responsibility to which it is called.

Larry Berardinis
lberardinis@penton.com