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Richard Dreyfuss Holds Media Accountable

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Civics Education Leads to Political Civility

Actor Richard Dreyfuss, 63, is applying his passion and his Oxford St. Andrew's college political education to a new act. This week, he is barnstorming Washington media outlets, including three episodes on Fox News I attended this week, an editorial board with Huffington Post and this column based on a green room interview.

Chris Wallace will name Richard Dreyfuss "power player of the week" in Washington this Sunday.

"We mistake politics for legislative debate," said Dreyfuss. "You can be passionate without being personal."

He called the collective media to task:"The press should have their own (standards) and is 'dumbing down' the news." He called on the Fourth Estate to fulfill their Constitutional obligations. "The rules are all wrong today. The mandate of the media really does pre-date the founding of the United States."

"Just How Stupid Are We?" is a book written by author and George Mason history professor Rick Shenkman, arguing a case about "the truth about the American voter." That truth is America's electorate is ill-educated on the basics of Civics. Note, Dreyfuss is on the Board of Vote iQ, a site dedicated to political education and raising debate with Hot Topics composed by Shenkman.

So this week Dreyfuss announced his The Dreyfuss Initiative to bring strong civics education to schools and to the populous. He collected opposing views from Common Cause, to Frank Luntz, and from Diane Ravitch to the Heritage Foundation. The call to action is an agreement on civics curricula that offer more analysis, less bias.

"Instead of what divides us, let's focus on what can keep us together?" Dreyfuss posits.

In the wake of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shooting and the Tucson tragedy, Americans are listening. Dreyfuss will traverse the country to ask for more substance: "we need context and we need the logical information," he said. "I am not alone in this (clarion) call."

"Let's give some substance to patriotism," Dreyfuss declared. "It may take a generation."

Newton Minnow, who turned 85 this week, once called the Media "a vast wasteland." Dreyfuss counters: "when will the media surrender" to their real role as interpreters of political change. And Edward R. Murrow predicted it, says Dreyfuss. Will journalists be heirs to their free press founders, like Ben Franklin, or change the nature of the game.

Mike Smith is a Member of the National Press club's newsmakers committee. Dreyfuss will speak and take questions there on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 10 a.m. for more information contact www.npc.org