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Is Anybody There, Does Anybody Care, Does Anybody See What I See?

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Being the disorganized person that I am, first a digression and then on with the subject.

As I remember, in the Broadway musical 1776, a dispatch from George Washington is delivered to the Continental Congress by an exhausted courier. Following that John Adams sings a lament on a darkened stage:

Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

Going back to the 19th century, The San Francisco Chronicle Mission Statement has been: "We propose to publish a bold, bright, fearless and truly independent newspaper, independent in all things, neutral in nothing."

I was reminded of this yesterday by my friend, a journalist, Reese Schonfeld.

I remain naïve enough to think that the spectrum space used by radio and television broadcasters belongs to the public. I also believe that checks and balances in our system of governance include the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches, with a fourth left out of the equation, and that is the broadcast media.

High up in societies corruptions' during the last 30 or so years has been the complicity of the Congress, and the Executive branch (the FCC), to encourage media consolidation that emasculates the potential role of the fourth unofficial branch of government, the broadcast media.

If one could apply the San Francisco Chronicle litmus test to Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC, can all of them, (or even any one of them) claim that: (they "publish" a bold, bright, fearless, and truly independent broadcast service, independent of all things, neutral in nothing?) Do you think for one moment the administration is worried what the network news guys will say if they decide to send more troops into Iraq? I don't think so. Would it be better if they did? You bet it would.

It is now time for one more digression. About 25 years ago I was responsible for a program that my company produced with a television station group entitled "Eric Sevareid's Chronicle." It was my opinion that Sevareid was not being strong enough when doing his commentaries in the show. With the greatest of discomfort; I had lunch with Eric, and the shows producer Seymour Berns, who could not believe that I was going to discuss broadcast journalism with Eric.

Seymour left for a purported previous engagement, leaving me on my own. I suggested to Eric that this series had no network oversight, and he could and should say whatever he wanted to say about anything and everything. Eric replied that there was nothing different for him at CBS, and that he was only admonished 4 times by CBS for "crossing the line." He was not pleased when I suggested to him that there should not be a line, and that he could be as bold and fearless as he chose to be with this program. His comment about CBS criticism was interesting. One of his famous quotes from his network days was: "Dealing with network executives is like being nibbled to death by ducks."

And now I offer a reprise of the lyric from 1776.

Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

US broadcasters hold Television station licenses, and four of these broadcast companies operate an over the air network service. The networks are not licensed by the FCC, and deliver "content, including news and entertainment to the stations that they own in addition to their affiliates that they do not own.

It is not difficult to suspect that there is certain complicity between the Companies that control the news divisions of the Networks with the government: News Corp, Disney, General Electric and Viacom need the "cooperation" of the feds to continue to grow, and the feds need the silence of the networks in order to allow them to continue this futile war and to chip away as they have been at the Constitution. When was the last time anyone was able to watch a network documentary concerning the War or the Constitution on broadcast television?

Our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers are getting killed and maimed in a truly disastrous war.

Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

Norman Horowitz
I care