No Substitute for Free and Unfettered News Gathering


Say what you will about Sarah Olson, she got the story. On the ground and armed with only an audio tape recorder, reporter Olson did nothing more radical than dig deep — the first law of journalism. Her interview with Lt. Ehren Watada vividly painted the portrait of a young man in anguish — to serve or not to serve. As the after-hours boys in the Press Bar used to say, "It’s a great story!"

The Watada case is about to become front page, his court-martial at Fort Lewis, Washington is sure to be covered by the networks, the wire services, the major dailies and all the grandees of big journalism. Olson — the local scribe with little power and no budget — got there first. She should be an exemplary reference in the opening day lecture at Journalism school, she got all the "gots", the coin of journalism’s realm. She got there, got it right and got it out.

She did all this and now she’s threatened with jail if she doesn’t help the prosecutors punish Lt.Watada in a military court. By summoning this reporter to testify against her source the Bush administration is once again admonishing dissenters (and the press who cover them) to shut up and sing, a very un-American thing to do.

Over six thousand U.S. military have gone AWOL since the beginning of the Iraq war, a great story, an important story. How much deep digging can be expected from reporters who risk being forced into court just for talking with these resisters? What acts of conscience will never be known because an over reaching Federal Government looms over the powerless, local journalists who still have the passion for this kind of true story of courage?

Join PEN, the LA Times, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Press Club, and other organizations (not to mention the Framers of our Constitution) and help keep journalists free to be pushy, unpopular and inelegant — sticking a nose under the tent to learn what the righteous have decided is good for us. Dan Ellsberg, John Berendt and Barbara Ehrenreich and do as I have done, sign the petition calling on the Feds to back off this kind of media intimidation. There is no substitute for free and unfettered news gathering. Journalists are not cops nor are they public relations people. They are reporters and there is no substitute for them.

And there is no substitute for Sarah Olson — alone and on the ground — getting a great story right and getting it out there.

PHIL DONAHUE is a former talk show host.


October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?