Fairness in Media?

Senator Jesse Helms' personal crusade against the First Amendment continues unabated. The same man who would have the state serve the fundamentalist Christian church believes the press should serve the right-wing American state. Long skilled in circumventing the Constitution, Helms, in this case, has simply walked through one of its gaping loopholes: While the First Amendment ensures that Congress will make no laws restricting freedom of the press, it says nothing about members of Congress simply buying the press to further their own ends.

And that is exactly what Helms, with his Fairness in Media group, is hoping to accomplish through his current bid to take over CBS. "Fairness," in this case, is little more than thinly veiled arch-conservatism.

In the letter he sent to one million Americans, Helms said, "FIM is launching a nationwide campaign, very much like a presidential campaign, to end the liberal bias at CBS by urging conservatives to purchase enough CBS stock ... if necessary to control the network ... FIM is counting on you to become Dan Rather's boss—by switching a portion of your investments to CBS stock."

Helms' ensuing vitriolic statements against the major media organizations and the people who run them provide a frightening vision of his philosophy of American journalism. The nation's "elite media are profoundly out of step with the ideals and goals of the American people," Helms said. America's leading newspapers and network television news shows are, according to Helms, "produced by men and women, who, if they do not hate American virtues, they certainly have a smug contempt for American ideals and principles."

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