Tuesday, January 22, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 76 



Shady journalists fish for scandals

Richard Whitrock

The stink of the recent political climate is, for once, not the politicians' fault but that of the popular practices of too many spin doctors and
scandal-hungry journalists.

Two examples come to mind: political mudslinging over Enron's collapse and the decision to change a part of the national consciousness in a
firefighters' memorial.

Sometimes, the media's en masse zealotry for opportunism and the spin doctors' web of half-truths is dizzying (in the nauseous sense of the

The recent bandwagon of indicating President Bush as a key player in an alleged Enron scandal gives cause to wonder whether the media is
truly free.

The story goes that because Bush accepted campaign money from Enron, he did not act on its behalf when it came time to soften the fall.
According to his critics, he is responsible for the little guy that lost his 401(k) plan.

President Bush deserves accolades for the way he has handled the situation, if for no other reason than that he had the dignity, ethics and moral
principles to avoid even the appearance of being bought off. That is something former President Bill Clinton would not have even considered.
Bush, however, is getting nothing but heat and criticism.

Why? Aside from the fact that Enron is entirely at fault for its own demise, the presidency was not created to bail out companies that can't
manage their funds. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that anything could have been done to help Enron -- the hole it dug for itself was pretty

Even if the government could have helped, is it really a good idea for the government to bail out every corporation that is run poorly and set the
precedent that large companies no longer have to worry about good business management?

"Don't worry about doing something stupid, Mama Sam will make it better."

In a time when politics and politicians are synonymous with crime and criminals, our president shows the moral strength not to use his power
and influence to help out a campaign contributor ... and is criticized for it.

How can the media be considered free when it is a slave to, not just the dollar, but its own glory? Has the need to create a story become so great
that an act of character in a politician is perverted this way?

If so, it's easy to see that the authors of the First Amendment's dream of a free press has gone unfulfilled.

The lust for another story stinks of a junkie's need for his next fix. Their drug of choice has enslaved them, and all of America suffers for it.

In part because of the media's influence, the search for political correctness has reached a new level of lunacy. The now-famous picture of three
firefighters raising the American flag over the rubble of World Trade Center has become the subject for a firefighter memorial sculpture, with a
few major differences.

The original three firefighters were white, and because it's not popular or politically correct to be white, the content of the picture was changed to
depict an African-American, a Hispanic and an Anglo.

In principle, this is a great idea. It is an excellent depiction of unity through this tragedy and an ingenious artistic interpretation. It is also,
however, a bad idea.

First, what about Asian-Americans? What about Indian-Americans, Native Americans and the scores upon scores of us of mixed heritage? Are
we not good enough to be in that sculpture? If race truly does not matter, as the sculpture would try to depict, than why is it not okay to have three
Anglos there?

Second, it is wrong to depict what did not happen. That photo has become a part of the national consciousness the way the Iwo Jima photo has,
the way Neil Armstrong walking on the moon has, the way "Four score and seven years ago" has, not to mention the way we now all think -- in
unison -- "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Third, who decides which man gets to stay in the sculpture? How will it be decided? Imagine being one of the firefighters who is taken out of the
photo. How would it feel to have that moment of heroism altered because you were the wrong ethnicity?

We owe it to those firefighters and to ourselves to keep the truth unchanged. We should not introduce an issue of race into something that was
not about race.

Thank you, President Bush, for restoring honor and dignity to the White House, and thank you, firefighters, for all that you have done --
regardless of race.

Whitrock, a freshman university studies 
student, can be reached at rick_whitrock@hotmail.com.

To contact the Opinon Section Editor, send e-mail to dcampus@mail.uh.edu

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