Growing up in the 1960's we were repeatedly warned about the Soviet Union. I was just a boy but I remember quite clearly going out to the playground and wondering if I would see a mushroom cloud. As instructed by my teachers I practiced covering one eye so that if I did see it at least I would still have the one left. We were told that in Russia the kid sitting next to you was waiting to turn you in to the government the minute he saw you do something wrong. We were especially warned about the Russian press and how it was their job to support the government, unlike ours where it was their patriotic duty to question the government. This is how we were better. This is what made us better. This is what prevented the American politicians from becoming tyrants. Later in college I would learn that the American press is ?the 4th branch of government? and that they set the agenda for the nation.
I am the youngest of four children. I have 3 sisters and we are all 4 years apart. My sisters were active in the Chicano movement - especially the anti Viet-Nam war - Chicano Moratorium Movement.
In the fields a new reporter had began a series of reports about the pesticide DDT and how farm owners would crop dust right over the migrants who were working the fields. His name was Geraldo Rivera (pictured), an attorney, he was young, Jewish / Hispanic and by the way my sisters would drool over him I figured he must?ve been good looking. We would look foreword to the local news because we would see Geraldo Rivera marching with the strikers while interviewing them. The farmer owners (I could be mistaken here but I think it was Ernest and Julio Gallo) had the police on their side and the news cameras were rolling when Geraldo Rivera was arrested, put into a police car, and driven off by the police. Voices were raised and there was pushing, shoving and a whole lot of fighting between the picketers and the police and private security guards hired by the farmers.
That was then. The next I saw of Geraldo Rivera he was opening Alfonso Capone?s tomb in Chicago. It was empty. Not only was the live showing a flop but Geraldo Rivera became a laughing stalk for the mainstream press. Right when everyone thought Geraldo Rivera?s career was over he resurfaced as ?Geraldo? in the daytime talk show circuit. Although soon to be rich he clearly copped out. Suffering from a bad case of cult of personality, he took the money and ran.
Now keep in mind that 1960?s and 70?s television was god awful. We did have Desi Arnaz on I love Lucy reruns but the rest was limited to 400 lbs mamasotas with 11 kids, heroin addicted looking prostitutes, the Tidy Bowl Man, the Frito Bandidto and the banana republic dictator on Giligan?s Island who ?even his mother was the father of her country?. Then along came Geraldo Rivera and something that I myself had never felt about images on television? a sense of pride.
Young people have nothing to compare today?s press with. But older people do. This comparison is my rant and this rant is my comparison: Today?s press has rubber stamped Bushes war instead of scrutinizing it. Today?s press has served as nothing less than a cheerleader for the war waged on Iraq. Today?s press has been reduced to the equivalent role of a Kremlin mouthpiece. Today?s press continues to re-enforce stereotypes against Mexico by maintaining the correlation between corruption and Mexico, when in fact their is corruption here and there is no proof that Mexicans have a propensity for corruption. Today?s press continues to portray Mexican business practices as near comical when the United States is the country that will close down a company at the glitch of a balance sheet and throw away its workers like yesterday?s garbage.
The highly revered 4th branch of government has become nothing more than the old boys club that it used to police. It used to be the duty of the editor to push his reporters to go out and take no prisoners and to leave no stone unturned. This is what sold newspapers. Today, this type of rocking the boat will only get you fired.