Media Sensationalism and the Distortion of Truth

Historically and traditionally speaking, the news media, whether the printing presses of yesteryear or the first radio and television broadcasts of the 20th century stood as a means of objective information for the public, irrespective and often contrary to what the governments message might be. In simpler terms, the news media stood between government propaganda and the people, insuring that a clear and truthful message would prevail despite the current political climate.

Fast forward to today, the twitter feeds and blogs seem to overwhelmingly abandon journalistic integrity and the original intent of media in favor of siding with the larger government agenda. My question to our readers, and every informed American citizen is, when did we allow the media to unilaterally side with government in favor of MORE legislation?

I would like to speak specifically about a recent piece in the New York Times criticizing the Castle Doctrine Law. Last month, in Kalispell Montana, a man lawfully defended himself in his own home with a firearm.  The details of the case are fairly straightforward. Dan Frendenburg showed up at Brice Harper’s house with the intent of confronting him concerning an affair, Mr. Harper felt sufficiently threatened that an angry man (who was also drunk) confronted him in the evening while he was alone in his garage. Mr. Harper warned the intruder that he had a firearm and upon continually approaching and demonstrating threatening behavior, Mr. Harper lawfully fired his gun in self defense.

The New York Times sees things differently. They believe that YOU ought to be punished and that an intruder has rights the moment he/she enters your property. They liken your ability to defend yourself, your home and your loved ones with “the laws of the Wild West.” Unfortunately this kind of fear mongering agenda has caught the ears of anti self defense politicians that would like to see individuals who defend themselves prosecuted the same way a threatening criminal would be.

This grim reality already exists in Italy, a country I lived in this past winter and witnessed the asinine self defense laws. One evening I was casually having a conversation with an Italian when the question of firearm ownership and then self defense came up.

“We have no right to our person or property in Italy in the case of a foreign intrusion. Self defense is viewed by the state as a criminal action”.

I then asked about extreme cases, “God forbid, you walk into your home after work one evening and someone is raping your daughter, what would you do?”
“Anyone who loves their family would defend his daughter, but in this case when the police arrived you both [homeowner and intruder] will go to jail.”

This almost sounds nightmarish, but it also exists in several states in the United States, and the burden of proof is even still placed on the homeowner. Imagine the horror of fending off an intruder only to now have to spend months in jail and tens of thousands of dollars to prove your own innocence?

All of this again begs the question, “Where is the objective, unbiased media?—the media that supposedly looks out for honest people and vilifies criminals?” It appears that today’s major news outlets have flagrantly ignored the truth in favor of sensationalism. It seems the New York Times won’t rest until Brice Harper is charged criminally for defending himself? They would rather see victim’s brutalized and state intervention (call 911 and wait) than individual responsibility for self and family. This is not the America we live in.

Ultimately, asking the media to stop writing grossly irresponsible articles such as this one won’t change anything—subjectivity sells newspapers—but for the sake of many Americans that will face a violent encounter in the future, we owe it ourselves to take sides with the good guys whether the New York Times agrees or not.

About the author: Justin Stasiowski

Justin Stasiowski grew up in a liberal suburb of Boston, where he has been actively engaged in political dissent since grade school. Whether he was networking with young students from across America as a part of the Junior Statesmen Association or calling in weekly to his favorite talk radio program, Justin has been challenging liberals and conservatives alike to honestly debate issues of humanity and politics, especially within the scope of historical precedent. "We all too often forget as we debate issues that we have had the fortune of generations of Americans, and human civilization to use as a reference. Politics without a concrete understanding of history is a dangerous elixir." Justin attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and has participated in a number of lectures at Harvard and Northeastern Universities. He currently works as a copywriter for a consulting firm, and spends his free time running and cycling around the world.

View all articles by Justin Stasiowski
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