This week, a man with a pen, a piece of paper and time made the President of the United States fire a General in charge of a war. Anyone who says that print is dead is an idiot. Millions of people printed the Rolling Stone article, “Runaway General” this week. The Presidents Secretary of the Press printed it out for the President and the President read it, looked at it, ordered the offending General back to the States and then fired the offending General. What did the Offending General say? Nothing that millions of us haven’t said about our moronic bosses and co-workers. We get frustrated, we talk shit. The difference here is that, somehow, by way of stupidity or arrogance, the Offending General’s words made in on to the page. This week, we witnessed the true role of the media. The media’s role is to fight for us, whether we want them to fight for us or not.
I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. Why do we have the press? And why do we protect the right to have a free and open press? Witness what happened this week and it sheds new light on the importance of a skilled reporter. The Offending General always had the thoughts he had, always had his concerns, always thought about the world the way he thought it. However, no one knew about it, no civilians any way. We have no way of knowing the thoughts and feelings of our leaders unless intelligent, ambitious people ask these leaders of ours questions. One question after another. Sure, it is annoying. Most times, half of these reporters are inept and lazy. But a few of them, a few of them do their jobs. They spend time with the Generals and the General’s men. They research. They think. They write. And then, with the help of an editor and a publication, they print an article that pisses off the President of the United States and gets a bunch of people fired. Without the work of reporters like this, without the daring of a publication like Rolling Stone, the Offending General would still have his job and we wouldn’t know any difference.
Some would argue, rightly, that the press isn’t supposed to make things happen. The press is supposed to report on things happening. That’s naïve and short-sighted. If a newspaper writes articles about potholes on Main Street, the potholes get fixed. If a reported sheds light on horrible mining conditions, the conditions get better. The press is our eyes and ears and fists! The press is supposed to do battle. Now, just like regular people, the press decides which battles they want to fight. Read the Rolling Stone article and you understand that the Reporter and the Editors hate, hate, hate the Afghan War, the Counter-Insurgency plan, and anyone who agrees with the plan. There is no doubt in my mind that Rolling Stone feels excellent now, achieving a brilliant blow to “The Man”. You can say that’s a problem, that Rolling Stone was obvious bias and attack-oriented in their reporting. I say that we live in a society that allows individuals to make moral decisions and decide to implement change. Don’t worry. A right-wing counter punch is probably being planned as we speak, by the Wall Street Journal or some other monster. That is our lives. That is the power of the Press. I am sleeping a bit better lately with the reaffirmed knowledge that, occasionally, the pen is truly more powerful than the M-16.