How Constitutional Government Censorship Works In Obama’s America

zipper on mouth

Sarah Durand, a senior editor at a division of Simon & Schuster, Atria Books, informed the literary agents of one of the U.S. soldiers who had submitted a book proposal about the conduct of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl—the controversial Taliban prisoner who was freed in a costly prisoner exchange and then hailed as a “hero” by the Obama administration— that the publishing house was not interested in pursuing the project. The soldiers, comrades of Bergdahl, allege that he is a traitor.

Maybe the book proposal was poor; maybe it isn’t what Atria Books is looking for at this time. Getting any book published is difficult for first-time authors, and there is no obligation for a publishing company to print anything.

However, this is what Durand wrote to explain the rejection:

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends..the Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'”

In other words, a professional, supposedly non-partisan conduit for free speech and communication is restricting that speech for political and partisan reasons, and specifically to protect the government currently in power.

I would never argue that refusing to publish the book is unethical. That reason, however, if it is the only reason, is unethical, and also chilling. The only difference between the government censoring political speech and private enterprise censoring speech critical of the government is that the former is prohibited by the Constitution, and the latter is protected by the Constitution, since the freedom not to say something is the same as the freedom to say it. Durant and Atria, appear to be using that freedom to do exactly what a censoring government would do if it could. And how do we know that a Simon & Schuster executive didn’t contact the White House for guidance, and were told to bury the book for “future considerations”? We don’t. Yet this is the kind of suspicion and distrust engendered when communications entities behave like this.

Note that Durand doesn’t challenge the truth of the soldiers’ assertions about Bergdahl. Her concern is how it will be used by political opponents of President Obama. The fact that she would feel that this is a legitimate factor to be considered in publishing a book to the extent that she wouldn’t see the danger of expressing it in an e-mail is as disturbing as the sentiment itself. The book editor sees her duty as protecting the state from opposition and criticism, apparently. How many other gate-keepers of our free speech feel the same way?


Pointer: Newsbusters

Source: Yahoo!

14 thoughts on “How Constitutional Government Censorship Works In Obama’s America

  1. So, we have laid bare the lie of the ‘there is no liberal press’. I have heard over and over that the members of the press aren’t ideologically bent on supporting liberal policies and politicians, they do it because that is what makes money. Their argument that all appearance of liberal bias is due purely to make as much money for the owners of the press as possible.

    This episode is the repudiation of this argument. The publisher rejects a book that probably will sell well, just to protect the preferred political party. This shows the press is biased and that they are even willing to lose money (or not make money) to support those biases. CBS is their owner and CBS is s public corporation. The managers of this company are willing to put their political preferences ahead of the interests of the stockholders of the company. The stockholders, unfortunately, have no say because since the majority of the stockholders aren’t allowed to vote their shares, the self-perpetuating management is able to do as they will with the owner’s money.

    • If your views were not slanted so far to the right, you would clearly see that Obama is quite conservative compared to true progressives, thus any perceived bias in his favor cannot be attributed to a “liberal press”. At best, American media will only ever be slightly right of center, as most media outlets are owned by the wealthy conservative 1%, and their staunch absolutism would never tolerate opposing views on their own subsidiaries. The liberal press is a myth.

  2. Fortunately, Atria is not the only publisher in town. But is does show its obvious bias. I wonder what the shareholders think of this decision.

  3. I’m reminded of the quote, ” Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” (A.J. Liebling) I would bet that any book with a real market will find a publisher, even -or perhaps especially- if some factions would rather not see it in print (S&S/Atria’s wishes to the contrary not withstanding).

    • Oh, absolutely. But a publisher who thought it was accurate or even plausibly and refused to publish it because it might make things tougher for the entrenched political party is beneath contempt.

  4. The only real surprise, here, is that she is that blatant about it. As Michael R. has noted, all this does is verify what most of us have known all along.

    • It seems to me that being blatant about your political biases is getting more and more common. What used to be kept secret for fear of reprisals is now openly done, and what used to be openly done now has to be kept secret. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Just a different ideology getting away with murder.

  5. With the possible exceptions of Edward R. Murrow, Robert Frost, David Brinkley and Tom Brokaw, there ARE and HAVE NEVER BEEN unbiased journalists. From the days of Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, newspapers have unabashedly reported the news according to their particular political bents, Who is surprised by the difference between reporting from CNN vs Fox? The Washington Post and the Washington Times? All are clear in their political leanings, and report the news that way. Unfortunately, even with the blessing of the Internet, most people don’t have the time to search for real facts, or they simply watch/read those news reports that support their own biases.

    E.g., Does one really think that The Washington Post would have followed the Watergate story from its very beginning if it didn’t just hate Nixon and his Administration? And is it any surprise that other national news reporting agencies only picked up the story when the Post came up with irrefutable evidence that Nixon had committed impeachable offenses? The Post wanted to get Nixon: they did, and it was a good thing, but it didn’t begin by altruism. Not by a long shot, regardless of how it is played out now.

    Years ago, my high school sociology teacher told me that if I wanted to have any power I should go into journalism. “The media makes the news; it decides what to report, and how to report it. It has immeasurable power over public opinion and politics.” (What’s on the front page, what’s buried in the back, how the story will be written, etc.) I didn’t go into journalism, and am glad I didn’t. I’d probably be as corrupt as all the others by now if I had.

    Just for fun. Google “iconic journalists.” There are many sites, but I just went crazy when names like Barbara Walters, Anderson Cooper, Herb Block (the cartoonist!), Art Buchwald, William F. Buckley, and Howard Cosell (!) and Joan Didion (?????) — among many others — showed up on the list.

    Give it up. Watch/read both sides and come to your own conclusions.

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