When we read the writings and letters of the Founders concerning Freedom of the Press, we learn just how vital they thought this element to be. They realized that the people needed a watchdog to keep an eye on even this pristine new form of government. They considered the Press to be an invaluable element in this "Great Experiment". They didn't consider the role of the Press to be inconsequential. In the Press, they entrusted the responsibility of being the "Fourth Branch of Government".
Since the days of the Founders, history shows that many of the original intentions of these great men have been eroded and bastardized. Some of these attacks have been minor and some have struck at the core of our Republic. One such threat has been the erosion in the trustability of the media. At one time, an American could confidently exclaim, "I read it in the paper so it has to be true and accurate". Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.
GE&P could list the national outlets and electronic media sources that can no longer be trusted to provide us with truth in reporting but let's just concentrate on sticking really close to home. We are referring to an article that appeared in the Berkeley Independent this week. Mr. Dan Brown wrote an article to inform the public as to the results of the County Council meeting of September 26, 2011. His main topic in this article was the vote of Council on the Storm Water Management Program fee.
At the beginning of this article, Mr. Brown presented misinformation as true fact. Later in the article, Mr. Brown presented more erroneous information in the form of quotes attributed to Supervisor Davis. The entire article was awash with false information and misleading statements which, consequently, led the readers to false conclusions concerning the issue. GE&P can state with confidence that the BI article presents false information because we have official documents in our possession that directly contradict many of the statements made in this article.
GE&P has attempted to contact Mr. Brown but our call has gone unanswered. We wish we could ask a few questions so as to clarify exactly what led up to the printing of this misleading article.
"Mr. Brown, did you do any independent research on the subject of the SWMP prior to penning this article?"
"Mr. Brown, is it your policy to accept at face value, without obtaining independent verification, any factual statement made by an elected official?"
"Mr. Brown, do you agree with our Founders that the Press is the Fourth Branch of Government and, if so, how seriously do you take this responsibility?"
GE&P does not expect anyone, including ourselves, to be perfect all the time. Believe it or not, we have actually "misspoken" on an occasion or two but it is totally unacceptable for a newspaper article about an issue of so much import to the community to go this far in the wrong direction down the garden path. To add to the outrage, GE&P's offer to provide the newspaper with the official documents that disprove the statements in this article was rejected. We would have thought it might be beneficial to the public to confront Supervisor Davis with these documents and, then, write an article about his reaction.
GE&P would like to humbly offer some advice to all local publications: If you want to be considered "newspapers", then print the complete truth with as much accuracy as possible. Present your readers with all sides of the issues that impact their lives. If your only goal is to be considered a "shopping guide", then change your name and advertise yourselves as such.