Wednesday, May 09, 2007

CBS Web Should Screen, Not Kill, Obama E-Mails

The New York Times reported yesterday that the CBS News Web Site, alarmed at the number of bigoted comments it has been getting on presidential candidate Barack Obama, has decided to block all comments coming from its e-mailers on the Illinois senator.

This could well be unfair to Obama, since other candidates will be the subject of comments, will be getting the publicity and will be given a leg up on financial contributions. If he does not appear, many people may falsely assume he is not a major candidate.

CBS News and other Web sites have an obligation, it seems to me, to screen out all clearly bigoted or improper comments on any subject for Web sites. The New York Times routinely does this. Anyone can submit a comment, but ones that are clearly inappropriate or overly vitriolic do not appear. The New York Times has hired a number of screeners for this purpose.

Freedom of speech does not give one the right to yell fire in a crowded theatre, and Obama and other candidates have a right not to be subjected to bigoted remarks. A distinction must be drawn between them and partisan remarks, which are fine in a free society.

Obama, as the only black candidate to ever run for the presidency with a considerable chance to be elected, must be the subject of special protection against bigots, assassins and their ilk. In this vein, it was entirely proper for the Secret Service to extend protection to him, as it did this past week, earlier than it has to most candidates. (Although it is worth noting that Sen. Hillary Clinton, another Democratic candidate, already has Secret Service protection as the wife of a former President).

Had Sen. Robert Kennedy had such protection at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in June of 1968, he might have been protected from assassination by one of the first Palestinian terrorists, Sirhan Sirhan.

CBS, in banning all comments on Obama, would seem to be over reacting in the aftermath of the Don Imus firing. Now, the network is being sued by Imus on the grounds that his contract permitted him to make "controversial" remarks. Regardless of Imus, however, CBS's obligation to treat all candidates fairly compels them to revise its policy on Obama comments as I've suggested above.


Palestinian terrorists are now demanding that the British government release Islamic terrorists imprisoned in Britain in exchange for the release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza two months ago. Such tactics are engendered by the foolish recent Afghan release of five Taliban prisoners in exchange for an Italian reporter. When such exchanges are made, it simply encourages more kidnappings.

It is important to give the Palestinians a simple message: Johnston and Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, another kidnap victim, alive, or Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader, dead. That is the policy President Theodore Roosevelt followed in the early years of the 20th Century, when a Berber chief, Rasuli, kidnapped a U.S. businessman, Ion Perdicaris. in Morocco. "Perdicaris alive or Rasuli dead," Roosevelt declared, and he sent a fleet to Morocco to see to it. He got Perdicaris alive.



Blogger Tim McGarry said...

Agree with you completely on screening. Interactivity is good, but when you're providing the forum, you have the right (and the obligation, perhaps) to enforce standards.

5/11/2007 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deport Obama the terrorist... Only stupid americans would vote for a terrorist as their president..

5/25/2007 8:13 AM  

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