Scott Pelley on Charlie Hebdo, Terrorism, and the Press

It isn't very often that I hear Scott Pelley offer an op-ed piece as a part of a news broadcast.  So when he closed the CBS Evening News of Friday, 9 January, 2015 with his observations on the attacks in Paris and how freedom of the press figures into the whole situation of terrorism, I thought it was notable enough to make mention of it here.  Mr. Pelley makes simple, straightforward points which resonate in the current time, and I believe his words are worthy of your attention. 

A transcript of Mr. Pelley's commentary follows; the original broadcast may be found here.

Someone asked us today if the French magazine acted irresponsibly by publishing cartoons of the prophet Mohammad. Couldn't all of this have been avoided if Charlie Hebdo had been more sensible?

Most freedoms are limited. Gun ownership is restricted. You're free to travel but you're not free to run red lights. So why is freedom to publish, freedom to speak, absolute?

Because there is no democracy without journalism. And the strength of a people depends on the quality of their information.

Charlie Hebdo staked out extremes, and so, helped define a broad space for every voice. Eight of its journalists died knowing the risk.

American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff were silenced by ISIS months ago. The Committee to Protect Journalists tells us 61 reporters died in the line of duty in 2014.

The enemy knows our vulnerability. Silence is the end of freedom.
-- Scott Pelley, CBS News

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Comment by Loren Miller on January 17, 2015 at 6:49am

Totally agreed, Joan.  Thanks for your input.

Comment by Joan Denoo on January 17, 2015 at 1:04am

When I was a kid, my Dad was a carpenter. He had to join the union and fight for living wages. It took guts and perseverance to get it, he couldn't do it alone. The carpenters had to strike and support other tradespeople, i.e. plumbers, electricians, etc., in order to get clout. 

My mother was a nurse and she had to belong to the nurse's union in order to get a decent wage. It was after men came into nursing that they were able to earn better salaries and it was because the men were more aggressive. The women had to learn how to be assertive and aggressive, even if it was against their upbringing. 

My generation had it easy, except for ERA. We didn't beat down the sexists who were fundamentalists. If we are ever going to get ERA, or anything like it, we are going to have to fight more aggressively. 

The blacks know that and so do the Native populations. 

Now, we take on separation of church and state. Let's be real, the church plays dirty. They know how to sell propaganda and they know how to organize. 

Well, that is what we are going to have to do, although non-believers don't have to lie. We just need to tell our story and organize. 

Comment by Loren Miller on January 16, 2015 at 11:52am

Funny thing, Mo ... so are you!

Comment by Loren Miller on January 16, 2015 at 7:54am

Tom, you know the answer to that one as well as I do: activism - MASSIVE activism.

Problem is, I'm not convinced that the average American citizen has it in him or her any more.  As Howard Beale said in Network, as long as they have their toaster and their TV and their steel-belted radials, they won't say anything, and the threshold to getting them mad as Beale suggests later seems to be growing higher and higher as time goes on.

What we DO about this, I haven't the slightest.  Still, I mean to keep on keepin' on to the best of my own ability and talk about it with others when the opportunity presents itself.  Least I can do, I figure.

Comment by tom sarbeck on January 16, 2015 at 7:25am

Brian: while reading of the centuries of struggle between Commons and monarchs, I learned of England's lack of a USA-like Bill of Rights. Your post filled a gap in what I know; thank you.

Pelley's there is no democracy without journalism and the strength of the people depends on the quality their information?

In theory his words tell a truth. In the reality of America's corporate-owned media, they are hype.

Silence is indeed the end of freedom.

How do we end the American government's silence? And its lies?

Comment by jay H on January 11, 2015 at 7:14am

Dyslexic's Dog: "This is what I consider a good sign of a secular nation, unlike the U.S. where most Christians protest against such comedy and attack such comedians as being Evil, Infidels or Illuminati."

Don't confuse noise with numbers. The ones throwing the hissy fits are not the majority. The typical US Christian is rather apathetic.

Comment by Joan Denoo on January 11, 2015 at 3:30am

Oh! yes! "Silence is the end of freedom!" Those murderers have to be stopped. Can they be stopped without deaths of innocents and destruction of homes, families, soils, air, water and trade?  

Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on January 11, 2015 at 3:16am

My experience in Australia with journalism and free speech is that the Secularism of Australian society can be attributed to such lax laws on speech or a high degree of freedom of speech.

Comedians have for the last 30+ years in both television and radio, have lampooned much of what religious people claimed for their religion. 

Cartoonists have also lampooned religious icons and leaders, with very few holds barred.

This has created a society that has almost become immune to such attacks on religion, even their own. My Christian friends are quite happy to join me in going to see comedians that we all know commonly and savagely attacks Christianity, such as Will Anderson.

Yet many of my Christian friends idolize Will for his wit, regardless for his anti-theistic jokes.

This is what I consider a good sign of a secular nation, unlike the U.S. where most Christians protest against such comedy and attack such comedians as being Evil, Infidels or Illuminati.

Demonstrating that the US is far from Secular.

Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on January 11, 2015 at 2:54am

Another issue with journalism and political correctness is balancing responsible journalism with asinine bigotry and extreme bias. 

Much of political correctness is extreme bias based on irrational social phobias.

Many journals err on the side of such bias.

But to attack religion with gusto and malevolence is irresponsible, yet Charlie Hebdo mostly attacked the extremists and idiocy of such extremism, they did not attack the religion's basis for their belief, only the obviously stupid aspects of Jihadism. 

Thus stupid attacks on Charlie Hebdo for irresponsible journalism and narcissistic attacks on religion buy such extremely narcissistic idiots as Bill Donohue (Catholic League US president), are unfounded.

I think they need to draw up some cartoons for those who are attacking the victims instead of the perpetrators.

If I had such skills, I'd be making a massive mockery of Bill Donohue, for attacking the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, stating essentially that they asked for it.

They all knew the risk, but, attacking extreme lunacy like such fundamentalism is indeed a necessity.

It is something that must continue.

Sweet talking ISIS with their goal of world domination won't accomplish anything, except likely more terrorists and create a greater global threat with even more lives at risk.

Comment by Loren Miller on January 10, 2015 at 2:16pm

Thanks for your comment, Daniel.  I was trying to come up with an analog expression for the press and somehow, "shared speech" popped into my head.  I suppose it works after a fashion.

Many times on A|N I've talked about the average person's tendency to trend more to Oprah and Jerry Springer than to Scott Pelley or Brian Williams for information of any kind, let alone news.  People have become lazy as regards their responsibilities as citizens.  This means there are fewer people holding not just the press' feet to the fire but likely the government's as well, and both need feedback, both positive and negative, to work properly.

Short of reinstituting the draft (which I lived through and hated with a royal passion), I don't know what it would take to get people to recognize that government is a two-way street and that the rewards they gain FROM government are predicated on their servicing their responsibility TO the government.



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