Opinion

Media malpractice jeopardizes national security

I love how they show us this Bin Laden commentary that is 95 percent certifiable and then proceed to inform us that this tape is allegedly some kind of signal to Al-Qaeda forces in the US to set their plans in action. That’s just great. And in case some of the cells missed the “message” the first time, lets play it again and again to ensure that every single terrorist cell in the US gets the message. And in case some of the terrorists forgot that this was their cue, lets make sure to tell them so that they can begin their spectacular attacks. My GOD! What are we doing here?
Yet another of example of our media malpractice: Weeks before the anthrax assault, I remember reading an in-depth newspaper article detailing such biological weapons which would be virtually undetectable and ultimately incurable if used against us. I ask you, what good does it really do me to know that there are no cures for certain deadly diseases? Well, here we are, broadcasting our very weaknesses, and for what – to exercise our freedom of speech? To keep the American public informed of things that we can neither remedy nor understand? What good does it do, other than to breed mass paranoia and a new race of gas mask babies? Incidentally, reports suggest that, in the case of a massive biological attack, the mask isn’t going to do you any good, so save yourself the 20 bucks.
Is it possible that our media says too much? American media is so starved to gloss the front page with their investigative expertise that they’re crossing a very dangerous line of national security. Whether or not our government deems information unfit for the media, I feel we’re definitely saying more than is necessary. Where is the discretion? Where are the morals? Where are our heads? Doesn’t anyone think it could be the least bit detrimental to spend so much time dramatizing our weaknesses when we should be beefing up our strengths? Small Pox, Anthrax, Ebola – bring it on, because we’ve stated quite clearly that we’re unprepared. We may as well give them a road map to our underground silos because while we’re broadcasting relentlessly to each other in the hope of disseminating crucial information, we’re sending that same information to the shadows that are listening as well.
It’s often hard to draw the line between the public’s right to know and the ultimate consequence of such knowledge. Certainly, the terrorists are smart enough to figure out our weaknesses on their own, but in times of such international uncertainty, actions should speak louder than words, and unnecessary gossip should be silenced in lieu of more useful transmissions. Lets spend more time trying to figure out methods to combat these chemical killers than discussing the ways that we can’t.

Whitney Friedrich is a senior majoring in advertising and English.

November 22, 2002

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Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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