Death Penalty Under Attack by Mainstream Media

by Daniel T Zanoza

In case you haven't noticed, the national press is on a mission of late. The liberally dominated media has always believed it is the keeper of public conscience, and the left uses venues like television to change social thinking.

The media has, at times, been noble in its self-appointed charge to enlighten the American people. Civil rights was one such cause in which the national press performed an important service. But, unfortunately, in many cases, the media has been an integral part in the destruction of the values which have made this nation great.

The most recent self-appointed mission, taken on by the American press, is the fight against the death penalty. The press has used every means possible, in recent years, to portray capital punishment as something belonging to bygone days, a form of punishment which should not exist in a civilized culture.

The media campaign against the death penalty has taken many forms through numerous venues. Prime time television is playing an important role in the debate of this issue. The message is sometimes subtle, oftentimes not.

Docudramas portray the death row inmate as a sympathetic figure. Frequently absent, however, is the pain and suffering experienced by the families of their victims.

On television network news magazines, the death penalty has suddenly become a hot topic as well. Recently, 60 Minutes interviewed a group of men who escaped death row through the appeal process. Dateline and 20/20 have also discussed this topic. And, on network and local news programs, the death penalty, and pending executions, are major stories, worthy of special coverage.

In addition, the press has acknowledged and rewarded politicians who have taken positions against capital punishment. Elected officials who oppose the death penalty have received favorable mention. A perfect case in point was a decision made by the Republican Governor of Illinois. George Ryan called for a moratorium on executions, after it was learned thirteen people on death row in that state had their sentences overturned.

Ryan, a first term governor, beleaguered by legal and ethical questions surrounding his political career, became a hero to many in the national media. He received favorable notice for his edict from many quarters. What you won't hear about Ryan is the fact his approval rating in the state of Illinois is below 30% and falling, one of the worst rankings in state history. But the national press has portrayed Ryan as a hero. They call him a man with great social sensitivity, saying he possesses a clear vision of the future.

The truth is, the American people support capital punishment by a wide margin. Depending on what poll you look at, the numbers favoring the death penalty can range as high as 70%. Yet the media continues to wage a campaign which runs contrary to public sentiment.

At times, I wonder how long abortions would be legal in the United States if the media mustered its forces against the taking of innocent life. However, consistent with liberalism, the media fails to comprehend the inconsistency of its moral position on the death penalty, in contrast to its support for things like abortion.

Imagine for a moment Mike Wallace poignantly interviewing one of the many doctors who performed abortions in the past, but now understand the error of their ways. Envision an episode of Law and Order in which a defendant is charged with a double murder for killing a pregnant woman. A major portion of the program might be devoted to the ambiguity of criminal law which, in such a case, identifies the fetus as a human being only for legal convenience.

Though the number of people who oppose abortion is around 50% and increasing, the figure would soon reach an overwhelming majority--if the media also favored the pro-life position. However, this is not the case. The left sees abortion as something sacred. Therefore, it is astounding so many Americans do support the pro-life viewpoint.

The press carries a philosophical bias concerning the gun control issue as well. Agenda based journalism has manipulated recent tragedies across the nation to advance that cause. Instead of asking what has changed in the country in the last 40 years, which would lead to children killing children, the press uses each tragedy to influence public opinion towards more gun control.

The media's manipulation of the American people is nothing new. The left believes the public is lacking intelligence and essentially devoid of the moral character needed to correct societal wrongs. It is entirely consistent with a liberal elitist view of big government, which, according to progressive thinking, "knows  best."

There is only one problem with this scenario. I think most rational adults will agree the mainstream media, and those who represent it in modern times, are hardly qualified to lecture us on what is morally sound. Quite frankly, it is the moral relativism, advanced by movies, music and television, which has torn asunder institutions like the traditional family and the values held dearly by an entire nation.

The death penalty has been a part of Western civilization since ancient times. Capital punishment is consistent with the teachings of the three major monotheistic religions of the world. Yet the fourth estate seems to be saying it knows better.

The greatest tool the average citizen can possess against the relentless drum beat of a press bent on socially reengineering American society is knowledge.

It is impossible for the press to manipulate the public, if that public is informed. Whether one supports the death penalty or  not, the mainstream media does not have the moral authority to lecture the nation on cultural rights and wrongs.

Who we will not hear from on the subject of capital punishment are the victims. Subsequently, the counsel of those taken by senseless violence should be passed along to their loved ones and family members. Let's ask mothers, fathers, sons and daughters of those murdered if the death penalty should be repealed. By not doing so, we make them victims for a second time.

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