Orwellian Editing of the Congressional Record

This is the sec­ond instance I’ve heard of in the last six months where­in the Con­gres­sion­al Record has been edit­ed to reflect a par­tic­u­lar par­ty’s views.

What­ev­er one thinks of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Brown’s state­ments, I find that kind of rewrit­ing of offi­cial records to be extreme­ly upset­ting and believe them to be dangerous.

George Orwell’s famous warn­ing that a pow­er­ful polit­i­cal par­ty could rewrite his­to­ry has once again been proven prophetic.

Just last Thurs­day, Flori­da Con­gress­woman Cor­rine Brown chas­tised the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for reject­ing a request to allow the Unit­ed Nations to mon­i­tor the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. In her speech, she accused House Repub­li­cans of help­ing Bush and Cheney steal the 2000 elec­tion in a coup d’e­tat, and she argued pas­sion­ate­ly that we could not let it hap­pen again.

How did the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives respond? The Repub­li­can lead­er­ship accused her of being “out of order,” and the Repub­li­can major­i­ty shout­ed her down. Then the House Repub­li­cans went a step fur­ther and vot­ed to have the con­gress­wom­an’s com­ments com­plete­ly strick­en from the Con­gres­sion­al Record. In a move too brazen even for Orwell’s Big Broth­er, the whole event was sim­ply erased. Gone. Nev­er happened.

Sur­prised you haven’t heard about it? Don’t be. The cen­sure of Con­gress­woman Brown is an egre­gious abuse of pow­er, not to men­tion a vio­la­tion of the Con­gress­wom­an’s free speech, yet the event has been all but ignored by the cor­po­rate media. Although NBC did men­tion it the day after it occurred, their slant on the sto­ry was to focus mere­ly on the “out­burst” and the com­mo­tion it caused, rather than to address the dual issues of stolen elec­tions and cen­sored speech.

Video clips of Con­gress­woman Brown’s speech in the House are still avail­able on the Web, but if you’d like to see them you’ll have to act quick­ly. The Par­ty may soon move to remove and delete them. Try this link.

Brown lat­er said: “Strik­ing my words from the House floor is just one more exam­ple of the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s attempt to try and cov­er up what hap­pened dur­ing the 2000 elec­tion. When the words of Cor­rine Brown are strick­en from the floor, so is the voice of her 600,000 con­stituents in Flori­da’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al District.”

Want to DO some­thing about this? The pro­gres­sive web­site Buzzflash.com has pro­vid­ed the fol­low­ing list of actions you can take. The very first thing you should do, of course, is for­ward this mes­sage to every­one you know. Then get busy on the rest.

1. Write NBC news and sug­gest that this sto­ry was­n’t about an “out­burst.” The sto­ry should have been about the fact that an elect­ed Representative’s com­ments were stricken. 

2. Write a let­ter to your favorite polit­i­cal TV show or polit­i­cal writer and ask them to cov­er this part of the story.

3. Write to your elect­ed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and express your feel­ings about Brown’s com­ments being strick­en. Be sure to empha­size that you sup­port the orig­i­nal request for some kind of mon­i­tor­ing to occur. (See our recent newslet­ter on the sub­ject elec­tion mon­i­tor­ing here.

4. Write Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Brown. She could prob­a­bly use some support.

Allow us to switch gears for a moment and turn to the sub­ject of film. Our last newslet­ter men­tioned sev­er­al promis­ing doc­u­men­taries now play­ing around the nation. A num­ber of sub­scribers quick­ly respond­ed to inform us that we had neglect­ed to men­tion a few.

Here is an updat­ed list of pro­gres­sive doc­u­men­tary films that present evi­dence and points of view that you’ll nev­er get these days from the main­stream cor­po­rate media. We rec­om­mend that you not only see these films but that you gath­er friends and acquain­tances to see the films togeth­er and to dis­cuss them afterward.

Fahren­heit 9/11. Michael Moore deft­ly con­nects the dots between the Bush admin­is­tra­tion (and fam­i­ly), its oil wealth, and the Sau­di monar­chy. Say what you want about Mr. Moore’s ego; there’s still no deny­ing his facts. Indeed, he has even post­ed his sources on the Web for all to see.

Con­trol Room. A tru­ly eye-open­ing behind-the-scenes look at the Al-Jazeera news net­work with a focus on how it cov­ered the U.S. inva­sion of Iraq. Since its cre­ation in 1996, Al-Jazeera has been reviled by Arab lead­ers and called “Osama bin-Lad­in’s mouth­piece” by the U.S. gov­ern­ment. Why so much ven­om for Al-Jazeera? Appar­ent­ly because it tells the truth. This net­work reveals the true hor­rors of war by refus­ing to cen­sor graph­ic images. It also offends nation­al lead­ers by duti­ful­ly air­ing dis­sent­ing points of view. Yes, it has a pro-Arab bias, but what most Amer­i­cans will find sur­pris­ing from this film is the extent to which Al-Jazeera attempts to report the news impar­tial­ly. Al-Jazeera, in
fact, comes far clos­er to the truth, at least with regard to Iraq, than most west­ern news agencies.

Out­foxed: Rupert Mur­doch’s War on Jour­nal­ism. An excel­lent com­pan­ion piece to Con­trol Room, this film uses inter­views with inside whistle­blow­ers and FOX’s own film footage to reveal the net­work’s noto­ri­ous right-wing bias and agen­da. Typ­i­cal of FOX’s style of report­ing is its cov­er­age of this doc­u­men­tary. Com­ment­ing on the film, FOX reporter Eric Shawn report­ed: “It’s unfair, it’s slant­ed, and it’s a hit job. And I haven’t even seen it yet.” Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this film is not play­ing in the­aters. Instead it is being dis­trib­uted online, and MoveOn.org is ask­ing peo­ple to orga­nize house par­ties this Sun­day, July 18, in which neigh­bors will gath­er togeth­er to view and dis­cuss the film. (Sor­ry for the late notice!) If you’re inter­est­ed in join­ing a house par­ty, vis­it this web page and type in your zip code. Then choose
a par­ty that’s con­ve­nient for you. (Inci­den­tal­ly, there’s a great piece on Bill O’Reil­ly’s sto­ry-spin­ning here, writ­ten by one of O’Reil­ly’s recent guests.)

The Cor­po­ra­tion. Cor­po­ra­tions dom­i­nate our world. More pow­er­ful than gov­ern­ments and reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions, cor­po­ra­tions more than any oth­er enti­ty threat­en our envi­ron­ment, health, finan­cial secu­ri­ty, and lib­er­ty. This new film doc­u­ments the rise of the cor­po­ra­tion and its pur­suit of pow­er and prof­its at the expense of lit­er­al­ly every­thing else. In the wake of the Enron, World­com, Glob­al Cross­ing, KPMG, Mer­rill Lynch, and Hal­libur­ton scan­dals (to name just a few), this film has nev­er been more impor­tant. (See our own work on the dan­gers of cor­po­rate pow­er here.)

Orwell Rolls in His Grave. What hap­pens to truth and to our knowl­edge of his­to­ry when only six huge and con­ser­v­a­tive cor­po­ra­tions con­trol what we see and hear on tele­vi­sion and radio? We get a ful­fill­ment of George Orwell’s dire prophe­cy about Big Broth­er, in which the gov­ern­ment and the media con­spire to keep the peo­ple in the dark. This new film exam­ines the cur­rent media cri­sis and its like­ly effect on democracy.

If this mes­sage was for­ward­ed to you by a friend and you would like to receive our newslet­ter direct­ly, send an email to subscribe@theemailactivist.org.

To read some back issues, some book reviews, or to get advice on how to con­tact your elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives, vis­it us online.

Cur­rent Mood: 🙁wor­ried
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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