Is Ethical Journalism Dead?

Is Ethical Journalism Dead?

by sarath.nm,

August 28, 2021

Lt Gov. Josh Green gets an A-plus. In reaching out to reporters with a false story, he did exactly what an underhanded politician would do to get attention: garner sympathy and solicit public favor in his expected bid for governor. However, AM 690 (Mike Buck Show), Associated Press, Hawaii News Now, Star Advertiser and MSNBC get an F. They broke the cardinal journalistic rule of “fair and balanced” reporting with their stories on a manufactured situation regarding Green and his ethnic background.

AP, HNN, SA and MSNBC wrote stories accusing Aloha Freedom Coalition of doing something we did not do and of having motives we do not have. And yet, not one of these news agencies (except for the Star Advertiser) reached out to AFC for comment.

Most media have been all but absent to raw and newsworthy situations unfolding nightly on our streets:  hundreds of people marching, begging for our lawmakers to take note is no casual event. Rather than having the integrity to visit us in person, at least one of the articles simply referenced content from our social media pages. What these news outlets did was a smear campaign and the hypocrisy of doing to us what you are accusing us of doing to Green will not be lost on a discerning reader.

Faulty Accusations

The articles in question were virtual mouthpieces for Green, labeling our protests as anti-Semitic. When these media sources began their unfair and unbalanced reporting, AFC members looked at each other in puzzlement, “He’s Jewish?” Followed by, “What does that have to do with anything?” Is it lost on Green that Dennis Prager, one of the greatest proponents of Judaism in America, was our keynote speaker at our largest rally this year? Anyone who looked at our website would have known that. Our base comprises a cross section of the ethnicities and religious and political views that make up our island state, including Jewish members and supporters who believe in one thing: personal freedom.

Our only business with the Lieutenant Governor has been to speak with him regarding his Covid policies that collide with constitutional protection of Hawaii’s citizens, with freedom of choice and our right to informed consent. Though he has publicly expressed interest in speaking with us, he has not made a sincere effort to make himself available.

In the articles, Green claims that beyond our noisemaking, protestors threatened him and wrote racial epithets on posters of him. We are upset with his policies, not his person. AFC supporters were out making controlled noise to get Green’s attention, not putting up posters to carefully write anti-Jewish sentiment at the top of these posters. As for the threats, Green points to comments written on our social media pages.

Particularly egregious is a Hawaii News Now story attempting to preempt public opinion by making excuses for Green’s bad behavior. To posit that exposé videos we have posted have drawn threats from commenters and then implicate law-abiding AFC protestors with a headline like, “Green says he is facing death threats, harassment from anti-vaccine protestors” is, at best, shoddy journalism. HNN’s Aug. 25 article states, “Green welcomes the protesters’ message, but it must be delivered at the appropriate venue.” He has said this a few times, but there’s apparently never an appropriate venue.

Without evidence, this article and Green claim we have threatened him, yelled hate speech at him and engaged in a hate campaign. No one amongst AFC has done so. But by claiming these things, he deflects any valid critique.

If the media agencies listed in this article had contacted us, they would have readily had access to the texts we send our supporters. Messages from AFC to the public regarding the recent marches around Green’s abode have been without exception non-violent and cooperative with HPD. The articles describe an unruly, hateful crowd. The opposite is true: there are numerous videos posted online of us marching in orderly fashion, guided by HPD.

What we Want

Our marches grew organically from protests at the capitol to a more focused protest as the coercion, bribery and mandates from Green and others has ramped up. As first responders, teachers and other City and County employees have been left with the compromising position of either getting an experimental genetic treatment injected into their arm or losing their job, our base of unheard citizens has grown.

Rather than bang pots and pans into the void of a closed capitol building in the invisibility of night, we took our voices to a place that we hoped mattered. Green could have stopped the noise immediately by simply agreeing to address our concerns at a place and time of his convenience. To Mayor Blangiardi’s credit, when we arrived at Honolulu Hale, he came out, albeit momentarily, to speak with us. We need more of that.

Not only has Green been a no-show as far as public dialogue, but so have the media listed here. Journalists have an ethical obligation to share information pertinent to the community with the public and to call out public officials who tarnish their office. In this case, journalism has done exactly the opposite. When all over social media, people are asking about the group making noise downtown, and yet no major outlet investigates, that is censorship.

A news channel out of Israel, Haaretz, stated that our protests are “afflicted with antisemitism.” The article, places the onus of blame on protestors, saying we’re among anti-Semites caught up in a “pandemic rage,” thereby sidestepping the real issue, which are Green’s rules. One of our texts to the public asks everyone to smile and show how happy we are to celebrate freedom. There is deep care, without any sense of rage. Who is the persecutor and who is the persecuted? As an Israeli paper, the staff of Haaretz, may be familiar with the Nuremburg Code that partially states:

“The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.”

Green’s color, religion, gender or ethnicity don’t concern us. What does concern us about Green is his complete dismissal of the humanitarian codes adopted during the Nuremburg trials. Our message is diametrically opposed to anti-Semitism. We are distressed citizens crying out with everything we have because we don’t want history to repeat itself. But thus far, we’ve met deaf ears, even from supposedly credentialed media, the very platform that should be giving us a voice, not silencing us.

The Takeaway

Calling AFC anti-Semites is sensationalistic, unprincipled and inappropriate. Green is not the victim here. Shame on the reporters who wrote these stories, shame on Green for falsely accusing us of hate speech, and shame on the influential media outlets that chose to run with this fabricated assertion of a hate campaign. Additionally, shame on the Anti-Defamation League that publicly condemned us without ever talking to us.

Green is using verbal sleight of hand in crying anti-Semitism, wanting people to believe that our frustration has anything to do with him being Jewish, which is utterly irrelevant. In fact, we’re frustrated because of his tyrannical policies. Nazis, Bolsheviks and Maoists didn’t bang pots and pans: these instruments are tools of the oppressed and have been since time immemorial.

As upset as protestors are with our health autonomy, jobs and children’s schooling and athletics on the line, we remain staunch advocates of law and order. We will continue to engage in civil disobedience as long as official orders fail to uphold our constitutional protections and rights. We disavow all acts of hate and violence and we uphold our motto of freedom and aloha for all of Hawaii’s citizens. Now, we must also cry foul when upstanding media run with a story, turning something that never happened into slanderous headlines.

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