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The Press and Terrorists

October 03, 1986

The article by William Pfaff (Editorial Pages, Sept. 19), "Terrorists Are Now in Charge--Thanks to the Press," was right on the money. With freedom of the press comes the obligation to use it responsibly. We cannot allow terrorists, serial murderers, and the like, to manipulate our press to further their own malevolent ends.

A responsible press is a press with priorities designed to serve the greater good of the society in which a free press is possible. This is not to say that a free press is a propagandistic one. Rather, it implies that printing something merely because you know it is not always the appropriate thing to do. To borrow a few words from the apostle Paul, "All things are lawful, but not all things are expedient . . . "

If the top priority of a given newspaper is to sell newspapers no matter the price to society as a whole, then that paper is guilty of the irresponsible use of its freedom. If telling the whole story, even if it means playing into the hands of those who are functionally at war with our government, is the main priority, then we have used our freedom treasonably.

The duty of the press is to chronicle, as accurately as possible, the events of our contemporary situation. This involves the quest for accuracy and objectivity. What we say should always be true, but everything that is true should not always be said--at least not until the danger is past.

In featuring the blatherings of Soviet propagandist Vladimir Posner, or the rantings of individuals who are only above the animals by virtue of their ability to use thumb and forefinger, we are guilty of printing propaganda for the Dark Side of the Force.

Publicity-hungry murderers, terrorists and other corrupted exhibitionists, should not be allowed to use our free press, or the electronic media, to push their baleful causes.



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