Friday, December 03, 2004

Bush, Media and Libel

Saw this post:
Now, I'll be the first to admit that Bush is not just a poor speaker, but one whose unscripted performances are often disturbing to watch even when one agrees with what the President is saying. But since Bush can't magically transform himself into Cicero or Pericles, the logical thing for him to do is to avoid confrontations with hostile audiences.
Reluctantly, I have to agree. It makes sense for Bush to keep quiet as much as possible. But then I saw this Galloway post from Andrew Sullivan commenting on the fact that Galloway was "not given sufficient opportunity to refute the claims in the Telegraph that he had received up to £375,000 a year from Saddam":
Such a judgment wouldn't stand a chance in an American court - but then Britain's libel laws are far tougher than America's; and there's far less freedom of speech in the UK than in the U.S.
But I'm thinking: Perhaps stricter libel laws in America would be a GOOD thing. It might reduce the amount of mud-slinging and nit-picking, thereby encouraging politicians and other people in the news to speak their mind more often, thus increasing the quality of and interest in news, finally improving democracy itself through more rational debate.

I don't know if Andrew is right, is there less freedom of speech in the UK? Perhaps that is true "on paper" but reality in America is that people don't read much news (they cynically think it's "all biased" anyway) and they don't debate much ("no religion or politics at work!"). What's the point of having freedom to speak when nobody listens? Just compare two press conferences by Bush and Blair and you'll see what I mean.

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