If you recall, I mentioned that fear is used as a means of control.
As an elected council member my fear is limited to making a poor decision that has unforeseen and negative consequences. I fear that I will wake up on a Wednesday morning to find out that the previous night's decision would have a drastic negative impact. But decide, I must; that is what your elected officials must do.
So with each decision, with each blog post, with each public appearance, I run the risk of saying or doing something that will have a negative impact and that, to some degree, makes me fearful.
However, I must keep a level head and remind myself and those around me that I am human and inclined to act as such. "Be humble" I say to myself.
And if I should say too much, stumble or miss a step, the press is there to remind me of who I represent. While we can certainly argue the role of the press and the various biases that each media outlet may have, it is of the utmost importance that all of us remember the role of the press. In my opinion and that of many, the press serves the people equally as much as government itself. The modern press is able to tell the public that which government would rather not share.
Sometimes the government (an all encompassing term which could include public employees, elected and appointed officials, etc.) makes an embarrassing mistake, like when Fullerton police officers mistakenly raided the wrong house. Sometimes government withholds information because of ongoing investigations, like when the Fullerton Police Department refused to release the video of police confronting Kelly Thomas on July 5th. In these two examples the public by and large knew of the incidents' occurrence and even some details. However, it takes a complete disclosure of the evidence to paint an accurate picture of the events. Since former Fullerton Police officers have certain rights of appeal with respect to their employment, I will not comment further on that case.
In both cases, though, the press had a specific role to play in sharing information with the public. While the press can request information all day every day, it takes the government (again a broad term) to provide the press with the information. We have the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees that the press can operate without interference from government.
But what about when a government has information which the public would take great interest in if the press knew of its existence and were to report it. What if the government chose not to release it or even make its existence known? This is where the importance of an elected representative can make all of the difference. Having officials willing to open their doors to the press and the media and allow for complete, and sometimes even embarrassing, transparency is in my opinion the only way to ensure an honest government that places the citizens first. Fear of the truth is power to some and terror to others.
"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787.