Media cries 'perjury' about Roland Burris
Good grief. Suppose that I sit here in my home, and that earlier today I received three telemarketing phone calls. Is it my job to remember that earlier today, three unsolicited commercial approaches were made, by outfits putting their hands out for money? Isn't that a normal day around here? Isn't that background noise? Commercial telemarketers always call here, and they are always told to "fuggedaboutit."
There are many times and occasions when people don't "tell us everything they know." Once, when speaking to an accountant, I was curious to learn exactly how he was making calculations for depreciation. But, he cut me off because he was uninterested to be my tutor. It's understandable in light of his socially accepted role -- he was already a trained accountant -- and mine -- I was his customer or client. He had no obligation to "teach" depreciation, and so I would be out of line to expect some right to pick his brains.
That's fine -- some years later, the shoe was on the other foot when I was a software developer and a too-curious lady, who was my client, wanted to pick my brains. It is not my job to "teach" software development, and her attitude smacked of a medical patient, in an operating room before surgery, who stops the doctor and says, "first, teach me surgery." Any doctor should roll his eyeballs. To undertake a surgical procedure, it should not be necessary that a doctor first stop and repeat medical school to the patient.
So, there are many times and occasions when people don't tell us everything they know. Doctors, software developers, and accountants don't have to tutor their clients or spill trade secrets, and it's true that it could be onerous and burdensome for them to entertain laymen's questions that might be of a general nature, or "just curious." Educators should educate -- and when they do so, they should be paid. Those "just curious" attempts to pick somebody's brain are reaches to gain education on a freebie basis.
Every day in every way, the news business does not tell the public "everything it knows." In my examples above, the reticence of doctors and software developers and accountants is normal, routine, and harmless. But in the news business, while their poker faces are normal and routine, it isn't harmless. What is not reported can be genuine wrong doing, corruption, or crimes against the public -- election irregularities in Ohio (2004) come to mind -- and in some cases deadly. This year marks ten years of Falun Gong persecution in China, systematically sanitized by the U.S. news media.
The news media are not telling us everything that they know. Week after week, there emerge stomach turning reports from the persecution in China. The Falun Dafa Information Center exists for the purpose of getting the word out, including by way of media placements. Week after week, America's news media circular file the releases and leave the persecution on the cutting room floor.
Based on the above -- the news media are not telling us everything that they know -- can we take that circumstance and extend it into a formal charge of perjury? I have previously suggested that Jennings and Brokaw and Rather could be prosecuted in Nuremberg-style trials, as accessories to genocide. "Accessories to genocide" is one charge, but "perjury" would be a new one to hurl in this frame of reference.
Where am I getting all of this talk about perjury? From the U.S. news media! In the story about U.S. Senator Roland Burris, I will admit that my research is cursory and that I am subject to getting more information and deeper insights as time unfolds. But at the top line, on Monday Feb. 16, we are in day two of a flap about Roland Burris, and the news media have already reported enough for me to observe as follows.
In recent Illinois impeachment proceedings, Burris was asked if he spoke with the team of Rod Blagojevich about his interest to be appointed to the U.S. Senate. He indicated in the affirmative. That should be no surprise -- it seems natural that yes, Burris would speak out about Burris' interest. Later, Burris has filed a supplementary affidavit that says he received three calls from Rob Blagojevich, seeking campaign fundraising help (money).
That's a little bit like if I wrote this article, and then appended an update saying that three telemarketers called me to put their hands out for money earlier today. I already covered this territory in paragraph 1, above. People calling to put their hand out for money is a normal day around here. It's background noise. It does not reflect Kusumi speaking out about Kusumi's interest. Very clearly, the people who call here to sell insurance and things have their own interest. They call here, and I say fuggedaboutit.
It is understandable that the Blagojevich campaign has its interest to raise money, and their outreach to do so strikes me as the normal course of events when their team is doing its job. Burris indicated that he did not give any money in response to those fundraising solicitations. So, it's just like me, not buying insurance from whomever called here earlier today.
There is an assertion that because Burris didn't tell "everything he knows" in the impeachment proceeding -- and that word of the solicitations appeared in a supplementary affidavit -- that Burris can be investigated for perjury. I don't think so, and in his press conferences Burris was explicitly clear to say that there is no change to his earlier testimony. The new information (which I look upon as useless) is not contradictory; rather it is supplementary. Again, my research is cursory, but the above information about Burris has already been reported by the mainstream media.
In a perfect world, would everybody be more upfront with everything they know? Perhaps yes. But in the course of our actual world, I think it is understandable that Burris' interest is one thing on the one hand, while the Blagojevich team's interest is another thing on the other hand. In the replay that I saw on the news, from the Illinois impeachment proceedings, Burris was asked if he talked about *HIS* interest. Yes seems a natural answer. And, for that matter, it does not surprise to learn that in fundraising calls, that the Blagojevich team talked about *THEIR* interest.
To date on the news, the investigators can't even establish an exchange of money between these two sides, much less a quid-pro-quo. It looks to me like the well is dry and that investigators are at a dead end with Roland Burris. So therefore, the cry of perjury seems like misplaced political theatrics. My own summary of matters surrounding Burris would say, "no harm, no foul."
However, if the matter is pressed, then perhaps we can indict the news media and add perjury charges to those I advocate for Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather. To me, there is zero surprise in Burris' note that Rob Blagojevich called him for fundraising. Campaigns asking for money is background noise, as surely as insurance salesmen are to me. If you ask me for a newsworthy story, I will direct you to www.faluninfo.net, where we learn the tragic stories from China's genocide against the Falun Gong -- an entire holocaust that is swept under the rug by U.S. TV networks.
People who testify under oath swear to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." When we see the unqualified phrase, "the whole truth," it is impossibly sweeping and overbroad as an item to ask of anyone. It is inexact and subject to interpretation. It is an example of inexactness in the courtroom. "The whole truth" might include events from the last ice age, or the formation of the universe -- events that we were not alive to witness. As a result, an inexact standard is invoked in oaths that are worded thusly. (To ask "the whole truth" of anyone is a trick question. To work with this idea, it may be necessary to interpolate -- to take it as "the whole [germane] truth [to the best of your knowledge, information, and belief]." It would be simpler if courts would just say "tell us what you know" --and swear that it will be accurate rather than inaccurate.)
Roland Burris introduced two (non-contradictory and hence consistent) pieces of truth in two different time frames. First in the impeachment hearing, he told us that yes, he had talked to the Blagojevich team about his interest to be appointed to the U.S. Senate. Second in the follow up affidavit, he told us about Blagojevich's team asking for money, which he declined to provide. That second piece of truth is what I call background noise. Since the solicitation was refused and no money changed hands, then there is no basis to establish any quid-pro-quo. I continue to see "no harm, no foul."
Can someone in Illinois argue that it's not background noise? Yes. The impeachment proceeding was all about the Blagojevich team, "hitting up" the potential Senate nominees for money. So, for those investigating Blagojevich behavior, these calls can raise an eyebrow and can be considered germane. However, they impeached and removed the Governor already! They already ran him out of town on a rail! The affidavit from Roland Burris now makes no material difference to the outcome of the proceeding. My point was that at the Burris end of matters, that campaign solicitations are background noise. What means more in a Blagojevich investigation means less in a Burris investigation -- and why start one? Partisanship and adolescent maneuvering can be the only motive, since news to date has not revealed to my eyes any real, actual basis or grounds for same.
It may be that casual slander is "close enough for media work." The partisans and the adolescents can only run this drumbeat by relying upon the media to be sloppy and inexact. Back in the old days -- like February 10, 2009 -- perjury had a definition, which we can still look up. According to the Random House Dictionary via Dictionary.com, perjury means "the willful giving of false testimony under oath or affirmation, before a competent tribunal, upon a point material to a legal inquiry." In short, a finding of perjury requires the presence of inaccurate testimony, given under oath. The Latin roots of the word suggest "swearing falsely."
Now separately, the American Heritage Dictionary has first the legal definition, and then a second definition that is not marked Law (and hence perhaps more vernacular): "2. The breach of an oath or promise." I think that "lying under oath" is the understanding that most Americans have at street level, but that second definition offers the only hope for Burris' Republican opponents (and the mainstream news media) to have a leg to stand on for their current, silly drumbeat.
I believe that we can toss out any reliance upon that definition 2, for reasons that (1.) it's not the legal definition of perjury; and (2.) if it were, and if we applied that standard consistently, then we would have the problem I alluded to above. Every witness from every proceeding, if they failed to explain (e.g.) the last ice age, would have failed to meet a standard that requires "the whole truth." It is an unrealistic standard to hold for witnesses. Every person who ever went through a courtroom likely failed to explain (e.g.) the origins of the universe, and hence ALL witnesses would be guilty of perjury under that standard. As we think it through, we fail to find a standard that is reasonable to enforce.
I believe that Roland Burris can stand or fall based on the legal definition of perjury, and that adherence to that would cause us to put away that charge as of now in revelations about Burris. No one is accusing him of lying under oath; the most that Republicans can say is that Burris didn't (on the day of his appearance) tell them "everything he knows." But, it is understandable that he would know first about his own interests, and only second about those of others like the Blagojevich team. The revelations above look natural, and pass the smell test, to me.
What does not pass the smell test is the media, drumming along with a sloppy, inexact, "casual slander" definition of perjury. What if the American public could require "the whole truth" of the news media? How much trouble would Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather be in? How much more would we know about Falun Gong persecution, election theft, the 9/11 attacks, motivations for war, and whatever else they swept under the rug? In addition to software development, I am the founder responsible for the China Support Network (CSN). With the Chinese democracy movement, we have an overhang of unfinished business from the 1980s. (This year marks 20 years since China's Tiananmen Square massacre and the beginning of CSN.)
Very arguably, America has unfinished business from the 1960s (getting to the bottom of political assassinations), from the 1980s (my work), and from later in the tenure of Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather. From the 1990s, we never got to the bottom of the Oklahoma City bombing, nor the first bomb attack on the World Trade Center. And, above I mentioned some more unfinished business -- Falun Gong persecution, election theft, the 9/11 attacks, and motivations for war.
As I said above, "Every day in every way, the news business does not tell the public 'everything it knows.'" Therefore, they are hurling that brick at Roland Burris not from the high ground, but from the low ground. As for myself and the bricks that I hurl at the media, "accessories to genocide" is a shoe that fits. "Perjury," however, requires an oath -- and I realize that Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather were not administered any oath as they took the anchormen's seats. So, I do not use perjury as a brick against them.
There are other words that could apply to the media -- propagandizing, misleading, bamboozling the public -- but perjury, no. The media only commit perjury if we use standards of casual slander that are “close enough for media work.”