The Alternative Media—A Lifeline of Freedom
On Saturday, March 28, 2015, thousands marched in Indianapolis in favor of same-sex marriage rights. On Saturday, April 25, 2015, thousands marched in Washington, D.C. in opposition to same-sex marriage.
Which story did the media cover? Let’s put it this way—which rally did you not see covered by the news? The answer is obvious, and it underscores the great need for alternative sources of media.
Norway learned the importance of the alternative media 75 years ago when the Nazis took over that small country for five years. It’s been fascinating to learn from my Norwegian wife’s older relatives how virtually everyone participated in small or big ways to the resistance against the Nazis.
To be clear, my purpose is not to compare anyone here to the Nazis. Rather, my point is about the vital importance of a free and independent-minded media.
In Germany and in all the countries they conquered, the only information that was legally available had to be approved by the state; and, of course, much of it was a lie. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s master propagandist, controlled the media with an iron fist.
I spoke one time with a woman who grew up in Germany. She always remembered her mom, during the Nazi years, sticking her head in the oven to listen softly to the BBC on the shortwave radio she had hidden in there.
In those days, the BBC would broadcast news of what was really happening—good or bad—instead of endless propaganda.
Once the Nazis took over Norway, they made it a capital crime to own a shortwave radio. You could listen to the Nazi propaganda; but if you wanted to hear the truth, you had to seek it elsewhere. And that was strictly forbidden.
One day, as a young man, my wife’s Uncle Leif was at a train station; and he had a short-wave radio in a bag. Suddenly, he saw some German officers walking near. Without them noticing, he tossed the bag into the valley below. It was smashed, but he wasn’t caught.
The Norwegian resistance had brave people hiding in the mountains with headphones to listen to the BBC news broadcasts in order to type out notes. Those notes were then duplicated through mimeograph machines and distributed secretly through various channels.
If a family came over for supper, they would leave their boots inside, by the front door. The children of the host family would secretly wad up the mimeograph sheets and hide them inside the soles of the boots for later perusal. Thus, everyone was getting in the act so that truth could quietly be known.
This may be an extreme example. But it underscores the importance of the flow of information.
Even under dire conditions, there is always an alternative media. In the days of the American War for Independence, there were Committees of Correspondence, disseminating information to the 13 colonies contrary to royal-controlled sources. About half of the New Testament is composed of letters that were written and circulated when the authors were in prison for the “crime” of spreading the gospel.
I’m grateful to live at a time where there is readily available an alternative media. I’m sure if some elitists in our culture had their way, they would over-regulate the Internet or talk radio or Christian broadcasting to make them essentially toothless—as sometimes happens in other countries.
The Internet has helped mollify the monopoly of the mainstream media. The alternative media is an extremely important lifeline to the Christian conservative movement.
Joseph Farah, creator of WorldNetDaily (the first Internet-only alternative news organization credentialed to cover the White House and Capitol Hill), told me once, “We live in a brand new media world today. It’s as if the old media world had been scrapped and we’ve got brand new institutions, facilities, and opportunities that lay before us right now. That’s what the Internet has meant to us.”
But there are some who would like to change that.
Recently George F. Will, quoted in the Wall Street Journal (4/21/15), said that one of Hillary Clinton’s goals is “to amend the Bill of Rights to make it less protective. It’s an astonishing event. She said that she wants to change the First Amendment in order to further empower the political class to regulate the quantity, content and timing of political speech about the political class…”
I thank God we don’t live under the type of repression from totalitarian regimes—an extreme example being the Nazis—with their control of the media. But we must always be vigilant. From the Internet to Christian broadcasting to talk radio, we need the alternative media. Without a free press, I don’t see how we can remain a free people.