(See part 3
of my video series on the
ESF and its history for more info on the Wurlitzer)
Global Public Square reports about The fall of the House
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
The fall of the House of Murdoch
By Jonathan Schell
During the four decades since the Watergate affair engulfed US President
Richard Nixon, politicians have repeatedly ignored
the scandal’s main lesson: the cover-up is worse than the crime. Like
Nixon, they have paid a higher price for concealing their misdeeds than they
would have for the misdeeds alone.
Now, for once, comes a scandal that breaks that
rule: the United Kingdom’s phone-hacking
affair, which has shaken British politics to its foundations. Over the past decade, the
tabloid newspaper The News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s
News Corporation, targeted 4,000 people’s voicemail. The list includes not only royalty,
celebrities, and other VIPs, but
also the families of servicemen killed in
Afghanistan and Iraq, and those of victims of the July 2005 terrorist attack in London.
It all unraveled when The Guardian reported that the tabloid had hacked into the voicemail of missing 13-year-old Milly
Dowler, apparently in the hope of obtaining some
private expressions of family members’ grief or desperation that it
could splash on its front page. When
the girl’s murdered body was found six months later, the family and the
police thought she might still be alive,
because The News of the
World’s operatives were deleting messages when her phone’s
mailbox became full. (According to Scotland
Yard, Murdoch hacks reportedly bribed mid-level police officers to supply
information as well.)
In the extensive annals of eavesdropping, all
of this is something new. Not
even Stalin wiretapped the dead.
A cover-up ensued. James Murdoch, Rupert’s son and Chairman and Chief
Executive of News Corporation’s European and Asian operations, authorized a secret payment of £1 million ($1.6 million) to buy the silence of hacking victims. Millions of in-house emails reportedly
have been destroyed. Still, it seems safe to
say that the peculiarly repellant inhumanity of
the original deeds will remain more shocking than the details of this or any
Even so, the political consequences of the phone-hacking scandal will depend
on far more than the outcome of the official investigations now underway in
Britain. Above all, the scandal’s impact will depend on how governments
and citizens assess what News Corporation really is.
The Murdochs call News Corporation a journalistic enterprise. In fact, it is,
first, an entertainment company, with the bulk of its revenue coming from its
film and television holdings. Second, and more importantly, it is a propaganda machine for right-wing causes and political figures.
This is News Corporation’s main
face in the U.S., in the form of Fox News, whose hallmark has been relentless propagation of right-wing ideology.
Whereas political propaganda had once been the domain of governments and
political parties, Fox News is formally independent of both –
though it overwhelmingly serves the interests of
America’s Republican Party.
In Britain, News Corporation has been creating a sort
of state unto itself by corrupting the police, assuming police powers of
surveillance, and intimidating politicians into looking the other way. In the U.S., it has behaved similarly, using corporate media power to
breathe life into a stand-alone political organization, the Tea Party.
All of this is far removed from what a journalistic organization is supposed
to do. Journalism’s essential role in a
democracy is to enable people to fulfill their roles as citizens by providing
information about government, other powerful
institutions, civil movements, international events, and so on. But News Corporation replaces such journalism with titillation and
gossip, as it did when it took over the
168-year-old News of the World and turned it into a tabloid
in 1984, and with partisan campaigns, as it did when it created Fox News in
Not surprisingly, at Fox News, as at many other News Corporation outlets,
editorial independence is sacrificed to iron-fisted centralized control. News and commentary are mingled in an uninterrupted stream of political
campaigning. Ideology trumps factuality. And major Republican
figures, including possible contenders for the party’s presidential
nomination, are hired as “commentators.” Indeed, its specific
genius has been to turn propaganda into a popular and financial success.
Given The News of the World’s profitability, no one should be surprised if the Murdochs have been replicating their
sunken British flagship’s reprehensible behavior elsewhere. But, whatever else is revealed, the
UK phone-hacking scandal is of a piece with the Murdochs’
transformation of news into propaganda: both reflect an assault on democracy’s essential walls of
separation between media, the state, and political parties. The Murdochs are fusing these entities into a single unaccountable power
that, as we see in Britain today, lacks any restraint or scruple.
That effort should compel us to confront an uncomfortable reality underlying
both the British phone-hacking scandal, with its penumbra of appalling
cruelty and wanton corruption, and Fox News, America’s most popular
news channel: too many people want what the News Corporation has been
offering. And what too many people want can be
dangerous to a civilized, law-based society.
To glimpse just how dangerous, consider Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi’s MediaSet conglomerate has seduced broad swathes of the
electorate since the 1980’s with a Murdoch-like combination of insipid
variety shows and partisan political theater. When Italy’s postwar
party system collapsed in the early 1990’s, Berlusconi was able to
establish his own political party, win power, and, over the course of three
governments, bend laws and government institutions to serve his business and
The News Corporation seems determined to
take Britain and the US down a similar path. But now, at
least in Britain, the political class is in revolt. Prime Minister David Cameron – who previously cultivated close
ties with News Corporation leaders, even employing as his press
secretary The News of the World’s former editor, who
was recently arrested for his role in the scandal – called the phone
hacking “disgusting.” Meanwhile, Labour leaders, who had also sought the
Murdochs’ favor, have vowed to block
News Corporation’s bid for full ownership of Britain’s largest
pay-television broadcaster. Whether
the rebellion will jump across the Atlantic remains to be seen.
The ESF’s Wurlitzer
(Propaganda Machine) Is losing CREDIBILITY
California Progress Report reports that
UK Media Scandal Reveals Weakness Of US Media.
UK Media Scandal Reveals Weakness Of US Media
Posted on 13 July 2011
By Dave Johnson
I am in the UK this week. You can barely turn on
the TV here without hearing about the “phone-hacking” scandal
from outraged voices across the spectrum. It is
a full-blown, 24/7 scandal. The thing that might be
most astonishing to Americans, though, is that people are hearing about it at all. In fact, news shows here in the UK are featuring
people questioning the power and influence of Murdoch’s news operations and its relationships with politicians, and authorities are investigating criminal activities by the media. CAN YOU IMAGINE ANY OF THAT HAPPENING
England is in the middle of a full-blown, nation-engrossing scandal over the
criminal behavior of Rupert Murdoch’s media companies. There is a full-on media frenzy. There are police investigations. The Parliament is looking into things. The
Prime Minister is appointing an investigative commission. People will be arrested and will go to jail if found guilty. Things are different in the UK from how they are in the US.
Initially the phone-hacking scandal was a little 2007 story about a Rupert
Murdoch-owned tabloid, News Of The World, that was involved in hacking
into the voicemail messages of members of the royal family. The scandal
bubbled around but wasn’t getting much coverage at all until July 4,
when The Guardian broke the story that Murdoch’s News Of The World had people
hacking into the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a
13-year-old murder victim who had disappeared in 2002. THE VOICEMAIL HACKERS DELETED MESSAGES FROM THE FULL MAILBOX SO THEY
COULD GET MORE MESSAGES LEFT BY THE GIRL’S DISTRAUGHT MOTHER, THEREBY
MAKING POLICE THINK THE DISAPPEARED GIRL WAS ALIVE, impeding the investigation and giving her
family false hope.
This revelation outraged the public and brought focus on previous
revelations. It also triggered numerous new
revelations of criminal activity that went beyond News Of The World, beyond just phone-hacking and into all
kinds of things including bribing police and operating with impunity at several other Murdoch-owned media outlets in the UK. The revelations have brought to public attention the cozy relationship
between conservative government officials and Murdoch’s organization, with the Conservative Prime Minister even employing the paper’s
Sunday editor – who had to have known about the paper’s criminal
activities – as his spokesperson. And
the revelations continue, with new criminal activities disclosed at
more and more Murdoch-owned outlets every day.
Murdoch tried to contain the scandal by closing News Of The World, but this
gave the appearance if not the reality of a cover-up. There was speculation
that the paper was involved in many more
criminal activities that would have come to light if the paper remained open, and the closure was an effort to keep police from being able to serve
search warrants, leading to accusations of a Watergate-style shredding
operation at the closed paper’s facilities.
Meanwhile the people at the top of Murdoch’s empire continue collecting
paychecks, while the employees of News Of The World are the casualties
of the conservatives at the top of the operation. The people who did the work, staffed the offices and phones, ground out the paper every day, etc., are now on the street, without jobs, thanks to the criminal shenanigans
of those at the top. Does this sound familiar? (Hint: Lehman
Brothers, Enron, the entire US economy…)
Murdoch In The US Is FOX, WSJ and the New
FOX News is a well-known Murdoch-owned outlet in the
US. The New York Post is another. The Wall Street Journal is
one more. The Journal’s publisher is Les Hinton, who has worked with
Murdoch for 52 years and who oversaw News Of The World before coming
to the Wall Street Journal. In 2007 Hinton reassured an investigative
committee of the British Parliament that an internal investigation of
Murdoch’s media outlets in the UK showed them to be operating within
the law after the initial phone-hacking was discovered.
Matters put it, "That’s right: HINTON, WHO RAN THE SHOW FOR MURDOCH AS PHONE HACKING BECAME STANDARD
OPERATING PROCEDURE, IS NOW PUBLISHER OF THE ONE OF THE LARGEST NEWSPAPERS IN
The story is beginning to reveal much about the power and influence of
Murdoch’s conservative media operations. It is showing very cozy
relationships between Murdoch and conservative politicians who enjoy
favorable coverage from his outlets. Of course, the immediate closing of a profitable newspaper also revealed that THE
MURDOCH OPERATION SAW THE PAPER AS A PROPAGANDA OPERATION, NOT A BUSINESS.
So in the UK this scandal is breaking wide open, and is
forcing a look at Murdoch’s empire, its influence, its relationship with politicians, and the
extent to which it maintains a culture of operating outside or above the law.
Not Like The US
This scandal was broken and pursued by persistent
investigative journalism, the kind that is rarely funded by American
corporate media these days. It involves the willingness of media
organizations to look into the practices of other outlets. It also involves
the willingness of some media outlets to question the coziness of conservative
leaders and conservative media.
Coverage of the scandal reveals differences between the
British and US media. It is shocking to see actual discussions
on every news show about whether the media has gotten too close to
politicians, and is providing them cover. There are very loud demands for
investigations into criminal activity that has been exposed, coming from a
diverse array of voices. There are media organizations criticizing their
competition and questioning their practices. Compare all of this to the way
American news outlets work now.
In the US there are winks and nods all the way
around. "Journalists" understand
which side their bread is buttered on and where the best career paths are
found. Just when was the last time you saw, heard
or read a representative of a labor organization explaining to people the
benefits of joining a union? All
can see that few rise in their career by questioning the practices of big
corporations or Wall Street. None rise by questioning America’s militarism or stratospheric
military budget. But careers
are harmed by going after certain interests in our country, while certainly no careers are harmed by going after liberals,
environmentalists, or those who wish to protect consumers or working people
or labor organizations.
Maybe this Murdoch scandal will bow up to
the point where the unimaginable happens here… [This scandal WILL damage the credibility of US media, and a
propaganda network without credibility is next to useless.]
The scandal is not over
by a long shot
The Guardian reports that News
Corp faces storm clouds ahead.
News Corp faces storm
Murdoch’s company is taking steps to manage the fallout from the
phone-hacking affair, but could it be too late?
guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 July 2011 18.32 BST
The News Corp chairman, Rupert Murdoch, seems to have lost his legendary
sure footing as he deals with the crisis engulfing his company. Photograph:
For an organisation that prides itself on an omnipotent sense of its readers
and viewers’ hopes and fears, NEWS CORPORATION’S
RESPONSE TO THE PHONE-HACKING CRISIS HAS BEEN REMARKABLE FOR BEING SO BEHIND
THE TIDE. [The ESF is being overwhelmed by problems]
Rebekah Brooks’s resignation should have been accepted when she first
apparently offered it, a week ago, instead of making the theatrical and
ultimately futile gesture of sacrificing the News of the World.
and Rupert Murdoch should have accepted the invitation to appear before MPs
of the culture, media and sport select committee when it was first issued, instead of waiting to be
threatened with a spell in the Tower of London after a dressing down by
Speaker John Bercow at the bar of the House of Commons (the torture!).
now, with Saturday’s apologia in the UK press, it is focused on its
problems in Britain when BIGGER STORM CLOUDS ARE GATHERING IN THE US.
Hinton, the chief executive of Murdoch-owned Dow Jones, which houses the Wall
Street Journal, who was executive chairman of News International when the News
of the World was hacking the phones of anyone who found themselves within
sniffing distance of a minor news story, faces scrutiny. Hinton’s role in the
settlements handed out to civil litigants such as Gordon Taylor, the former
Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive, whose silence
over the potential crimes perpetrated against him was secured with a cheque
for £700,000, is now being questioned.
Even more seriously, IF HINTON IS SHOWN TO HAVE KNOWN ABOUT CORRUPT PAYMENTS TO
LONDON POLICE OFFICERS, THAT WOULD BE A FELONY in the US under the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Worst of all for News Corp, the FBI has launched an investigation into accusations that NoW journalists asked a former New York police officer for the phone records of
relatives of 9/11 victims. If that toxic allegation is shown to have
been true, one thing is certain: Fox News is finished. The emotional supercharge of 9/11 in the
US is many times greater than Milly Dowler in the UK – and look what
happened here. In the US, even Republicans would join the clamour for News
Corp to be stripped of the 27 federal licences it holds under the banner of
the Fox Broadcasting Company network.
News Corp’s US interests are significantly more valuable than its
British and Australian operations; if the US business started to crumble, that
would surely lead to the break-up of the company. It seems the corporation has
belatedly woken up to the seriousness of the situation it faces. It has appointed Edelman, a global communications company that
specialises in crisis management, to manage the volcanic-sized
fallout on both sides of the Atlantic.
IS IT ALL TOO LATE? The credibility of so many senior executives in
News Corp is shot. James Murdoch’s bid to lead the company after his father
is surely in ruins. Rupert Murdoch may reputedly regard Rebekah Brooks as the
"daughter he never had", but one of the four daughters he does
have, Elisabeth, the smart one who made a soaraway success of her production
company Shine, reportedly said the former NI chief executive had "fucked the company" – a report she has since denied.
UK parliamentary hearings due next week, the hawks circling in the US, and
Rupert Murdoch appearing to have lost his legendary sure footing and looking the sum of his
80 years, THE PROSPECTS FOR NEWS CORP ARE LOOKING GRIM. It must now be a serious
prospect that the Murdoch brand has become so toxic that the company will
have to be cleansed of the name that made it. The appointment of Tom
Mockridge to run NI is the start of that process: expect to hear soon that
Chase Carey will step up to the top spot at the global corporation.
thing is clear: THERE IS MUCH MORE TO COME. Commentators have compared the crisis
to Watergate; Carl Bernstein, the former Washington Post reporter whose
revelations helped depose a US president, says it is evident to him the events of the past week "are the beginning, not
the end, of the seismic event".
Whistleblower in Hacking Scandal Found
The Salon reports on yet more News Corp. scandal updates.
Monday, Jul 18, 2011 17:30 ET
Yet more News Corp. scandal updates
A death, a mystery bag, a coverup and a dinner party argument
By Alex Pareene
So here’s what’s new since I last wrote about News Corp., a
couple of hours ago:
Police found a "mystery bag"
containing a computer, paperwork and phone in a trash can near the home of former News International
head Rebekah Brooks. Her husband insists the mystery objects belong to
him and have nothing to do with the phone-hacking case. We … shall see?
Former News of the World reporter and
phone-hacking whistle-blower Sean Hoare turned up dead at his home. "The
death is currently being treated as UNEXPLAINED but not thought to be suspicious." I am
not about to be conspiratorial about this, because I’m not Christopher
Ruddy, but you know. Hmm!
And the New York Times goes big on the details of the massive coverup and the many attempts to deflect blame to scapegoats, which looked to be
successful until, oh, last week. Les Hinton, former chief executive of Dow
Jones, seems to have … "misled" Parliament, as almost anyone
could have guessed. Rebekah Brooks wanted a
former editor who’d been fired and arrested paid a monthly stipend, to
keep him quiet. The
company destroyed computers and deleted emails! …
The scandal is exposing
just how corrupted US media has become
New York Times reports that The Journal Becomes Fox-ified.
July 15, 2011
The Journal Becomes Fox-ified
By JOE NOCERA
It’s official. The Wall Street Journal has been Fox-ified.
It took Rupert Murdoch only three and a half years to get there, starting
with the moment he acquired the paper from the dysfunctional Bancroft
family in December 2007, a purchase that was completed after he vowed to
protect The Journal’s editorial integrity and agreed to a (toothless)
board that was supposed to make sure he kept that promise.
Fat chance of that. Within five months, Murdoch had fired the editor and installed
his close friend Robert Thomson, fresh from a stint
Fox-ifying The Times of London. The new publisher was Leslie Hinton, former
boss of the division that published Murdoch’s British newspapers,
including The News of the World. (He resigned on Friday.) Soon came the changes, swift
and sure: shorter articles, less depth, an increased emphasis on
politics and, weirdly, sometimes surprisingly unsophisticated coverage of business.
Along with the transformation of a great paper into a mediocre one came a
change that was both more subtle and more insidious. The political articles
grew more and more slanted toward the Republican party line. The Journal
sometimes took to using the word “Democrat” as an adjective
instead of a noun, a usage favored by the right wing. In her book, “War at The Wall Street Journal,”
Sarah Ellison recounts how editors inserted the phrase “assault on
business” in an article about corporate taxes under President Obama. The Journal was turned
into a propaganda vehicle for its owner’s conservative views. That’s half the
definition of Fox-ification.
The other half is that Murdoch’s media outlets must shill for his
business interests. With the News of the World scandal, The Journal
has now shown itself willing to do that, too.
As a business story, the News of the World scandal isn’t just about phone
hacking and police bribery. It is about Murdoch’s media empire,
the News Corporation, being at risk — along with his
family’s once unshakable hold on it. THE OLD WALL STREET JOURNAL
WOULD HAVE BEEN LEADING THE PACK IN PURSUIT OF THAT STORY.
Now? At first, THE JOURNAL IGNORED THE SCANDAL, even though, as the Murdoch
biographer Michael Wolff pointed out in Adweek, it was front-page news all
across Britain. Then, when the scandal was no longer avoidable, The Journal
did just enough to avoid being accused of looking the other way. Blogging for Columbia
Journalism Review, Dean Starkman, the media critic, described The Journal’s
coverage as “obviously hamstrung, and far, far below the
paper’s true capacity.”
however, the coverage went all the way to craven. The paper published an interview with Murdoch that might as well have
been dictated by the News Corporation public relations department. He was going to testify
before Parliament next week, he told the Journal reporter, because
“it’s important to absolutely establish our integrity.”
Some of the accusations made in Parliament were “total lies.” The
News Corporation had handled the scandal “extremely well in every way
possible.” So had his son James, a top company executive. “When I
hear something going wrong, I insist on it being put right,” he said.
He was “getting annoyed” by the scandal. And “tired.”
And so on.
In the article containing the interview, there was no pushback
against any of these statements, even though several of them bordered
on the delusional. The two most obvious questions — When did Murdoch first
learn of the phone hacking at The News of the World? And when did he learn
that reporters were bribing police officers for information? — went
unasked. The Journal reporter had either been told not to ask those
questions, or instinctively knew that he shouldn’t. It is hard to know
which is worse. The dwindling handful of great journalists who remain at the
paper — Mark Maremont, Alan Murray and Alix Freedman among them
— must be hanging their heads in shame.
To tell you the truth, I’m hanging my head in shame too. Four years
ago, when Murdoch was battling recalcitrant members of the Bancroft family to
gain control of The Journal, which he had long lusted after and which he
viewed as the vehicle that would finally allow him to go head-to-head against
The New York Times, I wrote several columns saying that he
would be a better owner than the Bancrofts.
The Bancrofts’ history of mismanagement had made The Journal
vulnerable in the first place. I thought that Murdoch’s resources would
stop the financial bleeding, and that his desire for a decent legacy would
keep him from destroying a great newspaper.
After the family agreed to sell to him, Elisabeth Goth, the brave Bancroft
heir who had long tried to get her family to fix the company, told me,
“He has a tremendous opportunity, and I don’t think he’s
going to blow it.” In that same column, I wrote, “The chances of Mr.
Murdoch wrecking The Journal are lower than you’d think.”
The Murdock scandal is
NOT the Wurlitzer’s only challenge
Consortium News reports about The
NYT’s Favor and Fear
The NYT’s Favor and
Exclusive: A federal court opinion has revealed that the New York
Times’s 2004 spiking of the story about President George W.
Bush’s warrantless wiretapping of Americans didn’t stand alone. A year earlier, the Times bowed to
another White House demand to kill a sensitive story, one about Iran’s
nuclear program, Robert Parry reports.
By Robert Parry
June 30, 2011
The New York Times, like most U.S. newspapers, prides itself on
its “objectivity.” The Times even boasts about printing news
“without fear or favor.” BUT THE REALITY IS QUITE
DIFFERENT, with the Times agreeing – especially last decade – to withhold newsworthy
information that the Bush-43 administration considered too sensitive.
A new example of this pattern was buried in a Times article
on Wednesday about a subpoena issued to Times reporter James Risen regarding
his receipt of a leak about an apparently botched U.S. covert operation
to sabotage Iran’s nuclear research, a disclosure that Risen
published in his 2006 book, State of War.
In Wednesday’s article, the Times reported that its news executives
agreed in 2003 to kill Risen’s article about the covert operation at the request of George
W. Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and CIA Director George
it was not the only time in recent years when the Times bowed to White House
pressure to conceal information in response to a
claim of national security.
Before the presidential election in 2004, the Times editors had in
their hands another Risen story, about Bush’s warrantless wiretaps of
Americans, but THEY SPIKED IT AT BUSH’S BEHEST, AGAIN ON NATIONAL
SECURITY GROUNDS. The Times only published the wiretap story in
December 2005, more than a year later, when it learned that
Risen was also including that information in State of War.
The Times executives concluded that it was better to risk the wrath of the
White House by publishing the wiretap disclosure than to suffer the
embarrassment of getting caught sitting on a very newsworthy story, one that
later won the Pulitzer Prize.
the journalistic point in both these cases is that THE TIMES WAS NOT
ACTING "OBJECTIVELY," concerned only with the facts and the
public’s right to know. It was showing, without doubt,
“favor” and quite possibly “fear” as well.
SIMPLE TRUTH IS THAT MAJOR U.S. NEWS ORGANIZATIONS, including the Times, ROUTINELY TAKE SIDES IN
FAVOR OF U.S. FOREIGN POLICY AND AGAINST IDENTIFIED U.S. ADVERSARIES. The goal to appear
“patriotic” – or at least not “disloyal”
– trumps journalistic principles.
for the Country’
In my three-decades-plus career as a Washington-based journalist, I HAVE SEEN THIS REALITY
DEMONSTRATED REPEATEDLY AT MAINSTREAM NEWS ORGANIZATIONS WHERE I WORKED, including the Associated
Press and Newsweek. Senior editors often fancied themselves as doing what’s
“good for the country” in spinning a story in ways most favorable
to the U.S. government, rather than simply writing what presented itself.
Double standards were common. For instance, it was an easy sell to get editors to
approve a story accusing Nicaragua’s Sandinista government of drug
trafficking (although the evidence was thin to non-existent) but it required a pitched
battle (and plenty of solid evidence) to convince editors to go
with a story about cocaine smuggling by President Ronald Reagan’s pet
Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
The reason was obvious. Even if the allegations against the Sandinistas were
completely bogus, there would be no meaningful repercussions for running the
story. However, if there was even the slightest flaw in the Contra-cocaine
evidence, the consequences would be severe. So, the smart career play
was to go with the first accusation and avoid the second.
Other times, there are tough calls about whether to publish U.S. national
security secrets – and these can be very difficult decisions. The government will
always insist that lives are at stake and will threaten to point the finger
of blame if you publish a story and someone gets
hurt or killed. Frankly, it’s hard for a reporter to assess exactly what
the risks are.
OFTEN [ALWAYS?] THE GOVERNMENT EXAGGERATES THE DANGERS.
In 1985, I was the first reporter to publicly identify White House aide
Oliver North as a key figure in arranging secret (and possibly illegal)
support for the Nicaraguan Contras. However, when the Times did a
follow-up on my AP story, THE NEWSPAPER ACQUIESCED TO WHITE HOUSE
DEMANDS TO LEAVE OUT NORTH’S NAME FOR HIS SAFETY. The Times story only
referred to an unnamed U.S. government official.
That decision to shield North’s identity was probably the safe
political play for the Times, rather than join the AP in naming North. The
Times editors and reporters surely earned some brownie points with
Reagan’s White House and likely drew praise for their
But the Times decision had consequences for the then-evolving
Iran-Contra scandal in which North was a central figure. By excluding his name, the Times, in effect, protected his ability to
continue operating outside the law and in the shadows, rather
than put him on the spot for his dubious actions.
In the end, the United States and North’s boss, President Reagan, were
probably ill served by the Times’s capitulation on naming North. The
Iran-Contra scandal, which broke into the open in late 1986, represented the
worst national security scandal of Reagan’s presidency and brought the
country close to another impeachment battle.
Yet, to this day, the New York Times and other major U.S. news
outlets continue to tilt their coverage of foreign policy and national
security issues to fit within the general framework laid out by Official
Washington. Rarely do mainstream journalists deviate too far.
It has been common, for instance, for the Times and other media outlets to
state as flat fact that Libyan agents, presumably on orders from Col. Muammar
Gaddafi, blew Pan Am 103 out of the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988,
killing 270 people.
who has followed that case knows that the 2001 conviction of Libyan operative
Ali al-Megrahi by a special Scottish court was highly dubious, more a political compromise
than an act of justice. Another Libyan was found not guilty, and one of the
Scottish judges told
Dartmouth government professor Dirk Vandewalle about “enormous pressure
put on the court to get a conviction.”
In 2007, after the testimony of a key witness against Megrahi was
discredited, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed to
reconsider the conviction as a grave miscarriage of justice. However, that
review was proceeding slowly in 2009 when Scottish authorities released
Megrahi on humanitarian grounds, after he was diagnosed with terminal
Megrahi dropped his appeal in order to gain the early release, but that
doesn’t mean he was guilty. He has continued to assert his innocence and
AN OBJECTIVE PRESS CORPS WOULD REFLECT THE DOUBTS REGARDING HIS CURIOUS
CONVICTION. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Three
Deadly War Myths.”]
After all, the Lockerbie case is not simply a
historical mystery. It is one of the central reasons why the United
States and its NATO allies are insisting that Gaddafi must be removed from
power prior to any negotiated settlement of Libya’s ongoing
In pressing this need to oust Gaddafi first, President Barack Obama made a
reference to the Lockerbie bombing at his Wednesday news conference, a
presumed “fact” that may have set the White House
correspondents to nodding their heads but may well not be true.
Which brings us to a key problem regarding American journalists
siding with U.S. officials in presenting information to the American people:
Is it really “good for the country”?
By now, history should have taught us that it is often better for the
American people to know what their government is doing than to be left in the
dark where they can be led around by clever propagandists, aided and abetted by a
complicit news media.
Indeed, WHEN THE TIMES AND OTHER U.S. NEWS OUTLETS ACT IN THAT WAY,
THEY MAY BE CAUSING MORE HARM THAN THE PROPAGANDA ORGANS OF A REPRESSIVE
REGIME WOULD, since the “news” from those government mouthpieces
is discounted by those who read and see it.
Back in the 1980s, I had a phone interview with Gen. Edward Lansdale, the
famed CIA propagandist and model for a key character in The Ugly American.
Lansdale told me that THE REAL TRICK OF PROPAGANDA WAS NOT TO PLANT STORIES IN AN
OUTLET THAT WAS KNOWN TO BE CONTROLLED (because then a
person’s defenses were up), BUT TO GET THE FALSE INFORMATION INTO VENUES
THAT THE PUBLIC THOUGHT TO BE INDEPENDENT.
WAY, Lansdale said, THE PUBLIC’S DEFENSES WOULD BE DOWN
AND THE PROPAGANDA WOULD BE MORE EFFECTIVE.
The Salon reports about how the US government uses its media servants to attack real
How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism
By Glenn Greenwald
"The US has stopped running its global network of secret prisons, CIA
director Leon Panetta has announced. ‘CIA no longer operates detention
facilities or black sites,’ Mr Panetta said in a letter to staff"
April 9, 2009
Earlier this week, the truly intrepid investigative
journalist Jeremy Scahill published in The Nation ONE OF
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL EXPOSÉS OF THE YEAR.
Entitled "the CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia," the article documented that the CIA uses and effectively controls a
secret prison in Mogadishu, where foreign nationals
who are rendered off the streets of their countries (at the direction of
the U.S.) are taken (along with Somali nationals) to be imprisoned
with no due process and interrogated (by U.S. agents). Although
Somali government agents technically operate the facility, that is an obvious
ruse: "US intelligence personnel pay the
salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners"
and are "there full-time,"
Scahill reported. On Democracy Now on Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed it has no knowledge of this secret prison.
This arrangement, as
Scahill told me yesterday, is consistent with standard
Obama administration practice: " THEY CONTINUE
EVEN THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL BUSH TERRORISM POLICIES BY HAVING SOME OTHER
GOVERNMENT TECHNICALLY OPERATE IT SO THEY CAN KEEP THEIR FINGERPRINTS OFF
IT." Indeed, the
administration has even resorted to this playbook by using "torture by
proxy" — as we saw when the Kuwait government, with
at least the complicity if not direction of the U.S., detained and
beat American teenager Gulet Mohamed during interrogation sessions.
Just yesterday, a federal judge "reacted skeptically" to the Obama DOJ’s demands for dismissal of a lawsuit (on secrecy grounds) brought by an
American citizen imprisoned for four months in Africa, where "U.S. OFFICIALS THREATENED HIM WITH
TORTURE, FORCED DISAPPEARANCE AND OTHER SERIOUS HARM UNLESS HE CONFESSED TO
TIES WITH AL-QAIDA IN SOMALIA."
RUSSIAN newspapers are
RIGHTFULLY and OPENLY ridiculing US media
The Moscow Times (where my sister used
to work) reports about U.S.
Propaganda Disguised as Journalism.
U.S. Propaganda Disguised
Manhattan District Attorney Office’s criminal case against Dominique
Strauss-Kahn has all but collapsed after the prosecution
itself acknowledged that it did not trust the testimony of the 32-year-old
woman who claimed Strauss-Khan sexually attacked her.
Since Strauss-Kahn’s arrest in mid-May, the alleged victim has
undermined her own case by repeatedly lying to a
grand jury and to prosecutors. But perhaps the worst blow to her case was the taped telephone
conversation she had with an incarcerated man in which she discussed how they
could benefit financially from accusing the wealthy Strauss-Kahn of raping her.
What’s more, investigators have found no forensic evidence whatsoever that a nonconsensual sexual attack occurred.
Nonetheless, STRAUSS-KAHN’S REPUTATION HAS BEEN PERMANENTLY TARNISHED
AND HIS CAREER RUINED, particularly after footage of him in handcuffs being escorted
by police was shown all over the world. Americans like to explain the
notorious tradition of “perp walks” in which television cameras
show defendants being escorted — usually in handcuffs if the criminal
accusation is for a violent crime — during their arraignment as part
and parcel of their open, free democratic society. In the most democratic
judicial system in the world, we are told, the people have a
fundamental right to see on television who has been charged with a
serious crime. After all, when the U.S. government brings a criminal case
against a defendant, it is a crime against society.
sounds wonderful IN THEORY, but in reality — as
the Strauss-Kahn fiasco clearly showed — the perp walk de facto
destroys the very presumption of innocence that serves as the foundation of
the U.S. legal and criminal systems. He was publicly demeaned
and humiliated — and considered guilty by millions of viewers all over
Americans and U.S. institutions were disgraced by this case. This includes the judge,
who, clearly acting on emotions and not evidence, ruled that Strauss-Kahn
should be kept in pretrial detention alongside hardened criminals instead of
being freed on bail. It also includes the investigators and Manhattan
district attorney, who did not fairly weigh the evidence and were all too
quick to arrest Strauss-Kahn in their hot pursuit of making headlines by
catching a big fish. They once again sought to show the world how democratic
the U.S. legal system is. After all, everyone is equal under the law, right?
U.S. MEDIA WERE ALSO DISGRACED. Although they love to proclaim themselves the most objective,
independent and fairest in the world, THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF CASES
BESIDES THE STRAUSS-KAHN INCIDENT THAT PROVE THE OPPOSITE. Remember, for example, how the U.S.
media unanimously supported the NATO bombing of Belgrade in the late 1990s.
they so eagerly signed onto the U.S. government’s assertions that
Saddam Hussein had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Or how, as if by command from
above, the U.S. media attack a newly designated enemy of the United
States, such as Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein or Moammar
The New York Times, which is rightfully considered the best newspaper in the United
States. Columnist Maureen Dowd in her May 18 essay
“Powerful and Primitive” attacked Strauss-Kahn as
if he was Charles Manson. First, Dowd describes the “hard-working, God-fearing, young
widow who breaks her back doing menial labor at a Times Square hotel to
support her teenage daughter, justify her immigration status and take
advantage of the opportunities in America.”
And this “God-fearing widow,” Dowd writes, “was attacked by a
crazed, rutting, wrinkly old satyr charging naked out of a bathroom, lunging
at her and dragging her around the room, caveman style.”
dramatic story of “a modest, hard-working widow” and “an old
wrinkled satyr” was replayed over and over in the U.S. mass media to the point
of becoming an obsession[“DEATH
BY MEDIA”]. It was even more dramatic when this hyped-up global
sensation came to a halting crash as soon as it was
discovered that THE WOMAN’S TESTIMONY WAS FALSE.
this isn’t simply stupidity, hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness. Dowd’s column, like
many others, is full of contempt for “lustful European
politicians” who tried to defend Strauss-Kahn. Her column is also
dripping with the sacred, ultra-patriotic belief in U.S. superiority over the
rest of the world as she gloats over its so-called democracy and egalitarian
“This story,” writes Dowd, “serves as an inspiring example
that in America even a maid can permit herself to have pride and the right to
be heard — when she is condemned by one of the most powerful men in the
world, that he is in fact a predator.”
reality, this is a story about a banal, deplorable attempt to blackmail a wealthy man and deceive the public — an attempt that
received enormous support from the media during the beginning of the scandal.
The biased coverage of the Strauss-Kahn case on The New York Times’
opinion page was not limited to Dowd. In his May 31 column, “DSK and
Conspiracy Theories,” columnist Roger Cohen also expressed no doubt of
Strauss-Kahn’s guilt. For Cohen, it was “a young African
woman’s voice raised against violent abuse by the powerful.” But
before she proudly raised her voice, the young African woman decided to ask
her curator in jail how much money she could earn from Strauss-Kahn.
Strauss-Kahn arrest corresponded in a curious way with the fierce political
battle in France for the presidency and the future of the dollar as a reserve
currency and the future of IMF policy. But FOR THE OVERWHELMING
MAJORITY OF U.S. NEWSPAPER COLUMNISTS AND TELEVISION COMMENTATORS, NONE OF
THIS WAS IMPORTANT. It is much more important to sweep away all doubts and questions
in this case for the sake of declaring — yet again — the
unyielding righteousness of the United States and its superiority over the
rest of the world. IS THIS JOURNALISM OR PROPAGANDA?
JOURNALISM, despite what people say and write about it in the United States,
MUCH MORE DISTRUSTFUL OF STATEMENTS MADE BY AUTHORITIES. Largely because of the
Soviet legacy, Russians are more skeptical than Americans of the
government’s version of events. On the whole, Russians better
understand that there are two sides to every scandal. In this sense, Russian journalists seem
to be more open-minded than U.S. journalists, who are all too eager to
believe that a “God-fearing maid,” thanks to America’s
democracy, stood up to one of the world’s most powerful men.
THE VERY BEGINNING, RUSSIANS VIEWED THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST STRAUSS-KAHN WITH
GREAT SUSPICION [As did I, Russia is great place to live]. Likewise, most Russians do not
believe for one second that John F. Kennedy was killed by a lonely maniac. Or that the reason the
United States invaded Iraq was because Saddam Hussein supposedly had weapons
of mass destruction. It would seem that BOTH RUSSIAN MEDIA AND
SOCIETY HAVE A BETTER ABILITY TO PUT TOGETHER FACTS AND COME UP WITH LOGICAL
CONCLUSIONS FROM THE STORY THAT IS UNFOLDING. [It is sooooooooooo
refreshing (I have spent a fair about of time in
Similarly, Russians also do not believe that former President Boris
Yeltsin was a “democrat” whose rule benefited the country, although
this is the official version that is eagerly supported by the West [Yeltsin was a crook and
one of the ESF’s economic hitmen]. It was telling that when President Dmitry
Medvedev unveiled a statue in Yekaterinburg in February in honor of
Yeltsin, only a handful of local citizens were present for the ceremony. The Russian media have a
number of weaknesses, but political correctness is certainly not one of
My reaction: The ESF’s Wurlitzer
(Propaganda Machine) is slowly dying.
1) The actions of Murdoch’s gang were truly sick.
Murdoch’s News Of The World had people
hacking into the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old murder victim who
had disappeared in 2002. The voicemail hackers deleted messages from the
full mailbox so they could get more messages left by the girl’s
distraught mother, thereby making police think the disappeared girl was
alive, impeding the investigation and giving her family false hope.
2) The scandal is exposing just how corrupted US media has become.
3) The scandal is not over by a long shot. There is much more to come.
4) Russian newspapers are rightfully and openly
ridiculing US media.
But this scandal WILL damage the credibility of US media, and a propaganda network without credibility is next to
Furthermore, the Murdoch scandal shows that conspiracies are real and doing
horrendous thing. A central pillar of the whole current fraudulent system is
keeping the public convinced that the idea of a vast criminal conspiracy is
“crazy talk”. Murdoch’s vast criminal conspiracy badly
damages this pillar.
Eric de Carbonnel