Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Omissions and Admissions

Missing in Inaction:

1. Space Tourist: On the first day of this blog I mentioned that the “Malaysia Star” reported that Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist, would appear on “CNN Future Summit: World in Motion” on November 23. I’ve searched for that program on CNN television but have not been able to find it – although if you Google the name of the show you’ll find that CNN promotes it. I’m all too aware that one person can’t follow as many things on television for the sake of this blog as I’d like to, and so I can easily miss things. If anyone reading this knows if the show has aired, and when and where, please post a Comment. Naturally my inability to find the program reinforced my belief that the U.S. media are trying to keep the attractive Iranian-born Anousheh from public view. Maybe “CNN Future Summit” can be seen only outside the Fifty States. Maybe it can be viewed only from the Moon.

2. Al Jazeera English TV: Shortly before this blog was born, Al Jazeera began its worldwide English television service. There is no better place to get an intelligent and professionally presented viewpoint different from U.S. news coverage – which explains why Al Jazeera English, with its Middle Eastern perspective, can be easily seen almost everywhere except in the U.S., where as of last report all cable or satellite television providers had refused to carry it. I had to subscribe to VDC in order to watch it. Thank you, VDC.

Admission in Action:

I was impressed with an admission I heard on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on Nov. 27, 2006. Mr. Olbermann was discussing the new label for the Iraq war, “civil war”. Speaking of media companies which had not yet adopted the term, he asked, “Do you not have to just let enough time pass, and then adopt the language, ‘civil war’ too, or you wind up looking like shills for the government?”
CRAIG CRAWFORD (MSNBC and “Congressional Quarterly”): “I think so. I mean, at some point. Someone argued the mainstream media‘s been very slow at doing this. But they bent over backwards for a long time to try to give the administration its due in how they wanted things characterized. And, you know, even on things like the “coalition”, calling it a coalition instead of U.S. forces in Iraq. You know, there are so many, so many things (INAUDIBLE) the media‘s tried to do to give the administration what they wanted, and I think now it‘s just changing, and it‘s long overdue. At some point, you know, the media has to remember, we serve the, you know, the reading and viewing public, and not the politicians.“

Isn’t that remarkable? An insider points out that the mainstream media bend over backwards to use the slanted terms the government wants them to use, and “to give the administration what they wanted”. I was taught that an independent free press was an essential pillar of democracy, but here we hear of media which lick the boots of the politicians rather than honestly serving the reading and viewing public.
How did we arrive at a government controlled press? What leverage does the Bush or any other administration have on reporters and editors to make them more interested in pleasing the politicians than in being truthful?

The answer would be very easy if we were talking specifically about pleasing the Israel Lobby or the Holocaust Industry. Any journalist who goes up against them is butting heads with the equivalent of the Mafia, a bigger and richer Mafia, and knows in advance whose head will get cracked. On the other hand, if he glorifies Israel and piously promotes the Holocaust Industry he’ll not only keep his job but also receive public praise and awards from various Jewish groups, and perhaps retire with the honorary title, “dean” of something.

Of course the government in Washington mirrors the Israel Lobby, but it isn’t in the Lobby’s vital interests to maintain a particular label for the war they instigated now that they’ve achieved the crushed Iraq they wanted. So the general question remains, “Why should journalists want to please the politicians?”

At the moment I have only my own common sense answer: A lot of “news” emanates from a presidential administration and politicians generally. If a journalist is in the good graces of the administration, doors open, audiences and interviews are granted, leaks are made available. A reporter who angers a president may not get her name called at a press conference, or may not even get into the press conference. If a compliant journalist like Barbara Walters or Larry King wants to interview a Secretary of State or the First Lady they will stand a much better chance than a reporter who has made himself an outspoken nuisance to the administration.

If the politicians approve of you, and you use the terminology they like, you will make money, money, money. Take a different tack, and you may wish you still worked in the mail room.

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