See No Evil
Yesterday in the Saint Louis airport CNN kept playing over and over again, ad nauseum, a 60-second piece promoting their “objective” coverage of the 2004 election. (TV monitors are everywhere in the terminal; there is no escaping them.) Such shameless self-promotion is not, however, why I refuse to get my news from CNN or PEOPLE or TIME or Rush or All Things Considered.
The U.S. press has shirked its duty to confront our policrats and instead go about their day hemming and harrumphing so that I can actually know more about what’s happening here (and what’s happening abroad at U.S. hands) by reading the foreign press. Our so-called free press simply repeats the statements of the Republicans and Democrats, and that includes the so-called “think-pieces” on current issues.
We are left with a situation in which we are ruled by propaganda. Such magniloquent statements as “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” (Condi Rice) are reported, not examined. Moreover, disagree with the mainline press or call the current administration anti-republican and you are subjected to belittlement and base ad hominem. “Ignorance Is Strength” excuses the mendaciousness of our leaders, even though that motto is completely contrary to the spirit of America. Only on the margins of the media – on the Internet especially – do journalists dare speak their mind.
The mighty propaganda choir can fill your mind 24 hours a day if you like, as long as you are plugged in to Fox News or MSNBC or Sean Hannity of Bill O’Reilly. As O’Brien of the Inner Party tells the hapless Winston Smith in 1984, “Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party.”
The press’s see-no-evil attitude was nowhere more apparent than in Mr. Bush’s photo op aboard the Lincoln in front of the banner “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.” This was the first sitting president to dress in military uniform in public – and the press completely ignored this moment of gross self-indulgence. Only Senator Robert Byrd observed the impropriety:
To me it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of was for the momentary spectacle of a speech.
Our troops are under-manned and ill-equipped, yet Mr. Bush told an audience in Milwaukee on October 3, 2003, “They must have the best pay, the best equipment and the best possible training.” Our president has still to attend a single funeral for our brave soldiers, and when he does visit the troops, such as the “surprise” Thanksgiving trip to Baghdad in 2003, his audience has to be pre-selected so that nothing will mar the backdrop for using the photo op later.
It is time for us to overwhelm news corporations with cancelled subscriptions at every fresh manifestation of misinformation. In no way can the major news organizations of the United States be called a free press. Stick with them, and we’ll get what we deserve every time: hasty, immature, superficial, and misleading judgments – not to mention fraudulent slogans such as the one I saw over and over again on CNN yesterday.
August 16, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. His latest book is Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.