Saturday, May 26, 2007

Media Blindness

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”
Upton Sinclair

Today, in light of the blatantly obvious failure of the MSM* over at least the last 6 years and, arguably, since the inception of the Reagan administration, it is more than necessary to reflect on the above quote by Upton Sinclair.

It is obvious to any but the most Kool Aid saturated conservative/neocon camp followers that the MSM has fallen flat on its face during virtually the entirety of the GW Bush administration. We have the blatant examples of Judy Miller’s “reporting” leading up to the Iraq invasion. However, just as obviously we have the outright ‘cheerleading’ of those ‘liberal’ pillars of the MSM, the New York Times and the Washington Post, preceding the invasion and continuing mostly to this day of the Iraq occupation (let us not mince words here). What’s even more horrifying is the current war whooping of the self same ‘liberal’ pillars (and, obviously, most of the rest of the MSM) pushing for ‘firm action’ against Iran, up to and including the ‘limited’ use of nuclear weapons!

Why is this so? Especially in light of the MSM’s glaringly obvious errors with regard to the entire Iraq debacle; the ready acceptance of the existence of Iraqi ‘WMD’, the unquestioned reliance on questionable statements issued by the Administration, the conjured ‘ties’ to Al-Qaeda, the acceptance of fairy tales of Iraqi involvement of 9/11? Again, Sinclair’s quote gives us the answer. The Establishment media has degenerated into little more than a mouthpiece and megaphone for the Establishment itself. The incestuous relationship between the ‘media elite’ and their primary sources, the ‘political elite’ virtually precludes any serious adverse questioning of the ‘political elite’. Ditto for any serious questioning of any current ‘common knowledge’. If the ‘accepted’ political/media meme is that “Iraq has and continues to develop WMD.”, then the MSM (and especially the pillars of the Establishment media, be it print or electronic) firmly slams the door marked ‘Case Closed’ on any dissonant opinion which runs contrary to that meme.

Now, lest the ‘liberals’ out there in the audience start clapping and shouting, “Yeah, that’s right!”, let us recall that that ‘liberal’ darling, Slick Willy Clinton, though harassed and harangued by the MSM for his personal failings (and they indeed were myriad), was given as much a free pass as GW Bush has been in undermining the Constitution (let’s not forget that many of the provisions that were included in the Patriot Act were elucidated during the Clinton Administration), the beginning of the destruction of civil liberties in the US (starting with the raid on the compound at Waco and proceeding thru the "The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996" and thence to the extraordinarily harsh "Immigration and Nationality Act" of 1996). Though harassed, harangued and harried about truly inconsequential private indiscretions, the MSM was in the main either mute or approving of all the above mentioned acts that were so very deleterious of civil liberties in this country and, in point of fact, laid many a foundation for the further destruction of civil liberties that are so egregious a mark of the present administration.

But, perhaps the single most obvious example of Establishment and Establishment Media (MSM) perfidy and disingenuousness was the entire frame and reporting on the situation in the now late Yugoslavia. Granted, the first explicit bricks in this wall of perfidy were laid by the Bush I administration in December of 1991 when the U.S. followed Germany’s lead in illegally recognizing the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia during the Maastricht Treaty negotiations. Illegal due to the fact that such recognition was in blatant violation of the Helsinki Final Act to which all, the U.S., the European Union countries and Yugoslavia were all signatory. The Helsinki Final Act in pertinent part states:

“III. Inviolability of frontiers
The participating States regard as inviolable all one another's frontiers as well as the frontiers of all States in Europe and therefore they will refrain now and in the future from assaulting these frontiers.

Accordingly, they will also refrain from any demand for, or act of, seizure and usurpation of part or all of the territory of any
participating State.

IV. Territorial integrity of States
The participating States will respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating States.

Accordingly, they will refrain from any action inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations against the territorial integrity, political independence or the unity of any participating State, and in particular from any such action constituting a threat or use of force.

The participating States will likewise refrain from making each other's territory the object of military occupation or other direct or indirect measures of force in contravention of international law, or
the object of acquisition by means of such measures or the threat of them. No such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal.”

However, the unilateral ‘recognition’ by ”the West” of the breakaway republics of Slovenia and Croatia was, quite obviously, a violation of both the ‘Inviolability of frontiers’ and the ‘Territorial integrity of States’ cited above. For those wishing to get a better understanding of this complex question, please read the entirety of the Helsinki Final Act here.

Perhaps most egregious was the full court press of the media, from the very outset, for ‘advocacy journalism’ and totally eschewing traditional even handed, fact based journalism. Perhaps ‘first among equals’ in the advocacy journalism field was Christiane Amanpour. The matchless Ms. Amanpour started from her own personal bias as both an Iranian elite and a Muslim. From the outset every claim of Alija Izetbegovic’s Muslim ‘government’, no matter how outlandish, no matter how inflammatory, no matter on the absence of evidence, was transmitted by Amanpour and her myriad imitators as absolute and proved truth. Much if not most Western, especially U.S. ‘reporting’ done during the Bosnian War was done from the environs of Sarajevo, capital of the Izetbegovic government. This is akin to the ‘reporting’ coming to us from the Green Zone in Baghdad today. When infrequent excursions were outside of Sarajevo the media was always supplied with Muslim interpreters (since, as in Iraq, no one spoke the local language nor knew much if anything of the local history and culture). It was primarily on the basis of such egregiously biased reporting that the Clinton administration (not unlike the early days of happy news coming from Iraq) made much of its Balkan policy.

It should be noted here that GW Bush simply built on Bill Clinton’s horrendous example of illegal war (Clinton, like GW Bush, received NO Security Council imprimatur to launch his illegal war on Yugoslavia). Granted and admitted, GW bush’s illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been larger disasters than Clinton’s 78 day bombardment of Serbia in 1999.

It also begs to be noted here that in the entire mess in Yugoslavia, the MSM cleaved to the Clinton (Amanpour, CNN) line every bit as closely as it did to GW Bush’s line, particularly in the run up to war and the early days of the occupation.

In conclusion we should note, the ownership of the MSM (which, thanks to Bill Clinton’s “Telecommunications Act of 1996”) has shrunken to a very few corporate hands. With the media consolidating into fewer and fewer hands (virtually all of whom have business before the FCC) the ‘news’ will continue to be heavily massaged and will continue, inexorably, to follow the stinking winds emanating from the cesspool that is Washington, D.C. and the corporatists that are our true masters.
*MSM - Main Stream Media
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