December 5, 2005
Propaganda: "The systematic propagation of a
doctrine or cause or information reflecting the views and interests of those
advocating such a doctrine or cause. Material disseminated by the advocates or
opponents of a doctrine or cause: wartime propaganda."
Now all of a sudden there is this rather large brouhaha over
the Bushistas' use of propaganda re: Iraq and its citizenry. Horror of horrors!
Say it isn't so! Propaganda, indeed!
Now perhaps I'm living in an alternate universe, or maybe I
missed something in my 68 years of traversing this earth, but propaganda is de
rigueur for your government, folks, for all governments. Propaganda
is all about control; for crying out loud, the Catholic Church adopted just
such a stance -- and has been "propagating" forever. It took
the state a bit longer to see the benefits of such a strategy, but once it
realized the advantages, it took off with all four feet.
Suddenly certain media pundits have 'discovered' that our
government is fabricating news, and planting it in the Iraqi press? Hey, I've
got news for you guys, since the end of the Vietnam War the corporate media
have been disseminating "all the news the state views as fit to print."
Now all of a sudden, certain among you have found a conscience -- give me a
freaking break here!
The State Department is training Iraqi reporters in basic
journalism skills and "media ethics" (and that certainly is an
oxymoron). One of the workshops in this training is titled "The Role of
Press in a Democratic Society." Now I suppose that as taught by the State
Department that role includes allowing the state to write, or otherwise choose
Corporate media in the U.S. can serve as a living, breathing
example of just how it is done for this workshop. They can have a guest lecture
series featuring such luminaries as Judith Miller, Bill O'Reilly, Robert Novak,
In my last commentary (Rats and
Sinking Ships), I painted a word picture of a rat caught in a trap, while
his brother rats were lined up to get a piece of his ass. With all of the
hypocritical media bullshit recently, feigning astonishment about planted news stories
that word picture came to mind. Right now Bush is that rat in the trap and the
conflicted, hypocritical media would have us believe that they have suddenly
developed cojones, and are looking for a piece of his ass. It isn't going to
wash, guys (and ladies).
Why should this illegal war -- and coverage -- be any
different? It was only 14 years ago that the media, in order to
"cover" the Kuwait affair acquiesced to the Pentagon's "ground
rules" for reporters who wished to be em-bed-ed with the troops. It has
been that way ever since, and the compliant media has fallen into lockstep with
the military propagandists -- ho-hum.
And as we all know, those journalists who fail to subscribe
to the rules of the Pentagon's propaganda game soon find themselves on the
wrong end of an American bomb, grenade, or bullet. Thus far in Bush's Crusade,
74 journalists and media assistants have lost their lives, many at the hands of
the U.S. military and its allies.
One of the more high-profile cases was the shooting -- and
wounding -- of Italian journalist Guiliana Sgrena last spring by U.S. Forces.
An Italian agent, Nicola Calipari, was killed in that incident. The Pentagon
claimed car carrying the journalist and Italian agents failed to stop their
automobile at a checkpoint. Sgrena laid waste to that bit of propaganda when
she related that they were shot at by a U.S. patrol while on their way to the
In addition the Pentagon enforcers -- with the assistance of
their Iraqi counterparts -- have imprisoned over 115 journalists, and another
70 cyber dissidents in Iraq. Welcome to Democracy Bush-style.
Then there is the case of Al-Jazeera -- a real burr under
the Pentagon's saddle. Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, the British
tabloid the Daily Mirror carried the story about Bush's plans to bomb
Al-Jazeera's Qatar headquarters. This was to be carried out during last year's
Fallujah offensive, but it is rumored that Tony Blair dissuaded Bush from this
Britain's response to the publication of this 'leaked'
government memo was to "gag" the press under the "Official
Secrets Act." But here in the good old United States that isn't necessary
because the government has turned the press into wanton whores (my sincerest
apologies to all the good whores out there) compliantly turning the
journalistic trick for their administration pimps.
In Britain they have the "Official Secrets Act,"
here in the U.S. we have the "Official Presstitutes Act." And that's
just for the press, for the rest of us we have the USA PATRIOT Act. And there
are those among us who have found themselves on the wrong end of that little
totalitarian entanglement. I have personal experience with that piece of
fascist crap known as the USA PATRIOT Act. My response, just like that old
National Rifle Association (NRA) bumper sticker: "I'll give up my gun when
they pry it from my cold, dead fingers." For the fascists abroad in the
land, "I'll give up my keyboard when you pry it from my cold, dead
I strayed a bit with my rant this week but watching -- and
reading -- the corporate media and their hypocritical bullshit regarding
"planted stories" in the Iraqi media was laughable. The mainstream
press in this country has become nothing more than a propaganda arm for the
state and that's okay, if that is what they desire. However, don't try to snow
me with your false clichÚs and misrepresentations.
In no way am I painting all media, or all journalists, with
the wider swath of the brush that is this commentary. The miscreants know who
they are; the rest of us who either labor for a decent newspaper, alternative
press, periodical, or on the web stay afloat by staying in the face of the
fools and fascists. You are to be applauded because without you the curtain of
totalitarianism would isolate us one and all from those freedoms that are our
"Limiting the freedom of news 'just a little bit' is in
the same category with the classic example 'a little bit pregnant.'"
--Robert A. Heinlen
can contact Frank Pitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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