The Difficulty of Being an Informed American
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
The American print and TV media have never been very good. These days they are horrible. If people intend to be informed, they must turn to foreign news broadcasts, to Internet sites, to foreign newspapers available on the Internet, or to alternative newspapers that are springing up in various cities. A person who sits in front of Murdoch’s Fox “News” or CNN or who reads the New York Times is simply being brainwashed with propaganda.
Before conservatives nod their heads in agreement, I’m not referring to “the liberal media.” I mean the propaganda that issues from the US government and the Israel Lobby.
It was neoconservative Bush regime propaganda fed to America through Judith Miller and the New York Times and through Murdoch’s Fox “News” that convinced Americans that they were in danger from a small secular Arab country half way around the globe called Iraq. It was the American media that convinced Americans that getting rid of dangerous “weapons of mass destruction,” weapons that did not exist in Iraq, would be a cakewalk paid for by Iraqi oil revenues.
It is the same propagandistic American print and TV media that have rationalized Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan based on seven years of lies and deception.
It is the same media that today provids only Israeli propaganda as “coverage” of the Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
It was the New York Times that spiked for one year the leaked information from the National Security Agency that the Bush regime, in violation of US law, was illegally spying on Americans without warrants. The “liberal” New York Times agreed to suppress the story so that Bush would not face reelection under the cloud of his outlaw behavior.
Conservatives think the Washington Post is “liberal media” despite the fact that the editorial and commentary pages are controlled by neocons and their sympathizers.
During the run up to wars and during wars, the American press has always been a propagandist for the government. The only exceptions occurred during the later phases of the Vietnam war and the Contra-Sandinista conflict in Central America. Karen de Young and some others tried to honestly cover the Contras and Sandinistas and were demonized by “patriots” taken in by the government’s lies.
Conservatives still blame the “liberal” media for losing the Vietnam war, when in fact all the media did was to provide some truthful reports that opened some American eyes.
When the truth cuts against the position of the US government, conservatives see it as “liberal.”
When propaganda supports the government’s lies, conservatives see it as “patriotic.”
However, any resemblance to independent reporting disappeared from the American media when the Democratic regime of President Clinton allowed Murdoch and a small handful of moguls to concentrate the American media in a few corporate hands. That was the end of American reporting.
Journalists disappeared from media management and were replaced by corporate advertising executives with an eye not to offend any source of advertising revenue, and certainly not to offend the government, which controls the broadcast licenses that comprise the value of the mega-companies. Today reporters write the stories that their masters want to hear, or they are out. The function of editors is to make certain that no uncomfortable information reaches the public.
The public is slowly catching on, and the print media is dying. The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times are all on the ropes.
Americans are still subjected to Fox “News” and CNN propaganda piped into airport waiting rooms, doctors’ offices, and exercise centers
People ask me where they can get reliable information. I tell them that their goal cannot be reached without their commitment of time.
People who have access to television services that provide English language foreign broadcasts, such as Iran’s Press TV, Russia Today, or Al Jazeera, can get get news and insights from those parts of the world demonized by the US media.
The BBC World Service still reports facts while covering itself by providing the views of the US, UK, and Israeli governments.
Both the Asia Times and Israeli newspapers, such as Haaretz can be read online in English. There are other such newspapers, and all of them provide information that Americans will never see in their own media. Any American newspaper that was as truthful about the Israeli government as Haaretz would be closed down.
The only US print source with which I am familiar in which some honest reporting can be found on a regular basis is the McClatchy papers.
Americans addicted to print media must turn to alternative newspapers, which tend to be weekly or bi-weekly. However, the news and commentary provided are often superb..
Alternative newspapers are often the children of people motivated by a sense of justice and the love of truth. Such people have become an endangered species in the American “mainstream media.” The free press Americans have today is online and in the alternative media.
The function of the “mainstream media” is to sell products and to brainwash the audience for the government and interest groups. By subscribing to it, Americans support their own brainwashing.
Paul Craig Roberts was associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week, and columnist for the Scripps Howard Newspapers.