James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Friday, June 13, 2008

If the media are America , we're dead

Early in April of this year, a reader sent me a note which included the observation that most of the people he knows seem to think the corporate media, collectively, “is America.”

That is, he explained, they believe “nobody cares about this” or “everybody's talking about that” based entirely on what they get from television, radio or newspapers. In that very common way of thinking, if the media giants ignore something, then it is not worth noticing. If they yak something up, then it is, per se, important and “everybody is talking about” whatever it is.

It is an astute assessment of how, and what, and who the American public sees.

In an essay a few days ago -– posted just below this one -– I suggested that Americans push our government to transport massive amounts of life-saving goods to the suffering citizens of Myanmar and Zimbabwe. I said we should do that even though the insane and vicious rulers of those countries prefer to let hundreds of thousands of people die of hunger, thirst and disease rather than allow anyone other than themselves credit for saving their people and perhaps gaining some measure of power or influence.

I never expected any sort of action, of course. Didn't expect even one person to send one note to one member of Congress. I don't imagine any such note was sent.

And that, really, was the point of what I wrote.

(Here, let me adopt Dan Rather's preference for calling news outlets collectively “the press.” Though now failing, newspapers remain –- at least in our collective memory -– the core of serious news distribution.)

When I wrote that piece, I intended to do at this juncture what I am now doing: pointing out that the press, acting in conjunction with and on behalf of the ruling minority of this country, has so ordered public thinking that while we can soberly discuss whether to rain death on countries that pose no threat to us, it is all but impossible to imagine a serious discussion on whether or not to displease some monstrous little dictators simply to save several hundred thousand human lives.

We do death. We commit mayhem. We don't save lives.

Not even in our own country: witness Hurricane Katrina, the first of many proofs established by our neocon government.

Unprovoked invasions of other countries are within the scope of American behavior. Bombing those who can do us no harm and slaughtering countless civilians for the sake of controlling oil fields and providing huge profits for a tiny group of “defense” contractors –- let us not at this stage, after all the evidence laid before us, pretend other motives –- is again under discussion.

True, many of us are against more such ventures, but obviously not enough against to act to prevent our ruling billionaires from committing the crimes.

It is a given that should anyone –- even, let's say, a couple of dozen members of Congress –- stand up and say that we must do something real to care for the people of Myanmar and Zimbabwe, even against the wishes of the murdering thugs who rule in those places, the press would ignore the move or nearly so. Bigger newspapers might do a single paragraph in a news roundup, television almost certainly would black out the attempt.

Most of the public would never know what was said in Congress, and those who did hear of it would dismiss it as trivial because that is how the press treated it.

Now someone is going to say I can't know that's what would happen.

Yes, I can, and do. So do you, if you're honest.

There are hundreds of precedents for just that kind of calculated dismissal of actions, opinions and people not approved by the ruling elite, and therefore by the press.

The most immediate example is the treatment of the move by Rep. Dennis Kucinich Monday, June 9, to impeach George W. Bush.

Most of television and radio simply failed to mention Kucinich's introduction of 35 articles of impeachment. The mighty New York Times “covered” it in one longish paragraph in the “National Briefing” roundup at the bottom of page 21 of its main news section on Wednesday. If my local newspaper made any mention of the story, I couldn't find it, although the rival newspaper had a very short piece in its on-line version.

CNN seems to have mentioned it only in a crawl which ran a few times at the bottom of the television screen -– but the crawl emphasized that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi again said she would not allow impeachment rather than saying anything about the articles introduced by Kucinich.

I suppose some of the haters of shout radio and Fox Propaganda took their shots, but they don't count, certainly not as news reports.

OK. So we all know that impeachment won't get off the ground. But why is that?

Millions of us, almost certainly a majority, also know there are legitimate grounds for impeaching Bush and removing him for office. Many of us think it would be a very good idea to bring out all the crimes and list them and show the proofs in the Congressional forum.

Dennis Kucinich is a brilliant and widely respected member of Congress. He was a candidate for his party's nomination for president.

But he is, in truth, a nonperson in most of the nation because the press has decreed it. He never had a chance at the presidential nomination because the press refused to acknowledge his existence. He deserved a shot, but the press and its masters didn't want him, and so it disappeared him, along with some other worthy candidates and some unworthy.

The press and its masters also do not want impeachment, and so it is a nonissue. Any coverage it receives will be dismissive and probably derisive.

The press decrees it, and the press is America.

On the other hand, the masters of the universe are building toward attacking Iran.

The press has been hammered over and over because of its slavish catering to the Bush administration in the lie-filled leadup to the invasion of Iraq. Quite a few of those in the press who knelt before the king on that issue have sort of, kind of, almost admitted their guilt. But they're doing it again on Iran.

If Bush, or Cheney, or Rice or any of the neocons makes any accusation against Iran it is dutifully printed or read at the top of the news, with flags waving, bands playing and fireworks in the background, or nearly so. It is The Word, we are given to know. The placement of the articles says the claims are true, the headlines assume they are true and the writing says so.

“The president plans to highlight concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran during his final European trip,” said a New York Times sub-headline on Tuesday. And the writer of the article said that although Bush's jaunt might have the appearance of a farewell tour, “it's actually a high-stakes diplomatic mission, spurred by Bush's fear that Iran is an increasingly urgent threat and that Europe may not take it seriously enough.”

Parse that paragraph: The writer, Jennifer Loven, flat-out tells us this is a “high stakes...mission.” She's not quoting anybody. And she tells us that Bush fears that Iran poses an “urgent threat.”

Really? Bush also told us that he knew -– emphasis on knew -– that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” and chemical weapons and was getting set to produce nuclear weapons, and those aluminum tubes were for making such weapons, and on and on. And the press respectfully reported every claim. And we know it was a package of lies, and that most of the reporters had to have known that.

We knew, how could they not?

Is Loven sure that this time, unlike all the other times, Bush is telling the truth? By her phrasing, she tells us she is sure. Do you trust her?

And why does the story –- in fact, every story that reports administration tales of Iran's supposed nuclear threat -– not mention the fact that almost every major intelligence agency in the western world has stated that the country's nuclear weapons effort, which apparently wasn't much to begin with, ended in 2003?

If we believe what passes for news on television and in the once-were newspapers and magazines, if the press “is America,” this is a doomed country.