Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fantasyland Media

The Pentagon has posted to its website the roughly 8,000 pages and audio tapes it was forced to provide to the NY Times regarding its “military analyst” program. Anyone who reads through them...can only be left with one conclusion: if this wasn’t an example of an illegal, systematic “domestic propaganda campaign” by the Pentagon, then nothing is.

Despite this, the truly extraordinary blackout by the major television and cable news networks — which were complicit in this program — continues. Howard Kurtz of CNN and The Washington Post previously called this blackout “pathetic”, and yesterday, The Politico published a relatively impressive article further documenting the “deafening silence” from the networks at the center of this story.

As the article noted:
While bloggers have kept the story simmering, Democratic congressional leaders also are speaking out, calling for investigations that could provoke the networks to finally cover the Times story - and, in effect, themselves.

Here is an interesting story of government wrongdoing that the NY Times and Washington Post covered, but no the major TV networks. Of course, the Pentagon's planting of stories makes TV reporting look bad, not newspaper reporting. This from an article by Salon:


Amid all the talk about the U.S. military “surge” in Iraq, little has been said about the accompanying “surge” of Iraqi prisoners, whose numbers rose to nearly 51,000 at the end of 2007. Four years after the Abu Ghraib scandal, occupation forces are holding far more Iraqis than ever before and thousands more languish in horrendous Iraqi-run prisons.

Detainees are held by the U.S. command in two main locations — Camp Bucca, a 100-acre prison camp and Camp Cropper, inside a massive U.S. base near the Baghdad airport. The number of Iraqis held in these facilities has steadily risen since the early days of the occupation. In 2007, the inmate count rose 70% — from 14,500 to 24,700.

Camp Bucca, with about 20,000 inmates, is perhaps the world’s largest extrajudicial internment camp. The facility is organized into “compounds” of 800 detainees each, surrounded by fences and watch towers. Most detainees live in large communal tents, subject to collapse in the area’s frequent sandstorms. Water has at times been in short supply, while temperatures in the desert conditions can be scorching hot in the day and bone-chilling at night.
In October 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a contract to expand Camp Bucca’s capacity from 20,000 to 30,000. While easing notorious crowding, the contract suggests Washington is preparing for even more detentions in the future.

Camp Cropper consists of more traditional cellblock buildings. Among its roughly 4,000 inmates are hundreds of juveniles. Cropper is a site of ongoing interrogation and it holds many long-term detainees who complain that they never see the light of day. Though recently expanded, the facility suffers from overcrowding, poor medical attention and miserable conditions.

This article by the Institute for Policy Studies was never printed in the NY Times. Perhaps it is too revealing of the continued human rights abuses America is committing in Iraq.


I fail to see that the envious and bitter attacks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright should have created the crisis in Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign when the remarks of Pastor John Hagee have not created a similar crisis in Sen. John McCain’s campaign. Why is McCain somehow not responsible for Hagee while Obama is responsible for Wright? I suggest the difference is that the senator from Illinois is a Kenyan American and the senator from Arizona a white American.

A second question is why the elite national media fix on Wright and ignore Hagee. Wright, you will say, is much better media copy than Hagee. Yet the latter explains Hurricane Katrina as God’s wrath on gays and lesbians and describes the Catholic Church as the “whore of Babylon.”

As the watchdog group Media Matters points out in a recent report, two elite papers — The New York Times and the Washington Post — have paid 12 times as much attention to Obama’s clergy as to to McCain’s.

Since McCain accepted Hagee’s endorsement on Feb. 27, the Times has published 46 articles about Obama and Wright and five articles about McCain and Hagee. The Post’s score is 53-3. The Times has produced 22 editorials and op-eds that mention Obama and Wright and two about McCain and Hagee, and the Post scores 40-2. In the words of Karl Frisch of Media Matters, “It is time for the major media outlets to ask themselves if they’ve been covering the candidates for president with equally critical eyes. . . . If they are honest, they’ll admit they have not.”

One must wonder why not. Obama is the front-runner and hence his destruction is raw meat even for the top journals in the country. Surely both papers understand that many Americans are looking for a reason not to vote for a Kenyan American and that this gaffe will feed their hunger.


Amnesty International has called for the role of the United States in Somalia to be investigated, following publication of a report accusing its allies of committing war crimes.

According to the report, based on the testimonies of refugees who have fled Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in recent weeks, Ethiopian troops have killed civilians by slitting their throats. Ethiopian and Somali forces were also accused of gang-raping women and attacking children.

But the NY Times is fixated on the Olympic Torch (a windfall for US propaganda). The only Amnesty International story it carried was about torch protesters in Hong Kong.

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