May 14, 2003

Has Anybody Noticed?



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Today in the Yomiuri there were some Washington Post articles, as there are every week. As I read some of these gems from what is supposed to be the bastion of "the liberal media," I wondered how anyone could believe in such an outrageous mischaracterization. The media have become shills for the government, driven by the success of conservative networks, good ratings for being flag-waving patriots, and the knowledge that conservatives back telecommunications laws and policies that benefit media conglomerates.

This morning's examples include three articles. One was a "reproach" against Bush's honesty, but it's kind of hard to see it. While calling Clinton and Gore outright "liars," the story goes soft on Bush, saying he is "flexible on leveling with the public," and saying things that are "not exactly true," but "necessary." Ooooh, that's biting. Bush's record on lying makes Clinton and Gore look like George Washington with the Cherry Tree.

The other two articles refer to the so far not-found WMD (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq. But instead of asking where they are and why did you lie to us, the articles basically speak of ways we might be able to uncover them better, and if we don't, it doesn't matter anyway. I got a very different perspective in Europe on my Spain trip, when I picked up a copy of Britain's "The Independent,", which had the banner headline, "So where are they, Mr. Blair? Not one illegal warhead. Not one drum of chemicals. Not one incriminating document. Not one shred of evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction in more than a month of war and occupation."

A slight difference, wouldn't you say? Something most Americans are unaware of or are unwilling to accept is that we are being systematically lied to and misled. No, this is not paranoid conspiracy-buff territory. The evidence is pretty glaring, especially if you have an international viewpoint.

Take, for instance, the April 9th toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad's al-Fardos Square. First we were told that it was Iraqi's but when the pictures came in showing marines draping the U.S. flag over the statue's head and using a winch to pull it down, the story got revised. Still, news reports told us that huge throngs of Iraqis watched, cheered and danced when the statue was pulled down, and we saw tight shots (left) of the crowds that made it look true. ABC News reported that "hundreds of Iraqis then cheered and waved an Iraqi flag as a Marine tank tow truck pulled the statue to the ground. A frenzied mob roared and jumped and danced on the fallen statue."

This was repeated again and again over the major networks, seen everywhere by everyone. Pretty convincing stuff. Except that later on, if you were diligent enough to leave the networks and get on the Internet, you would have found out a few galling facts. First of all, the tight shots were framed so as to hide the fact that only a hundred or so people--many of whom were marines and reporters--populated the large square; the photograph below shows the whole square, and as you can see, it looks rather deserted in reality.

Next, we learned more about the staging of the event. The flag marines draped over the statue's head turns out to have been the same flag that flew at the Pentagon on 9-11. Flags like that one don't just happen to pop up at places like that. And as it turns out, neither do "frenzied mobs" of Iraqis. One photo shown widely in the press of a jubilant Iraqi turned out to be none other that Ahmed Chalabi, a U.S. military chosen puppet leader. Other Iraqis who "spontaneously" appeared at the scene have been photographed with Chalabi in the past.

Remember how we saw frenzied mobs of Floridians in the 2000 election aftermath who succeeded in shutting down the recounting process in some parts? Remember that we later found out that they were not only not Floridians, but they were paid staff of Washington D.C. Republicans sent down to disrupt legal state processes? the Iraq statue story is the same kind of thing. And again, the fake image gets broadcast everywhere, while the truth, learned later, is barely heard anywhere. But with the Baghdad incident, the press was without doubt a willing accomplice to the fraud.

But that's not an isolated incident. Here's another recent example. Last March, Bush held a sham "press conference" that was effectively scripted. Reporters were not allowed to filter in, but rather were escorted in one by one, to demonstrate White House control. Reporters unwilling to throw softballs were relegated to the back rows, and even Helen Thomas, for the first time in more than 30 years, was not seated front row and was not allowed to ask any questions. White House Communication director Dan Bartlett announced publicly that he knew what the questions were going to be and that only those reporters would be called upon; Bush had a list of 17 reporters whom he knew would ask questions he wanted to answer, and stuck tightly to the list when calling on reporters. No one was allowed to stray from approved topics, and no follow-up questions were permitted; when one reported tried to, Bush shut him up, blurting out, "This is a scripted--" and then stopped short, after which the press corps, mostly in the back of the room, laughed (Listen for yourself).

And the press sucking up to Bush not just because of the war--otherwise how come the press was so light on Bush even before the war? Especially during the election process. Remember how we were scandalized when we read incessant coverage of Clinton saying he "didn't inhale"? The endless stories on Whitewater which turned out to be nothing? The incredible number of stories about Monica? Small-time stuff compared to Bush.

Get this: Bush is a convicted drunk driver, has a reputation for being a long-time coke addict which he accentuated by claiming he's been drug-free since 1974, just after, coincidentally, he went AWOL from the National Guard where his dad got him into a celebrity unit and was trained on a jet that had been taken out of service and would never be used in Vietnam. He has three felony SEC violations that were never prosecuted (his father was president at the time), and "borrowed" $180,000 from one of his companies, which later forgave about $340,000 in debts to "unnamed executives." And to top it off, as Governor of Texas, he lied under oath--not about an affair, but about an investigation into one of Bush's cronies, a Robert L. Waltrip, owner of a chain of funeral homes. Bush himself was named as a defendant, and he signed the affidavit to avoid being involved in the trial--and he lied. There are at least half a dozen other skeletons in his closet that are less blatant, each one more around the level of Whitewater.

If Clinton had even a fraction of this kind of dirt, the media would have gone into frenzy mode. He was impeached in the Senate and pilloried in the press for lying under oath about an affair, and yet Bush has not been touched by the media despite the fact that it has been proven that he lied under oath in a serious case of political and financial corruption.

This does not happen with an impartial press.

Posted by Luis at May 14, 2003 07:33 PM
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