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By Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Truthout
There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press. Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship - the society characterized by a civically engaged, well-informed and socially invested populace. Thus, to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed, democracy itself is degraded.
It is ironic that in the era of 24-hour cable news networks and "reality" programming, the news-to-fluff ratio and overall veracity of information has declined precipitously. Take the fact Americans now spend on average about 50 hours a week using various forms of media, while at the same time cultural literacy levels hover just above the gutter. Not only does mainstream media now tolerate gross misrepresentations of fact and history by public figures (highlighted most recently by Sarah Palin's ludicrous depiction of Paul Revere's ride), but many media actually legitimize these displays. Pause for a moment and ask yourself what it means that the world's largest, most profitable and most popular news channel passes off as fact every whim, impulse and outrageously incompetent analysis of its so-called reporters. How did we get here? Take the enormous amount of misinformation that is taken for truth by Fox audiences: the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that he was in on 9/11, the belief that climate change isn't real and/or man-made, the belief that Barack Obama is Muslim and wasn't born in the United States, the insistence that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists, the inexplicable perceptions that immigrants are both too lazy to work and are about to steal your job. All of these claims are demonstrably false, yet Fox News viewers will maintain their veracity with incredible zeal. Why? Is it simply that we have lost our respect for knowledge?
My curiosity about this question compelled me to sit down and document the most oft-used methods by which willful ignorance has been turned into dogma by Fox News and other propagandists disguised as media. The techniques I identify here also help to explain the simultaneously powerful identification the Fox media audience has with the network, as well as their ardent, reflexive defenses of it.
The good news is that the more conscious you are of these techniques, the less likely they are to work on you. The bad news is that those reading this article are probably the least in need in of it.
1. Panic Mongering. This goes one step beyond simple fear mongering. With panic mongering, there is never a break from the fear. The idea is to terrify and terrorize the audience during every waking moment. From Muslims to swine flu to recession to homosexuals to immigrants to the rapture itself, the belief over at Fox seems to be that if your fight-or-flight reflexes aren't activated, you aren't alive. This of course raises the question: why terrorize your own audience? Because it is the fastest way to bypasses the rational brain. In other words, when people are afraid, they don't think rationally. And when they can't think rationally, they'll believe anything.
2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem. Fox does not like to waste time debating the idea. Instead, they prefer a quicker route to dispensing with their opponents: go after the person's credibility, motives, intelligence, character, or, if necessary, sanity. No category of character assassination is off the table and no offense is beneath them. Fox and like-minded media figures also use ad hominem attacks not just against individuals, but entire categories of people in an effort to discredit the ideas of every person who is seen to fall into that category, e.g. "liberals," "hippies," "progressives" etc. This form of argument - if it can be called that - leaves no room for genuine debate over ideas, so by definition, it is undemocratic. Not to mention just plain crass.
By Dave Lindorff
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that the nation’s founders, gathered in Philadelphia a few miles from my house (which as it happens was already standing and about 28 years old already at the time), at great personal risk, signed the Declaration of Independence, with its ringing declaration that all men--Americans and everyone else, too--are born equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Five years ago at this time, I was just starting my road trip promoting my book, The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), which documents the wholesale assault, by then President George W. Bush, and his chief consigliere, Vice President Dick Cheney, on those bold concepts and on the subsequent Constitution and Bill of Rights which those same founders set up as the guiding principles of this nation.
There's a great deal of disappointment, even distress, in the air as news spreads that Dominique Strauss-Kahn might not be charged with rape (or attempted rape, or sexual assault). He's guilty, the victim's character is being attacked in order to protect him, and the Culture of Rape will emerge triumphant once again -- or so I'm being told by various Emails, Tweets, etc.
On the other hand, the whole thing was a conspiracy to facilitate the pillaging of the Greek people and the replacement of DSK at the IMF by a robber baron more loyal to the Austerity Agenda. Or so I have been assured.
In addition, the entire episode illustrates the danger in recklessly charging people -- especially famous and important people -- with crimes, until they have first been proven guilty. Or so we are learning from Thoughtful pundits.
Part III: My Cuba Years (1987-92)
(This article is Part II of journalist Ridenour’s political autobiography, "Solidarity and Resistance: 50 Years With Che.")
Grethe Porsgaard and I fell in love, in 1979. She was from Denmark and vacationing in Los Angeles. I traveled to her homeland, in 1980, where we married. At my behest, we made a go of it in her country. A major factor in that decision was that my former wife had taken our children, whose upbringing we had been sharing, from me, and had turned them against me. It would have been a negative way to begin a new love life living close to that madness. Although Grethe and I ended our marriage after several years, we remain friends.
By Lila Garrett
The following will be the opening commentary on the "Connect the Dots" program on KPFK this Monday, June 27th, with guests Daniel Ellsberg, Ca. Assemblyman Mike Feuer, and LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl.
Good Monday morning. Welcome to Connect the Dots. I’m your host Lila Garrett wondering if there is such a thing as winning a war.
By Dave Lindorff
Let me state from the outset: I have no problem with soldiers who inflate their war stories, any more than I am bothered by anybody who likes to spice up the tale of a youthful exploit.
It’s different though, when exaggerations are exploited for personal gain, like what Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal did with campaigned on the outrageous claim that he was a Vietnam War combat veteran when he really wasn’t.
My grandfather, William Lindorff, earned a Silver Star in World War I, where he was an ambulance driver on the front lines in France. My father, a Marine in World War II, says that his dad never once talked about that medal. Now, I’d say that’s a real hero.
24-year-old MIT student David House, friend of PFC Bradley Manning who appeared on MSNBC and revealed to the world that Bradley seemed to be near "catatonic" after being held for nearly a year in a 6 by 12 foot cell for 23 hours a day with almost no human contact, took the Fifth before a federal grand jury yesterday and refused to testify. Manning's treatment has drawn harsh criticism of President Obama, who once said in a press conference that Manning's treatment was "appropriate."
1. Back to the, er, past . . . This month we’ve changed our name from The ColdType Reader back to the original, and simpler, title of ColdType. It’s the third time we’ve changed our name: the first incarnation of ColdType was in tabloid printed format; then, after a long hiatus, it became ColdType2, an e-magazine inside ColdType.net. After a couple of issues, we switched to the less-confusing ColdType Reader. Now, with our 57th issue, we’re back where we began: ColdType. – Tony Sutton, editor
2. 64 Pages, 19 essays . . . Cover story is John Pilger’s report on how WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange won this year’s Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. We’ve also got articles on US and NATO war-mongering, California’s crowded prisons, Walmart in Africa, the end of affluence, Netanyahu and the Congressional Yo-Yos, a tribute to singer-poet Gil Scott-Heron - and much, much more.
3. In The Sorting Office . . . This month’s ColdType Extra is a monumental essay by British writer James Meek, who investigates the role of governments and corporations in the postal service of the future. The essay is especially relevant for Canadian readers, who are suffering rolling strikes as postal workers clash with their bosses over pay and pensions.
From a VVAW, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, mailing we get the announcement of a new radio show by and for veterans, and everyone else, that everyone out of the listening area can stream online live or listen to in the archives. This is the send out received:
Three former Marines--Vince Emanuele, Jason Lewis and Mark Strudas, each Iraq war veterans--have now established a weekly two-hour radio show called "Veterans Unplugged" on radio station WIMS, AM-1420 in Michigan City, Indiana, on the south shore of Lake Michigan. The show can be heard live on Tuesday nights between 6-8 pm, Central time. The web site is WIMS Radio.
This is a show that can be heard live-streamed over the internet, plus they archive each show in the station's "audio vault," which can be listened to at your leisure--and is organized by date.
They're libertarian, I'm leftist. They want to close all public schools, I want to create a massive jobs program in green energy. And yet I tell you this:
Support http://antiwar.com because I need it to turn to for news on our wars
Go there right now and tell me if you've ever seen a more convenient, comprehensive, and compelling source of news on our numerous ongoing wars.
Antiwar.com needs our support in order to keep doing what it's doing, including Antiwar Radio.
Give them a hand!
By Dave Lindorff
It was just as recently as a year ago that the authorities in politics, business and academe were stating boldly and confidently that the nation's economy was on the mend, and that there was no chance of a backslide into recession again.
Take Lakshman Achuthan and Anirvan Banerji who are, respectively, co-founder and chief operating officer and co-founder and chief research officer of ECRI, the Economic Cycle Research Institute.
"The good news is that the much-feared double-dip recession is not going to happen," they said on CNN on Oct. 28, last year. "After completing an exhaustive review of key drivers of the business cycle, ranging from credit to inventories and measures of labor market conditions, we can forecast with confidence that the economy will avoid a double dip."
By Ken Ferguson
Cupar, Scotland--This county town of Fife, is not exactly a news hot spot. Probably the last big story here was the landing of Italian
balloonist Vincenzo Lunardi nearby in 1785 at the end of a 43-mile flight from
However the small town’s sleepy Sheriff court is about to host a key
legal case involving a US student from New York and two anti Israeli
protestors who have been charged with racism.
For the information of US readers, in Scotland the Sheriff isn’t some John Wayne figure with the star on his chest, but is rather the bewigged judge presiding over the local court.
This case centers on an incident at nearby St. Andrews University, where
two students are facing racially aggravated conduct charges after
allegedly making comments and gestures critical of the State of Israel
and its flag.
Press reports are already in danger of prejudging the case, with
Memorial service will be held May 27, 2011 at 12:00 noon at Central United Methodist Church, Woodward at Adams in Detroit.
"the Detroit City Council mourns and honors Al Fishman, one of our City's finest Peace, Civil and Human Rights, and Labor activists, advocates and champions, one of our true Citizens of the World."
* Detroit City Council Memorial Resolution for Mr. Al
Fishman, Peace and Human Rights Activist
* Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action
* Pat Fry, National Co-Chair, Committees of Correspondence
for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)
* Michigan Peace Action Network
* Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio (91.7 FM - Ann
Arbor/Detroit; 91.1 FM - Flint; 104.1 FM West Michigan)
Detroit City Council Memorial Resolution for Mr. Al Fishman,
Peace and Human Rights Activist
[Adopted unanimously May 24, to be read at May 27 memorial
WHEREAS, Al Fishman was a leading peace and justice activist
Rupert Murdoch, who got his start in business marketing rats and manure, has chosen to deny Italy access to a television network that has presented critical coverage of both Murdoch and of leading Italian media baron and prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. The network, Current TV, is the project of a man identified in Italy primarily as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore.
By Mumia Abu Jamal
I wonder sometimes if the average American stops, looks at the chaos in the world, and wonders, how did we get here?
Does she simply shrug it off as 'fate', shake the thought away, and go shopping at the mall in thrall to the new?
Does he put it down as a latter-day expression of the biblical proverb, 'there will be wars, and rumors of war', and turn to the latest game on ESPN and mist over the doubt, the fear, the dread?
In the absence of a draft, the imperial wars raging on the periphery are as distant as Mars; battles, bombings, death and dismemberments that can be flicked away as effortlessly as changing the channel.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Three days after President Barack Obama visited Ground Zero in New York City on May 5th with his message of "justice being done" with the slaying of terrorist Osama bin Laden, disturbing news broke about this administration's blocking of a quest for justice in the infamous May 1970 killing of four Kent State students.
Those four students fell in a barrage of gunfire on May 4, 1970 by Ohio National Guardsmen who opened fire during a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War on Kent State’s campus. That lethal fusillade of 67 shots during a 13-second period also wounded nine others, some seriously.
That blocking action by Obama officials includes an apparent unwillingness to investigate new evidence providing damning insights about that shooting orgy forty years ago, which heightened criticism about U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam and about the abuse of domestic political dissidents.
When a United Airlines pilot of a flight I was on celebrated the killing of Osama bin Laden, and I blogged about it, my friend Emily Levy urged me to complain to the airline. So I did. Here's their response, followed by what I had sent them.
Dear Mr. Swanson:
Thank you for contacting us. We are currently experiencing a high volume of emails, and I offer my apology for the delayed response to your message.
I am very sorry to hear that our pilot vocalized his personal opinion with the passenger’s onboard flight 210 on May 1, 2011. It is definitely a personal opinion on the reaction or outcome of the fact that Osama bin Laden was killed. Please accept my sincere apology. I have shared your comments to the onboard flight manager so he can take appropriate action to prevent this from reoccurring.
On another note, your email was so interesting it prompted me to continue on to read your website and blog.
The New York Times has posted seven super-short columns on how to cut the U.S. military. All seven seem to support cutting the military in one way or another. That's excellent, and I don't mean to complain, but . . . .
The United States has the largest military in the world. We could cut it by 85% and still have the largest military in the world. And that's without counting all the military spending that we funnel through departments other than the Pentagon, spending that brings our annual total to around $1 trillion.
In 1998, five Cuban men were arrested by the U.S. government and tried in Miami on charges of conspiring to commit espionage on the United States.
The five men’s mission was to stop terrorism, keeping watch on Miami’s ultra-right extremists to prevent their violent attacks against Cuba. “The Cuban Five,” as they are now known, were convicted after repeated denials by the judge to move the trial venue out of Miami. The U.S. government insisted that they be tried in Miami.
What the Cuban Five and their attorneys did not know during trial was that the U.S. government—through its official propaganda agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors—was covertly paying prominent Miami journalists who, at the same time as the government conducted its prosecution, saturated the Miami media with reports that were highly inflammatory and prejudicial to the Cuban Five.
So, the United States invaded Mexico, lied about it, killed, raped, pillaged, and stole half the country for the cause of expanding slavery in our growing continental empire. Then a devastated rump Mexico was invaded by the French who wanted their debts repaid, but the Mexicans won a big battle against the French on the Fifth of May, leading Americans to buy several tons of tacos and thousands of gallons of beer every Cinco de Mayo. Viva international solidarity in the land of Might-Makes-Right!
Secularists and Congressman Pete Stark have declared May 5th the Day of Reason, but how many people know that, how many television stations will stand for it, and how many Americans are even pretending to be reasonable?
Watch students Holly Donaldson, Russ Doubleday, Scott Hefferman, Evan Klondar & Kate Tummarello present their thesis "Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air? An Analysis of the Accuracy of Forecasts in the Political Media"
by Walter Brasch
It was a little before 9 a.m.
I was chatting with two students.
Another student came in, and asked if we had heard a plane had hit a building in New York City.
We hadn't, but I assumed it was a light private plane, and the pilot had mechanical difficulty or problems with wind turbulence.
A minute or so later, another student came in. It was a passenger jet, she said.
The first student had read the information in a text from a friend, who had received it from another friend, who may have heard it somewhere else. The second student had read it from her Palm Pilot, which brought in news from CNN. In a few moments I became aware of how news dissemination had changed, and it was the youth who were going to lead the information revolution.
A half-hour later, in an upper division journalism class, we were flipping between TV channels, and students were texting with friends on campus and in other states.
By Vige Barrie
May 2, 2011
Op-ed columnists and TV’s talking heads build followings by making bold, confident predictions about politics and the economy. But rarely are their predictions analyzed for accuracy.
Now, five Hamilton College seniors led by public policy professor P. Gary Wyckoff have analyzed the predictions of 26 prognosticators between September 2007 and December 2008. Their findings? Anyone can make as accurate a prediction as most of them if just by flipping a coin.
Their research paper, “Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air? An Analysis of the Accuracy of Forecasts in the Political Media” was presented via webcast on Monday, May 2, at www.hamilton.edu/pundit. The paper is also available at that address. Questions during the presentation were posed via Twitter using #hcpundit. The students responsible for this study include Holly Donaldson, Russell Doubleday, Scott Hefferman, Evan Klondar and Kate Tummarello.
By Dave Lindorff
In the end they couldn't get away with it.
As I noted back on Monday in my first article on the Sunday Navy SEAL raid into Pakistan that killed Osama Bin Laden, President Obama himself spilled the beans in his initial midnight statement, when he said, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
After that perhaps unintentionally honest account of an execution, the lies began, with White House chief counter-terrorism advisor (great title huh?) John O. Brennan fabulating that Bin Laden had "engaged in a firefight" with the SEALs who "entered the area of the house he was in," and adding, "Whether or not he got off any rounds, I frankly don't know." Then there were the lies that Bin Laden had shamefully used his wife as a "human shield," that he had been armed with an assault rifle, etc.
Media Lies and Misinformation on Bin Laden - by Stephen Lendman
Corporate media manipulators love a big story they can hype, distort and falsify to attract large audiences, unaware they're getting managed news, not truth.
Moreover, the bigger the event, the worse the reporting, and no matter how often they're fooled, madding crowds rely on proved unreliable sources like US cable and broadcast TV, as well as corporate broadsheets and popular magazines publishing rubbish not fit to print.
After Obama's May day announcement, round-the-clock coverage now features "story one" ad nauseam, cheerleading the death of a dead man with no one allowed on to refute it.
A previous article did, accessed through the following link:
Separating fact from fiction, it explained:
By Yasmeen Ali
Lahore, Pakistan -- I am incredulous!
I’ll say one thing: this US Special Forces operation deserves a standing ovation for immaculate execution. Except that some details do get confusing.
Maybe I’m just slow, but truly, viewing the still pictures of the compound where Osama was shot to death that are being aired on local TV here, I am left spell-bound by many odd contradictions.
First, the wall that encircled the compound, which was blasted through to allow entry to the US attackers, showed a humble charpoy next to a water geyser and a few odd household items stacked right next to the opening. Not a hair out of place, so to speak. It was all a little too orderly for my lawyerly taste. Wouldn’t something have been damaged or knocked over at least?
Al Jazeera's War on Syria - by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed Al Jazeera's war on Gaddafi, accessed through the following link:
Discussing its recent programming, it explained how compromised it's become. For example on Libya, it's been largely Western/Qatari propaganda, not legitimate news, information, and analysis.
It's Syria coverage has been similar, providing its host country regime friendly reporting. Qatar is part of the Washington-led NATO anti-Gaddafi coalition. Shamelessly, Al Jazeera News channel (JNC) is on board supporting it.
Like America's media and BBC, JNC's biased reporting got one of its prominent journalists to resign in late April - its Beirut chief and host of the popular Hiwar Muftuh (open dialogue) program, Ghassan Bin Jiddo.
According to the Lebanon newspaper, As-Safir, it was to protest its recent coverage of Arab uprisings, saying:
The plane I was on landed in Washington, D.C., Sunday night, and the pilot came on the intercom to tell everyone to celebrate: our government had killed Osama bin Laden. This was better than winning the Super Bowl, he said.
Set aside for a moment the morality of cheering for the killing of a human being -- which despite the pilot's prompting nobody on the plane did. In purely Realpolitik terms, killing foreign leaders whom we've previously supported has been an ongoing disaster.
Our killing of Saddam Hussein has been followed by years of war and hundreds of thousands of pointless deaths. Our attempts to kill Muammar Gadaffi have killed his children and grandchildren and will end no war if they eventually succeed. Our attempts to kill Osama bin Laden, including wars justified by that mission, have involved nearly a decade of senseless slaughter in Afghanistan and the rest of the ongoing global "generational" war that is consuming our nation.