I remember when America had a free press, but the memory is fading. I remember seeing stories about Vietnam on T.V.; raw, horrible coverage of a raw, horrible war. I remember the Pentagon papers and the outrage we felt when we found that Johnson had lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident to get us into that raw horrible, war. I remember confusion when I learned that John Malcom had died there. I thought of his red, curly hair and mischievous grin. He and I had competed to be the most troublesome kids in first grade. Now John was dead-and for what?
Civil Rights on the News
I remember scenes on T.V. of police dogs attacking black people and fire hoses mowing them down. “Why are they doing that to those black people?” I asked. “They don’t want them to march,” I was told. “But they aren’t doing anything wrong-look, they aren’t even fighting back.” “Some people just don’t like black people.” I was told. I considered this. “But that’s just wrong!” I said, and I never changed my mind. I wanted to march, too.
War Coverage Then and Now
When the war was lost and the troops returned from Vietnam, I thought that at least the government had learned not to enter unjustified wars, because the American people would not tolerate it. They learned something, but not what I thought. They learned that they had to control the press in order to keep the War Machine we call America revved up. Now we have “embedded” journalists; embedded in the military-industrial machine. We get fake, sanitized news coverage; PR for the war industry and we are not outraged, because we are not informed.
News is Owned by War Contractors
Why don’t we get the truth? Because the T.V news is now owned by war contractors ( I refuse to say defense contractors.) The major networks are owned by Westinghouse, General Electric, Disney and Rupert Murdoch. Westinghouse and GE -don’t they make stoves and refrigerators? But no, Westinghouse (CBS) is into nuclear power and weapons. From 2000 to 2009 GE (NBC) has been awarded $11,731,569,403 in war contracts. Even Disney (ABC) has gotten in on the war game: Disney Family Buys Defense Contractor.
No Conspiracy, “Just Business”
As for Rupert Murdoch and Fox News, that merits a separate post. So you see, the people who provide the news to American households are in the war business. If they report the truth about the wars, they will lose lots of money. It’s not exactly a conspiracy; its just business as usual and the news is now a PR outlet for the War Machine and big corporations.
Wikileaks Video of War Crimes
When Wikileaks released a video exposing US military gunning down Iraqis and Reuters journalists* from a helicopter, I expected demands for court martials. Instead I hear slams against Wikileaks; and against the man (Julian Assange) who founded Wikileaks. But what about the war crimes? Are we above the law? (*Caution: This video is painful to watch.)
Assange and Ellsberg
Coincidentally, Assange was born in 1971, the same year another whistleblower named Daniel Ellsberg infuriated Nixon by leaking the Pentagon papers. Check out the PBS documentary on Ellsberg, The Most Dangerous Man in America (so-called by Henry Kissinger; Nixon just said, with characteristic eloquence, “Get the SOB.”
Politicians Criticize Wikileaks
Most of the early Wikileaks criticism seemed to be coming from Senator Joe Lieberman (CT.) I read his comments and then went to Open Secrets to see who elected him. Oh wait-did you think people of CT elected him? I used to think that way, but now I dig deeper and I found that his number one contributor is United Technologies-and what kind of business is United Technologies in? That’s right, they are in the War Business.
Bother Your Congressman
I wrote to Lieberman and asked: “But what’s being done about the war crimes?” My daughter asked me to behave until she goes off to college, so the CIA doesn’t coming knocking on the door. Ha. But I’m free of CIA conspiracy theories because I know I’m just not that important.
What to do? I’ve started reading the Guardian, a major British newspaper, which is printing stories on the Wikileak documents every day. In the UK, the papers have a bias, just like all news outlets do, but in the UK, they admit it up front. The Guardian is a bit to the left, so if you prefer a bit to the right, try reading The Daily Telegraph.