The West’s State Media and Their Increasing Violence: The Hersh Affair
EDITORIAL, 1 May 2023
Most Western states have state or ’state’ affiliated’ media, i.e. media financed from tax and often called ”public service.” The US government has the US Agency for Global Media with considerable propaganda capacity. They are usually excluded when the West itself argues that it has free media in contrast to unfree state media like in China and Russia.
Their freedom has always been a qualified truth, particularly when they were owned by corporations that swallowed each other to form a handful of global media conglomerates, which now disseminate repetitive homogenised one-truth foreign policy coverage.
In my online book in-the-writing ”Worldmoires” which are deliberately not me-moires, I have recently published an – admittedly subjective but still analytical – exposé of my observations of the mainstream media and my interaction with them over rather exactly 50 years. (A different version will be published shortly in a book by the important alternative news agency, Pressenza).
I regret to conclude that, grosso modo, it’s been decay across the entire spectrum. The basics of classical journalism – knowledge, diversity of perspectives, solid verification of facts, fairness, criticism of power, etc. is now gone. It’s fully appropriate, in my view, to quote George Orwell that ”War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
The media contribute to all three, and I would add to Orwell’s a fourth: ”Enlightenment is endarkenment.”
I do follow Western mainstream news on a daily basis but not to get factual, diverse and insightful knowledge-based information about the world – navelgazingly, they anyhow cover only 15 percent of humanity – but to know what the NATO/EU decision-making elites are up to, how they legitimate their policies and what they want us to believe is the truth. As for the 85 percent generally negative attitudes preclude curiosity and fair reporting.
While I was used several times a week by many mainstream media in the 1970s and onwards, I am not out. From when I disseminated an alternative analysis of Yugoslavia and the dissolution wars there together with Johan Galtung and Haakan Wiberg in the 1990s, over my my book about the Iraq war as a predictable fiasco (2004) to my visit to Syria when Aleppo was liberated from terrorist occupation (December 2016), my cancellation has become complete. It’s no longer matters whether you have been there or happen to know something; it’s your political correctness, that counts. Today’s foreign policy expert can be defined as someone who says the right things perhaps backed up by knowledge.
I assume that all readers know what I’m talking about and have had similar experiences. In my own case, it’s been an interesting process – now, instead, being used repeatedly by alternative Western media and mostly by leading Chinese and less frequently by Russian and other ’enemy’ media. It’s both fun and productive for a peace researcher to reach a few hundred million people through the news inside China and on CGTN.
My media policy is simple. I work with:
- any media in any country that is
- interested in true conflict perspectives and peace,
- treat me with respect,
- keep their words as to how the events is to be conducted and
- doesn’t attempt ’framing’ or and other dirty tricks.
I’ve just published a correspondence with the editor-in-chief on the occasion of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s decision to withdraw one single mention of Seymour Hersh’s Nord Stream report and, immediately after, giving full blast to the report by US ”intelligence” sources that advanced the bizarre story that it was blown up by some ”pro-Ukraine” group on board a rented yacht.
That story – about one of the most important post-1945 events in Europe – broke in the New York Times and some German media the day after German Chancellor Scholz had returned from a media-blackouted few hours visit to the White House and only there.
It didn’t occur to the editor that both Joe Biden and Victoria Nuland have asserted that Nord Stream would be blown up and ”we know how to do it.”
So Hersh is cancelled and, yes, there were some weird things in his report, but his source is a person inside the White House’s inner decision-making circles – with his legendary reputation quite a lot more credible than US ”intelligence source” aka CIA+ – and their source base. It was back in 1977 that Carl Bernstein revealed in Rolling Stone how CIA influenced the media deceptively – from Operation Mockingbird and onwards – and there is the magnificent classic Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War, by Frances Stonor Saunders, 1999.
Normally, sources speak on condition of anonymity in such matters. So you may enjoy how the editor-in-chief of the Danish Broadcasting gets around that issue and insists ad absurdum that it is certainly not a matter of political choice.
Perhaps some would say, there is nothing new in this. That is true in the same sense that on the way down slippery slope, nothing new happens. But one day quantity converts into quality and the decay is manifest. One day the general citizenry – who still largely believe in what they are served by mainstream prime time news and documentaries about international affairs – will wake up to what I call their Pravda Moment: We were taken for a ride in one case after the other, the system is rotten.
You can only fool so many people so much over so long time. And then follows the vicious circle, more must be cancelled today than yesterday. You wonder why Julian Assange is treated the disgusting way he is, not only by authorities in Sweden and England but also by the Western media that are otherwise so keen on human rights and torture (see Nils Melzer’s The Trial of Julian Assange: A story of persecution, 2022).
You wonder why Tucker Carlson – whatever you may think of him – was ousted one morning without notice or explanation in God’s own Country of the Free. Who is to be the ”protectors” of us all from ”conspiracy theorist”? Right, other politically correct conspirators!
And you wonder – or should I say, I wonder? – what shall be of the US, a democracy that cannot bring forth better candidates than those two at the moment while a third–Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.–is already cancelled/censored/demonised by leading media that blatantly attack his personality and ignore his substance.
Is that because he has exposed the extremely powerful Medical-Industrial-Complex in his best-selling but worst/least-reviewed book? Or is it because he is the only candidate who can spell the word ’peace’ – indeed has an excellent, hope-inducing new program for the US in the world? I keep wondering.
And this is then where the word ’violence’ in my headline comes in: Liberalism, democracy, freedom – it’s all about accepting and respecting the cacophony of values, perspectives and views that is life and ’let the best of them win’ through open debate and dialogues. Cutting it down is violence, and media that contribute to that cutting down do violence to the diversity of life itself. That’s why we desperately need peace journalism (although I am not happy with the term).
In my view, the only remedy against fake, omission and conspiracy (like Oscar Wilde I don’t believe in the latter, except those that are true…), is education accompanied by open respectful dialogue. It’s not algorithms, AI, censorship, cancellation, political correctness, and all that. Crap.
However, over the last 40-50 years the value of broad, diverse education – and hard work through its systems – has been undermined. Everything was geared to the market, and we were Number 1; we did not have to learn, only to teach; and everything went so well without much intellectual and moral effort (backed by short circuit, exceptionalist military might).
Perhaps provocatively, I do not hesitate to say that the Western mainstream media are now the largest single obstacles to understanding the world and humanity’s situation.
We have far too much information, comparatively less and less knowledge and woefully little wisdom left in the public domain. The slippery slope of violent media ends in the death of democracy, of the conversation about what matters. Said the wise man, also killed for fighting against war and calling the US too arrogant: ”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
I believe that in these times dissidentship – continuing to sound off about peace and other things that matter – is the only option available to decent intellectuals.
We don’t have a chance, of course. So, let’s take it!
Prof. Jan Oberg, Ph.D. is director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. CV: https://transnational.live/jan-oberg
Tags: Anti-imperialism, CIA, Corporate Media, Engaged Journalism, Hegemony, Journalistic Ethics, Mainstream Media MSM, Military Industrial Media Complex, Nordstream 2, Pentagon, Seymour Hersh, State Terrorism, USA, War Journalism
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 May 2023.
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