Propaganda: "The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause
or information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a
doctrine or cause. Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a
doctrine or cause: wartime propaganda."
Now all of a sudden there is this rather large brouhaha over the Bushistas'
use of propaganda re: Iraq and its citizenry. Horror of horrors! Say it isn't
so! Propaganda, indeed!
Now perhaps I'm living in an alternate universe, or maybe I missed something
in my 68 years of traversing this earth, but propaganda is de rigueur for your
government, folks, for all governments. Propaganda is all about control; for
crying out loud, the Catholic Church adopted just such a stance -- and has been
"propagating" forever. It took the state a bit longer to see the benefits
of such a strategy, but once it realized the advantages, it took off with all
Suddenly certain media pundits have 'discovered' that our government is fabricating
news, and planting it in the Iraqi press? Hey, I've got news for you guys, since
the end of the Vietnam War the corporate media have been disseminating "all
the news the state views as fit to print." Now all of a sudden, certain
among you have found a conscience -- give me a freaking break here!
The State Department is training Iraqi reporters in basic journalism skills
and "media ethics" (and that certainly is an oxymoron). One of the
workshops in this training is titled "The Role of Press in a Democratic
Society." Now I suppose that as taught by the State Department that role
includes allowing the state to write, or otherwise choose the material.
Corporate media in the U.S. can serve as a living, breathing example of just
how it is done for this workshop. They can have a guest lecture series featuring
such luminaries as Judith Miller, Bill O'Reilly, Robert Novak, et al.
In my last commentary (Rats
and Sinking Ships), I painted a word picture of a rat caught in a trap,
while his brother rats were lined up to get a piece of his ass. With all of
the hypocritical media bullshit recently, feigning astonishment about planted
news stories that word picture came to mind. Right now Bush is that rat in the
trap and the conflicted, hypocritical media would have us believe that they
have suddenly developed cojones, and are looking for a piece of his ass. It
isn't going to wash, guys (and ladies).
Why should this illegal war -- and coverage -- be any different? It was only
14 years ago that the media, in order to "cover" the Kuwait affair
acquiesced to the Pentagon's "ground rules" for reporters who wished
to be em-bed-ed with the troops. It has been that way ever since, and the compliant
media has fallen into lockstep with the military propagandists -- ho-hum.
And as we all know, those journalists who fail to subscribe to the rules of
the Pentagon's propaganda game soon find themselves on the wrong end of an American
bomb, grenade, or bullet. Thus far in Bush's Crusade, 74 journalists and media
assistants have lost their lives, many at the hands of the U.S. military and
One of the more high-profile cases was the shooting -- and wounding -- of Italian
journalist Guiliana Sgrena last spring by U.S. Forces. An Italian agent, Nicola
Calipari, was killed in that incident. The Pentagon claimed car carrying the
journalist and Italian agents failed to stop their automobile at a checkpoint.
Sgrena laid waste to that bit of propaganda when she related that they were
shot at by a U.S. patrol while on their way to the Baghdad Airport.
In addition the Pentagon enforcers -- with the assistance of their Iraqi counterparts
-- have imprisoned over 115 journalists, and another 70 cyber dissidents in
Iraq. Welcome to Democracy Bush-style.
Then there is the case of Al-Jazeera -- a real burr under the Pentagon's saddle.
Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, the British tabloid the Daily Mirror
carried the story about Bush's plans to bomb Al-Jazeera's Qatar headquarters.
This was to be carried out during last year's Fallujah offensive, but it is
rumored that Tony Blair dissuaded Bush from this action.
Britain's response to the publication of this 'leaked' government memo was
to "gag" the press under the "Official Secrets Act." But
here in the good old United States that isn't necessary because the government
has turned the press into wanton whores (my sincerest apologies to all the good
whores out there) compliantly turning the journalistic trick for their administration
In Britain they have the "Official Secrets Act," here in the U.S.
we have the "Official Presstitutes Act." And that's just for the press,
for the rest of us we have the USA PATRIOT Act. And there are those among us
who have found themselves on the wrong end of that little totalitarian entanglement.
I have personal experience with that piece of fascist crap known as the USA
PATRIOT Act. My response, just like that old National Rifle Association (NRA)
bumper sticker: "I'll give up my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead
fingers." For the fascists abroad in the land, "I'll give up my keyboard
when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers."
I strayed a bit with my rant this week but watching -- and reading -- the corporate
media and their hypocritical bullshit regarding "planted stories"
in the Iraqi media was laughable. The mainstream press in this country has become
nothing more than a propaganda arm for the state and that's okay, if that is
what they desire. However, don't try to snow me with your false clichés
In no way am I painting all media, or all journalists, with the wider swath
of the brush that is this commentary. The miscreants know who they are; the
rest of us who either labor for a decent newspaper, alternative press, periodical,
or on the web stay afloat by staying in the face of the fools and fascists.
You are to be applauded because without you the curtain of totalitarianism would
isolate us one and all from those freedoms that are our rightful heritage.
"Limiting the freedom of news 'just a little bit' is in the same category
with the classic example 'a little bit pregnant.'" --Robert A. Heinlen
You can contact Frank Pitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.