As the non-coverage of the Downing Street memos continues in the mainstream media, we citizens, we consumers of the news are left wondering: Why?
The semi- and quasi-apologies offered by the Post and the Times for their own parts in cheerleading Bush's war drums, while burying and ignoring any and all dissenting voices, were floated up only a few weeks ago -- and that only after some heavy arm-twisting my media critics. But "we're so sorry" doesn't wash when they do it over again. (The oh-by-the-way article in the Post the other day didn't quite stir up memories of Woodstein.
Medialens sums it up for us:
Brazenly, in broad daylight, as it were, the media has stolen the truth out from under the publicâ€™s noses.
Critics might object that this is an anomaly, a freak of timing, that a generally honest media system felt the public had simply had enough of Iraq. Thus, the Guardianâ€™s Jonathan Freedland acknowledges that the memo has been all but ignored but comments:
â€œJournalists decided that voters were Iraq-ed out and so gave the memo much less coverage than it deserved.â€? (Freedland, â€˜Yes, they did lie to us,â€™ The Guardian, June 22, 2005)
But it was not merely that journalists decided that the public were â€œIraq-ed outâ€?. In fact the corporate media have consistently distorted the truth in exactly this way for many years. Ahead of the 2003 war, journalists suppressed the truth of the genocidal impact of Western sanctions on Iraq. They suppressed the truth about the near-total disarming of Iraq by UN inspectors between 1991-98, and about the limited shelf lives of any retained WMD that would long since have become â€œuseless sludgeâ€?, according to UN inspectors.
Since March 2003, the same media have suppressed the truth of Blairâ€™s mendacious â€œmoral case for warâ€? by hyping Saddamâ€™s crimes over the last decade and by suppressing the true costs of the invasion for the people of Iraq - notably, by ignoring or dismissing the October 2004 Lancet report indicating that almost 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died since the invasion. They suppressed the truth about the alleged June 2004 â€œtransfer of sovereigntyâ€? in Iraq, about the January 2005 â€œdemocratic electionsâ€?, about the alleged US â€œexit strategyâ€?, and about the true importance of oil and strategic power in US designs for Iraq. Consistently, right across the board, corporate media reporting has reflected corporate and other establishment interests at the expense of the Iraqi people.
It is tempting to psychoanalyse mainstream journalists, to try and understand how highly educated professionals can behave as intellectual herd animals in this way. How can apparently civilised Western journalists so consistently subordinate the misery and despair of innocent Iraqis to the needs of power and profit? In his book, The Corporation, Canadian law professor Joel Bakan explains the bottom-line for corporate executives:
â€œThe law forbids any motivation for their actions, whether to assist workers, improve the environment, or help consumers save money. They can do these things with their own money, as private citizen. As corporate officials, however, stewards of other peopleâ€™s money, they have no legal authority to pursue such goals as ends in themselves - only as means to serve the corporations own interests, which generally means to maximise the wealth of its shareholders.
Corporate social responsibility is thus illegal - at least when its genuine.â€? (Bakan, The Corporation, Constable, 2004, p.37)
Thus the hidden, enforced moral corruption of corporate employment:
â€œThe people who run corporations are, for the most part, good people, moral people. They are mothers and fathers, lovers and friends, and upstanding citizens in their communities, and they often have good and sometimes even idealistic intentions... [But] they must always put their corporationâ€™s best interests first and not act out of concern for anyone or anything else (unless the expression of such concern can somehow be justified as advancing the corporationâ€™s own interests).â€? (ibid, p.50)
In the corporate media, putting the corporation first means not alienating centres of political and economic power that hold the keys to survival and success.
The article is actually Part 2 of a previous piece from Monday -- and both comprise a rather comprehensive (and therefore disturbing) look at the war, the lies and the lack of press coverage. In fact, the medialens site in general is pretty interesting. (But hey, guys, you might try inviting some women on board!)
Anyway, this media action alert drives to a point:
Ultimately, the crucial point is that, in the age of the â€˜blogosphereâ€˜, there is simply no longer any need to indulge the mainstream mediaâ€™s high-paid servility to power. Though they scoff at the notion, corporate journalists really +do+ have the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents on their hands. People who care about rational thought, who feel compassion for human suffering, will withdraw their support from the corporate media system. Readers will stop supporting it with their subscriptions, writers will stop supporting it with their words - and they will instead set about the vital work of building and supporting not-for-profit, internet-based media offering our only serious hope for compassionate change.
I would agree with this ... except that the corporate influence is being felt in the blogosphere. Readers here will note there are ads on this page. They're dirt cheap, not really enough to cover even the hosting and bandwidth fees. But the most popular blog sites are pulling in $10,000 and more a week. That makes for some heavy financial pressure. (In the recent pie incident, Kos as much as said the cash from the ad was of primary importance.) Yes, one can always go elsewhere ... and there are more elsewheres within easier reach than you can find on the most splendiferous cable tv package (and all those tv stations are owned by the same dozen or so companies anyway). But let's not be pollyanna about the internet.
It's hard work to try to keep up online, and you cannot do it alone. And if you want to particpate, well.... My posts end up taking away from meal times and sleep time. I have a business to run, after all. Of the professional bloggers, some are pretty good. But I find I turn repeatedly to the amateurs. I don't know how they find the time. I'm a pretty fast typist and can code xhtml in my sleep, and I still don't find the time more often than not. Today I had 8 or 9 articles open, ready to be blogged. That idea went out the window.
So who can sustain blogging? How do they pay the bills? As blogging becomes more of a business proposition, are we going to see a lot of the same pressures? Are ethics and moral values going to take a back seat to advertiser interests?
I hope not. Blogging is inherently a non-Establishment activity, since the barriers to entry are so minimal. Meanwhile newspaper publishers and television networks and stations are big business, often part of national and multinational media conglomerates. They are the Establishment. And perhaps that is why they find themselves losing their audiences -- they can't tell the truth because that goes against their own interests.
So lies to get us into war are not "news that's fit to print." So say the Establishment media.
Meanwhile we keep speaking out, a collective voice that shouts out against the darkness.