30 May 2008

Media Complicit in Propagandizing Lies that Led to War

This is a deeply perilous hour in the history of our nation and people, when major news networks conspire and lie in order to sell a bill of goods that leads to war and the unnecessary deaths and suffering of millions of innocent people. Major network news media have enabled governmental acts of aggression. It's criminal! I hope that those with appropriate resources and influences will take appropriate actions to hold the perpetrators of this "media-mis-information - crime-against-humanity" - accountable.

[For the lawyers, law-makers, and law enforcement officials out there: it's called "aiding and abetting". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accomplice]
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Truthout Original
McClellan and His Media Collaborators

Friday 30 May 2008

by: Jeff Cohen, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

[photo caption: Scott McClellan's "war collaborators" in the corporate media. Referred to by McClellan in his new memoir, "What Happened," as "deferential, complicit enablers" of the Bush administration's war propaganda.
(Photo: CBS News)]

main article:
No sooner had Bush's ex-press secretary (now author) Scott McClellan accused President Bush and his former collaborators of misleading our country into Iraq than the squeals of protest turned into a mighty roar. I'm not talking about the vitriol directed at him by former White House colleagues like Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer. I'm talking about McClellan's other war collaborators: the movers and shakers in corporate media. The people McClellan refers to in his book as "deferential, complicit enablers" of Bush administration war propaganda.

One after another, news stars defended themselves with the tired old myth that no one doubted the Iraq WMD (weapons of mass destruction) claims at the time. The yarn about hindsight being 20/20 was served up more times than a Reverend Wright clip on Fox News.

Katie Couric, whose coverage on CBS of the Iraq troop surge has been almost fawning, was one of the few stars to be candid about preinvasion coverage, saying days ago, "I think it's one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism." She spoke of "pressure" from corporate management, not just Team Bush, to "really squash any dissent." Then a co-host of NBC "Today," she says network brass criticized her for challenging the administration.

NBC execs apparently didn't complain when - two weeks into the invasion - Couric thanked a Navy commander for coming on the show, adding, "And I just want you to know, I think Navy SEALs rock!"

This is a glorious moment for the American public. We can finally see those who abandoned reporting for cheerleading and flag-waving and cheap ratings having to squirm over their role in sending other parents' kids into Iraq. I say "other parents' kids" because I never met any bigwig among those I worked with in TV news who had kids in the armed forces.

Given how TV networks danced to the White House tune sung by the Roves and Fleischers and McClellans in the first years of W's reign, it's fitting that it took the words of a longtime Bush insider to force their self-examination over Iraq. Top media figures had shunned years of well-documented criticism of their Iraq failure as religiously as they shunned war critics in 2003.

Speaking of religious, it wasn't until two days ago that retired NBC warhorse Tom Brokaw was able to admit on-air that Bush's push toward invasion was "more theology than anything else." On day one of the war, it was anchor Brokaw who turned to an Admiral and declared, "One of the things that we don't want to do is destroy the infrastructure of Iraq, because in a few days we're going to own that country."

Asked this week about the charge that media transmitted war propaganda, Brokaw blamed the White House and its "unbelievable ability to control the flow of information at any time, but especially during the time that they're preparing to go to war." This is an old canard: The worst censors prewar were not governments, but major outlets that chose to exclude and smear dissenting experts.

Wolf Blitzer, whose persona on CNN is that of a carnival barker, defended his network's coverage: "I think we were pretty strong. But certainly, with hindsight, we could have done an even better job." Coverage might have been better if CNN news chief Eason Jordan hadn't gotten a Pentagon "thumbs-up" on the retired generals they featured. Or if Jordan hadn't gone on the air to dismiss a dissenting WMD expert: "Scott Ritter's chameleon-like behavior has really bewildered a lot of people.... US officials no longer give Scott Ritter much credibility."

ABC anchor Charlie Gibson, the closest thing to a Fox News anchor at a big three network, took offense at McClellan: "I think the media did a pretty good job." He claimed "there was a lot of skepticism raised" about Colin Powell's prewar UN speech. Media critic Glenn Greenwald called Gibson's claim "one of the falsest statements ever uttered on TV" - and made his point using Gibson's unskeptical Powell coverage at the time.

In February 2003, there was huge mainstream media skepticism about Powell's UN speech ... overseas. But US TV networks banished antiwar perspectives in the crucial two weeks surrounding that error-filled speech. FAIR studied all on-camera sources on the nightly ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS newscasts: Less than 1 percent - 3 out of 393 sources - were antiwar. Only 6 percent were skeptical sources. This at a time when 60 percent of Americans in polls wanted more time for diplomacy and inspections.

I worked 10-hour days inside MSNBC's newsroom during this period as senior producer of Phil Donahue's primetime show (canceled three weeks before the war while the network's most-watched program). Trust me: too much skepticism over war claims was a punishable offense. I and all other Donahue producers were repeatedly ordered by top management to book panels that favored the pro-invasion side. I watched a fellow producer get chewed out for booking a 50-50 show.

At MSNBC, I heard Scott Ritter smeared - on-air and off - as a paid mouthpiece of Saddam Hussein. After we had war skeptic and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark on the show, we learned he was on some sort of network blacklist.

When MSNBC terminated Donahue, it was expected we'd be replaced by a nightly show hosted by Jesse Ventura. But that show never really launched. Ventura says it was because he, like Donahue, opposed the Iraq invasion; he was paid millions for not appearing. Another MSNBC star, Ashleigh Banfield, was demoted and then lost her job after criticizing the first weeks of "very sanitized" war coverage. With every muzzling, self-censorship tended to proliferate.

I'm no defender of Scott McClellan. Some may say he has blood on his hands - and that he hasn't earned any kind of redemption.

But, as someone who still burns with anger over what I witnessed inside TV news during that crucial historical moment, I'm trying my best to enjoy this falling out among thieves and liars.

Jeff Cohen is the founder of FAIR, and author of the new book, "Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media."

19 May 2008

Matthis Chiroux Refusal to Deploy to Iraq: "The War is Illegal"

June 15, 2008 update: Chiroux refuses deployment

Matthis Chiroux has demonstrated a principled and courageous stand by refusing to deploy to Iraq with the Army of the USA. Here's a story about him from Courage to Resist:
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Sgt Matthis Chiroux declares Iraq recall resistance

"This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate... I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq."

Courage to Resist. May 15, 2008

Sgt. Matthis Chiroux served in the Army until being honorably discharged from active duty last summer after over four years in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Philippines. Today he publicly announced that he is refusing orders to be recalled from the Army's Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) to deploy to Iraq. Matthis took this courageous stand in the Cannon House Office Building Rotunda after fellow members of Iraq Veterans Against the War testified before the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Video of Sgt. Matthis Chiroux's May 15, 2008 statement

Sgt. Matthis Chiroux. May 15, 2008

Good afternoon. My name is Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, and I served in the Army as a Photojournalist until being honorably discharged last summer after over four years of service in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Philippines. As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter servicemember's stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. Never again will I fail to stand.

In February, I received a letter from the Army ordering my return to active duty, for the purpose of mobilization for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Thanks in great part to the truths of war being fearlessly spoken by my fellow IVAW members, I stand before you today with the strength, clarity and resolve to declare to the military and the world that this Soldier will not be deploying to Iraq.

This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate as I will surely be a party to war crimes. Furthermore, deployment in support of [an] illegal war violates all of my core values as a human being, but in keeping with those values, I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army if they so wish to pursue them. I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq.

To donate to Iraq Veterans Against the War Legal Fund to support Matthis, use their online donation form and select “Legal Fund” under special projects. If you would like to send a message of support to Sgt Matthis Chiroux, email thankyoumatthis@ivaw.org

18 May 2008

Reverend Wright Speaks the Truth

"...Those who call me unpatriotic have used their positions of privilege to avoid military service."

Reverend Wright was interviewed by Bill Moyers on The Journal. I recommend watching the interview. www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04252008/profile.html

16 May 2008

Interview about Iraq

I found this series of interviews about Iraq, hosted by the Seattle program Weekday on Raed Jarrar's website, Raed in the Middle. Raed is an Iraqi architect who lives in the USA as a refugee. He is a consultant to the American Friends Service Committee on Iraqi affairs. Raed was among several who were interviewed on the Seattle Public Radio Station KUOW's program, Weekday, by Steve Scher.

Please link to Raed Jarrar's website to check out the KUOW program: raedinthemiddle.blogspot.com/2008_05_14_archive.html

[May 18th, 2008: Essentially, the interviewees presented an alarming and disturbing view of Iraq. They told of an Iraq that has been stretched to the thin margins of social chaos. They told of an Iraq that is plagued by corruption, by a civilian infrastructure that is in shambles. They told of an Iraq in the throes of a humanitarian crisis where roughly 50% of the population goes without adequate access to potable water. The told of the US Military hindering humanitarian relief. They unanimously supported the immediate commencement of a safe and gradual, full and complete withdrawal of US military forces.

I agree. I want a full and complete, yet gradual and safe, withdrawal of US military and vested corporate interests from Iraq.

I want this because it's the right thing, and it's in the best interests of both the Iraqi and the American People.

The invasion was illegal. The occupation is illegal. What we need to do is hold government, and culpable governmental officials, accountable. Then the process of amelioration and reconciliation can begin. /May 18th, 2008]

08 May 2008

Early May Photography (2008)

Here are some photos from an Evergreen Crew practice, a May Day Parade, and also from out and about in Olympia, including a City Council Meeting where discussion occurred over proposal to make the City of Olympia, Washington a Sanctuary for War Resisters and Undocumented Immigrants.

05 May 2008

Reverend James Lawson

The Reverend James Lawson
(photo by Glen Anderson)

I had the opportunity to see Reverend Jim Lawson on two occasions during his several day visit to Olympia, Washington. Reverend Lawson was in Olympia to address the community about the concerns of the social justice and peace movement in regard to recent disruptions and hostility and outbursts of violence.

Reverend Lawson is a war resister who, instead of seeking Conscientious Objector status, served 13 months of a 3 year prison sentence for refusing induction for service in Korea.

After he was released from prison, he traveled to India where he studied Satyagraha, AKA Gandhian nonviolence.

He became active in the Southern Black Liberation Movement of the 50's and 60's, and has dedicated his life to the cause of bettering the world through the dedicated practice of nonviolence and social movement organizing, as exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth.

Lawson led the first wave of Freedom Riders into Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. He is a brilliant man and a tremendous leader.

Thank you to Rev. Jim Lawson for visiting the City and Community of Olympia, Washington.

02 May 2008

Olympia Washington May Day 2008 (photography and video)

Please see: May Day Editorial Comment [OlyBlog.net]

I have some photos and videos from the day too. Mine are quite different from the adversarial and controversial scenes and sounds that you will find in The Olympian and on their website.

So here they are, first the flickr slide show (in case the embedded slideshow doesn't work for you, here's a direct link to the photoset: www.flickr.com/photos/rwhitlock/sets/72157604848281827/

I also took some videos, here are a few that I selected to post (In case the viewer embed doesn't work, here's a link):