Journalism vs. Corporate Propaganda

Posted on Friday, 19th August 2011 @ 12:48 AM by Text Size A | A | A

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Last summer news veteran Bob Schieffer was called upon to eulogize the passing of Daniel Schorr-one of the last “giants” in the journalism profession.  Schorr had the fortitude and integrity to leak documents on Watergate to the Village Voice when the mainstream press would not run the story.  Schorr saw it as his duty to democracy.

That was then, this is now. Now we have the likes of Andrew Breitbart via Rupert Murdoch spouting half-truths and innuendo as news.  Glenn Beck is not only permitted, but encouraged by Tea Party officials and CPAC heads to broadcast the type of murderous fantasies more likely to be seen in a pornographic “snuff” film than investigative journalism.

Finally, fellow St. Louisan and Tea Party Grand Dame Dana Loesch has been officially hired by CNN as an “expert” political consultant.  Her expertise is limited to Tea Party activities, home schooling her children and shouting down any dissenting opinions which question Tea Party motives.

Journalism vs. Propaganda

During one broadcast at CBS News, Schorr was reading from the official Nixon “enemies list,” only to find his own name near the top.  Schieffer went on to say that Schorr was fighting the good fight against government censorship and was punished for not being “manageable” in terms of government needs.  Schieffer added that the corporate heads at CBS News were very worried about government dictating the news.  Today we have Julian Assange of WikiLeaks notoriety/fame fighting extradition efforts by our DOJ seeking to silence him in a permanent detention similar to that of Bradley Manning.  Assange’s crime was posting information sent or “leaked” to his site from various battlefield situations clearly proving acts of torture or genocide committed by our military, or leaked information proving corporate crimes which are international in scope.  That is not criminal-that is journalism.  What a difference some 30 years makes.

Now we have “reporters” embedded with military troops, effectively working not as journalists reporting the truth necessary to keep a democracy viable, but as overpaid stenographers cranking out the propaganda this corporate government pushes as news.  No longer are news services worried about the “truth.” Rather, they push whatever garbage jacks up the ratings to provide higher profits for corporate “sponsors.”

Instead of directly witnessing the effects of our military firing on innocent civilians in Afghanistan as recorded in the smuggled WikiLeaks video, we are treated to inanities such as “Lindsay Lohan’s stolen necklace spree.”  Rather than viewing the entire body of Shirley Sherrod’s now infamous NAACP speech regarding racism in this country, we are treated to “doctored” clips taken out of context and spewed by the venomous Andrew Breitbart.  While we should be questioning the role hate speech incitement played in the Gifford’s shooting (including documentation linking various Tea Party leaders to confirmed white supremacist and/or Neo-Nazi groups) – we are chastised for daring to challenge the ugly voice of prejudice, all in the name of ‘bipartisanship.’  (Source :

When activists take to the streets to demand their 1st Amendment rights, insisting that the “entire country is a free speech zone,” media outlets from Fox or CNN only run film on arrests and the actions of a few infiltrators while silencing the truth.  The coverage of the G-20 talks in Pittsburgh focused on alleged thugs breaking windows, but not on the fact that an entire city of US citizens were pushed into an urban prison with martial law closing streets and a militarized police gassing our neighbors while kidnapping people off the streets just to make a point.  (Source:

While Schorr took a place of honor on the illegitimate Nixon “enemies list,” we now have a “no-fly” list, which is totally secret and impervious to any public scrutiny.  The excuse is to protect us from terrorism, but let’s face it-sneak attacks happen.  There is no way to be 100% safe from the sneak attack; it’s like Chicken Little trying to find a place to hide from the sky.  Our only protection is to be attentive to behaviors, not racially profiling people based on appearance.

Since 9/11 served as the excuse to dismantle our rights, let’s look at a snapshot of our times compared to Schorr’s time on the ‘enemies list.’  We now have laws which have totally dismantled the Bill of Rights.  Thanks to Patriot Acts I & II, The Military Commissions Act, et al, we now live in a police state.  Legislation has been crafted with simple names which betray the hidden hegemonic agenda.

President Obama has taken these stolen executive powers further by claiming the right to order “targeted killings of US citizens” anywhere on the planet, regardless of war status.  He claims the right to command a “secretive executive process” over these “CIA and military Kill Lists,” exempt from any judicial or congressional review.

Even in the midst of legal challenges to this growing dictatorial executive model from the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, mainstream media outlets predominantly offer simplistic slogans designed to justify this egregious power grab. While the Obama administration defended this power as a necessary tool in the “war on terror,” and the mainstream media whitewashed the danger of this precedent, we must question not only the constitutionality of this demand, but also the intentions of those claiming to need such power, and the ramifications of its use.

Though most of this happened on George W. Bush’s watch, not all of it did.  Previous administrations (both Clinton and W. Bush) and the present one have contributed to this growing presidential dictatorship, with all questionable actions effectively “branded” necessary protections against some ill-defined, open-ended definition of “terrorism,” courtesy of the mainstream talking heads at CNN, Fox, etc.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act, passed during the Clinton administration, greatly contributed to this implosion of journalism.  Bluntly put, this act allowed for greater consolidation of corporate media giants, i.e. it allowed and encouraged mergers and acquisitions leading to mammoth monopolies.  This translated into a transfer of power from journalists to propagandists.  Truth is subsumed to corporate “branding.”  Only the voices of approved mouthpieces will be heard; any strong questioning of issues is buried under a flurry of intellectual pablum.  Without a strong and vibrant press democracy is doomed.  This legislation set the stage for corporate dominance of the airwaves and the rise of propaganda as news.

The Obama administration has a more nuanced approach to media, but the effect is still the same – boring, homogenized “reporting” omitting any discussion of substance.  Since taking office, President Obama has directed his DOJ to make permanent the very “laws” which strip all of us of our rights, including the above mentioned claim to selectively murder those who are conveniently labeled a “threat to national security.”

So, while we are treated to pretty speeches about the “audacity of hope,” we are criminalized for daring to question those in authority.  Instead, we are offered “experts” in shouting down dissenters.  In place of the investigative journalism bravely done by Daniel Schorr, we have Dana Loesch spouting brain dead slogans.  We live in a time with a suspended Bill of Rights barely on life support, all complements of our spineless Congress and an executive sporting dictatorial powers since 9/11.  Our corporate, lapdog press is too busy dishing out the intellectual “kool-aid” to bother investigating the facts.  We have corporate “journalism” via mob dictates, spurred on by right wing cheerleaders conveniently repeating the “big lie.”  In the quest for ratings, journalism has been “missing in action.”  Ironically, Daniel Schorr wouldn’t be able to get a job in journalism today.  No one would hire him in this political climate-not ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or CNN.  Don’t fret – CNN has Tea Party mouthpiece Dana Loesch.  (Insert sarcasm here).

In conclusion, I would say that Daniel Schorr should definitely be honored, but not eulogized.  His spirit which screamed the need to “speak truth to power,” is still alive in some.  It’s our democracy which is being eulogized.  Truth, honor and democracy died some time ago in DC.

 (Note: this is a piece which originally ran in Buzzflash.)

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