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The fact that Brian Williams lied about being fired-on in Iraq is more accidental, and less consequential, than the substantial deception, manipulation and misleading, of viewers and readers, that goes on regularly at NBC News — and other news outlets in the U.S. — with real consequences.
In his book The Greatest Generation (Random House, 1998) Tom Brokaw, formerly anchor NBC News, says that he “felt a kind of missionary zeal for the men and women of World War II, spreading the word of their remarkable lives.” He added that telling their stories “had the effect of a chain letter that no one wanted to disrupt.” Today, the same zealousness and mind control is being exercised by American news organization in areas ranging from vaccines to Ferguson and Aleppo.
One of the members of Mr. Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation,” George H.W. Bush–41st President of the United States, is said by Brokaw in the book to have “an unequaled record of public service within his generation.” This is the same man who initiated one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, the 1990-’91 Gulf War, a war that destroyed countless lives and added to the proliferation of Islamic extremism, which began to re-emerged in the area with the U.S. arming of the mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the ’80’s.
The widespread disorientation and disorder in American society has many parents, not the least of which are media/news organizations, and their zealous reporters, working for the government, advertisers and personal glory — rather than serving the truth.
Photograph: Stephen Wise
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) held their 24th Annual International Press Freedom Awards Dinner last evening in NYC. Al Jazeera correspondent Abdullah Elshamy, recently released from jail in Egypt, was on hand.
From the evening’s program guide: “CPJ promotes press freedom worldwide and defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. CPJ ensures the free flow of news and commentary by taking action whereever journalists are attacked, imprisoned, killed, kidnapped, threatened, censored, or harassed.”
LE asked a CPJ Director if they had done anything to help James Risen, the New York Times journalist who has been targeted by the Obama Administration and faces the possibility of going to jail for not revealing sources. He said he didn’t know what if anything CPJ was doing for Mr. Risen. He added that CPJ had thought about giving him an award but decided not to.
With all the participatory journalism being done in the U.S. today, it hasn’t been a good week for truth and justice—in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson, MO (not to indict police officer Wilson). NBC’s Brian Williams read the story, with a frown, saying that the grand jury “failed to come up with an indictment”—as if indicting was the only choice, which was not supported by the facts.
CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists), a non-profit that supports press freedom worldwide, held their annual awards dinner in New York this evening. According to the CPJ website, this years awards were given to journalists who faced “imprisonment or other persecution for exposing realities in Egypt, Turkey, Ecuador and Vietnam.”
In an interesting twist, Lara Logan, the evening’s host, was dropped from the program and replaced by Scott Pelley of CBS News—presumably because of her leave-of-absence from 60 Minutes, over its recent ‘Benghazi’ story. During the last year Ms. Logan has questioned the U.S. government’s version of reality in Afghanistan and Libya. Various people we spoke with, including CPJ officials, said they didn’t think it would be appropriate for CPJ to protect/defend Ms. Logan.
Additional drama came from Ecuadorian protesters, outside the Waldorf, upset that their countrywoman Janet Hinostroza was getting a CPJ award inside. Some Ecuadorians (including journalists) we spoke with said that she was a shill for the U.S. government and her activities were undermining their country. In 2012 Ms. Hinostroza was forced to take a leave-of-absence from a show she hosts in Ecuador.
LE Observation: With institutionalized government (and news organization) deception, and widespread personal disorientation—the truth is harder to come by, and the journalism needed for society to flourish is rare indeed.
Photographs: Stephen Wise
Anthony Lewis reporter and columnist for the New York Times, and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, died today at age 85. LE met Mr. Lewis in 2009, at the CPJ Awards Dinner, and asked him what he thought the U.S. should do in Afghanistan? He didn’t hesitate, saying — “We should get out.”
Commentary: In matters of American foreign policy, Anthony Lewis understood the U.S. had been unjust in not acting in situations that called for it (Rwanda & Bosnia) — “Clinton Fiddles While Bosnia Burns,” NYT March ’93; but also unjust in using force in situations that didn’t call for it (Iraq & Afghanistan).
Photograph: Stephen Wise
And yet what have those same news organizations done to confront the murderous bastards, policies and lies of their own government — which have destroyed millions of lives over the past 10 years? Very little, in fact they’ve been a party to it.
Artwork: Darren Sylvester
LE asked various media ‘elites’, at the recent International Press Freedom Awards Dinner, their thoughts on ‘how the so-called Arab Spring is going?’ The response given by most was: “It’s too early to tell.”
Commentary: It would have been nice to have heard just one media professional say that U.S. involvement in the Arab Uprising is wrongheaded, and more akin to the Russian Revolution than the American Revolution. We didn’t hear it. Back in May, Natalia Dmitriyevna, widow of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, told LE that “there are analogies” between the Russian Revolution and the Arab Spring.
The forces of anarchy (Neocons, Feminists & Saudis) driving the Arab Spring, betray their disorder by their indifference to the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria as well as the Palestinian cause. As with Lenin’s formula, the peasants are the losers amid the destruction — where one elite replaces another and declares victory.
“But massacre by Bolshevik troops was not the worst of the evils which confronted the long suffering peasants…the peasants abandoned their farms and sought safety in the towns, which could neither feed them adequately nor give them shelter. They came like hordes of locusts which ate up everything in their path. They died in their millions. No accurate figures were ever made available; nor could they be made available, though Sverdlov computed that some 27,000,000 were affected.” The Life and Death of Lenin, Robert Payne (Simon and Schuster, 1964)
With the ‘civilized’ world disregarding the lessons of the past, and devolving into new forms of tyranny and anarchy, journalists face multiple challenges (and threats) — especially from within, if their objective is to bear witness to the truth.
Photographs: Stephen Wise
The Committee to Protect Journalists held their 22nd International Press Freedom Awards dinner last evening in New York. The event was hosted by PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill. David Boies was the dinner chair. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, was honored as were four journalists from Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan and Liberia.
Lhamo Tso (lower photo), wife of Dhondup Wangchen, accepted his award. Mr. Wangchen remains in a Chinese prison for producing a film the Chinese government didn’t like.
Photographs: Stephen Wise
The indifference, even complicitness, of American leaders with Israel’s unjust policy towards the Palestinians can be traced to the billions of dollars in aid to Israel that has made its way back into the ‘war chests’ of elected U.S. officials, through organizations like AIPAC.
We asked David Boies, prominent First Amendment lawyer, about the ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited funding of campaigns. He agreed that is was a bad decision, adding that “corporations are not people,” and that the decision had the effect of putting “Congressional dysfunction on steroids.” The case had turned on the interpretation of the justices in the majority that the First Amendment applied to corporate donations.
The conundrum for any society seeking to be free is not to be undone by the wrongheaded exercise of freedom.
In an unrelated event this week, The New York Times reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested to Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, that British soldiers had helped to liberate her country from the Nazis during World War II.
Commentary: Wasn’t it Great Britain that helped to create the conditions, and harbor the individuals, that ultimately produced Hitler and the Nazis, and the World Wars? In the words of historian Harry Elmer Barnes*: “The Kaiser made much more strenuous efforts to preserve the peace in Europe in 1914 than did Sir Edward Grey.” Perhaps Ms. Merkel felt pressure to say anything to get Mr. Cameron to support her solution to the European Union’s budget woes.
As an important source of news and commentary, Der Spiegel needs to help the world see the bigger picture — including the role anarchists have played and continue to play in society. Hopefully Der Spiegel is not on the side of anarchy, as is The New York Times.
*Barnes–The Genesis of the World War, 1926