‘News’ Central By William Bowles

11 March 2004

Might is right as they say, except when it’s wrong that is, but of course who is to gainsay the powerful? With the media and the education system as the main vehicles for maintaining the status quo, piercing the veil of propaganda is more than just the production of counter-propaganda, it requires a mind-shift in those we aim to reach. Not so easy to do for not only does it require a deal of courage, it quite often requires some serious critical thinking, and critical thinking is not something that is generally encouraged by the ruling elite.

If there’s one thing we can be sure of however, it is that the state possesses not only a ‘backlog’ of experience in ruling us, when all else fails, it has the ‘law’. However, ‘law’ as those currently incarcerated in Guatanamo or Belmarsh know, is something that is mutable.

A ‘note’ Al Giordano posted today (Permalink: www.bigleftoutside.com/archives/000375.php) included a letter to the Guardian by Chilean journalist Abelardo Clariana-Piga:

“Who does not agree with the following letter does not accept the democratic system we wish to protect”

—–

Dictators and freedom
Wednesday March 10, 2004

The Guardian
I was detained in Chile under Pinochet for almost two years. No charges, no tribunal, no recourse to the legal system (Judges accuse Blunkett, March 9). Some people were tried by military tribunals, in secret. Governments around the world which use such methods are labelled dictatorships.
Abelardo Clariana-Piga
Southampton

Good question. So what makes the actions of ‘Thug’ Blunkett different from General Pinochet? Largely how his actions and the state he represents get reported. Giordano says:

“The Haiti coup, more than being military or the result of a simulated “rebel” band of paramilitaries, was a media show.

“And let’s be honest: we – the authentic journalists – got our clocks cleaned.

“We weren’t ready.

“The bad guys won.”

Well most of us anyway. i’n’i did its best to correct the lies and distortions being put out by the corporate media along with a host of other ‘alternative’ media sources (a description I hate). But any investigation of US invasions of the past couple of decades reveals exactly the same process at work, so it’s not like we’re dealing with something new.

Take for example, the invasion of Grenada where Reagan used the alleged safety of US students at a medical school on the island as the excuse, or that of Panama where thousands died on the pretext of arresting CIA/drug smuggling ‘asset’ General Noriega (who currently languishes incommunicado in a Florida jail in case he spills the beans).

In both instances (in what might be viewed as ‘dry runs’ for ‘Operation Desert Storm’) the press was denied access by the US military to events. What is revealed is a conscious programme, extending over decades, of increasing control and manipulation of the media. A process aided by revolutions in technology as well as the mergers and acquisitions in the media/communications/weapons sector (eg General Electric’s purchase of NBC).

Before the satellite and the internet, a reporter on the spot filed his or her story largely intact but with the advent of instant communications, editorial control became centralised. Reporters now file ‘raw’ copy that gets edited in ‘news central’. The reporter has less and less control over the ‘product’.

What is new is the almost total blanketing of the ‘news’ outlets with identical stories (something I’ve commented on before). And what of the role of the journalist in the pay of the corporate press? Sadly, most seem ignorant of events in ways that a previous generation of journalists were not. Happy to be ’embedded’ it seems, though it has to be said, the state has no compunction in ‘taking out’ a few (see They Shoot Journalists, Don’t They?) just to keep the rest ‘in line’.

Some might argue that with all the ‘alternative’ sources of news and information available on the Internet, such centralised control is to some degree mitigated but therein lies the rub – critical thinking. Not only critical thinking but in the case of TV news (that 75% of the people get their ‘news’ from), the process is not only an act of passive consumption but content is strictly controlled. As MediaLens reports in its latest piece:

“[T]he research [by Glasgow University Media Group] found that of 3,536 lines of BBC1 and ITN text broadcast between September 28 and October 16, 2000, just 17 explained the history of the [Palestinian] conflict. As a result, many people interviewed simply did not understand that the Palestinians were subject to a military occupation and did not know who was ‘occupying’ the occupied territories.”
HAITI – NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS

So the actions of ‘Thug’ Blunkett are actually part of a larger process of social control – the conscious creation and maintenance of ignorance. Without a fully informed public, aware of events and their causes, Blunkett’s actions go largely unchallenged and, as the Chilean journalist says, “Why do we allow the US and the UK to do the same thing?” Why? Because we’re largely ignorant of events and their causes.

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