July 07, 2003

Pilger & Fisk on Iraq Coverage: The Real Danger Lies

If the US newspapers had the courage and indepdendence
of the British newspapers, either a) we would not be
in Iraq today, or b) or the _resident's regime would
be on the brink of collapse and Congress would be
force by the public outrage to hold open hearings
investigating why we declared war unilaterally in
violation of the UN Charter and fractured the Western
Alliance in the process, and why 200+ (and counting)
US soldiers had died...IF (as is now painfully
evident) the intel was cooked...and of course the
central question is at what level was it cooked? And
at whose command? The trail will lead to the Oval
Office or at least to Cheney's "undisclosed, secure
location." But, of course, if the big city US
newspapers (even one) and major TV networks (even
one)had the courage of the British press or of the BBC
(i.e. if the truth had come out) about 9/11, there
would have been public outrage which would have forced
Congress into open hearings investigating exactly
where the "intel failure" occured. Because you see it
is was an "intel failure" (there was plenty of intel
prior to 9/11, plenty and much more specific then yu
have been led to believe), BUT that intel was not
acted upon in the White House. The ensuing scandal
from an open expose of the pre-9/11 inaction of
_resident, the White House au pair (i.e. National
Security Advisor) and the VICE _resident, would have
put the Bush cabal's long-term goal of occupying Iraq
out of reach for the forseeable future. But alas that
is what happens when a free press forfeits its
responsibility in a democratic system...


Published on Thursday, July 3, 2003 by Inter Press
Pilger & Fisk on Iraq Coverage: The Real Danger Lies
by Gørill Hus and Guri Wiggen

OSLO - If the reality in Iraq is one thing and the
reporting of it remains another, it is because much of
the media wants it that way, say two leading
journalists who have been reporting the 'other' side
of the Iraq story.

The level of self-censorship in the media has risen
not just during the Iraq war but also since 9/11, says
Robert Fisk from The Independent newspaper published
in Britain and John Pilger, Australian broadcaster and

Pilger and Fisk both spoke to IPS on visits to Oslo.
Pilger came to receive the $100,000 Sophie Prize for
30 years of work to expose deception and war against
humanity. Fisk came to give a lecture at Fritt Ord, a
Norwegian media foundation.

”Propaganda is not found just in totalitarian states,”
Pilger says. ”There at least they know they are being
lied to. We tend to assume it is the truth. In the
U.S., censorship is rampant.”

Self-censorship, that is. This kind of self-censorship
is an increasing problem, and leads to one-dimensional
coverage that journalists must learn to transcend,
Pilger says.

”The most important soldiers in the Iraq war were not
the troops, but the journalists and the broadcasters,”
Pilger says. ”Lies were transformed into themes for
public debate. The true reason was of course--as we
all now know--not to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein and
remove their alleged weapons of mass destruction, but
to achieve the real Anglo-American aim; to capture an
oil rich country and to control the Middle East.”

Self-censorship is a particular problem because of the
”myth of neutrality” around western media. ”When you
declare yourself neutral, everybody else seems
biased,” Pilger says. ”But as seen in the Iraq
coverage and elsewhere, journalists very often assume
the culture of the media institution and all its
unwritten restrictions.”

But even the term self-censorship is not quite right,
Pilger says, ”because many journalists are unaware
that they are censoring themselves.”

Media organizations are now under tight control,
Pilger says. Just five corporations rule the
broadcasters in the United States. In Australia Rupert
Murdoch controls 70 percent of the media. ”We live in
an age of information,” he says. ”Yet the media is not
attacking the ruling system. The media has never
before been so controlled, and propaganda is all
around. Most of us don't even see it.”

The three main dangers facing the world, he says, are
silence, betrayal and power--and journalists can make
silence dangerous.

Fisk says the story in Iraq most correspondents chose
not to report was the ”bomb now, die later” policy
through use of depleted uranium (DU). Since the Gulf
war of 1991 the number of cancer patients had risen,
and ”strange vegetables” had begun to appear on the
market. The distortions were most likely to have been
caused by use of DU, he says.

”I told my colleagues that this was an interesting
story that should be reported,” Fisk says. ”But most
of them said, honestly Bob, we do not want to write
home about sick children. An official American
military document states that DU dust can indeed be
spread in battles and lead to serious illness in
humans, but this is not reported.”

The public and civil society opposed the Iraq war
because they understood the hidden agenda, but
”editors have a tendency to underestimate their
readership,” he says. Readers are seen as ignorant or

Self-censorship continues in Iraq after the war, and
elsewhere, Fisk says. ”Many more people have died so
far in the war against terrorism than on September 11
2001,” Fisk says. ”That is the story of our time, and
very few are writing it.”

Twenty thousand people have died just in the
Afghanistan war, seven times more than on September
11, Fisk says. This is just one example of the ”great
power of silence that is threatening to dominate us

Coupled with the self-censorship is the censorship
being imposed on the Iraqi media, Fisk says. This too
is not being reported adequately in the United States.
The U.S. administration has set up a committee for
press censorship in Iraq, which means the Iraqi press
can publish anything to remind people about the terror
of Saddam, but is not allowed to write freely about
current events crucial to them and their future.

Pilger sees reason for optimism. ”There is a movement
of resistance globally from the landless peoples
movement in Brazil to the huge anti-war movement,” he
says. ”Nothing like this has ever happened before in
my lifetime.” The superpower in Washington is being
challenged by the other superpower, he says; the
superpower of public opinion.

Copyright 2003 IPS


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Posted by richard at July 7, 2003 12:07 PM