FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Washington Post in the Dock?

by MARK HAND

One of the best things I read in 2003 was Matt Taibbi’s piece in the New York Press in which he spanked the Washington press corps for its vulgar behavior at the press conference farce held by Bush Jr. during the early days of the American invasion of Iraq.

“After watching George W. Bush’s press conference last Thursday night, I’m more convinced than ever: The entire White House press corps should be herded into a cargo plane, flown to an altitude of 30,000 feet, and pushed out, kicking and screaming, over the North Atlantic,” Taibbi wrote.

He didn’t stop there. With resolute facetiousness, Taibbi proposed that any remaining staff at the Washington media bureaus should be rounded up for summary justice. “The Russians used to use bakery trucks, big gray panel trucks marked ‘Bread’ on the sides; victims would be rounded up in the middle of the night and taken for one last ride through the darkened streets,” he said.

Taibbi definitely was onto something. Press critics are often too restrained in their prescription for dealing with the on-bended-knee syndrome that afflicts almost the entire press corps in its coverage of the political elite in Washington, especially when the establishment is committing murder and mayhem around the world through its surrogates in the military.

Earlier this month, an international court took off its restraints when it produced a verdict against certain members of a nation’s media who, like the American mainstream press, served as cheerleaders for atrocious crimes against humanity. That trial took place in Rwanda.

If our nascent international justice system wanted to prove its evenhandedness, the next great media war crimes trial would take place in Washington, with the top officials and editors of the leading U.S. news organizations escorted into the dock. The first round of official legal proceedings by the International Criminal Tribunal for the United States, once it’s formally established, could target the honchos at my local newspaper, the Washington Post, for incitement to mass murder and crimes against journalistic decency.

Following the lead of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the ICTUS could charge Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham, editor Len Downie and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt with fanning the flames of war and actively promoting the U.S. political elite’s campaign of murder around the world. The precedent was set in Rwanda when two former Rwandan media officials – a radio executive and a newspaper editor were jailed for life and a third defendant, an executive with a radio station, received a 35-year prison term after the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found them guilty of genocide, incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity within their own country.

For the sake of time, the ICTUS could choose to prosecute only the crimes of the U.S. government committed since the administration of George Bush I. Although arbitrary, this abbreviated timeframe would still keep tribunal officials busy, given the U.S. government’s resume of violence during the past 15 years: Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and so on.

Throughout its history, the Washington Post has been a loyal supporter of the War Party’s actions around the world. The past 15 years have been no exception. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the top executives and editors at the Post have amplified their support for the U.S. government’s consolidation of its global military supremacy.

Writing in The Progressive magazine in 2001, former Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy chronicled how the Post’s op-ed page always can be counted on to rally around the Washington elite. “In the 1980s and 1990s, the paper supported aid to the contras, the nomination of Edwin Meese to be Attorney General, NAFTA, and U.S. military bombings in Grenada, Libya, Panama, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia,” McCarthy said.

In the lead-up to this year’s U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Washington Post’s op-ed page beat the drum for war as loudly as any daily U.S. newspaper. It published editorials on a weekly basis promoting a military assault on Iraq. At the same time, it published on a daily basis the gung-ho columns of such rightwing and neoconservative luminaries as Charles Krauthammer, David Ignatius, George Will, Jim Hoagland and Michael Kelly (who was killed earlier this year while in bed with the U.S. military in Iraq).

“What Katharine Graham warned against 26 years ago has already come to pass,” Bill Vann wrote last March on the World Socialist Web Site. “The Post has moved considerably to the right of its readership base, which finds itself alienated from and revolted by the paper’s robotic echoing of the administration’s war propaganda.”

The drumbeat for war exhibited by the major U.S. media is a notorious trait of super-militaristic and aggressive states. But perhaps prosecuting the U.S. government’s propaganda organs, masquerading as a free press, for aiding and abetting the crimes of the government is unnecessary. The International Criminal Tribunal for the United States, given its likely limited budget, probably should stick with prosecuting the authors of the murder playbooks, not their cheerleaders in the press.

What then should be done about all of the War Party puppets that dominate the major media? Taibbi had one suggestion that he said would make Bush’s Iraq adventure a little easier to swallow: “The war would almost be worth it just to see Wolf Blitzer pounding away at the inside of a Pepperidge Farm truck, tearfully confessing and vowing to ‘take it all back.'”

MARK HAND is editor of Arlington, Va.-based Press Action. He can be reached at: mark@pressaction.com.

 

Mark Hand has reported on the energy industry for more than 25 years. He can be found on Twitter @MarkFHand.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
W. T. Whitney
The Fate of Prisoner Simón Trinidad, as Seen by His U. S. Lawyer
Brian Platt
Don’t Just Oppose ICE Raids, Tear Down the Whole Racist Immigration Enforcement Regime
Paul Cantor
Refugee: the Compassionate Mind of Egon Schwartz
Norman Richmond
The Black Radical Tradition in Canada
Barton Kunstler
Rallying Against the Totalitarian Specter
Judith Deutsch
Militarism:  Revolutionary Mothering and Rosie the Riveter
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir Evoked a Lot More International Attention in the 1950s Than It Does Now
Adam Phillips
There Isn’t Any There There
Louis Proyect
Steinbeck’s Red Devils
Randy Shields
Left Coast Date: the Dating Site for the ORWACA Tribe
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bill Hayes’ “Insomniac City”
David Yearsley
White Supremacy and Music Theory
February 16, 2017
Peter Gaffney
The Rage of Caliban: Identity Politics, the Travel Ban, and the Shifting Ideological Framework of the Resistance
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Doublespeak: Israel’s Terrifying Vision for the Future
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail