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THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
Jayson Blair, Where Are You?

All the News That’s Fit to Fake

by DAVE LINDORFF

Okay, so we know now that the Bush administration has been using all kinds of devious means to push propaganda on the American public-fake news generated by the Pentagon for overseas, and ultimately, courtesy of blowback, U.S. consumption, fake news reports by fake reporters peddled to local TV stations, bought reporters and syndicated columnists paid to shill for the administration’s policies, and even fake reporters salted into the White House press corps to ask puffball questions if the president or press secretary start getting too much heat.

But why is this all happening?

Sure the administration should take some of the blame for this Soviet-style manipulation of public opinion.

But what about the press itself?

This column already made the point that if the White House press corps were doing its job and asking tough, probing questions, James Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, would have stood out like a stallion with a hard-on…er, excuse me…a sore thumb.

But what about the "Karen and Mike Show," those fake "news reports" by fake reporters which were sent directly to local TV stations across the country by the DEA and the Department of Health and Human Services, where they were often aired without question as local reports on administration activities. Do local news shows have so little concern about the content of their programs that they would just run a report by a reporter they don’t even know without fact-checking it and checking on the credentials of the reporter? Of course not! They had to know that the reports they were broadcasting were from government agencies and were nothing but blatant propaganda. This is the video equivalent of publishing press releases verbatim.

And what newspaper would do that?

Oops! Lots of newspapers do that-and not just government press releases. They publish corporate press releases verbatim, too. Just scan the business pages of the New York Times.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the American media weren’t so sanctimonious about itself. Look at how the talking heads of journalism and the big names in news management came down on CBS for its failure to fully check out those internal memos from Bush’s AWOL National Guard days. We still don’t even know for certain that those documents were faked-they may well have been real-and moreover, there’s good reason to believe that they were at worst just recreations of what actually had been written about the president’s sorry record of service in the Guard. And yet "60 Minutes," under withering criticism by the rest of the media for its failure to do due diligence, ended up firing or asking for the resignation of several senior staffers.

So where are the mass resignations of editors of the news outlets that ran the reports by "Karen Ryan" and "Mike Morris," or whoever they are, the journalistic poseurs from the Bush administration who fobbed off their television reports on the public? I haven’t heard of a single firing or resignation.

Then, of course, there’s Fox TV, which hasn’t met a government press or calculated leak that it didn’t believe and rush onto the air, unworried about its veracity. Nobody’s resigning in disgrace from Fox. Why bother-the whole operation is a running disgrace. And CNN isn’t much better either.

The real culprit in this massive propaganda scam, though, has to be the public, which seems to take little interest in actively evaluating the news it is being spoon-fed. Unlike the people of the former Soviet Union, or the people of China, who developed a completely cynical view of the media in those two nations, and who long ago learned how to weed out the occasional truth from between the lines of lies and misrepresentations, the American public is almost completely passive and gullible, accepting the garbage that passes for news each day as the gospel truth.

At least the Soviet Union had its samizdat press, and China has its xiaodau xiaoxi (grapevine).

How do average, ordinary Americans get the truth?

Do we even want to hear it?

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com