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Isikoff Comes Clean


Decades ago we were told how consent is manufactured in these great – United States of America. Yet our government since then has become even more up-front about its motives for employing propaganda.

Recently, George W. Bush was in Rochester, N.Y., promoting his social security shtick, when suddenly a flicker of truth gleamed through. “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in – to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

Inundate the masses with the same monotonous oratory, and eventually they’ll buy it. They’ll have to. They’ll have no choice. Really, as even Bush surely knows, it doesn’t matter how truthful the rhetoric is, it’s how many times you’ve shoved it down Americans’ throats that counts. Eventually they’ll believe the lie, no matter how grandiose it may be.

Well, the Bush administration isn’t alone when it comes to dispersing misinformation; they’ve got their trusted mainstream media allies aiding and abetting every step of the way.

Case in point: One of the journalists behind the retracted Newsweek article alleging that US interrogators desecrated the Koran recently came clean about the corporate media’s role in disseminating the government-line. During the May 23 episode of the Charlie Rose Show, veteran Newsweek investigative reporter Michael Isikoff explained how senior reporters ran their Koran abuse story by a senior Defense Department official. The official, Isikoff claimed, told them to go-ahead with the report. It was solid.

It was only later, when the story allegedly sparked violent protests in Afghanistan and elsewhere, that Bush administration officials paid the slightest bit of attention to Newsweek’s claims. But rather than take responsibility for the American military’s illegal actions at Guantanamo, it was easier for the Bush bullies to blame the weekly publication for the deaths and chaos that ensued.

As Isikoff told Charlie Rose, “Nobody in the United States had said a word about it [before the violent protests]. Nobody picked up on it, nobody asked any questions about it, nobody followed up on it.”

After enormous pressure from the Bush administration following the Koran episode, editors at Newsweek have made it harder than ever for reporters to do their job. No longer will Newsweek writers be allowed to rely on anonymous sources for sensitive stories. Instead, the magazine’s editors are going to be forcing journalists to get the majority of their material from sources that are willing to go on record.

“I got to tell you, as somebody who has reported for a long time on the intelligence and law enforcement field, that’s going to be tough,” Isikoff told Rose about the new crackdown. “Some of the best stories that I’ve gotten, that others have written about this administration, about the previous administration, you have to rely on anonymous sources.”

JOSHUA FRANK is the author of the forthcoming book, Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, to be published by Common Courage Press. You can pre-order a copy at discounted rate at Josh can be reached at:



JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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