The Federal Bureau of Investigation pays a black man (Ronald Wilburn) $30,000 to offer a bribe of $1,000 to a black Boston City Councilor (Chuck Turner). What’s wrong with this picture?
US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz does not think anything is wrong with this picture. After Chuck Turner’s October 29 conviction in his federal corruption trial, she called a press conference, at which The Boston Globe reported her as saying that “Turner faces his predicament because he had ‘made choices of his own free will.’” She is then quoted as stating, “He’s a public official who betrayed the people he was elected to serve,” and adding, “What people lose sight of is the fact that public corruption erodes the confidence that the public has in the system.” (The Boston Globe, Sept. 30, 2010)
Ironically, most black people Boston City Councilor Church Turner “was selected to serve” believe the federal justice system has betrayed them, not their six-term City Councilor. An accompanying Boston Globe story reported that “it was hard to find anyone there [in Roxbury] who agreed with the jury’s verdict.” A number of black community leaders strongly supported Turner, including Eastern Massachusetts Urban League’s president and chief executive officer Darnell L. Williams, who “describ[ed] Turner as ‘a tremendous fighter for the voiceless in this community.’” Similarly quoted is “Jeanne Piando—executive director of the Madison Park Development Corporation, an affordable housing advocacy group,” who “said Turner was a strong supporter of the group’s mission.” She also said, “’I think he was generally right on the issues, and was a great advocate for Roxbury.’”
“Public corruption erodes the confidence that the public has in the system?” What US Attorney Ortiz herself seems to have lost sight of is the fact that Boston’s ingrained white-controlled hierarchy of access to political and legal power orchestrates the discrediting of threatening black political leaders, which is what “erodes the confidence that” black people have ‘in the system.”
The Boston Globe itself found nothing wrong with the picture of the FBI paying $30,000 to a black man in return for him bribing a black political leader with $1,000. In fact, a Globe editorial used the occasion to paint a far bigger picture of “Chuck Turner’s world of lies.” The editorial did a litany of Turner’s so-called “steady diet of lies,” that included him “try[ing] to pawn off pictures from a pornographic website as visual proof of American soldiers raping Iraqi women.” The editorial accused Turner of “spread[ing] unreality among his supporters for decades. And that may be his greatest crime.” The editorial ended with, “In a Boston neighborhood that so desperately needs sensible leadership to address crime, joblessness, and poor education, Turner has fed his constituents a steady diet of political fantasy.” (October 30, 2010)
The Boston Globe has committed certain of the very crimes it accuses Church Turner of committing—and on a horrifically far wider scale. Concerning Iraq, Boston Globe editorials were a constant cheerleader for the Bush administration’s illegal and falsely based invasion and occupation of Iraq. Globe editorials fed its readers “a steady diet of lies” about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction. A March 15, 2002 editorial called “Bush in Command,” stated, “Bush was fittingly candid in saying that ‘though all options are on the table,’ the ‘one thing I will not allow is a nation such as Iraq to threaten our very future by developing weapons of mass destruction.’ In reality,” the editorial continued,, “Saddam already has large quantities of chemical and biological weapons [italics added].” A November 14, 2002 editorial declared, “Since Saddam has never lived up to the obligations he accepted in earlier UN resolutions, it would be naive to expect him to surrender his weapons of mass destruction. Saddam,” the editorial continued, “has always regarded those horrific weapons as indispensable to his power and ambitions.”
An October 21, 2002 Boston Globe editorial told another horrible lie: “If U.S. action in coming months leads to Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, there will be jubilation in Iraq that the monster who murdered and tortured so many people and ruined the life of entire generations is finally gone.” And another editorial proved to be so contrary to the truth: “Nothing could mean more to the reputation of America in the world than for Bush to keep his promise to support a democratic future for Iraqis after the long nightmare of Saddam’s regime.” In reality, the United States is all the more hated by people all over the world, and thus far less secure, because of the crimes against humanity the Bush administration has committed against the Iraqi people.
The “steady diet of lies” spread by The Boston Globe, and certain other mainstream media, helped to legitimize the Bush administration’s rape of Iraq. Estimations of hundreds of thousands to one million Iraqi civilians have been killed in the Bush administration’s war of choice. The country’s life-sustaining infrastructure has been decimated. The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq triggered a deadly civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. More than four million Iraqi civilians have been uprooted and are at risk. Some 4470 American soldiers have died in this needless immoral and illegal war, and tens of thousands have been wounded in body and mind and spirit– along with the waste of national resources greatly needed at home. A war that has benefited the industries that supply the arms and provide the related support systems, and those corporations that will gain control of Iraq’s tremendous oil reserves—and the politicians whose pockets these war-profiteers line.
And now, in his memoir, former President Bush is seeking to justify his administration’s war crimes by, as reported, “declaring that his decision to invade Iraq was the right one because ‘America is safer without a homicidal dictator pursuing’ biological and chemical weapons and ‘the Iraqi people are better off with a government that answers to them instead of torturing and murdering them.’” (The New York Times, Nov. 3, 2010)
Former President Bush also says in his memoir that he had “’a sickening feeling’ when he learned there were no banned chemical or biological weapons in Iraq.”(Ibid) His “sickening feeling” evidently came from his realization that he could no longer use Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction to justify committing the very homicidal murders and torture and use of weapons of mass destruction that he accused Saddam Hussein of committing and intending to use. What “erodes the confidence that the public has in the system” is the picture of the FBI paying a black man $30,000 to bribe and legally discredit a black community leader with $1,000, and federal authorities not investigating the Bush administration’s horrible crimes against humanity.
The reverse of its editorial on “Chuck Turner’s world of lies,” The Boston Globe transformed one of the world’s blatant war criminals into a “statesman.” A Globe editorial, on “Bush’s Memoir” called “Striking a Statesmanlike tone,” begins, “’DECISION POINTS,’ by George W. Bush is a serious memoir, and in some ways a magnanimous one.” Instead of a “you’re either with us or against us” divider, the editorial puts Bush on “the high road,” stating, “There was always a side of him that wanted, and even tried to be a conciliator.” Thus, the editorial urges, “This is a good time for Bush’s opponents to consider him in a different light.” (Nov. 10, 2010)
The Globe editorial then proceeds to put this globally-condemned war criminal in a “light” that makes disappear The Globe’s own complicity in his administration’s war crimes. The Globe seeks to divert the readers’ attention with, “Bush’s refusal to blame Islam after 9/11 was a courageous act.” [Never mind the millions of innocent Muslim men, women and children whose lives have been ended and ruined and diminished by his administration’s illegal and falsely based war] “Likewise,” the editorial’s generalizations include, “Bush moved the Republican Party away from race- and gender-based politics. He ran an inclusive administration.” The editorial stated that “his stand on immigration was far-sighted.” And, “On the domestic front, his policy of using high-stakes testing to identify underperforming schools and to help them address their deficiencies with federal aid was groundbreaking.” (Ibid) [Never mind the wasting of American lives and resources in an unjust war and the resulting diminishing of the quality of life for so many citizens here.]
The Globe editorial then camouflages former President Bush’s war crimes and betrayal of America’s public good behind more generalizations: “He rallied the nation [after the 9/11 attacks] but then squandered all that good will and more in the Iraq war. The war,” the editorial continued, “and the lengths to which he defended it, obscures the rest of his legacy.” The editorial’s bottom line: “It is especially important to give Bush credit where credit is appropriate because the prevailing ethos in Washington is to demonize one’s rivals and view their success as a defeat.” (Ibid)
What is wrong with this picture? It is about words used to conceal rather than reveal the truth. Words used to blunt rather than pinpoint right and wrong. Words used to justify a newspaper’s own culpability and violation of the public good.
In addition to the betrayal of the national good, The Boston Globe, rather than Chuck Turner, has betrayed “a Boston neighborhood that so desperately needs sensible leadership to address crime, joblessness, and poor education.” A study of the only two Boston mayoral campaigns of black candidates, Mel King in 1983 and Bruce Bolling in 1993, reveal The Globe’s use of “a steady diet of lies” and deception to undermine the campaigns of these two competent black candidates in favor of white candidates. The Globe’s biased coverage of these two rare and critical Boston mayoral campaigns reveals its continuing role as a guardian of the City’s white-controlled hierarchy of access to political and economic and legal power. (For documentation of this assertion, see William E. Alberts, THE ROLE OF MAINSTREAM MEDIA IN DISCREDITING BLACK CANDIDATES: THE BOSTON MAYORAL CAMPAIGNS OF 1983 AND 1993, published by The William Monroe Trotter Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston)
The Boston Globe’s presumptuousness, and possible racism, is revealedin telling Chuck Turner’s constituents what their reality is, by editorially asserting that “he has spread unreality among his supporters for decades. And that may be his greatest crime.” The bottom line is The Boston Globe’s historic opposition to black leaders selected by black people– and not endorsed by The Boston Globe.
And now, in a lead editorial entitled, “To save its own credibility, council must expel Turner,” The Boston Globe is telling the Boston City Council “to oust” rather than “to censure Turner or to postpone any resolution of the issue.” The editorial, citing “Turner’s confrontational style of politics,” worries that “the Roxbury councilor hopes to remain on the council if he is sentenced only to probation,” and that “Turner’s continued presence on the council taints its every decision.” (Nov. 11, 2010) It is time for the Boston City Council and the City’s residents to say No! to the continued tainting of their political realities and possibilities by The Boston Globe.
What’s wrong with this picture? It distracts attention from a much bigger picture. A newspaper’s own “world of lies.” The FBI’s targeting of black elected officials. And a fugitive United States president, whose uninvestigated war crimes have “betrayed the people he was elected to serve.” These violations of the public good are what “erode[s] the confidence that the public has in the system.”
Rev. WILLIAM E. ALBERTS, Ph.D. is a hospital chaplain and a diplomate in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and articles on racism, war, politics and religion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.