We don't do scandals
By Ahmed Amr
A gruesome crime of passion is once again the center stage of a mass media frenzy. What is it about the Lacey Peterson affair that impels FOX and CNN to devote so many resources to covering every minute aspect of a case so devoid of even a grain of mystery? Man kills pregnant wife to pave the path to his lover. Body found. Alibis don't stand scrutiny. Looks like conviction is a sure thing. End of story. Next passion crime will be reported on page 11 of the Sunday edition of the Tallahassee Evening Dispatch.
Even in Cairo and Alexandria they are familiar with the details of the O J Simpson saga. Thanks to the intense coverage of the trial, half the adult population of the known world can probably pass the California bar examination. From Brazil to Mongolia, Simpson has become a household name. Not because the rest of the world has a clue about Monday Night Football. But because CNN and FOX, the titans of the infotainment business, competed to make the Peterson murder case and the Simpson trial news of international import.
Any randomly chosen Perry Mason episode has more intrigue than the Lacey Peterson story. But what FOX and CNN search for is cheap news cheaply produced. Using focus groups and the like, they zero in on any story that has soap opera potential and requires no more resources than a one-man camera crew.
With so many Peterson angles to cover, they also manage to avoid probing certain topics. As the media titans have morphed into a virtual shadow government, they have developed an unhealthy appetite for burying real news. O J Simpson and Tracey Peterson are just convenient funerary tools of the trade.
Imagine the political impact if a certain Rupert Murdoch woke up one fine morning and decided that he would become a crusading liberal or a human being. Better still; contemplate the transformation in public perceptions if FOX made a business decision to hire real journalists. How would the political landscape be changed if CNN recruited qualified pundits who did not have a neo-con seal of approval?
For starters, such titanic changes in the mass media industry would send shock waves through America and across the planet. Before the cable revolution, Americans were among the most vocal individualist free thinkers in the history of the human race. From Tom Paine to Ralph Nader to Abbie Hoffman, the United States had a tradition of giving an ear to dissident voices. The ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans was as wide as the Grand Canyon. Now the land of the free and the home of the brave has been transformed into a media controlled one party state. Rupert Murdoch, an immigrant bigot, who landed on our soil by way of his native Australia, is for all practical purposes more politically powerful than the Senate.
Consider the recent scandals that the media titans 'forgot' to cover.
- The Plame affair. For those who still remember, a couple of senior administration officials committed a felony by publicly outing a CIA agent because her husband had the courage to confront the administration on the bogus 'yellow cake' story. The two felons, who obviously still pose serious national security risks, continue to roam the halls of the White House unidentified and undisturbed by Attorney General Ashcroft. For the record, Ashcroft was assigned the task of burying the whole messy affair. This mother of all Watergates sits on the shelf with no takers.
- The Liberty cover-up story. After three decades of participating in the cover up of Israel's premeditated assault on the USS Liberty, Captain Ward Boston broke his silence to confirm that Johnson and McNamara went to extraordinary measures to prevent a real investigation. This should have been the scandal of the year. In a signed affidavit, Boston revealed that he was given orders to ignore the facts and whitewash an Israeli war crime that killed thirty seven Americans and left 174 wounded.
- The OSP intelligence scam. A series of recent articles by retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski revealed that the Office of Special Plans, set up by Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, and staffed by the neo-con cabal, was involved in cherry picking intelligence reports to make the case for war against Iraq. She also revealed that Judith Miller of the New York Times and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post played a part in leaking the OSP's fraudulent 'findings' to the public. Which explains why neither of these two media giants cares to probe the OSP circus within the walls of the Pentagon. Her articles, which will probably end up as major academic references for future historians, are regular features on AntiWar.com and LewRockwell.com. I have yet to see even a single reference to her work in the mass media press.
- The scandal of the Neo-con coup d'etat. Considering the web of deceit weaved by the neo-con priesthood that now control America's temples of power, it is extraordinary that only a few American journalists have spent anytime investigating this dangerous conspiratorial group who call themselves the 'cabal'. Never in the history of the republic, has such a tiny incestuous cabal of operatives been so dominant in determining the destiny of the nation. With a couple of think tanks, they have managed to conquer the capital of the most powerful state in the world and take virtual command of the armed forces of the United States. Draft dodging Likudnik punks like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle now have the power to retire four star generals who take issue with their battle plans. Almost all these operatives, including Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and Libby, can be traced to the American Enterprise Institute, a pundit factory financed by a radical Likudnik, Irving Moskowitz, who operates bingo halls in Florida. Granted, the warped pro-Sharon agenda of the neo-cons would never have become American Foreign policy without the sponsorship of FOX, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Yet, it is still amazing that only a few journalists, like Jim Lobe and Justin Raimondo, have bothered to document the Machiavellian intrigues of this treasonous cabal.
- We don't do body counts. To date, the Bush administration refuses to divulge the number of Iraqi civilian and military casualties. They refuse to provide even rough estimates of the price Iraqis paid for their 'liberation'. Ironically, the Pentagon has all kinds of estimate for the unidentified phantom insurgents that confront American troops thirty or forty times a day. The underlying logic for the refusal to count Iraqi casualties is that many more Iraqis were murdered by Saddam's vicious regime. Apparently, the US government has decided to value the life of an Iraqi using Saddam's scale of measurement. We kill em but can't bother to count them. If you want to get an idea of the scale of the carnage, visit www.iraqbodycount.net.
- The ban on press coverage of American soldiers who paid the ultimate price. Most of these kids went to war as righteous avengers carrying with them postcards of the WTC in flames. They believed in their mission and they trusted the 'adults' who assured them that Saddam was behind the mayhem on 9/11. But the president and his closest advisers, concerned that the 'Dover Test' would strain his re-election campaign, decided that the fallen should not be honored with public acknowledgement of their sacrifice. The president also doesn't do hospital visits for the thousands of American soldiers who have been wounded in this war of choice.
- British press gives Blaire a free ride. What did Blaire know about the cooked intelligence by the chefs at the Office of Special Plans (OSP)? How likely is it that he didn't have a clue that Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were cherry picking intelligence findings to make a case for war? Why is Blaire's complicity in giving a wink and a nod to the OSP ignored by the usually feisty British media? It could have something to do with English press laws that prevent journalists from writing on certain subjects relating to national security. But there is nothing that would prevent American journalists from taking up the slack and pursuing Blaire's complicity in engineering deliberate 'intelligence failures'. For once, American hacks have an opportunity to scoop their British rivals and they don't even bother to show up for the Plame Games.
- Sanitizing Sharon's war crimes. The Prime Minister of Israel started his war crime spree in 1953 by blowing up every single house in an inhabited village named Qibya. Sixty-nine innocents, mostly women and children, had their homes dynamited over their heads. Also on his rap sheet are the three-day orgy of mass murder at Sabra and Shatila and the indiscriminate bombardment of Beirut in 1982. And the more recent atrocities in Jenin, Nablus and Gaza. The list goes on. Yet he is lauded in the mainstream press as a 'man of peace' (President Bush). Thomas Friedman (AKA Thomas Fraudulent) considers him a reincarnation of De Gaulle. William Safire passes him off as a 'conservative' clone of Churchill, a man of 'restraint' who has certain 'talents'. He was not the only American journalist who urged 'Sharon to be Sharon' a la Qibya and Sabra and Shatila. Many others joined in the chorus to cheer Sharon's war crimes on the pages of the New York Times, The Daily Ruse. Deborah Sontag portrayed him as an affable grand papa who likes to spend his weekends building fences. These days you can find grand papa Arik building Apartheid walls financed by American tax dollars. William Orme Jr. calls him "the best field commander of his generation." He meant to say "Killing Field Commander", but it didn't get past Sulzberger's censors. After his election, the Times lead editorial praised Sharon's "conservative credentials". Has any journalist bothered to grill Sulzberger and his crew on their slavish affection for Sharon of Qibya?
- The Mark Rich affair. If ever there was a story that exposed the corruption of our political class by the financiers who dole out billions to bankroll political campaigns, it was the eleventh hour pardon of Mark Rich by Bill Clinton. This was not only a big story, it had all kinds of fascinating twists and turns involving Rich's 'services' to the Mossad. Clinton's defense largely rested on Rich's 'good conduct' affidavits from Israeli politicians and generals, including Barak. So, if you ever plan to become America's number one tax dodger, abandon your American citizenship, flee American justice and take refuge in Switzerland, make sure you have an ex-wife who has the dough to pay off POTUS for a pardon. In any case, this scandal long ago vanished from the front pages.
- The Enron Scandal. If you don't remember the details, you never had a chance to read all about it. This was not just a scam against investors. Many employees who spent a lifetime working for utility companies acquired with inflated Enron stocks were left with no pensions. The number of prominent politicians involved in this rip off was the reason it was swept under the carpet. Want to read all about it? Sorry, it's not deemed fit to print by the media moguls.
- The dot.com bubble. The dot.com craze promoters ended up looting millions of IRA and 401-k plans. The mass media titans, who had a major stake in inflating the bubble, directly participated in the greatest swindle in American History. It made the S&L fiasco look like minor league practice. Levine, the Chairman of Time Warner, reaped a windfall from the merger with AOL. So, did you think CNN was going to follow up on this story?
- Jason Blaire and William Safire. So Blaire had a flair for fiction. But consider William Safire owning up to writing speeches for Ariel Sharon, a serial war criminal. When George Will was caught writing speeches for Reagan, a major media frenzy was unleashed. But Sanitizing Sharon's war crimes is just par for the course at The New York Times, the Daily Ruse. If you want to hire a journalist who doubles as a war criminal, give Safire a call.
- The commission to investigate the attack on the World Trade Center has been obstructed by the Bush administration. If it weren't for the relatives of the victims of 9/11 who insisted on a probe, the commission would never have seen the light of day. The New York Times recently reported the appointment of Ex-Senator Bob Kerrey to the commission without mentioning his war crimes in Vietnam. Certainly, the survivors of the Thang Phong massacre would not be amused. The assault on the World Trade Center was not just a terrorist attack but also a war crime against defenseless civilians. It does great dishonor to their memory to have a Vietnam era war criminal appointed to the 9/11 commission. But why would Sulzberger decide to ignore the Senator's war record? Does it give the New York Times leverage over the commission's findings? They don't report. So you decide.
- There were no WMDs, no Iraq/Qaida link and no evidence that Saddam had anything to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Yet seventy percent of Americans were persuaded to support the Iraq war based on the belief that all the above were proven facts. How did that happen? If you continue to get your news from FOX, there is a high probability that you still believe these canards. As far as Murdoch is concerned, yesterday's lies are good enough to recycle as tomorrow's 'fair and balanced' fabrications. That man is probably the most dangerous con artist in the history of the world. So why don't you see his competitors going for his throat? Because they market pretty much the same message. Except that they do it with a Thomas Friedman accent.
- Twenty Five million protestors against the war were denigrated and ignored by the war mongering neo-con pundits on FOX and CNN. A few Likudnik media barons managed to drown out the voice of millions of peace activists around the world. So much for power to the people. Where was the outrage over this overt snub to the democratic process? Next time you want to stop a war, demonstrate in front of Wolf Blitzer's 'War Room'. Pelt CNN's headquarters in Atlanta with tomatoes and eggs. Block the enterance to FOX studios. Organize boycotts against their media products. Stop paying your cable bill. Burn effigies of Murdoch, Sulzberger and Graham. If you want to change the policies of a media controlled state, forget about the state, go for the media barons. This war was their war. They wanted it. They got a free ride from the Pentagon to film war as Reality TV. Who can forget the immortal words of Aaron 'arson' Brown of CNN? On the eve of the war, he drooled about how it was 'a perfect moment for journalism'. Maybe if his draft dodging Sharon worshiping ass was under fire in Baghdad, he would choose to have other types of perfect moments.
- Over the course of the last few years, the Bush administration has admitted that the United States supported the Generals in Argentina, Greece, Guatemala and Chile. Reports have recently emerged about how Henry Kissinger gave the nod to the Argentine Junta to continue 'disappearing' their dissidents. Snuffing out 30,000 Argentines was just a little afternoon chore for Henry the Wicked, America's answer to Rasputin. Of course, Henry continues to appear as a pundit on CNN.
- Bush recently revealed that for the last sixty years America has accommodated repressive regimes in the Middle East. None of this is news to Greeks, Latin Americans or Arabs. But did you come across a single mass media 'journalist' who bothered to inquire as to the nature of American 'accommodation'? It must have taken hours for the Bush spin masters to come up with that one word apologia. A policy of 'accommodation' makes it sound like we were giving these dictators and absolute monarchs discount hotel vouchers while they were going about the nasty business of brutalizing their people and ripping off the wealth of their nations.
- When Saddam actually used chemical weapons during the Iraq/Iran war, American military advisers were on the ground assisting him in directing the projectiles to their destination. This was briefly reported in the New York Times. But the subject matter escaped the notice of our pundit class.
- Remember Mazar El Sharif, the POW prison camp in Afghanistan. Ever hear of a prison riot with a five percent survival rate? The reason for the riot was that word reached the camp that Taliban prisoners who had surrendered were suffocated in the unventilated trucks transporting them to Mazar El Sharif. So, the American Air Force was called in to put down the prison uprising. One of the survivors was John Walker, the American Taliban who got so much press coverage. The whole 'incident' would probably have not been covered if it weren't for the novelty of discovering a Bay Area kid among the ranks of the enemy. Even so, little concern was shown for the ninety five percent of the Afghan POWs who perished in the camp.
- The Toledo Blade recently ran a series of articles exposing the cover-up of Vietnam era war crimes committed by American soldiers who were part of the elite 'Tiger Force'. Guess who was the Secretary of Defense who closed the book on the investigation? Here is a hint. President Ford appointed him. The answer is Donald Rumsfeld. Has a single American journalist asked him about his role in that cover-up?
- Richard Perle is not only a draft dodging deviant war party extremist who likes to snub Generals whom he deems unworthy of estimating troop requirements. It turns out he was lining his pocket while promoting his Likudnik creed. But he still remains a mover and shaker who advises the administration on national security and military issues. We now know of his involvement with the Hollinger group, the media empire controlled by that right wing freak of nature, Conrad Black. Perle, along with Kissinger sit on the Hollinger board. Black is currently under investigation for embezzling money from his own company. Richard Perle's own company, Trireme, had sweet heart deals with Hollinger and Boeing. The Hollinger holdings include the Likud's semi-official party paper, The Jerusalem Post, where Perle is a director. The British press, especially the Guardian, is actively covering this story. But there is hardly a peep on this side of the pond. If we are lucky enough, and things go the way they ought to go, both Richard Perle and Conrad Black will face criminal charges. Lock em up says I. And throw in a couple of dozen mass media pundits to keep them company and take notes.
- The many Halilburton scandals. Choose your poison. Cheney cooks books at Halliburton. Shareholders sue Vice President and SEC investigates. No bid contracts awarded to Cheney's company. Cheney's company overcharges Pentagon for fuel. Halliburton gets cost plus contracts from Pentagon. Poor old Spiro Agnew. He was forced to resign on the strength of a single scandal dating back to when he was governor of Maryland. For more Cheney/Halliburton scandals, read Pratap Chatterjee's excellent article "Halliburton Makes a Killing on Iraq War".
- Current Budget deficit. A half a trillion reason why one should pay attention to the fiction of 'cost free' tax cuts for the rich. When Reagan was sworn in 1980, the total accumulated Federal deficit was one trillion dollars. That covered the expense of World War II, The Korean War, The Cold War, Vietnam, The Great Society, building the country's highway infrastructure and deficit spending to boost the economy out of the Great Depression. The original Clinton era forecast was for a current budget surplus of 200 billion dollars for 2003. The difference amounts to just a little 700 billion dollar 'Bush tab' to pass on to the kids. That works out to about seven thousand dollars per kid. Put seven thousand monopoly dollars in their Christmas stocking and let them know how much you love them for paying your bills.
- Bush goes AWOL. Now this is a killer story. There is a whole Internet site dedicated to this story, www.awolbush.com. Considering this president's passion for war, you would think this would be a blockbuster. The site claims that "It's well documented that George W. Bush never showed up for National Guard duty for a period of approximately one-year, possibly more, in 1972-1973. Despite all the talk about "honor and dignity," Bush seems to have a problem meeting his commitments." The operators of the site obviously have a great sense of humor and if you want a good laugh, they certainly deserve a long visit.
That was just off the top of my head. I suppose if one took the time to do a little research, it would be easy enough to come up with another hundred or so scandals that should have priority over the Lacey Peterson story. It is not my intention to belittle the vicious nature of Scot Peterson's crime or to diminish the impact on her family and those who loved her. But the list above does not even begin to touch the concerns of environmentalists, civil libertarians and advocates for the poor.
The bottom line is that CNN and FOX and a few other infotainment giants now have the power to determine the public agenda. They have a terrible track record of flexing their media muscle to sweep major scandals away from public scrutiny. None of these media titans will modify their fraudulent content anytime soon. Even if they were to tell you the truth tomorrow, they will be back marketing their canards next week. Besides, why should we forgive them for yesterday's deception?
The only real solution is to diminish the impact of their franchise and their brand names. Cut them down to size by attacking the credibility of their 'stars'. Mock them and their seedy brand of journalism into oblivion. Challenge the media controlled state by staging massive demonstrations in front of their pundit factories. The peace movement should not even bother with marches on Washington. Yesterday's tactics were for a different era. The age of the media controlled state requires a switch of focus to the media barons and their cronies. If you want a different kind of government, hunt for a different kind of FOX. Why let a sleazy immigrant bigot like Murdoch mutilate the political landscape of America and by extension the world. Take away his FCC license and deport his racist ass. Than watch a kinder gentler more beautiful America emerge from the grasp of the mass media freaks who have disfigured her beauty.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com. This article can be published at will.
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