[Marxism] Gary Webb and mainstream press cowardice

Dbachmozart at aol.com Dbachmozart at aol.com
Thu Dec 16 18:55:13 MST 2004

Killing Us Softly  
By Abhinav Aima  
Wednesday 15 December 2004  
The cowardice of the mainstream press in the face of  American wars
The shock and dismay over Gary Webb's death this  weekend has further driven 
home the notion that an unabashed and cowardly  American media is killing its 
own, softly.  
A decidedly authoritarian editorial process,  dominated by the spokespersons 
for the who's who in American society, has  largely kept the media on the 
Right side of American wars. Two of those wars,  the one against the Sandanista 
and the one against drugs, proved to be the  undoing of Webb, who had the 
courage to buck the mighty press corps.  
And the cowardice is not merely dating back to 1996.  As this nation's 
newspapers salivate over the possible trial of Pinochet over  Operation Condor, no 
American newspaper listed in the Lexis-Nexis archives has  yet published a 
story this past month that even dares to put the name Nixon in  the same story as 
Pinochet. None. In the last 30 days!  
The only two newspapers that show articles on the  database putting Pinochet 
in context with Nixon are The Montreal Gazette and the  Ottawa Citizen, both 
Canadian newspapers.  
So why is it that the heavyweights of the American  press can not bring 
themselves to examine Pinochet's crimes in context of their  own nation's bankrupt 
policies ranging from the acts of September 11, 1973 to  Operation Condor? Is 
it because some of them, indeed, served as speech writers  and advisors to 
Nixon? How long do you have to be out of bed from the White  House before the gum 
is wiped off your lips?  
Surely 30 years should be enough time. But not so for  The New York Times or 
the Washington post.  
It is laughable that these newspapers expected to be  taken seriously in 
their apology to the public for misleading them in the run-up  to the Iraq war, 
when, in almost every American war, be it domestic or foreign,  these newspapers 
have exhibited cowardice in not daring to be anything more than  
stenographers for the powers that be.  
Sure, once or twice a year the giants of our industry  will publish something 
that passes for a critical look at American foreign  policy. The New York 
Times has published two reports this year that mention  Nixon and Pinochet 
together, one of them was buried in Section E (Arts/Culture).  The Post has 
published three, two of them were buried in the Style section. This  record is all the 
more interesting when one considers that both these newspapers  have 
published dozens of stories this year that mention Pinochet. The connection  between 
Pinochet and Nixon, therefore, is clearly not an editorial priority for  the 
Times and the Post.  
So much for institutional memory and a perceptive  press! And of course, at 
precisely the time when it is most important, and most  newsworthy to revisit 
the flaws and foibles of American power, the hot shot  editors seem to develop 
a particularly troublesome case of amnesia.  
Of course, God forbid that the American mainstream  press should develop an 
attitude to examine America first. The reasonable  question is, will it ever 
report on Americans to blame when blame is justified?  Or is their moral courage 
limited to endorsing the lesser of two evils once  every four years?  
Don't take my word for it ­ give it a twirl. How  many stories mentioning 
Hamid Karzai with Unocal in the last two years? One in  Times, none in Post. 
How many reports that mention Karzai in this same time  period? Over 350 in 
the Times, over 250 in the Post. Why is Karzai's  relationship with an American 
gas company relevant? Well, that would be the  historical perspective now, 
wouldn't it.  
Why are most of American-sponsored foreign leaders  usually former salesmen 
for gas, oil, weapons, drugs or any other commodity  thereof? Don't rely on the 
Times or the Post to tell you. Not when it was the  anti-Sandanista Contras, 
and certainly not when it is the anti-Taliban Afghans.  
As the only country with a First Amendment that  requires constitutional 
protection of the freedom of the press, it never ceases  to amaze me how readily 
American scribes prostitute their talents at the altars  of power. Those that 
actually dare cast a skeptical eye rarely make a living out  of it. And sadly, 
way too many die of it.  
Abhinav K. Aima _(aaima at d.umn.edu)_ (mailto:aaima at d.umn.edu)  is a journalism 
instructor  at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

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