[Marxism] Gary Webb and mainstream press cowardice
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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
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
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,
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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