Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR (http://www.blackagendareport.com), and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.
While the United States has repeated and very publicly stated its intention to bring down the Assad government in Syria, the Russian Federation has declared its intention to protect it. Russia uses air space over Iran and Iraq as a route to send equipment and advisers to Syria. Both nations have given permission for these flights to take place and that should be the end of any questions. But the American press hysterically follow Obama administration talking points and claim that none of these nations has rights that the United States need respect. Facts are omitted from so-called journalism if they call official narratives into question.
The United States government and its partners in corporate media are engaged in a sustained propaganda attack against the government and people of Russia. The tactic is an old one and is used precisely because it is so effective. If a nation and its people are disparaged and dehumanized enough its enemies can attack in any number of ways without fear of debate or popular opposition. The more effectively evil Obama administration knows this full well and instigates media scribes at opportune moments to make the case for American imperialism.
The idea that this country has a free press, that is to say free of governmental influence, is accepted as an indisputable truth. Yet every day, the corporate media demonstrate just the opposite. They show their allegiance to whomever occupies the White House or to the conglomerate of corporate owners who allow them to print or to stay on the air.
Some of the stories appear to be laughable on the surface, but there is nothing amusing about their intent. In just one week, a New York Timescolumnist opined that Russia has "lost its soul” and a reporter says that Russians hate Americans without ever presenting reasons why that may be true. If Russians hate Americans, it could be because they broke a promise not to increase the number of NATO member states in eastern Europe. Perhaps they hate Americans because Washington reserves the right to intervene anywhere in the world, while Russia is attacked for aiding its allies. Then again, economic sanctions and the hardships they have caused may be the reason for dislike. A reader is given none of this information and is forced to conclude that Russians are unworthy of any serious consideration or are perhaps less human and therefore less deserving to live.
When President Obama recently visited Alaska he simultaneously called for more oil drilling in the Arctic while also claiming concern about climate change. Not content with this double speak he also said that Russia plotted to control the Arctic regions and that the United States lagged in the need to counter this imaginary threat.
It is one thing for the president to make a spurious claim but quite another for major newspapers to repeat his words without fact checking, analyzing, or presenting another point of view. It is true that Russia has more ice breaking vessels but that is hardly worthy of note. Of course the country with most of the territory surrounding the North Pole would have the most ice breakers. The Obama administration ought to be embarrassed for spreading lies but the media should be more ashamed for repeating it.
Some of the propaganda is directly orchestrated by the president himself. Jon Stewart was a media favorite while his Daily Show aired for sixteen years. He was thought to be a liberal or progressive but like most people who answer to those labels he is just a water carrier for the Democratic Party. He did not disclose that he met with the president on two occasions in the White House. After one of those meetings in February 2014 Stewart began telling a series of jokes at Vladimir Putin’s expense. His opinions are influential and the comedy was in fact a very serious business. That is why Obama called upon Stewart to help with the dirty work.
It is exceedingly dangerous for Americans to remain so ignorant of world affairs but their lack of knowledge is a direct result of media complicity with the state. One day we’re told that Russia has too much ice, the next that it has no right to help Syria, or that Putin’s spokesman is wearing an expensive watch. Every report is intended to belittle or demonize and make it easier for the United States government to do what it wants without risking resistance. Any nation strong enough to counter American imperialism must be vanquished and that is much easier if it is feared and or hated.
Perhaps we shouldn’t bother having a news media any longer at all. If they are going to simply parrot White House statements there is no reason for them to exist. Let’s cut out the middle man and just accept what we are told.
A better alternative is to speak up against the mendacity and to be in solidarity with people fighting it all over the world. Our friends are often in other countries and our enemies are at the top of the heap here at home. We would do well to remember that when the next manufactured outrage about Russia hits the front page headlines.