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Spin and silence

May 23rd, 2008

Glenn Greenwald reports that the story of secret Pentagon efforts to set up a group of supposedly independent military experts, who then ran the Administration line on network TV, detailed in the New York Times a month ago, has made the standard transition from “we don’t illegally manipulate the news” to “of course we did that, why are you still making a fuss about this old story“.

No news, or even meta-news there. What’s really striking is that, as far as I can tell, none of the TV networks implicated in the story have reported it on-air in any way, and most have made no response at all (with the exception of CNN, none responded substantively to questions from the NY Times, and I haven’t seen anything since). And with the story now in the old news category, they have clearly succeeding in keeping it from their viewers, with the exception of assiduous readers of the NYTimes or blogs. Apparently, if it isn’t on TV, it didn’t happen. And of course, if it is on TV, it probably didn’t happen either, at least not the way we get to see it.

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  1. May 23rd, 2008 at 08:59 | #1

    Sad as this story is, John, it’s very much par for the course under the Bush administration. Any intelligent observer is forced to conclude that Congress and the US media are thoroughly complicit in a whole range of unconstitutional (i.e. criminal) deeds.

    Of course it’s even worse when you look at the crimes occurring outside the USA.

  2. May 23rd, 2008 at 09:41 | #2

    … and then of course you have to look at the complicit deeds (and silence) of our own media, and our own government(s).

  3. James Haughton
    May 23rd, 2008 at 10:19 | #3
  4. May 23rd, 2008 at 10:37 | #4

    For example, in the Orifice today, Michael Costello repeats all the standard pro-war drivel of the past five years: things are going great in Iraq, whatever the media may say, and whatever objective reality may continue to indicate.

    Why are fools like this still getting media oxygen? Because the international press barons all support Bush’s oil crusade.

    Ironically, they are all losing money hand over fist while sitting silent on the biggest story of the past 60 years: the President of the USA is a lying War Criminal.

    But they cannot say that, because they are all complicit. And so are the willfully ignorant citizens who implicity sanction such silence.

  5. May 23rd, 2008 at 11:13 | #5

    PrQ,
    Having read your links, I would not say that Stanzel’s remarks do anything more than say that they have been briefing people. I am not saying you are wrong (I have little doubt the White House may be doing this) but I do not agree with your typification of his words. They do not, at least from my reading, amount to anything more than the standard wording that they were briefing people who were doing media presentations – it does not amount to a concession that they were illegally manipulating the news.

  6. May 23rd, 2008 at 11:19 | #6

    PRQ one of my comments got lost again. Tis a pity WordPress has such a distaste for links, given how useful they can be in backing up arguments with facts.

  7. Joseph Clark
    May 23rd, 2008 at 11:42 | #7

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the tobacco companies were involved in some way.

  8. Donald Oats
    May 23rd, 2008 at 11:42 | #8

    Paranoia is the new sane. These days it seems as if nothing involving humans is so fantastic as not to have happened. Might have to go and watch “The Conversation”, “Capricorn One”, “Enemy of the State”, “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Wag the dog” again – perhaps they were documentaries after all.

  9. Ernestine Gross
    May 23rd, 2008 at 11:53 | #9

    ‘Illegal news manipulation’ – what an interesting idea.

    ‘News manipulation’ in academia is called academic misconduct in research. It is ‘illegal’ within the academic community.

    If there is ‘legal news manipulation – as the term ‘illegal news manipulation implies’ – then I wonder how media is taught as an academic subject and I wonder what the criteria are to distinguish between ‘legal news manipulation’ and ‘illegal news manipulation’.

  10. smiths
    May 23rd, 2008 at 13:41 | #10

    oh john, you step outside the mainstream analysis just a tiny bit and they’re on you…

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the tobacco companies were involved

    Paranoia is the new sane

    Operation Mockingbird was a Central Intelligence Agency operation to influence domestic and foreign media, whose activities were made public during the Church Committee investigation in 1975 (published 1976). from wiki

    Of course the official line would be that the programme ended.

    and we would all breath easy,
    but of course you dont need an agency to run the administartion line anyway,
    the media knows its job

    anyone who stiil gets their information solely from the mainstream news organisations might as well be consulting their toilet bowl

  11. wilful
    May 23rd, 2008 at 13:49 | #11

    I must say that my level of surprise at the facts as presented above is precisely zero. I would be surprised if the Pentagon wasn’t doing what they’ve been pinged for.

  12. El Mono
    May 23rd, 2008 at 13:49 | #12

    The New York times however is also a mainstream news source.

  13. May 23rd, 2008 at 13:57 | #13

    smiths,
    Anyone who gets their information from any one news source is going to be presented with a biased information flow.

  14. pablo
    May 23rd, 2008 at 17:57 | #14

    This story got a run on the US PBS Newshour program via SBS here with the presenters detailing their own use of ‘paid experts’ with an implicit apology/explanation to viewers for such.
    I may be reading something more into it but the sense of outrage on the part of the presenter for this con was palpable.

  15. smiths
    May 23rd, 2008 at 18:06 | #15

    testing testing

  16. smiths
    May 23rd, 2008 at 18:08 | #16

    i dont get it, it almost feels like censorship

    i have been trying to post something all afternoon,
    its got no links which i have already discovered send posts into a void never to return,
    its got no formatting or anything

    my testing testing post worked,

    what gives?

  17. smiths
    May 23rd, 2008 at 18:09 | #17

    error message

    The precondition on the request for the URL /wp-comments-post.php evaluated to false.

  18. jquiggin
    May 23rd, 2008 at 18:16 | #18

    This message is an automatic system response to forbidden words related to g*mbling, male disorders and other indicators of sp8m. Check your comment for anything like this and repost it.

  19. jack strocchi
    May 25th, 2008 at 13:12 | #19

    The war has been based on lies from the get-go. This was wrong in moral principle which naturally led to failure in political practice.

    The Bush admin would have been better off if they had openly admitted its strategic war aim – the establishement of a client state in the heart of the ME – right from the beginning. Instead of stoking phoney fears of WMDs and appealing to vain hopes of democracy.

    Now the television networks have been implicated in the web of lies spun to conceal the failures spawned by the foundational lies. It makes you wonder if the admin has any thing “on” them.

    Or whether they are just to ashamed and embarassed by their professional failures to admit to fess up. Better to keep going along with the hoax on the path of least resistance. The conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words. (Dr Winston O’boogie)

    In the life of the mind the most important value is truth. The greatest sacrifice we can make to appease this god is to admit “I was wrong”, whether it be in the Class War, Cold War, Climate War or Culture War.

    But most people just want to look like they are on the side of the winner, even if it means fixing the race.

  20. Joseph Clark
    May 25th, 2008 at 14:24 | #20

    jack,
    You’re right. Everyone who supported the war is morally bankrupt and should go to jail. I guess I’ll turn myself into the police later this week. I just hope that they can help me understand how wrong my actions were.

  21. jquiggin
    May 25th, 2008 at 15:01 | #21

    “Everyone who supported the war is morally bankrupt”

    Well no, as Jack says, supporting the war at the time only required placing misjudged credence in the words of Bush, Blair and others. It’s continuing to support the war after their lies were exposed and the disastrous consequences became apparent that’s morally bankrupt.

    No need for the police though – the great majority of the Australian population can help you with your lack of self-understanding on this.

  22. Joseph Clark
    May 26th, 2008 at 01:02 | #22

    What about the people who supported the war but not because of WMDs? Oh dear… I really am going to jail.

  23. May 26th, 2008 at 08:23 | #23

    It’s interesting how war supporters now resort to snide sarcasm rather than confront the hard facts. Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

    And it’s a great pity that “the great majority of the Australian population” who voted for Rudd were not able to make a coherent anti-war statement, because Rudd’s own policies on Iraq are not coherent.

  24. Joseph Clark
    May 26th, 2008 at 08:59 | #24

    ghandi,
    Just trying to diffuse a heated topic with a little humour. I am trying to make a point though. It is possible for someone to have supported the war without being immoral, or evil or insane. Taking this kind of tone might be personally edifying but it does nothing for the discussion. I’m not trying to pick a fight on Iraq (I doubt that would get us anywhere) and I do believe you are wrong; but I don’t believe it is impossible for an intelligent person to hold an opinion different to mine.

    By the way, I think it’s overreaching to interpret Labour’s election win as a mandate on Iraq. I voted Labour because they have the best record on deregulation.

  25. gandhi
    May 26th, 2008 at 09:57 | #25

    Just trying to diffuse a heated topic with a little humour.

    Get real, Joseph. You posted three facetious comments clearly designed to provoke, without contributing anything to the debate, or making any kind of logical point. If this topic is heated it’s because of willful ignorance and alleged “humour” like that.

    It is possible for someone to have supported the war without being immoral, or evil or insane.

    I refer you to ProfQ’s comment at #21 above.

    Next time you feel impelled to comment, you might want to consider the STFU option.

  26. gandhi
    May 26th, 2008 at 10:03 | #26

    Elsewhere, I notice that Bob Woodward still cannot confront his own mistakes. Woodward was given unprecedented access inside the Bush White House for a series of books hyping Bush’s credentials as a “war president”. If anyone should have been able to see through the media lies and expose the neocon hype, it’s him. Disgraceful.

  27. Joseph Clark
    May 26th, 2008 at 11:05 | #27

    See, this is exactly what I’m talking about.

  28. gandhi
    May 26th, 2008 at 11:33 | #28

    Cry me a river, Joe.

  29. gandhi
    May 27th, 2008 at 06:30 | #29

    Back on topic, this is from TPM today:

    The Department of Defense inspector general announced last Friday that it was undertaking a investigation of the program, and the Congress’ own General Accountability Office has “already begun looking into the program and would give a legal opinion on whether it violated longstanding prohibitions against spending government money to spread propaganda to audiences in the United States.”

    Of course we had had quite a lot of enquiries that have gone nowhere.

    Meanwhile, the TV networks have remained largely silent, as their credibility and transparency have been tarnished by the revelations about the program. As Media Matters has documented, the military analysts named in the Times piece appeared or were quoted more than 4,500 times on broadcast networks, cable news channels, and NPR. One minute they were giving ostensibly objective analysis, the next they were fawning over Rummy in private as “the leader.”

    Meanwhile, in Canberra, the Libs are still busily pretending that the ABC has a leftwing bias.

  30. gandhi
    May 28th, 2008 at 11:10 | #30

    And interesting to note that the Pentagon’s favourite talking heads are still on TV.

    So we battle on, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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