Bill Keller of the New York Times accuses Wikileaks of engaging in ‘anti-war propaganda’. Of course that is something that the august ‘paper of record’ would never do. It only engages in pro-war propaganda. Check out the kind of things Keller was writing in the lead up to the Iraq war.
Phenomenons otherwise known as Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have – no doubt – turned world politics and journalism, upside-down. Maybe that’s why the New York Times was among the first US Media outlets to begin working with Assange last year, securing scoops on classified US Government documents obtained by WikiLeaks. Six months later, the relationship has soured and the Times is looking to profit from it by publishing a critical tell-all book about the source that they once relied on.
A new John Pilger documentary is always a media event. For over four decades he has set the bar for incisive and intrepid investigative journalism. In The War You Don’t See, his latest, Pilger indicts the mainstream media for its responsibility in enabling wars by sanitizing its image and glorifying its aims.
On August 19, the Israeli consulate in New York tweeted: #BBC “Panorama” presents arguably the most complete & thorough account of the #Flotilla.
The documentary has not received much endorsement elsewhere. Instead there have been loud protests of bias, especially among those aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest vessel in the Gaza-bound aid flotilla that Israeli commandos raided on May 31, killing nine activists.
Recently aired, the Panorama documentary, entitled Death in the Med, was produced by the BBC’s veteran documentary maker Jane Corbin. It claims to investigate the “real agenda” of “those who call themselves peace activists”.
A close analysis of the documentary reveals a troubling lack of objectivity in trying to paint the activists, headed by the Turkish relief organisation IHH, as radical Islamists bent on waging violent jihad.
As you know Panorama aired ‘Death in the Med’ this week. Well Jane, I have been in the media game long enough to know that moral depravity and lack of integrity are qualities that are rewarded rather than discouraged in your field of work. With such experience it is impossible for me to take commitments from someone like yourself seriously, and that is why I recorded our conversation clandestinely, a conversation in which you confirmed the agreement that was made between the BBC and myself with yourself and Alys as BBC representatives. In that agreement it was clear that I would agree to the interview if only you included the fact that we let the commandos go. Knowing that was the agreement and anticipating that I was going to confirm it once more after the interview you said;
Well its the point about we didn’t kill the commandos, we had them in… that will be in there don’t worry. (laughing) That’s, that is important for us because obviously they would say they felt their lives were in danger, to which the corollary is, well their lives could have been in danger but we let them go. I think that’s a very strong point.
So, instead of your team honouring its commitment to me, you instead aired a farcical report with multitudes of half-truths, lies, omissions and importantly, Israeli commandos who escaped rather than being set free. Let us be frank Jane, the reason for that is because it is impossible to square the whole angle that we are “terrorists” and extremists” and killers, if we let them go. It just doesn’t fit. So for BBC in this case, when the facts do not work, you lie. In an attempt to justify this, the BBC has written an insulting letter in defence of your fallacious fairytale; this is due to the torrent of complaints that have resulted from Death in the Med.
The following letter was sent to The New York Times by Oliver Stone, Mark Weisbrot and Tariq Ali in response to a grossly distorted account of their new film ‘South of the Border‘ by Larry Rohter, a one time backer of the 2002 coup attempt.
Larry Rohter attacks our film, “South of the Border,” for “mistakes, misstatements and missing details.” But a close examination of the details reveals that the mistakes, misstatements, and missing details are his own, and that the film is factually accurate. We will document this for each one of his attacks. We then show that there is evidence of animus and conflict of interest, in his attempt to discredit the film. Finally, we ask that you consider the many factual errors in Rohter’s attacks, outlined below, and the pervasive evidence of animus and conflict of interest in his attempt to discredit the film; and we ask that The New York Times publish a full correction for these numerous mistakes.
1) Accusing the film of “misinformation,” Rohter writes that “A flight from Caracas to La Paz, Bolivia, flies mostly over the Amazon, not the Andes. . .” But the narration does not say that the flight is “mostly” over the Andes, just that it flies over the Andes, which is true. (Source: Google Earth).
2) Also in the category of “misinformation,” Rohter writes “the United States does not ‘import more oil from Venezuela than any other OPEC nation,’ a distinction that has belonged to Saudi Arabia during the period 2004-10.”
As comedian Robert Newman would say, The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood has all the credulity of a ’70s porn character. ‘Gee mister, you mean the time machine will work if I take off all my clothes?’
Consider this execrable piece of propaganda. Sherwood credits Israeli justifications of the freedom flotilla massacre because 3 of the 9 Turks killed in the atrocity had in the past expressed their readiness for martyrdom. (Only in the Israeli imagination is the generic term martyrdom–sacrificing oneself for a cause–equated with a commitment to violence). There is no mention of the fact that the Israeli military attacked the flotilla in international waters. It was an act of war and the volunteers had every right to resist. Alas, they only had slingshots and furniture legs.
Here is how she starts:
A hardcore of 40 Turkish jihadis on board the Mavi Marmara was responsible for the violence that led to nine deaths and dozens of injuries on the flotilla taking aid to Gaza, the Israeli government claimed today.
Ah, the Israeli government claimed. Must be true then. But incase you had doubts, she marshalls an even more impressive source.
Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, who is in Jerusalem for a conference on counter-insurgency, agreed with the assertion that there was a core of violent activists on board the Mavi Marmara.
UPDATE: See Jairo Lugo’s report on the protests outside the BBC offices in Manchester and elsewhere here. Also, check out these excellent articles by Robert Fisk and Glenn Greenwald, and the Guardian’s report on the world renowned figures who are aboard the ship.
The BBC proves its despicable subservience to the Israeli propaganda machine once again. Before it was shamed by Al Jazeera and others into covering the Freedom Flotilla massacre, it reported the story as a mere claim by Hamas. Here is how it first appeared on the BBC’s website:
The Palestinian movement Hamas says the Israeli navy has intercepted a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip.
The massacre soon became the top news story on Google News and Twitter. The BBC could no longer maintain the pretence of ignorance. It finally reported on the massacre as a matter of fact, but appended this line: “Hamas, a militant palestinian group that controls the Gaza strip, has fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past decade.”
The victims weren’t innocent, you see. They were on their way to aid these terrible people who fire ‘thousands of rockets into Israel’. That’s all you need to know. And if you mention those hundreds of thousands of bombs, missiles and rockets that Israel has shot into Gaza…Why, you must be an anti-Semite!
The Electronic Intifada has on its front page a ludicrous, factually challenged and logically flawed attack on John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s work — work that has been pivotal in shifting the debate on US Middle East policy. It is not clear to me what EI was hoping to achieve with this self-defeating move. But I don’t blame the author of the article — the fellow is clueless, he has cobbled together his screed from arguments and quotes randomly lifted from Noam Chomsky’s writings — I blame EI’s political and editorial judgment. At a time when Israeli colonization is intensifying, with the land in the grip of a neo-Fascist government, one’s priorities must be seriously upside down to spend precious time impugning the invaluable work of allies. It appears for some supporters of Palestine the need to feel self-righteous takes precedence over the imperative to be effective. Now, it is pointless to respond to someone who freely purloins others’ work, misuses sources, and constructs a slipshod argument. But I’ll give two illustrative examples of the kind of deliberate distortions that keep resurfacing in these ideological assaults on M & W (in both cases the specific claims have been ‘borrowed’ from Chomsky):
Chomsky has long maintained that the war in Iraq was for oil. He always adduces the same evidence to support his case. A state department document from 1945, a quotes from Zbigniew Brzezinski and another from George Kennan. Chomsky argues that Middle East oil is ‘a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history’ (State Department), and anyone who controls Iraq’s vast oil reserves gains ‘critical leverage’ (Brzezinski), indeed ‘veto power’ (Kennan), over competitors. All of this is indisputable: the United States would no doubt like to control Iraqi oil; it recognizes the ‘critical leverage’ the control affords it; and the critical leverage no doubt would grant it ‘veto power’. Now here is the problem: The State department document Chomsky cites is about Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. And it recommends that, precisely because Saudi oil is so important, US must always maintain friendly relations with the kingdom. Also, it does not follow that regime change is the only means to achieve these goals. Indeed, all of these claims have been just as true the past half century, but they did not necessitate war. The US has long preferred shoring up authoritarian regimes which could ensure its dominance and maintain a stable flow of oil.
It took some time, almost a whole week, but Danish riot police have finally been given the chance to greet the thousands of climate justice activists visiting Copenhagen with some traditional elements of Scandinavian hospitality – a mass pre-emptive arrest of almost 1,000 people and the ‘kettling’ of hundreds of others, forcing some to “urinate themselves while detained on the ground.” The churnalists who have converged upon Copenhagen seem satisfied too, eagerly engaging in the media ritual of filling the headlines with the standard litany of cliches about “anarchists running street battles with the police“. Sadly, it seems beyond their intellectual capacity to use the occasion to even mention the existence of a parallel People’s Climate Summit – the Klimaforum 09 – taking place in Copanhagen at the moment. But if the arguments and policy alternatives presented by the likes of Naomi Klein (see video below the fold) are too rational for the mainstream press to digest, perhaps they’ll find this wonderful bit of creative subversivness produced by artists at the Klimaforum more palatable. Here’s episode 5 of The Elements, where our hereos take on the The Paramount Public Opinion Distortion and Confusion Data Processor:
I am not sure how to explain this strange report from Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman: the headline reads: ‘Brazilians protest Ahmadinejad tour‘, yet the only person in the report shown protesting is Shimon Peres. On the other hand, the single Brazilian who is interviewed speaks about the benefits of relations with Iran, and the president is reported to be welcoming Ahmadinejad with ‘open arms’.
Peres, I hate to tell Al Jazeera, is not a Brazilian; even if he were, he would need to persuade at least one other before he can stage a ‘Brazilians protest’.
Also, the report goes on to tells us in ominous Cold War cliches that Ahmadinejad is challenging ‘Washington in its own back yard’. What’s with this ‘back yard’ nonsense; does being a journalist mean never having to say a thing that’s original?