January 2, 2006

The Failures of Post-9/11 Media

by Laura Barcella

A new book asks America's top journalists for insights on why post-9/11, pre-Iraq War news coverage was so shoddy.

Kristina Borjesson knows well what can happen to journalists who push too hard to expose government secrets.

The award-winning reporter-cum-media critic was actually fired from her job at CBS after digging too deep -- and refusing to shut up -- about what caused the 2001 crash of TWA flight 800. In her acclaimed 2002 book "Into the Buzzsaw," Borjesson chronicled her forced exile from mainstream media and encouraged other banished reporters to share their stories, too.

Now she's at it again. In October, Borjesson released "Feet to the Fire" (Prometheus Books), a strapping collection of 21 interviews with the country's most influential TV, newspaper and magazine journalists. Her subject at hand? The impact of muddled intelligence -- and White House spin -- on mainstream media's desultory reporting of the lead-up to Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq.

What might be different today if the press hadn't swallowed so many administration lies, hook, line and sinker? Is it the media's responsibility to report what the people need to know, or what the government wants us to hear? And which -- if any -- journalists got their war reporting right? . . .


John Pilger, "The Media's Culpability for Iraq,", October 1, 2004

David Ray Griffin, "9/11 and the Mainstream Press," The Wisdom Fund, August 1, 2005

Kristina Borjesson, "Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11, Top Journalists Speak Out," Prometheus Books (October 18, 2005)

James Bamford, "The Man Who Sold the War," Rolling Stone, November 17, 2005

[US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all.-- Harold Pinter, "The Nobel Lecture: Art, Truth and Politics,", December 7, 2005]

FOIA request for videotapes of 9/11 Pentagon crash stalled, 9/11 Special Interest Group, January 1, 2006

Top 10 Project Censored News Stories, January 27, 2006

Danny Schecter, "WHEN NEWS LIES: Media Complicity and The Iraq War", Select Books (NY), Book and DVD Documentary edition (January 1, 2006)

["Most of the anti-war movement focused on the crimes of the Bush Administration ignoring the mainstream media, its far more effective accomplice," says former network producer Danny Schechter (ABC, CNN). "The government orchestrated the war while the media marketed it. You couldn't have one without the other."--Danny Schechter, "WHEN NEWS LIES: Media Complicity and The Iraq War," The News Dissector, February 4, 2006]

[Here are the sources - on pages one and 10 for the yarn spun by reporters Josh Meyer and Mark Mazzetti: "US officials said", "said one US Justice Department counter-terrorism official", "Officials ... said", "those officials said", "the officials confirmed", "American officials complained", "the US officials stressed", "US authorities believe", "said one senior US intelligence official", "US officials said", "Jordanian officials ... said" - here, at least is some light relief - "several US officials said", "the US officials said", "American officials said", "officials say", "say US officials", "US officials said", "one US counter-terrorism official said".

I do truly treasure this story. It proves my point that the Los Angeles Times - along with the big east coast dailies - should all be called US OFFICIALS SAY.--Robert Fisk, "The farcical end of the American dream," Independent, March 18, 2006]

[During the Cold War, a group of Russian journalists toured the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions. "I have to tell you," said their spokesman, "that we were astonished to find, after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were, by and large, the same. To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don't have that. What's the secret? How do you do it?" . . .

In my career as a journalist, there has never been a war on terror but a war of terror. Not long ago I walked down a leafy street in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the former dictator General Suharto is living out his life in luxury, having stolen from his people an estimated $10 billion. A United Nations truth commission had just released a report, based on official files, that credits Suharto with the deaths of 180,000 people in East Timor. It says that the United States played a "primary role" in this terror. Britain and Australia are named as accessories to this vast suffering.--John Pilger, "War by Media,", April 14, 2006]

[Throughout both presidential campaigns and the entire Iraq war to date, the media acted as a virtual mouthpiece for the White House, giving watered-down coverage of major policy decisions, wartime abuses of power, and egregious mistakes -- and sometimes these events never made it into the news at all.--Eric Boehlert, "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush," Free Press, May 9, 2006]

[The reality in this case is that after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq.--Charles J. Hanley, "Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD," Associated Press, August 7, 2006]

[Chomsky timidly regurgitates the official line by saying that the version we are force-fed by the mainstream media is "pretty much what happened", with 19 Arab hijackers responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks. He claims that he hasn't seen any "credible evidence" to suggest otherwise.

. . . he cites an imaginary and illusory body of "thousands of highly qualified engineers" with the "appropriate credentials" that can apparently prove how the official collapse model is scientifically sound. Who are these engineers? Why won't they, along with the NIST engineers, debate the peer-reviewed science put forth by the Scholars?--"Chomsky Fears 9/11 Debate,", September 14, 2006]

Edward S. Herman, "Linguistic Somersaults in an Age of Aggression and State Terrorism," Z Magazine, forthcoming December 2006

VIDEO: "The 9/11 Solution: The big clue everyone missed,", February 7, 2007

Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Terrorized by 'War on Terror'," Washington Post, March 25, 2007

VIDEO: Bill Moyers, "Bill Moyers Journal: Buying the War," PBS, April 25, 2007

[At the core of this pseudo-world is the myth that our national institutions, including those of government, the military and finance, are efficient and virtuous, that we can trust them and that their intentions are good. These institutions can be criticized for excesses and abuses, but they cannot be assailed as being hostile to democracy and the common good. They cannot be exposed as criminal enterprises, at least if one hopes to retain a voice in the mass media.--Chris Hedges, "The Myth of the Free Press," TruthDig, October 26, 2014]

Art Swift, "Americans' Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low,", September 14, 2016

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