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Report Only The Official View – Or Else

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Two German journalists working for Deutsche Welle were shot by unknown persons in northern Afghanistan while camping in a tent overnight. Afghanistan is still a war zone no matter how many times the Bush administration trots out puppet Hamid Karzai (as if that act makes Afghanistan a civilized democratic republic).

Because of the conditions in Afghanistan, it is understandable that reporters can die while covering the war there. But what is one to think when a veteran war reporter is killed on the streets of her home town?

Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Russian journalist who worked for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was known as a fierce critic of the rights abuses commited by Russian troops in Chechnya. Ms. Politkovskaya was found shot dead in an elevator at her apartment block in Moscow. The murder weapon was found at her side – a sign of a professional hit.

At least in America, the reporter who covers the story of US Marines in Iraq who murdered an Iraqi man and tried to plant evidence that the shooting was justified won't get killed for this reportage – yet – but I wouldn't hold out much hope for the Navy Corpsman testifying against these Marines, even if the Navy has already transferred him to another base.

That is itself a topic for another post.

Here in America, reporters and other publishing staff still suffer consequences for their story reporting, even if death isn't likely to be on the list. For instance, Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey Johnson has been forced to resign by the Tribune Co., owner of the Times, after publicly supporting a published protest by Times Editor Dean Baquet against the additional staff cuts demanded by Tribune.

Johnson stood up for what is right for his staff, and it cost him his job. He shows an integrity which is all too rare in American journalism today.

So does Jesus Diaz Jr., now ex-publisher of the Miami Herald, who resigned after three reporters (fired for conflict of interest after it was discovered that they were being paid by Radio Marti, a US government-run propaganda broadcasting entity) were to be rehired. He believes the journalists' acceptance of these payments "was a breach of widely accepted principles of journalistic ethics."

We can also point to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann as having such integrity, for he is one of a very few working in the mainstream media to put his lucrative career on the line when he points out that Bush would sell America out to preserve GOP power.

The pressure campaign against MSNBC to convince them to muzzle Olbermann is underway, with Time Magazines' media reporter attempting to appear "balanced" by blaming MSNBC's competitor Fox for Olbermann's "wacky" reporting, as if that is going to register with Fox broadcaster (and Republican Party media asset) Roger Ailes and induce Fox to balance out their – as Time's James Poniewozik opines – blatantly rightward tilt to aid the effort to rid the Republicans of Olbermann's observations.

One thing of which Olbermann can be assured: he won't suffer the fate of Reuters reporter Taras Protsyuk, a Ukranian covering the Iraqi war. He died on April 8, 2003 after an American tank fired at the Palestina Hotel in Baghdad, allegedly to eliminate an alleged Iraqi target.

About 100 international journalists were widely known to be staying in the Palestine Hotel at the time of the attack, so clearly this was a warning to the international media not to get too close to the real story of the US invasion of Iraq. At least that incident has the cover of an active war, communications ambiguity, and the vast Army command and control structure in which to bury liability.

That isn't the case with the Navy Corpsman I cite above, nor with the Marines who murdered and raped in Haditha. Those two incidents involve smaller groups, so if anything happens as it did to Politkovskaya to those witnesses whose testimony leads to conviction of the perpetrators, the list of suspects isn't necessarily very big.

While there have been suspicious 'suicides' involving US reporters, such as Gary Webb (who suffered the destruction of his reputation and employment prospects when "the major news outlets focused on attacking Webb or less relevant parts of the story, leaving Webb's thesis largely intact"), few American reporters have suffered Politkovskaya's fate since Denver radio host Alan Berg was murdered by white supremacists.

Thankfully, today that doesn't seem to be a likely future for domestic American reporters who cross powerful interests – yet. But as more Olbermanns and Johnsons and Diazes emerge from behind the screen of corporate control over free speech, can we be sure that it won't?

With the Bush Administration insisting that Congress confirm their assertions that they can torture prisoners in complete disregard for the Geneva Conventions, and can declare that American citizens are enemy combatants at will and without judicial review, can we be sure that government torture and terrorism won't emerge in the United States?

It did in so many countries whose leaders were taught by the top secret School of the Americas (now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) to conduct torture and terrorism of political opponents in order to maintain power in their homelands. Media figures were often the subjects of such "control" by government agents.

There is every reason, especially with the Foley scandal damaging Republican voter support, to believe that the power whores who infest the White House just might decide to turn to such efforts, efforts of which they have demonstrated at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo that they are perfectly willing to exert – and they would also start with the eyes and ears of the people, the media.

They would prefer such a consequence to those they themselves would face if they lose power to an angry opposition.

"The duty of [the] journalist [is] to write what this journalist sees in the reality. I am absolutely sure that risk is [a] usual part of my job… and I cannot stop because it's my duty."  Anna Politkovskaya

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About pessimist

  • Donnie Marler

    I wasn’t aware the Marines had been tried yet, much less convicted.

  • Bliffle

    We can expect more suppression of news and dissent as government and media institutions get more concentrated and monopolistic. Government and media are becoming more intertwined and so we can expect even more pressure on reporters to conform to Administration policy. Whatever that administration might be, republican or democrat. It’s alarming to me that this sovietization is coming from my republican party, which I always considered as Defenders Of Liberty.

  • SFC SKI

    Nice conflation of the acts of a few individuals against journalists with another intimidation campaign conspiracy. Word to the wise, if you are in a war zone, sitting on a rooftop pointing a set of binoculars at US personel while talking on a cellphone and having your partner lift a large object with a cylindrical protrusion on the front of it is a way to get killed.

    As for the Marines, I’ll wait until the courtmmartial ends, but why do you bring it up at all? I don’t believe any journalists were present, nor were they intimidated regarding this case. For that matter, another journalist commented on the actions and statements of a servicemember accused in a different case, and he was allowed to speak on several national news shows.

    All in all, I think you’ll have to work a bit harder to make your assertions valid.

  • scout

    pess, this is a nice piece. You asked some great questions; and our cultural ‘leaders’ of the past 100 years have done just that: led us to pursue our depravity/collection of desires in an effort for profit and world hegemony.

    What’s amazing is just how fast a relatively OK country can fall apart. In just a few short years we have a country that out-strips Sodom, Gomorrha, to become a homosexual haven, torture standard, corporate dictatorship, deviant loving, torture lovers, a nation full of and controlled by anti-Christs.

    For all you youngsters that love this mess that my generation capped, I am so very, very sorry. For it would have been far better to die a Christian hypocrite, than die a demon idolizer. I am so sick.

    Pess, I know you touched upon this, but the problem is not with some made-up sanctity of the media front line players that we label, ‘journalists,’ but the very mind set of evil that they suppose as normal thinking. If journalists believe the following as normal, zero discipline and respect in education, females with authority over men, females with political power, divorce, marriage after divorce, unborn infanticide, homosexuality/pedophilia, the total destruction of true Christianity, zero border control while absolute airport control, zero immigration policy, 1000 military bases around the world, corporate manifest destiny, just to mention a few items, then how can we have unbiased reporting? It is impossible.

    The above kinda reminds me of the American Indians that worked with the early anthropologists, then watched the anthropologists write crap about them. Where were these scientists when they needed a little publicity to help them against the American corp military? I’ll tell you: living their lives like any American middle class kook, and with the same total carelessness. I think you see my point.

    Without accountability, there is no truth in media. The only standard of measurement is Biblical, for it is there where we have the only real existing mirror. And we ain’t going to like it one bit.

  • ss

    So who you voting for, Scout?

  • Jay Drai

    Nachshon Draiman Conviction for the death of a patient and abuse in his Mill View nursing homes in Niles, Illinois. R1

    Nachshon Draiman – Multiut Corp. – Future Associates Fraud
    You will note that State and Federal Court records in Illinois and elsewhere are replete with lawsuits, judgments and wrongdoing by Nachshon Draiman and his companies. Causing the death of patients in the Nursing homes and a lawsuit by the State of Illinois with civil and criminal conviction People v. Gurell, Nachshon Draiman (1983), 98 Ill.2d 194, 207, 74 Ill.Dec. 516, 456 N.E.2d 18.). Abusing nursing home patients see State of Illinois records.
    See People of the State of Illinois vs. Gurell, Nachshon Draiman et al – 456 N.E.2d 18 there has been numerous patient abuse and deaths due to that abuse. In 127 Ill.App.3d 1165, 483 N.E.2d 731, 91 Ill.Dec. 385 Sonnenberg v. Mill View Associates, Nachshon Draiman where millions of dollars had to be paid as damages for abuse and death of a patient, not to mention numerous patients who died falling down an elevator shaft.

    Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian W. Ellis Claims he has DNA forensic evidence that Nachshon Draiman – Multiut forged and modified documents presented to the Court in his lawsuit against his brother Yehuda J. Draiman
    The Supposed 1991 IMA Agreement Put Into Evidence by Multiut – Nachshon Draiman Is a Fraud
    The evidence overwhelmingly favors Yehuda Draimans’ account of events. There are at least eight separate, independent indicators that Nachshon Draiman deceptively modified an IMA Agreement that Yehuda received and signed in 1989, added terms to which Yehuda never agreed, including the incorporation of an unsigned Employee Confidentiality Agreement, and inserted a false date of execution to create the document introduced as Plaintiff’s Exhibit 10. First, Defendants’ expert forensic ink analyst, Erich Speckin, testified that he found manufacturer date tags in the ink for the disputed writings on Plaintiff’s Exhibit 10, and that the sequence of those date tags establishes without question that the ink was manufactured in 1993, two years after Nachshon Draiman said he made the writings. (8/14/02 Tr., at 2214-25) That testimony is undisputed.

    It is a known fact that justice in Chicago can be swayed in your favor with proper incentives. The trial judge left the bench after this case when the court ignored overwhelming evidence against Multiut and Nachshon Draiman and other cases were investigated by the government.
    Nachshon Draiman’s intimidation of witnesses, blackmail and other scare tactics will not work.

    Nachshon Draiman defrauds Israel Discount Bank in Hotel financing to the tune of $45 million dollars.
    Utilizing modified and fabricated sales contract of units in the Jerusalem Pearl purchased and totally paid for by 1. Nachshon Draiman, 2. Elitzur Draiman, 3. Irwin Katz a former Federal Judge and part owner of Multiut, 4. Barry Ray, 5. Danny Shabat, 6. Gershon Bassman, 7. Dr. Sam Lipschitz, 8. It seems presenting false and deceptive documents is a way of life for Nachshon Draiman

    Nachshon Draiman presented a forged College Diploma to the Illinois Department of Registration in order to receive his Nursing Home Administrator’s license No. 44001323.
    For More Information See: http://www.antidefamationusa.com.