Monday, January 31, 2005


Rejoicing in Freedom of the Press

Long ago one day when I was in the military, I was sitting around with a group of guys, one of whom was perusing the US military’s newspaper, Stars and Stripes. Ironically, someone else was talking about how unfortunate the Chinese and Russians were to be getting government-controlled news in their media, whereas our wonderful American free press was giving us the truth.

But Americans know — or should know — that the mainstream US media are highly controlled just like their counterparts in countries like China. What you see in the mainstream media is generally what the corporations and government want you to see. Of course there are different factions jockeying for power behind the scenes, which is the reason for the differences of opinion that appear. Don’t mistake that for democratic public discourse.

Sometimes the differences in news are startlingly — and even comically — divergent. For example, I checked the US Department of Defense website DefenseLink to see what they had to say about the election (such as it was) in Iraq. President Bush assures us that “freedom is on the march” and that the election was a success, while Mushroom-Cloud Lady says that the elections went “better than expected.” We also find that Iraqis “turn overwhelmingly to democracy.” Yep, everything is just peaches and cream.

But if you want the real story and a far more realistic and objective assessment, you might want to read the impressions of Juan Cole.

And one has to wonder where the big figures for voter turnout came from. And there are also reports that voting was linked to food rations.

So, who are you going to believe? The “free press” owned and operated by the corporations, who also control the government? Or the “internet theories” disparaged by Dubya?

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