Mass Media News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on the mass media
The United States has slipped so far with respect to transparency that some open-government groups now rank it behind Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Liberia. Today, the Freedom of Information Act – our country’s signature right-to-information law – is alarmingly dysfunctional. It is impeding the ability of the press to do its job. Sharyl Attkisson, a journalist with five Emmy Awards ... asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last October for records related to a virus that had possibly killed 14 children and paralyzed another 115. The CDC still hasn’t turned over a single document in response. This isn’t the first such experience for Attkisson. She recently told a congressional committee that it took the Department of Defense 10 years to respond to a request she made in 2003. It is a sad turn of events that FOIA has become so unhelpful to journalists. Like many other citizens who make requests under FOIA – which allows any person to request federal agency records for any reason – journalists face backlogs, excuses for withholding, and delays. “Non-responsiveness is the norm,” Karen Kaiser, general counsel of The Associated Press, told a Senate panel in May. Agencies could do a far better job of enforcing FOIA as it is written. Notably, agencies need to faithfully adhere to a provision of FOIA that allows journalists’ requests to go to the front of the queue when there is an “urgency to inform the public.” As it stands, agencies reject these so-called “expedited processing” requests the vast majority of the time.
Note: Along with having her FOIA requests stalled, Sharyl Attkisson has sometimes been spied on and computer-hacked by U.S intelligence agencies for her investigative journalism. The number of FOIA requests denied by government agencies has been rapidly increasing in recent years.
The Defense Department earlier this summer released a comprehensive manual outlining its interpretation of the law of war. The 1,176-page document, the first of its kind, includes guidelines on the treatment of journalists covering armed conflicts that would make their work more dangerous, cumbersome and subject to censorship. Journalists, the manual says, are generally regarded as civilians, but may in some instances be deemed “unprivileged belligerents,” a legal term that applies to fighters that are afforded fewer protections than the declared combatants in a war. The manual warns that “Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying.” It says that governments “may need to censor journalists’ work or take other security measures so that journalists do not reveal sensitive information to the enemy.” Allowing this document to stand as guidance for commanders, government lawyers and officials of other nations would do severe damage to press freedoms. Authoritarian leaders around the world could point to it to show that their despotic treatment of journalists — including Americans — is broadly in line with the standards set by the United States government. The document’s broad assertion that journalists’ work may need to be censored lest it reveal sensitive information to the enemy ... seems to contravene American constitutional and case law, and offers other countries that routinely censor the press a handy reference point.
Note: Read a critical analysis of the Pentagon’s new manual from the Committee to Protect Journalists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of public perception.
If you turned on US cable news at any point last week, you might have thought this July 4 holiday would be our last weekend on earth – the supposed terrorist masterminds in Isis and their alleged vast sleeper cell army were going to descend upon America like the aliens in Independence Day and destroy us all. CNN has led the pack in whipping Americans into a panic over the Isis threat, running story after story with government officials and terrorism industry money-makers hyping the threat, played against the backdrop of scary b-roll of terrorist training camps. Following the tragedy in Charleston, where a white supremacist terrorist killed nine innocent churchgoers, there was – finally! – widespread acknowledgement that the Islamic terrorism threat in this country is vastly exaggerated, and that white supremacists actually kill many more Americans than Muslim extremists do. As Glenn Greenwald wrote at the time, you are more likely to be struck by lightning, stung to death by bees or killed your own falling furniture on you than you are by a Muslim terrorist. Yet there we were, less than a week later, back to an “Isis is going to kill us all” mentality. Journalist Adam Johnson went back a decade and found 40 ... times the FBI and Homeland Security have issued similar threats around national holidays or major events, none of which actually was followed by a terrorist attack. It’s more than a little disturbing how much CNN and others have seemingly grown to rely on these nebulous warnings to keep viewers hooked.
Note: Read an excellent essay by a top US general exposing how war is a racket. Is this why terrorist fear-mongers always claim that it is the scariest time ever? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the manipulation of public perception.
An investigation by the German parliament is raising questions on whether the Obama administration not only spied on journalists in that country, but also interfered in the exercise of the free press. On Thursday, Germany's intelligence coordinator, Günter Heiss, testified before a parliamentary investigative committee of the German parliament, the Bundestag, focused on the activities of the U.S. National Security Agency's spying on Germany and whether the German intelligence agency BND had any knowledge of it. In 2013, the German magazine Der Spiegel ... first reported that the NSA was intercepting German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone communications. On Thursday, WikiLeaks released more information, presumably from that surveillance, from a conversation between Merkel and her personal assistant in October 2011. The WikiLeaks release also suggested that the NSA was spying on German ministers in addition to Merkel. Less observed this week was news that the NSA was eavesdropping not only on Merkel, but also in some capacity on Germany's free press, specifically Der Spiegel. "It feels bitter to learn that American intelligence agencies spied on reporters in another country and denounced alleged sources to the government," said one reporter involved, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from his government or the U.S. government. "This is something I expected to happen in authoritarian states like Russia or China, but not in a democracy."
Two years ago, the first story based on the Snowden archive was published in The Guardian, revealing a program of domestic mass surveillance, which, at least in its original form, ended this week. To commemorate that anniversary, Edward Snowden himself reflected in a New York Times op-ed on the “power of an informed public”. The debate provoked by these disclosures [examined] the role journalism ought to play in a democracy and the proper relationship of journalists to those who wield the greatest political and economic power. Of all the revelations over the last two years, one of the most illuminating and stunning has been the reaction of many in the American media to Edward Snowden as a source. There was plenty of journalistic support for the disclosures. But huge numbers of journalists went on the warpath against transparency. The Los Angeles Times ... believes leaking is criminal and those who do it belong in prison. The LA Times itself constantly publishes illegal leaks, though the ones it publishes usually come from top government officials. Have the LA Times editors called for the criminal prosecution of Leon Panetta, and John Brennan, and the endless number of senior officials who leak not (as Snowden did) to inform the public but in order to propagandize them? Of course not, and therein lies the key media lesson from all of this. These journalists are literally agents of political power.
The US has set a new record for denying and censoring federal files under the Freedom of Information Act, analysis by the Associated Press reveals. For the second consecutive year, the Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them under the open-government legislation. The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn't find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy. It also acknowledged in nearly one in three cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law - but only when it was challenged. Its backlog of unanswered requests at year's end grew remarkably by 55% to more than 200,000. Citizens, journalists, businesses and others made a record 714,231 requests for information. The US spent a record $434m trying to keep up. The government responded to 647,142 requests, a 4% decrease over the previous year. "What we discovered reaffirmed what we have seen all too frequently in recent years," [The AP's chief executive, Gary] Pruitt wrote in a column published this week. "The systems created to give citizens information about their government are badly broken and getting worse all the time."
Note: It appears the the UK's Guardian was the only major media to pick up this AP article. Is this a form of censorship? For more, read how the US government now blocks specific journalists from accessing information, or see concise summaries of news articles about mass media manipulation.
A senior writer at the Daily Telegraph has dramatically quit the newspaper after accusing its owners, the Barclay Brothers, of suppressing reports about the HSBC scandal out of fear of losing advertising revenue. Peter Oborne, the paper’s chief political commentator and an award-winning author, announced his resignation [and] accused the Telegraph of committing a “fraud” on readers. Mr Oborne detailed a series of investigations about HSBC, and other financial scandals, which he said executives at the newspaper had closed down. Mr Oborne wrote: “From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged [because] HSBC [had] suspended its advertising with the Telegraph. “Its account ... was extremely valuable. HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is ‘the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend’. “Winning back the HSBC advertising account became an urgent priority. It was eventually restored after approximately 12 months. Executives say that Murdoch MacLennan [chief executive of Telegraph Media Group] was determined not to allow any criticism of the international bank.” As a result of a 2012 investigation into accounts held by HSBC in Jersey, he claimed: “Reporters were ordered to destroy all emails, reports and documents related to the HSBC investigation. I [resigned] as a matter of conscience. The past few years have seen the rise of shadowy executives who determine what truths can and what truths can’t be conveyed across the mainstream media."
Note: Oborne's online resignation provides a unique window into some of the ways that big money is used to manipulate the media. Read lots more on HSBC's empire of corruption in a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. HSBC was founded to service the international drug trade in the 19th century, and launders money for mobsters and terrorists on a massive scale.
Former CIA officer [Jeffrey Sterling] was convicted Monday of providing classified information about his work to a New York Times reporter. Guilty verdicts were read on all nine criminal counts. The prosecution ... spawned a First Amendment confrontation between a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the Justice Department. It might be one of the greatest courtroom successes of a presidential administration that has pursued more leak cases than all of its predecessors combined. Other leak cases have resulted in pleas, at least one with terms favorable to the defendant. Sterling ... faced charges under the Espionage Act. [He] was first accused in 2010 of giving classified information to New York Times reporter and author James Risen for his 2006 book, “State of War.” Sterling, who was fired in the early 2000s, had sued the agency over alleged discrimination and also sparred with officials about publishing a memoir describing some of his work. The trial itself was something of a spectacle, with CIA officers testifying behind a retractable gray screen. The case against Sterling was largely circumstantial. There were no recorded phone conversations or captured e-mail exchanges that show that he leaked classified information to Risen. Defense attorneys posited several people other than Sterling who could have served as Risen’s sources, and ... argued that some information in the book could not have come from Sterling, because it addressed things that happened after he left the CIA.
Note: James Risen tried to help Jeffrey Sterling expose CIA racism, and later wrote an unrelated book exposing some questionable government practices. Now Sterling is going to prison for what Risen wrote then. Risen's journalistic courage remains intact, and his latest book exposes major government corruption related to the war on terror.
The [recent] holiday headlines blared: “End of War” and “Mission Ends” and “U.S. formally ends the war in Afghanistan." Great news! Except: “the fighting is as intense as it has ever been since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001,” according to the Wall Street Journal. And about 10,000 troops will remain there for the foreseeable future. They’ll continue to engage in combat regularly. This is the new reality of war: As long as the White House doesn’t admit the United States is at war, we’re all supposed to pretend as if that’s true. This ruse is not just the work of the president. Members of Congress [are also] letting the public think we’re Definitely Not at War. Another place the United States is Definitely Not at War? Pakistan, where, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US conducted multiple drone strikes between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, killing at least nine people. Another six “militants” were reportedly killed in a drone strike in Pakistan on Sunday. There was yet another American drone strike in Somalia on 30 December. Meanwhile, the Defense Department quietly announced ... that, later this month, another 1,300 troops will deploy to Iraq in its ever-expanding undeclared war on Isis. The US continues to launch airstrikes against Isis and various other groups in Syria as well. Legal experts across the political spectrum believe this war is without precedent.
Note: Although 21st Century military combat operations may no longer be called war, war has been called a racket since the era of General Smedley Butler, one of the most highly decorated US generals ever. Read General Butler's eye-opening essay "War is a Racket." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture. The War on Terror generally has been “reported” for 13 years and counting by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes. In 2002, Maher [Arar], a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who worked as an engineer, was travelling back home to Ottawa when he was abducted by the U.S. Government at JFK Airport, [secretly] interrogated for weeks, then “rendered” to Syria where the U.S. arranged to have him brutally tortured ... for 10 months. He was completely innocent, [and was] unceremoniously released back to his life in Canada as though nothing had happened. U.S. courts refused even to hear his case, accepting the Obama DOJ’s claim that it was too secret to safely adjudicate. The Canadian government ... publicly apologized for its role, and paid him $9 million. There are hundreds if not thousands of Maher Arars the U.S. media could easily and powerfully interview. The detainees held without charges, tortured, and then unceremoniously released from Guantanamo and Bagram are rarely if ever heard from on U.S. television, even when the U.S. Government is forced to admit that they were guilty of nothing.
In an astonishing media tour following her resignation from CBS News last spring, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson sat before interviewers ranging from radio host Chris Stigall to CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter and launched attacks on her newly former employer. “With various stories, you do get the idea at some point that they want you to stop, especially if you start to dig down right into something very, very important. And it’s not just with political stories - it’s with stories that go after other interests, corporations, different things,” Attkisson told Stigall. Perhaps the most spectacular allegation against Attkisson’s former employer relates to influence by corporate interests on the news product. Despite the hassles, Attkisson and her colleagues plow ahead with such stories. Until she catches wind that the bureau chief has requested to see her notes on a story about “an American Red Cross disaster response.” After Attkisson complains that it’s inappropriate to ask to see the notes, the bureau chief says, “I know. I don’t know what else to do.” Discouragement of Attkisson’s reporting, confesses the bureau chief, comes from powerful forces within CBS News. “We must do nothing to upset our corporate partners,” says the bureau chief, per [Attkisson's book] “Stonewalled.”
Note: There is much more to this story. Please read the analysis of top independent reporter Jon Rappoport on this webpage showing how sharp investigative reporters who threaten the powers that be are forced out, as Attkisson was. And watch Attkisson give a Tedx Talk on how the public is deceived in dangerous ways be powerful corporations and interests. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles from reliable sources.
Reports from an oil rig worker who saw a fire in the sky on the night Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared are being taken seriously, police sources have confirmed. But New Zealander Mike McKay, 55, has lost his job in the ‘‘circus’’ that developed after his report to authorities was leaked. Mr McKay had been working on the Songa Mercur oil rig in the South China Sea when he saw an ‘‘orange light’’ on an especially clear night. The object was still in one piece and close to where MH370 first dropped off radar between Malaysia and Vietnam on March 8 with 239 people on board. He emailed his employer and Vietnamese authorities about his sighting, but his statement was leaked, which included his full name, email, passport number, and full details of the company operating the rig. In the ensuing media storm, Mr McKay said the Japanese-based petroleum company, Idemitsu, was flooded with emails and he was taken off the rig. He is now unemployed and disappointed his efforts at reporting potentially vital information turned into such a circus. ‘‘I was only trying to privately help,’’ he told Fairfax Media during a series of interviews. ‘‘If it was the aeroplane I saw, then it must have been an external fire. How far would an aeroplane stay in the air after such a fire?’’
Note: So much strangeness here. Why was this man fired for reporting simply what he saw? And why isn't this getting more media attention? For possible answers, see our essay on media corruption.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh accused the Obama administration ... of having “cherry-picked intelligence” regarding the Aug. 21 chemical attack in Syria that served as evidence for an argument in favor of striking President Bashar Assad's government. Though President Barack Obama eventually decided not to strike Syria, the administration made a public case for war by saying that Assad’s regime was responsible for a poison gas attack in the outskirts of Damascus. The U.N. later concluded the attack had involved the nerve agent sarin. In his piece -- titled "Whose Sarin?" -- Hersh reported that al-Nusra, a jihadi group fighting in Syria’s long-running civil war, had also "mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity.” Therefore, he wrote, “Obama did not tell the whole story” when stating with certainty that Assad had to be responsible, crossing a so-called "red line" that would trigger U.S. retaliation. Hersh is a freelancer, but he's best known these days for his work in The New Yorker, where he helped break the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004. In an email, Hersh wrote that “there was little interest” for the story at The New Yorker. Hersh then took the story to The Washington Post. Hersh wrote that he was told by email that Executive Editor Marty Baron decided “that the sourcing in the article did not meet the Post's standards.” Hersh [then] sent the Syria story to editors at the London Review of Books, LRB Senior Editor Christian Lorentzen [said]. Lorentzen said the piece was not only edited, but thoroughly fact checked by a former New Yorker fact checker who had worked with Hersh in the past.
Note: For more on government lies to provide pretexts for war, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
There is ample reason for skepticism that anything substantial will change in Iran-US relations, [but] whatever one's views are on the prospects for improving relations, the first direct communications in more than 30 years between the leaders of those two countries is a historically significant event. Here is what NBC News anchor Brian Williams told his viewers about this event: "This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran - suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons!" Yes, Iran's claim that they don't want nuclear weapons sure is "sudden" - if you pretend that virtually everything that they've said on that question for the past ten years does not exist. The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a 2005 religious edict banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and in January of this year, Iranian official Ramin Mehmanparast declared: "We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons." The following month, Khamenei himself said: "We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don't want to build atomic weapons." Iran's top leadership has been making similarly unambiguous statements for almost a full decade, even taking out a full page ad in the New York Times in 2005 to counter the growing clamor in the US for a military attack by proclaiming that Iran had no desire for nuclear weapons, was not pursuing them, and wanted transparency, accountability and peace. US intelligence agencies have repeatedly though secretly concluded that they do not believe that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, and even top Israeli military officials have expressed serious doubts that Iran is building, or will build, a nuclear weapon.
Note: For more on mass media corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The Army is blocking all access to The Guardian newspaper's reports about the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of data about Americans' email and phone communications, an Army spokesman said Thursday. The Monterey (Calif.) Herald reported that employees at the Presidio of Monterey, an Army public affairs base about 100 miles south of San Francisco, were unable to gain access to The Guardian's articles on former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and his professed leaks of classified information about the intelligence programs. Late Thursday, an Army spokesman told The Herald by email that the newspaper's NSA reports were, in fact, being blocked across the entire Army. He wrote that it's routine for the Defense Department to take "network hygiene" action to prevent disclosure of classified information, The Herald reported. "We make every effort to balance the need to preserve information access with operational security," the newspaper quoted the spokesman as saying. "However there are strict policies and directives in place regarding protecting and handling classified information."
Barbara Starr, CNN's Pentagon reporter (more accurately known as: the Pentagon's reporter at CNN), has an exciting exclusive today. Exclusively relying upon "three senior officials" in the Obama administration (all anonymous, needless to say), ... the CNN report on this incident is revealing indeed. Every paragraph - literally - contains nothing but mindless summaries of the claims of US government officials. There is not an iota of skepticism about any of the assertions, including how this incident happened, what the drone was doing at the time, or where it took place. Most notably, CNN does not even bother with the pretense of trying to include the claims of the Iranian government about what happened. There is no indication that the self-described news outlet even made an effort to contact Tehran to obtain their rendition of these events or even confirmation that it occurred. It simply regurgitates the accusations of anonymous US officials that Iran, with no provocation, out of the blue decided to shoot at a US drone in international airspace. (Although CNN does not mention it, last December Iran shot down a US drone which, it claims (and the US does not deny) was in Iranian air space). That CNN's prime mission is to serve the US government is hardly news. [The Christian Science Monitor, however, noted]: "There was no way to independently confirm the Pentagon's account, and correct facts have not always been initially forthcoming in past US-Iran incidents in the Persian Gulf." It then detailed several historical events when the US government's claims about Iran were proven to be false.
Note: Iran denies that the drone was in international airspace, as claimed by the US. For more on this, click here.
The story seemed perfect for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s hard-hitting “Newsnight” program: a nationally beloved television host, it seemed, had also been a pedophile who for decades preyed on young teenagers in hospitals, in children’s homes — and in the halls of the BBC itself. But last December, as the segment neared completion, it was abruptly canceled by the editor in charge, who said there was not enough evidence to justify going ahead. That decision, and the BBC’s earlier failure over four decades to investigate rumors about Mr. Savile’s behavior, is now the subject of three independent investigations. But they are just the latest and most explosive elements in a scandal that seems to widen by the hour. With new victims of Mr. Savile coming forth daily, George Entwistle, who took over as the BBC’s director general just a month ago, is facing embarrassing questions about what the corporation knew and why it did nothing. The Savile affair is by no means restricted to the BBC, drawing in some of Britain’s most important institutions. Scotland Yard has opened an investigation involving 14 other police forces and no fewer than 340 “lines of inquiry”; it said that from 1959 to 2006, Mr. Savile might have molested 60 or more underage girls. But politically the primary focus is on the BBC.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on sexual abuse, click here.
On 30 May, Dan Rather, one of America's best-known journalists, referred to [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez as "the dictator" – a term that few, if any, political scientists familiar with the country would countenance. Here is what Jimmy Carter said about Venezuela's "dictatorship" a few weeks ago: "As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world." Carter won a Nobel prize for his work through the election-monitoring Carter Center, which has observed and certified past Venezuelan elections. The opposition will probably lose this election ... because the living standards of the majority of Venezuelans have dramatically improved under Chávez. Since 2004, when the government gained control over the oil industry and the economy had recovered from the devastating, extra-legal attempts to overthrow it (including the 2002 US-backed military coup), poverty has been cut in half and extreme poverty by 70%. And this measures only cash income. Millions have access to healthcare for the first time, and college enrolment has doubled, with free tuition for many students. Inequality has also been considerably reduced. By contrast, the two decades that preceded Chávez amount to one of the worst economic failures in Latin America, with real income per person actually falling by 14% between 1980 and 1998. In Washington, democracy has a simple definition: does a government do what the state department wants it to do?
Note: For a powerful movie which shows how much our media distorts our perception of global events, watch "The Revolution Will Not be Televised" about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez at this link. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on mass media corruption, click here.
88 million. That's how many working-age Americans don't have a job and aren't trying to find one. The increase in people dropping out of the labor market altogether skews the otherwise-positive unemployment numbers released last week. While the jobless rate fell to 8.3 percent in January - a three-year low - it doesn't [take into account] this army of nonworking Americans. The percentage of people participating in the labor market dropped to 63.7 percent last month, the lowest level since May 1983.
Note: This one small article reveals an astounding statistic the media and government are all but ignoring. The actual rate of jobless Americans is well over 30%. The U.S. government definition of unemployed covers only those who "do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work."
“Democracy Now!,” the 15-year-old public radio and television program ... distinguishes itself by documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy, along with the rest of the day’s developments. Operated as a nonprofit organization and distributed on a patchwork of stations, channels and Web sites, “Democracy Now!” is proudly independent, in that way appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who are skeptical of the news organizations that are owned by major media companies. Though it has long had a loyal audience, “Democracy Now!” has gained more attention recently for methodical coverage of two news events — the execution of the Georgia inmate Troy Davis and the occupation of Wall Street and other symbolic sites across the country. [Host Amy] Goodman broadcast live from Georgia for six hours on Sept. 21, the evening of the execution, and “Democracy Now!” reporters were fanned out in Manhattan from the first day of the protests against corporate greed. The media, Ms. Goodman said in an interview last week, can be “the greatest force for peace on earth” for “it is how we come to understand each other.” But she asserted that the views of a majority of Americans had been “silenced by the corporate media.” “Which is why we have to take it back,” she said.
Note: Up until now, there has been a virtual ban on mentioning the important work of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. Could this be a signal of some real change?
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