A tribute to professional journalists and their tricks
Press professionals, no matter how absurd their opinions might be, are as entitled to have opinions as anyone else. In theory everybody has a right to freely express opinions in an absolutely free country. And we should all know by now that an opinion is just an opinion; we take it or leave it for whatever it's worth. Yet many of us think professional opinions from politically-correct press professionals are true r and more reliable than the unsolicited opinions of independent (unemployed) journalists. In fact, credulous people tend to believe that the opinions of professional journalists who work for major daily newspapers are the true st of all opinions simply because their authors went to journalism school, got themselves hired and are therefore intimate with whatever passes for news in their newspapers - never mind that prejudicial propaganda is passed off as news and that much of the news constitutes free advertising for the power elite. Of course most of us would not mind being members of that exclusive club – circulation around the elite pool is not as advertised - and when we believe membership is unfairly denied, resentment may lead to vitriolic criticism.
As Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance co-author Aberjhani observed: "The established press' penchant for self-censorship and its failure to pursue and report on the 'truth' as vigorously as it could is perhaps due in large part to the fact that its members believe more in communal camaraderie with and loyalty to their colleagues than in principles or ethics of journalism. Looking the other way or not looking at all is a passive form of patriotism that we all know doesn't actually live up to high ideals, but it allows most journalists to feel both better and safer in regard to themselves."
Press professionals will say almost anything no matter how absurd to please their masters and bring home the bacon. The liberal press is dead: Long live the neo-liberal pseudo-conservative noise machine! Most absurd of all are those press professionals who still fancy themselves as liberals, not realizing that their subornation has rendered them wolves in sheep clothing. They think they are bending over backwards to suit the public interest when in fact they are bending over forwards to please the power elite. With the exception of a token dissident or two placed on the staff and an exposé here and there to create the mere appearance of balanced propriety, press professionals are highly unlikely to bite the invisible right hand that feeds them.
The high opinion that press professionals have of themselves in the United States, where the legendary free or liberal press reportedly runs rampant in its search for and representation of the truth about everything, would be amusing if their subservient arrogance did not have such tragic results, as we have undeniably seen in Iraq since the press sold out the well-intended but unwitting public, whose authoritarian of F-type faction, even when confronted with the facts, is in denial or deliberately mendacious.
A quotidian and enlightening instance of the perverse disposition of the United States press in tragic context appeared on November, 28, 2004, in the Oppenheimer Report of the Miami Herald, a so-called liberal paper controlled by the right-wing Cuban-American community deeply indebted to the currently right-wing-authoritarian federal government.
Andres Oppenheimer reported that something amazing had occurred at the Committee to Protect Journalists' annual fundraiser for embattled journalists in Latin America. He encountered the astonishing opinion that the press in the United States is not as free as its patriot members imagine it to be: 'Press-freedom groups focus on new problem country' read the title of his "report." Since the United States is the "new problem country," we suspect that our so-called independent journalists may not be as independent as liberal-minded people would like them to be - maybe they are in fact, perhaps unwittingly, press putas.
The Committee fairly and impartially noted that journalists in "repressive" countries had reported more of the truth about the monstrous behavior of the Bush administrations than had the U.S. press. Although the oppressed Latino journalists had given their sincere, lowly paid opinions about that behavior, their reports and opinions were sometimes misinformed and mistaken; nonetheless, their accounts had demonstrated a greater moral worth and ethical integrity than those written by well paid press professionals for the U.S. jingo press.
Mr. Oppenheimer reported that John Carroll, editor of the Los Angeles Times, was given the "biggest applause" by the "crowd of 850 top U.S. editors from the biggest media organization, gathered at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel last week for the black-tie dinner to honor the most courageous journalists." He did not report the cost of the prestigious affair, or how much money if any was courageously pledged by the editors themselves to support the courageous Latino journalists who are risking life and limb to dig up the facts so they can be aired lest the unreported news gets even worse for want of public glare.
Since charity should begin at home: We think the 850 top U.S. editors should take a twenty-percent pay cut, the savings to be dedicated to hiring truly independent journalists for their very own newspapers, and their publishers should donate at least half their fortunes to the same cause.
Mr. Carroll complained about the threats facing U.S. journalists, and said, "It is tribal in the sense that we listen, like primitive people around a campfire, to (foreign journalists') stories that give us inspiration." Big corporations are smothering the voices of our own journalists, claimed Mr. Carroll. We have no indication from Mr. Oppenheimer that Mr. Carroll resigned his position in protest or used his power over the editorial pages to personally attack his employers with a weekly column castigating their perversion of press integrity – apparently press ethics are broad enough to let press freedoms slide, especially with all that money left on the dresser.
Tony Ridder, chairman of Knight Ridder, then owner of the Miami Herald, condemned judicial infringement on press freedoms, wrote Mr. Oppenheimer. We recall that Knight Ridder cut back on the quality of the reportorial product at the Herald for the sake of profit. That reduction in quality, together with the political repression of its journalists by the Cuban Americans who run the paper and Miami as well thanks to federal policies, caused the voluntary exile of several of its best journalists – they flew north to more liberal precincts.
Mr. Oppenheimer noted the perversion of the press by the Bush administration incidental to the second Bush war on Iraq and its so-called world war on terror. As is usual for the free press, whose jaded operators cotton to public opinion to sell their rags, the revelation of the truth was much too late: The parcels of lies hawked by the propaganda organs had already done irrevocable damage. The jingo press, down to the last publisher and editor, wildly supported the Bush rush to war and the attendant smothering of civil rights until the truth could no longer be voluntarily repressed – in part because courageous foreign publishers, even in countries that do not enjoy America's famed press freedoms, willingly published the truth about what was going on, and some of it leaked into the United States. Of course patriotic leaders and authoritarian-type citizens who enjoyed the shocking and awesome neoconservative campaign were unwilling or unable to hearken to America's own independent journalists; that is, the unemployed journalists who did not suit the current "market needs" of the Establishment’s jingo media.
Mr. Oppenheimer, under the sub-rubric, 'Reform Starts at Home', dared to confess that, "It's no wonder that, in my travels through Latin America, I often meet well-educated people who are convinced there is government censorship in the United States. Much of their belief stems from the credulous U.S. coverage of last year's U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the U.S. media's continuing failure to show the images of the Iraqi war casualties that are being seen on television worldwide. Granted, it is absurd to compare the United States with Venezuela, where last week the government-controlled Congress adopted a law demanding 'socially responsible' - meaning pro-government - programming. Or Cuba, where there are no opposition media...."
Well, what took him so long? One would think that someone in his professional position should know that red, white, and blue Americans had been sold out again by the Machiavellians. Under-educated black folk in blighted neighborhoods knew very well what President Bush was up to, and they said so in no uncertain terms, but their unqualified reports did not make the news. In any event, truly independent journalists believe “well-educated” people like Mr. Oppenheimer should have known about the censorship and propagandizing going on right under his nose all along; in fact he banks on it, and he continues to use his bully pulpit at the purportedly liberal paper to castigate anything left of right down south.
Now that the crap has hit the fan, now that the media must co-opt the opposition and even be the opposition until the next tragedy occurs because of its negligent reporting, analysis, opinionating, and advertising of government propaganda under the guise of news, the Oppenheimer Report (as if it were news instead of opinionated propaganda) is a bit more palatable to independent journalists, who are willing applaud the truth despite the tardiness of its appearance in the established press. Press-credentialed putas remind them of the momentum-playing stockbrokers and economic analysts who advise investors to buy when the trend is up, and to sell when the trend is down; they earn six-figures and more for their sagacity, and the disasters after the tops and bottoms are soon forgiven because the money was already made by the winners anyway, and nobody likes losers very much.
Of course the U.S. jingo press did not dig up the facts about the press-parcels of lies fed to it by the administration; no, they embedded themselves in pre-emptive attacks on suspected enemies, paying little heed to the collateral damage. Why should press professionals bother to dig up dirt and rake muck when a telephone call to the authorities suffices to get the news Americans want to hear? The publishers did not listen to the traitorous independent voices and publish their seditious libel pleading for peace when it was time to profit on massive violence again. But let us forgive them now that they are taking the liars to task and even firing a few of their own kind for being on the government payroll. Yet despite our forbearance and forgiveness, or because of it, the U.S. press is still stuffed with self-righteous absurdities; in general, the latent black or white, holier-than-thou, intolerance-for-ambiguity voice of the highly paid press professionals behind it.
What is absurd? Contrary to Mr. Oppenheimer's stated belief, it is not absurd to compare journalism in the United States with journalism in Venezuela and Cuba. The differences are in shades and not in either/or, black/white, evil/good terms. What is really absurd is the fact that censorship is practiced freely in the United States, not at gunpoint. The U.S. style of censorship is voluntary self-censorship for the sake of a paycheck; the selling out of people and conscience; in fine, democratic corruption. We hear much about press professionals moonlighting or turning a few tricks with the government on the side, but little is said about the press putas whose wares are regularly peddled by the press pimps whom they work for and sleep with.
The government of the United States identifies with the power of megabucks and does not need to imprison, torture and murder dissident journalists at home. Most journalists in this great nation of ours would be glad if not obliged to cower for money, to crawl on their literary knees for the Almighty Dollar, even though their cowering eventually weakens their country and will eventually bring the apocalypse to their readers in the form of realistic disasters they are delighted to cover. In any event the business of big government is big business, the first and foremost client of big government. The biggest prostitute of all, having taken up housing in Washington, and its major daily propagandist, can well afford to ignore truly independent journalists; the chances of them getting heard by many people are slim short of some shocking action such as a terrorist attack: 'Deranged Independent Journalist fires mortar at Press Corps! His absurd manifesto found on the Internet.'
It is no wonder that U.S. journalist clubs gather together to pay tribute to courageous journalists in other countries and to present token resistance to authoritarian government and corporate repression in their own country. Most independent journalists would be quite happy to censor themselves and to submit to editorial censoring just to get a writing job and keep it. Yes, as absurd as it might seem, some writers are so desperate to see themselves in legitimate hardcopy that they become sluts and submit all sorts of perverse acts to editors for nothing. The same might be said of many dissident intellectuals. The fact that fewer and fewer authorities recognize the fact that almost everyone has a price and should have a piece of the action is absurd and shall eventually work the ruin of authority. Godfathers used to recruit the troublemakers in the neighborhood for their own good, but today’s godfathers happen to be morons, thanks to too much incest with familiars.
El Comandante would do well to learn from the United States, that the methodical physical repression of journalists is obsolete and counter-productive. Hire the whores, flatter the sluts, shake your head and give a smile and several hours of fatherly advice to the rest. Let them say what they want while you do what you will. Ahorgar su pena embriagandose – to drown one’s sorrows – in the bottle, so to speak. But abstract thinking is a most powerful anesthetic, and incessant talking is intoxicating: Let them drown their sorrows with words. History teaches us that torture is ineffective. Let people release steam lest the boiler explode. If the dictator is afraid that someone might take action on words, he should be mindful that prison is a great place to write about liberty and give a writer with a conscientious hangover painful cause to maliciously incite murderous rebellion.
What an absurd world this is. Mr. Oppenheimer should lay down the absurd, double-edged axe he is grinding to decapitate Hugo Chavez, and ask: What else is absurd and obscene besides Hugo’s oily government press organ? It is absurd that there is no real opposition of the U.S. press to the U.S. press conglomerates who have forsaken the principles of a free press and have for sake of idolized competition, the god of the "free markets," driven out competitors, so that there is only one major daily newspaper in many cities, owned by steam-bath daisy-chains whose love of large quantities of money surpasses by far the love of quality, not to mention the truth about any crucial subject, such as their domination of the monolithic media and the need for liberal government intervention to break up their oligopoly and to fund real competition.
Absurd, did he say? It is hypocritical if not absurd to hear a gang of 850 Top U.S. Editors praise and talk about funding courageous persecuted journalists while the editors, sporting black phallic symbols around their necks, cringe obsequiously around their luxurious tribal campfire. It is rather absurd that the press places "market need” and profitable politics before the truth. In 2004, Tom Fiedler, Executive Editor of the Miami Herald, stated to this independent journalist that good thinking and writing is secondary to meeting the "market needs" of its readers, particularly ethnic and racial factors. We can see from his newspaper among other chain papers that the local needs serve and are subservient to the national and international needs of the dark forces of corporate board tribalism. Above all, the gang of 850 top U.S. editors serves the "market need" of the commercial oligarchy that controls the "free market” equated with "democracy" – the executive branch of the political government is now the political arm of big corporations.
Mr. Oppenheimer's highly educated remark about the opinion of "highly educated" people in Latin America - just imagine that - was condescending, denigrating, supercilious, and absurd. How absurd it is that highly educated people think they have some sort of monopoly on the truth. And it is exceedingly absurd that credentialed credulity, stupidity cultivated by degrees rising to the highest powers and hand down by the power elite to dumb-down the populace, dominates our presumably meritorious, republican democracy. It is even more absurd that a democratic people does not stand up to such nonsense; instead, they condone it, vote for it, buy it hook line and sinker - people are ultimately responsible for the papers they buy as well as the leaders they elect.
What else is absurd? Oh, yes, once upon a time it was said that the press should be free because the truth will eventually crowd out the lies. It is absurd that the reverse is true in the United States: The irrational right-wing authoritarians have managed to crowd out reason and truth and replace it with a noise machine.
Equally absurd is the tendency of U.S. press professionals to disparage the effort of foreign governments to censor propaganda designed to overthrow their state, when the United States loves to sponsor subversive propaganda in the holy name of regime change for the sake of its proprietary notions of democracy and free markets to take over and dominate. Such propaganda has often been accompanied by mass terrorism, provoked and sometimes executed by the United States.
Mr. Oppenheimer's statement about Venezuela's "government-controlled" Congress, and his claim that Venezuela's "socially responsible" new press law passed by its Congress is "pro-government programming", is deliberately misleading if not absurd. The Chavez party has a majority in the Venezuela's Congress. The Bush party has a majority in the U.S. Congress. Many people believe both congresses are whore houses: Perhaps the members of both congresses should get together, compare notes, engage in dialogue, and sell their sisters if not their mothers to each other. Maybe the U.S. Congress should stop funding the "non-partisan" National Endowment of Democracy, the CIA surrogate used to fund "democratic" parties interested in the overthrow of regimes or particular politicians it does not like, including Hugo Chavez.
Of course U.S. press professionals insist that any democratic action taken not to their master's liking is undemocratic. No matter that the representatives of the Venezuelan assembly were elected. Never mind that President Chavez was elected twice over - once by referendum. Forget that the elections were declared valid by President Carter’s independent observers. Surely they must have been rigged, because the only way of doing things correctly is the American way, the way of rigging virtually perfected in Florida, where more than 40,000 poor blacks were deliberately disenfranchised, the most of them Democrats, with the help of a Texas data-manipulation contractor.
It is the American Way to conduct forty years of terrorism, including economic sanctions, against Cuba, and still expect Fidel Castro to be quite nice to dissenters, who are encouraged by U.S. propaganda and then left high and dry unless they can set a wet foot on U.S. soil. All this while the U.S. is violating the civil and human rights of hundreds of political detainees at Guantanamo, Cuba, the largest number of political detainees held without due process in the Western Hemisphere. U.S. District Court Judge Joyce Hens Green asked Brian Boyle, a Justice Department lawyer at the time, if a "little old lady in Switzerland" who unwittingly gave money to the wrong charity could wind up in Guantanamo. Yes, replied the U.S. attorney, for the military can detain anyone it thinks is supporting terrorism, and the Federal courts should not get in the way. The U.S. Justice Department underhandedly relies on the "decisionism" notion of the jurisprudentia developed by one of the "neoconservative" or New Conservative fathers in Germany: Carl Schmitt, the jurist who provided the absurd extra-legal-legal justification for Hitler's Blood Purge and seizure of power.
As for Cuba proper, the Cuban government was holding 300 political detainees in its prisons when Mr. Oppenheimer wrote about the New York convention of the gang of 850 top U.S. editors. Amnesty International defined eighty of those prisoners as peaceful "prisoners of conscience." Shortly thereafter, we received the good news that 3 of 75 Cuban dissenters, imprisoned on charges of collaborating with the U.S. to overthrow the Castro regime, had been released for health reasons, and the release of more was looked forward to. Of course the Miami Herald press professionals focused most of its coverage of this event on a released journalist by the name of Paul Rivero, because "Rivero has long been one of the most respected dissidents... because he is one of the few with professional journalism experience...." Mr. Castro would reportedly let Mr. Rivero stay in Cuba if he did not speak out against the government. Mr. Rivero said he might stay in Cuba to see if he "can do regular journalism, like I was doing. If I can do my work, I have no reason to leave." Mr. Rivero's regular job, before forming his own agency, was Moscow correspondent for the communist state-owned paper Prensa Latina. No doubt he would have been much happier in the United States, perhaps writing anti-Castro propaganda for El Nuevo Herald, his salary augmented by a government stipend.
If one is interesting in getting and keeping his job as a journalist in the U.S., he must be willing to sell some part of his conscience, if he has one, that he might come down on the "right" side with his reporting, analyses, and opinions. Of course, if that practice is engaged in elsewhere by certain parties unloved by his bosses, it must be denounced. The U.S. funded support of the overthrow of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Castro's friend, failed even though private media told only one side of the story - one broadcaster ran cooking shows instead of covering the criminal coup against the elected leader. Chavez got the new media law passed in Congress, where he has a margin on his side. The law is purportedly designed to curb displays of violence and sexually explicit material. For instance, said one opponent, the 9/11 tragedy could not be shown on television - it would have to be described in print. No doubt the terrorists, who depend on the widespread broadcasting of the violent acts, are opposed to all such laws! All laws are "political" and depend on governments for enforcement. The new media law, like any other law anywhere, may be selectively applied pursuant to the abuse of the principles of "prosecutorial discretion." All of the law's opponents rightly believe that it may be used against them for political reasons. Still, the law does have certain features that American's might like if the bill had not been written by accursed "socialists."
In any case, Mr. Oppenheimer is paid well to write that the United States must "lead in fighting these threats...." Thus do good press professionals perpetrate the fight against evil throughout the world. Incidentally, the first story of Knight Ridder's violent series on the second Bush war on Iraq, in the name of the shocking and awful terrorist almighty and his right-wing democracy on earth, appeared on the front page of the Miami Herald on the same Sunday of Oppenheimer’s so-called report. To bring the war for truth and justice and a free press to Venezuela, we might now imagine one of its towns, instead of Fallujah in Iraq, under attack by the courageous forces of the U.S. military-industrial-energy complex. Before his men left the forward operating base near Fallujah [why not Caracas?] that morning, reads the entertaining news feature, the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Pete Newell, gathered them in a circle:
"This is as pure a fight of good versus evil as we will probably face in our lifetime," he said.
"You know we're going to destroy this town," said Corporal Travis Barretto, 22.
"I hope so," replied a soldier sitting next to him.
"Kill those bastards! Kill the m...........s!" someone screamed in the darkness.
Bio: David Arthur Walters is an independent journalist currently anchored in Miami Beach.