Media Rants: Censored in 2010, Part 2
By Tony Palmeri
Last month I identified half of the top ten censored stories of 2010. They were: (10) BobFest Shutout Again, (9) Forever Censoring Howard Zinn and Chalmers Johnson, (8) The 2010 South African World Cup. Invictus in Reverse, (7) Obamacare Unconstitutional!!! (6) What did Bernie Sanders Say? Each story was underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or censored by corporate media in 2010.
And now the top 5.
No. 5: Beck and Byron. Jared Lee Loughner’s January Tuscon massacre sparked a wave of corporate media blathering about the role of heated political rhetoric in creating a climate conducive to pushing lunatics over the edge.
Unfortunately the blather featured too little substance delivered much too late. Months earlier, in July of 2010, deranged felon Byron Williams set out to assassinate San Francisco members of the ACLU and the obscure Tides Foundation. A traffic stop leading to a shootout between Williams and the Oakland police foiled the plot.
The story disappeared from the corporate media until October, when Williams in a jail cell interview with John Hamilton of Media Matters for America described how his actions were influenced by Fox News’ self-described “progressive hunter” Glenn Beck. Describing Beck’s conspiratorial TV rants (Beck had condemned the Tides Foundation 29 times before Williams’ action), Williams said that “I look at it more like a schoolteacher on TV, you know? . . . And it was the things that he did, the things he exposed, that blew my mind.”
Why did it take the efforts of relatively small, left leaning media watchdog organizations like Media Matters and Democracy Now! to do the work necessary to link Byron to Beck? Beck’s fantasizing about the death of his political opponents is something that requires repeated exposure and denunciation from more than just the political left. Thankfully, the New York Times finally got around to reporting on how Beck’s mindless assaults on activist professor Frances Fox Piven have put her life at risk. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/22/business/media/22beck.html?_r=2)
No. 4: FBI Thwarts Own Investigation. Sometimes it seems as if salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald is literally the only journalist asking serious questions about the conduct of the so-called War on Terror. In November the FBI released an affidavit alleging that 19 year old Mohamed Osman Mohamud planned to detonate a bomb at a Christmas event in Portland.
As noted by Greenwald, mainstream media reporting on the event relied exclusively and uncritically on the FBI affidavit. Greenwald grants that it might turn out that the FBI lawfully foiled a nefarious act, “But it may also just as easily be the case that the FBI, as they’ve done many times in the past, found some very young, impressionable, disaffected, hapless, aimless, inept loner; created a plot it then persuaded/manipulated/entrapped him to join, essentially turning him into a Terrorist; and then patted itself on the back once it arrested him for having thwarted a 'Terrorist plot’ which, from start to finish, was entirely the FBI's own concoction. Having stopped a plot which it itself manufactured, the FBI then publicly touts, and an uncritical media amplifies, its ‘success’ to the world, thus proving both that domestic Terrorism from Muslims is a serious threat and the Government's vast surveillance powers, current and future new ones, are necessary.”
No. 3: War Disappears from 2010 Midterms. In a November Gallup Poll 68% of Americans said they were very (31%) or somewhat (37%) worried that the costs of war will make it difficult for the U.S. to address its domestic problems. That’s one reason it was shocking that Afghanistan and Iraq virtually disappeared as issues in the 2010 midterm elections, with Tea Party candidates like Ron Johnson allowed to pacify the press with Republican Party talking points. Shameful.
No. 2: Press Backs Away From Assange. Thanks to WikiLeaks, 2010 will go down as the year the first visible dent appeared in the armor of the military industrial complex. Yet as reported by McClatchy’s Nancy Yousseff, American journalists remain hesitant to defend WikiLeaks or its founder Julian Assange even though the survival of the First Amendment is literally at stake. Watching the mainstream American journalistic establishment bullied and intimidated by the Obama Administration on this matter is nothing short of sickening. To fight back, be sure to follow WikiLeaks on Twitter (http://twitter.com/wikileaks).
No. 1: Veterans For Peace Protest Outside White House. The mainstream press’ message to the oh so slightly dented military industrial complex seems to be, “don’t worry, we’ve got your back.” Case in point: More than 130 people, mostly war veterans, protested outside the White House in mid December. The event was completely censored in the corporate press. Former New York Times Pulitzer prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, a participant in the protest and author of the recently released Death of the Liberal Class, told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman that the shutout was par for the course:
I think we’ve seen a kind of a withering of corporate media, including my own paper, the New York Times. As advertising rates decline and as circulation drops, they become even more craven in their service of the power elite and reportage that in no way offends the structures of power. So, you know, events like that one are nonentities for mainstream news organizations.