Media Rants: Censored in 2011, Part 1
Censored in 2011, Part 1
By Tony Palmeri
From the January 2012 edition of The SCENE
In 2010 suicide ended the lives of 468 American soldiers, more than the 462 killed in combat. Project Censored’s Censored 2012 (Seven Stories Press) identifies the soldier suicide epidemic as the top censored story of 2011.
Since 1976 Project Censored has shed light on news stories "underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or censored in the United States.” The late Walter Cronkite once said that “Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” Inspired by the Project, every year I dedicate two columns to what I see as the ten stories most censored. My focus is mostly on national and state issues. For readers wishing to keep track of stories marginalized and/or mangled by the mainstream media, I recommend: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (www.publicintegrity.org), Wisconsin Center For Investigative Journalism (www.wisconsinwatch.org), ProPublica (www.propublica.org), and World Public Opinion (www.worldpublicopinion.org).
And now the censored stories:#10: Has Bradley Manning Been Tortured? Army soldier Bradley Manning was arrested in May of 2010 on suspicion of having leaked classified material to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. From July of 2010 until April of 2011, Manning was held in solitary confinement at the Marine Corp Brig in Quantico, VA. The US State Department regularly condemns human rights abuses in other lands, yet would not allow Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, to meet privately with Manning.
Manning’s treatment compelled classic rocker Graham Nash to record “Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning).” He sings, “What I did was show some truth to the working man. What I did was blow the whistle and the games began . . . “ #9: The “Invented” Peoples’ Nonviolent Political Prisoner. Pandering and demagoguing on the campaign trail, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich recently claimed the Palestinians were an “invented” people. Anyone tempted to take the Newter seriously should become familiar with the case of Palestinian activist Abdallah Abu Rahmah. Amnesty International called him a “prisoner of conscience in jail solely for speaking out,” while the European Union said he’s a “human rights defender committed to nonviolent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier . . . The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal.”
Rahmah, whose activities have been endorsed by South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, is very much like a Palestinian Martin Luther King. Only some pointed and principled questioning of American State Department bureaucrats by Associated Press reporter Matt Lee keeps Rahmah’s case from total censorship in the US.
#8: Execution by Secret White House Committee. Since 9/11/01 mainstream press coverage of [and editorializing about] the conduct of the war on terror has generally hovered between lame and lap doggish. Even when the facts of government excesses are reported, media fail to summon up the moxie necessary to provoke public outrage. Writing about the White House’s belief that it can place citizens on a “kill list,” Salon’s Glenn Greenwald communicates in a tone missing from the press most consumed by the masses:
“So a panel operating out of the White House, that meets in total secrecy, with no known law or rules governing what it can do or how it operates, is empowered to place American citizens on a list to be killed by the CIA, which (by some process nobody knows) eventually makes its way to the President, who is the final Decider. It is difficult to describe the level of warped authoritarianism necessary to cause someone to lend their support to a twisted Star Chamber like that . . .”#7: Delaying Climate Action At Durban. For a brief time in the late 90s and early 2000s, it looked like world leaders were ready to take global warming seriously. Though the United States and other major polluters failed to sign on to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, scientific consensus about the problem and global activism sparked hope that something might be done. Yet in Durban, South Africa last month, world leaders agreed to do next to nothing for the next 10 years. Kassie Siegel of the Climate Law Institute says “It's like planning to buy a fire truck in a few years while your house, and all of your neighbors' houses, are burning down.”
Global warming denial rhetoric has accomplished its major goal: delaying decisive action in the interest of corporate polluters (many of whom fund climate denial “experts.”). Corporate media’s failure to frame this issue as one of literal planetary survival makes it that much more difficult for sensible policies to prevail. #6: ALEC Exposed?: In 2011 the Center For Media and Democracy did yeoman’s work in revealing the sheer extent to which the corporate shills at the American Legislative Exchange Council have successfully hijacked representative government. The question is, why isn’t the mainstream media doing this work? Why aren’t there daily headlines, TV and radio packages, or online special reports alerting us to the many ways in which elected officials sacrifice our sovereignty to appease their corporate masters? The travesty of ALEC influence will never truly be exposed until mainstream press make them a name as common as Sheen or Kardashian.
Next month: The top 5 censored stories of 2011.