Establishment Media Plagued by
by Michael Hasty
September 27 2004
In his eyewitness account of "The
Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," author William Shirer,
who lived in Nazi Germany throughout most of the 1930s, described
a phenomenon that will, in 2004, seem disturbingly familiar to
Americans who dissent from the policies of the Bush regime.
"I myself was to experience how easily
one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian
state," Shirer wrote. "Though unlike most Germans I
had daily access to foreign newspapers . . . and though I listened
regularly to the BBC and other foreign broadcasts, my job necessitated
the spending of many hours a day in combing the German press,
checking the German radio, conferring with Nazi officials and
going to party meetings. It was surprising and sometimes consternating
to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn
the facts and despite one's inherent distrust of what one learned
from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications
and distortions made a certain impression on one's mind and often
Shirer then recounted how, in conversations
with his German friends and strangers he would meet in cafes and
beer halls, "I would meet with the most outlandish assertions
from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious
they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the
radio or read in the newspapers.
"Sometimes one was tempted to say
as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of
incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed
the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try
to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom
the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their
cynical disregard for truth, said they were."
I will never forget the shock of recognition
I felt when I first read those words several years ago, nor my
first thought when I looked up from the page: "This happens
to me all the time." It wouldn't be surprising if many of
you reading this now have just had the same thought.
This would be particularly true for those
among you whom the American media, with increasing frequency,
describe as "conspiracy theorists:" those who suspect
that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have more to do with oil
than with any humanitarian or security motives; or those who question
the omissions in the 9/11 Commission's report, and think that
the 9/11 tragedy had more to do with the Bush/Saudi connection
and neoconservative imperial ambitions than with America being
"hated for its freedom"; or those who believe that American
media are the finely-tuned propaganda organs of the military-industrial
complex which, rather than failing their journalistic responsibilities,
are doing an excellent job of keeping the American public confused
and uninformed; or even the overwhelming majority of Americans
who subscribe to the event that made the term "conspiracy
theory" mainstream: that the CIA was directly involved in
the assassination of JFK.
Among that last group, it is exceedingly
rare for members of what used to be called "the establishment"
to go public with their private suspicions about what happened
in Dallas in November 1963. So it took a real act of courage for
David Talbot, editor and publisher of the quasi-respectable website
Salon.com, to stick his neck out recently by expressing his own
doubts about the legitimacy of the official report of the Warren
The most valuable contribution Talbot
makes in his lengthy article, "The mother of all coverups,"
published last week at Salon, is compiling from various sources
a list of public figures who also had suspicions about the JFK
assassination-a list that includes Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon,
Dan Rather, Gary Hart, Richard Russell (a member of the Warren
Commission himself), Nikita Krushchev, Charles DeGaulle, the House
Select Committee on Assassinations (which produced the only other
official report on JFK's death, concluding that it was "probably"
the result of a conspiracy), and Jackie and Bobby Kennedy.
In fact, it is reasonable to speculate
that Bobby Kennedy's indications to his closest associates that,
should he become president, he intended to reopen the investigation
into his brother's death, may explain his own suspicious murder.
Because it reinforces some questions I've
raised in previous articles for Online Journal ("Paranoid
shift" and "Secret admirers: the Bushes and the Washington
Post") it's also worthwhile to reproduce in full one of Talbot's
paragraphs, about another public figure who has been connected
to the string of events beginning with the Bay of Pigs operation
and ending in Dallas:
"Among those in Washington who were
particularly curious about the revelations concerning the CIA
and the Kennedy assassination was George H.W. Bush. As Kitty Kelley
observes in her new book about the Bush family, while serving
as CIA director in the Ford administration, Bush fired off a series
of memos in fall 1976, asking subordinates various questions about
Oswald, Ruby, Helms and other figures tied to the assassination.
'Years later, when [Bush] became president of the United States,
he would deny making any attempt to review the agency files on
the JFK assassination,' writes Kelley in The Family: The Real
Story of the Bush Dynasty. 'When he made this claim, he did not
realize that the agency would release 18 documents (under the
Freedom of Information Act) that showed he had indeed, as CIA
director, requested information-not once, but several times-on
a wide range of questions surrounding the Kennedy assassination.'"
The dark thread of secret agendas and
unspeakable acts that runs like a subterranean stream through
the last half-century of American history-and which has turned
into a river under this most secretive of presidential administrations-would
not have been possible without the outright cooperation of the
media. Despite the majority opinion that the Warren Report was
a "whitewash," Talbot correctly notes that "there
is one sanctuary where the Warren Report is still stubbornly upheld
and where its manifold critics can expect their own rough treatment:
in the towers of the media elite."
What is true of the media's treatment
of Warren Commission critics can be equally applied to anyone
who questions what is sometimes called the media's "metanarrative"-the
official media version of events. Usually this is accomplished
by what Catholic theologians call "the sin of omission."
So, for example, the startling and uncomfortable fact that a Zogby
poll found that half of New York City residents believe that the
US government either had foreknowledge of, or was complicit in,
the 9/11 attacks has been quickly stuffed into the media's "memory
hole." The revelations of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds
about the 9/11 drug connection, and of Senator Bob Graham about
the connections between the 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi government,
have received similar treatment.
But the great irony in the media's rejection
of "conspiracy theory" is that the metanarrative requires
mainstream news consumers to subscribe to a far less credible
By this theory, it is nothing more than
"coincidence" that the membership of a neoconservative
think tank, whose ambitions for a global American empire depend
on public opinion being swayed by "a new Pearl Harbor,"
stole their way into power and occupy key positions in the Bush
regime. It is merely a "coincidence" that unnamed persons
cashed in big time in trading United and American Airlines stocks
in the week before 9/11. It's entirely "coincidental"
that the FBI supervisor who blocked the investigation of Zacarias
Moussaoui's computer, containing information about the hijacker's
9/11 plans, got a $25,000 bonus.
In the media's metanarrative, the incontestable
facts that Persian Gulf oil has been central to American strategic
planning since World War II, and that Dick Cheney's secret energy
task force generated maps of Iraq's oil fields in early 2001,
have absolutely nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq. It's
just a serendipitous "coincidence."
And the statement by the late CIA director
William Colby that the CIA controls "everyone of major significance
in the major media" is just the incoherent rambling of a
guilt-burdened covert operative with too much blood on his hands.
If that statement offers a better explanation of a long, consistent
pattern of journalistic failings than the idea that reporters
are the victims of the government's "Jedi Mind Tricks"-well,
it's only a "coincidence."
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister,
once said, "Give me control of the German media, and I can
control the German people." It is our generation's misfortune
that Goebbels' ideological descendants are now in the White House.
It is our generation's responsibility to remove them.