None Dare Call It Censorship

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All serious
and intelligent journalists today know that the U.S. government
has massive media management brigades to carefully control what
Americans see in the media and, thus, what they are very likely
to believe about things of which they have no direct experience,
such as high-level politics, finance and foreign affairs. They also
know that the government is extremely effective in secretly censoring
the news by using devices such as “embedded reporting” in nations
like Afghanistan and Iraq which the U.S. government invades, occupies,
and governs.

Yesterday I
saw Morley Safer, one of the real old timers of CBS, once again
bemoaning the almost total loss of freedom in reporting on these
invasions and occupations. As he said, in Vietnam, U.S. and other
national reporters could hop a ride on U.S. or other vehicles to
cover anything they wanted to cover, which led directly to their
exposing the Big Lies of the U.S. military and politicians about
what was going on there. In Iraq and Afghanistan the reporters are
“in-bedded” (as I call it) with the military to prevent such free
lancing and the soaring dangers of guerilla attacks almost totally
prevents their even trying to circumvent the official censorship.
Of course, none dare call it censorship for fear of being fired
and ostracized to Alaska, so he did not use that forbidden word.

What they
do not normally realize or, at least, ever mention is that the very
concept of “The News” now totally blinds the media people and, thence,
the public about the Big Realities everywhere. We all know that
it is common for “specialists” to focus all their attention on the
trees and, thereby, fail to see the forest. We all know about “Learned
Ignorance,” the way in which even truthful, massive facts can totally
mislead about the important Big Realities. In a society of immense
division and specialization of function and labor, we are continually
bombarded by narrow-minded, even stereotypic thinking about almost
everything. Everyone focuses on the factoids of his narrow specialty
and almost no one puts it together, “draws the lines to connect
the dots,” as people routinely put it today. We know those things,
but the media are overwhelmingly focused at all levels and in every
way on narrow views of realities – today’s food section, today’s
casualty number in Iraq provided by the U.S. military, today’s promises
by Bush, today’s endless “human interest” kickers, and on and on.
The best and brightest journalists know all of this and much more
– but they fall victim to all of these problems every day in
every way. The media are set up that way. That’s how they function.
That’s what they do, over and over again, day after endless day
in an eternal return of Groundhog Day. The brilliant analysts of
the news media like David Altheide have shown us over many decades
how the media operate in these ways and the effects they have on
public thinking.

media strategists and government propagandists have worked together
intimately for decades to exploit these facts about the news media
to control as best they can the thinking of the American public
about the issues vital to the politicians who rule the U.S. By the
1980’s they brought all of this together under the direction of
people like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove in the Republican Party and
created a very powerful Media Propaganda Grand Strategy for controlling
public thinking. The Party has daily media-war strategy consultations
at the top, instant response teams, overnight polling and instant
response special ops teams, daily talking points fed to massive
brigades of media operatives worldwide to make the messages come
from a vast number of seemingly independent inputs, and on and on.
This Propaganda War Against the American People makes the Big Lie
campaigns of Hitler and his media specialists look totally amateurish.

An obvious
example is the Character Assassination Operation they launch against
anyone who becomes or might become an effective critic of their
vital policies in the media, thus undermining their Media War Strategy.
A war hero Congressman who comes out strongly against the Party
line on Iraq is instantly attacked from a great many “independent”
sources using variations on the day’s talking points. The instant
polls and quick response focus groups track the public response
to the Assassination News.

When the
polls for Bush and the Party plunged over their Assassination attacks
on the war hero, the Party talking points immediately reversed their
position on him, calling him a “fine American,” a strategic retreat
to prepare for a counterattack – recoil to regroup, regain strength
and attack in a new way.

Less obvious
are Party campaigns like “Emphasize the Positive In Iraq.” Anyone
who knows anything about history knows that the crucial facts about
any war tend to be negative facts on a narrow front. The U.S. and
French defeated the British at Yorktown over a relatively few days
when 99% of Americans were not paying any attention at all, but
were going on with their daily, happy lives. (They couldn’t get
news for days.) But those few days in that tiny part of America
had profound consequences for Americans and for world history in
the past few centuries. What happened in the U.S. prison at Abu
Ghraib was tiny by comparison with the millions of children going
happily to school in Iraq, but it has already had profound global
effects, increasing the already soaring loathing of the U.S. for
its hypocrisy, Big Lies, and mass killing. The children going to
school did not have any comparable effect. Any newsman senses that.
The U.S. media managers try to deceive them and the public by trying
to force them with attacks for “Bias” to cover the irrelevant Happy

The powerful
censorship effects of this Media War Against the American Public
are most obvious in all of the language used by the American media
to talk about Iraq, Afghanistan, and almost everything else. The
media use only the U.S. government issued words for everything from
the U.S. GHQ in Baghdad – “The Green Zone,” a very Happy Talk
Name – to “Liberation” instead of “Imperialist Invasion and
Occupation,” which is what almost all intelligent people around
the world see it as.

The same is
true about everything. “Inflation,” “Terrorism,” “Unemployment,”
“War Crimes,” “blindness,” and on and on across the global spectrum
is what the Party defines them as, not what they really are or what
we in the public want them to mean. The Big Media especially speak
only in Government Speak, not in truth speak. That is a fact of
overwhelming and obvious importance in understanding the Media,
but it is a fact that none dare ever mention. The Media in America
are controlled more secretly and in some ways more indirectly than
Pravda and Izvestia in the Soviet Disunion Empire (not the name
they used for themselves), but their mission, daily operations and
effects on government are basically the same. The U.S. media have
covered a wider spectrum of the public discourse before invasions
and annihilations and vast war crimes, but they always have fallen
in line and saluted once the firing starts. On the vast majority
of crucial issues in social life, from inflation to taxation and
government debt and medical care, the media “News” stories are little
more than parroting of discussions among government officials and
their “experts.” There is certainly more “opinion” in the op-ed
pieces and a somewhat wider spectrum of opinion, mainly from the
Republican wing to the Democratic wing of the Republicrat Party,
than in Soviet Media. But only a tiny percent of the people, the
more intelligent and educated, read even that narrow spectrum of
pre-approved Party opinion, all of it done in the officially approved
Government Speak words.

“Good Journalism”
as now taught in the best schools of journalism is now an enemy
of the truth in America and, as far as I know, around the world
where similar Parties rule and manage their Media in similar ways,
always making adjustments for the local situations. An “Elite” newspaper
like the New York Times is now almost entirely irrelevant
to understanding what is really going on in our world. The journalists
are not purposefully misleading or lying to people, though some
of the top publishers and editors know exactly what is going on
and they go along to get ahead in the Party or just to make more
money by fattening the corporate “bottom line.” The reporters are
generally telling truths about what is going on in Podunk and in
Iraq, just as Pravda (Russian for truth) did to maintain their credibility.
But those masses of little facts are irrelevant to understanding
the crucial facts and the Big Truths in our world. They are the
trees blinding the public to what is being done to them by The Party.
The Media can be mined for “pearls” of facts, as serious analysts
do, but they cannot be relied on in any serious way to tell you
the Truth.

The public
needs desperately to tune-out on these Party Media, just as the
best and brightest young people are now doing more and more. They
need to think critically and creatively, see how the massive dots
go together in reality. When George Bush or one of his armies of
media hacks makes his umteenth pronuncio by reading from a telepromter
Party Script that is not NEWS – that is a Big Lie. Anyone who
covers it as News is deceiving you, whether he intends to do so
or not.

People need
to swear off on Party Government Speak. Make up your own names.
The GHQ for the U.S. Imperial Invasion Force in Iraq is The Forbidden
City, a huge inner city where Iraqis are not allowed to go without
being totally vetted by the U.S. Government of Iraq. The Forbidden
City was the term used by the Chinese for the Imperial Palace in
Peking. The U.S. Forbidden City is just like that.

Free men and
women think freely. They do not submit to Party Speak, a crucial
fact of life George Orwell made all intelligent people aware of
fifty years ago. Only those who think freely can be free. Those
who think as the Party dictates through its Media are Party slaves,
not free people.

29, 2005

D. Douglas [send him mail]
is a retired professor of sociology from the University of California
at San Diego. He has published widely on all major aspects of human
beings, most notably The
Myth of the Welfare State

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