“In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ~ George Orwell
“Jake” is a news reporter for a major broadcasting station in Japan. His program is broadcast to millions of homes. I recently interviewed, “Jake” (not his real name). We met at my favorite watering hole and “Jake” confessed his story to me. Here is what he said:
“In a surprising turn of events, I have lately found myself in the position of propagandist for the state and Big Pharma. It’s true. I am now reading and broadcasting the “news” (read: “propaganda”) to millions of people in Japan.
It disturbs me to have to read out some of the stuff that arrives on the newswire.
If I tell the truth on air, I will most likely get in a lot of trouble even if I am not fired. If I follow the “party line” and read out the propaganda as written, I will wind up hating myself and quitting. (This has happened already twice before.) These are my only choices. It’s just the way it is. I don’t want to get fired, but it will happen if I tell the truth. If I do like everyone else and trot out the lies, I will keep my job.
I just cannot parrot the lies. I think the news has lost all credibility, and station ratings go down because people know they are being fed propaganda. I think people are smart enough and mature enough that, if they are given the facts, they can make intelligent decisions for themselves.
Anyhow, here’s how I got into this curious position.
I was hired to produce and direct a prime-time show on a major broadcasting station. I have a staff of five, including me. I was told that I would also have a professional newsreader to come onto the show and do his stuff.
The day before the first show, at rehearsal, I was told that we didn’t have a newsreader after all. I was dumbfounded when I was told that I was expected to do the news. As producer/director (which translates as engineer, scriptwriter, co-host and coffee boy) I pretty much had my hands full each and every show. It is a live broadcast, and in live broadcasts, mistakes are verboten!
So I became the news anchor. Not by choice, but by – well, like I said, it just fell into my lap. Don’t get me wrong; the news needs to be done. So since there was no one else qualified to do it, I was stuck.
Now, here’s where the problem begins. I know the news is written for people around the education level of an eighth-grader, so lots of facts are omitted, but sometimes the propaganda is just so blatant that I can’t stand it. Also, from years of experience, and being a voracious reader, I have developed a healthy skepticism of what passes for news these days.
Here are two examples of news stories that I had to read out that just made me roll my eyes. But, before I do that, let me quote George Orwell once more:
“Omission is the greatest form of lie.”
Keep that in mind. The news stories are not written so that I must directly speak a falsehood. But they are filled with important omissions, which turn some of them into blatant propaganda.
Read this next bit of news. It is the kind of story that all news reporters read verbatim. Tell me what’s wrong with this picture.
G-8 statement slams N. Korea
Ministers of the Group of Eight countries condemned North Korea over its nuclear and missile development programs and warned that the group will take additional steps if Pyongyang fires missiles.
In a chair’s statement released after the gathering, the G-8 foreign ministers “condemned in the strongest possible terms” North Korea’s active nuclear weapons development and ballistic missile program.
The statement also criticized North Korea’s “current aggressive rhetoric,” saying, “This will only further serve to isolate the DPRK.”
Like I said, this is blatant propaganda. I just couldn’t bring myself to read this out as is. If I did, I would be a tool of the propagandists. This sort of news is a lie by omission and can only serve to stoke public opinion into supporting a war against North Korea that will get a bunch of innocent people killed! That’s right. This is a lie and this news is written to further a political agenda.
I admit that I did broadcast the story the way it was written but I added a critical fact to the very last paragraph that I think people need to know. I said:
“The statement also criticized North Korea’s “current aggressive rhetoric,” saying, “This will only serve to further isolate the DPRK.” While ignoring the fact that US B2 Stealth Bombers, capable of dropping nuclear weapons, have been making threatening flights over South Korea just seconds away from North Korea.”
Gee, isn’t this little fact relevant? Not if you are a propagandist for the state.
Saying this, though, is telling the truth. How can we expect the North Koreans not to be bellicose when US bombers are buzzing their territory? Hell, the USA carpet-bombed the North during the Korean War, killing an unknown thousands of innocent civilians! Of course they will scream to high heaven when US bombers are flying around, within seconds of flying time of their country. Please refer to: Ubuntu Peace Education Project website:
In the Korean War, the U.S. demonstrated its willingness to attack Korean civilians in order to injure unidentified military partisans. In doing so, it violated international humanitarian law and provisions of the Geneva Conventions. Among illegal actions engaged in by U.S. soldiers and the U.S. command during the Korean War 1950-53 war were the destruction of clearly marked hospitals and destruction of irrigation dams at Kusong and Toksan that provided water for 75% of North Korea’s food production.
The Air Force at the time reported that the “subsequent flash flood scooped clean 27 miles of valley below”, noted the flood waters wiped out supply routes as well as villages, and acknowledged that the loss of the rice crop will mean “starvation and slow death.”
Napalm attacks more widespread than those ultimately banned in Viet Nam 16 years later and carpet-bombing destroyed 75% of North Korea’s cities and villages…
The American planes had bombed the entire city (Pyongyang) multiple times in the Korean War and obliterated virtually everything in it. Indeed U.S. reports cite a general ordering a stop to the bombing of Pyongyang since “nothing worthy of a name” was left standing.
Why we are stoking the flames of war with the North Koreans – a country that can’t even feed its own people – is just beyond my comprehension. People need to wake up and see that they are being manipulated.
The next story that I had to read out also made me want to pull my hair out. It was about a 74-year-old man dying from bird flu in China. I can’t remember the exact text now, but it went like this:
China: In the last two weeks, 11 of the 43 people infected with bird flu in China have died, the World Health Organization said Friday.
The latest to succumb was a 74-year-old male patient from Shanghai.
Bird flu, again? You’re kidding me, right? And how does the death of a 74-year-old man in China make the news when average life expectancy in China is 72?
We go through this flu nonsense every four or five years. The last time this sort of sensationalism flared up, I complained about it and predicted this story coming up. Big deal! (Let me make another wild prediction: that there will be a war in the Middle East within the next year or so.)
Eleven people die in China and that makes the news? What a joke. How about a few points of reference here?
First off, there are over 1,340,000,000 people in China. Over 65,000 die in traffic accidents in China per year (an average of over 170 people every single day!) Many Chinese factories are dangerous and every year there are hundreds of thousands of fatalities and injuries! I have read of about 300 people dying every day in China in factory and industrial accidents!
And these people want us to worry about eleven people dying of the flu?
They call this “news”? I call it propaganda!
I simply refuse to be a propagandist for the state. I wish more so-called news reporters would wake up and realize that they are not helping – and are actually harming people – by scaring them like this.”
By this time, “Jake” was very drunk and about to pass out. I put him in a cab and took him to his home so he could sleep off his drunk and his frustrations.
I cynically chuckled and was reminded of my old saying about TV news:
“Remember the Golden Rule about TV: 90 per cent of everything you see on TV is bullsh*t; the other 10 per cent are commercials.”
Edited by Jeremy Irwin