Review by Martin Tierney
Guardians of Power
David Edwards and David Cromwell
Pluto Press £14.99
This study by Media Lens, an organisation founded by Edwards and Cromwell ‘dedicated to challenging the distorted vision of the corporate media’- with a foreword by John Pilger – is a highly controversial work. In their challenge to predominantly western based news they trawl reports from broadcast and written sources in an effort to readjust what they see as an outrageous imbalance.
Their argument lies in comparing the interpretation of military and political activity of countries deemed enemies of western interest with the ‘tendency to overlook horrors committed by the West and its Allies’. They see this as ‘The Golden Rule of Media reporting.’
It stands up to scrutiny. For example, in a search of media databases from the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek and Time, ‘genocide’ was used 220 times between 1998 and 1999 to describe Serbia’s actions in Kosovo when the death toll was approximately 3000. In stark contrast between 1990 and 1999 the term was used only 33 times to describe mineral rich, enthusiastic purchaser of western arms, Indonesia’s Suharto led elimination of 200,000 East Timorese – A third of this country’s population.
Despite the polemic of this intelligent and thorough work the authors are at pains to point out they do not see conscious conspiracy but a ‘filter system maintained by free market forces.’ After all it wouldn’t be appropriate to show the limbs of third world children during Thanksgiving as it would only remind consumers who was really being stuffed.