As we have noted before, a systemic feature of state-corporate media is propaganda by omission. Missing out salient facts, informed commentary and context about the machinations of government and big business means that the public is less able to:
- Understand the world around us;
- Challenge state-corporate power; and
- Bring about the fundamental changes in society that have never been more necessary.
Current examples are legion, as we will see in the selection that follows.
1. Journalists Pushing For Less Transparency
Last week, 21-year-old US airman Jack Texeira was arrested following, as BBC News put it:
‘[a] leak of highly classified military documents about the Ukraine war and other national security issues.’
Former UK diplomat Craig Murray pointed to a disturbing aspect of the case, namely, that Texeira was:
‘tracked down by UK secret service front Bellingcat in conjunction with the New York Times and in parallel with the Washington Post, not to help him escape or help him publish or tell people his motives, but to help the state arrest him.’
Bellingcat has been examined by, among others, Kit Klarenberg of the Grayzone who reported that the supposedly ‘independent, open-source investigations’ website has ‘accepted enormous sums from Western intelligence contractors’.
As for the New York Times and Washington Post, US journalist Glenn Greenwald noted:
‘It is indescribably shocking and sickening that the nation’s two largest media outlets were the ones who did the FBI’s work and hunted for the leaker and outed him.’
Almost as bad, he said, was that rather than press the government during a Pentagon press conference about the content of the leaked documents, journalists actually pushed for greater clampdowns on security leaks.
‘I am not at all surprised by Bellingcat, which is plainly a spook organisation. I hope this enables more people to see through them. But the behaviour of the New York Times and Washington Post is truly shocking. They now see their mission as to serve the security state, not public knowledge.’
He also observed that, over the past week or so, ‘nothing has been published [from the leaked material] that does not serve US propaganda narratives.’
Very little, if anything, has been reliably presented about Texeira’s motives in releasing these state documents. Murray warned readers to be sceptical of attempts to portray him as simply a ‘rampant Trump supporter’ or ‘inadequate jock’ trying ‘to boast to fellow gaming nerds.’
‘We should remain suspicious of attempts to characterise him: I am acutely aware of media portrayals of Julian Assange which are entirely untrue.’
2. Cancelling Julian Assange
April 11 marked four years since Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks, was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and imprisoned in the high security Belmarsh prison. He and his lawyers have been fighting the prolonged threat of extradition to the US, where he would likely spend the rest of his life in a ‘Supermax’ prison. His ‘crime’ has been to expose the nefarious activities, including serious war crimes, of the US and its allies.
As Alex Nunns, author and former speechwriter for Jeremy Corbyn, noted:
‘Probably the world’s most significant and famous journalist has been in prison for four years today for his work – not in Egypt or China or Russia, but in Britain, a country that lectures others on free speech. His imprisonment is entirely political. He should be free.’
Media Lens has documented the grotesque smears and mischaracterisations of Assange over many years, not least by the Guardian, as well as the dearth of coverage of his plight and what that means for real journalism, freedom of speech and democracy.
- The CIA planned to kidnap and assassinate Assange in London.
- The US prosecution is based on fabricated testimony from a repeat offender, currently serving a prison sentence for sexual abuse crimes in Iceland, and described as a ‘sociopath’ by court-ordered psychologists.
- The US spied on Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy.
Earlier this month, Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire and Director of Operations Rebecca Vincent were barred access to visit Assange in Belmarsh prison, despite receiving confirmation that a visit would be permitted.
In a sane world, with responsible national media outlets, the above facts would be headline news. Both BBC and ITV News at Ten would devote significant coverage to Assange’s plight and there would be extensive follow-up reporting and commentary on the parlous consequences for journalism and society. Instead, there is virtual silence.
But there is space to document the plight of Russian journalists who contradict the Kremlin’s narratives. What about journalists in this country who might try to contradict the narratives of the White House and Downing Street? Have they, in fact, already been ‘purged’ from so-called ‘mainstream’ media outlets: the word used by John Pilger to describe his treatment by the Guardian? Where is the outrage about the dumping of dissenting voices in the ‘free’ western media?
BBC News would rather direct attention to: ‘The talk-show hosts telling Russians what to believe.’ Of course, you would never see a major feature by the famously ‘impartial’ BBC News on: ‘The talk-show hosts telling Britons what to believe’ on the war in Ukraine, or anything else for that matter.
Australian writer Caitlin Johnstone describes Assange as ‘the greatest journalist of all time’. She wrote recently:
‘Assange began his journalism career by revolutionizing source protection for the digital age, then proceeded to break some of the biggest stories of the century. There’s no one who can hold a candle to him, living or dead.
‘And now he’s in a maximum security prison, solely and exclusively because he was better at doing the best kind of journalism than anyone else in the world. That is the kind of civilization you live in. The kind that imprisons the best journalist of all time for doing journalism.’
3. Nord Stream: ‘It May Be In No One’s Interest To Reveal More’
We have previously written about the blanket of silence over attempts to get to the truth of the September 2022 bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines that supplied Russian gas to Germany. US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s report pointing to the US as the most likely perpetrator of this terrorist act have been blanked, or summarily dismissed, by state-corporate media.
Following Seymour’s report, US officials released an assessment based on ‘new intelligence’, faithfully relayed by the media, that a ‘pro-Ukrainian group’ carried out the pipeline attack. Der Spiegel then carried a news report, echoed in coverage around the world, claiming that divers used a German chartered yacht to sabotage the pipelines. There was a modicum of scepticism; journalists are not totally inept or subservient to state narratives.
But media coverage still steered clear of examining the most likely explanation of US involvement; not least given that President Joe Biden had boasted in February 2022 that the US would ‘bring an end to it [Nord Stream]’ if Russia invaded Ukraine. As Reuters reported:
‘”If Russia invades, that means tanks or troops crossing the … border of Ukraine again, then there will be … no longer a Nord Stream 2. We, we will bring an end to it,’ Biden said. Asked how, given the project is in German control, Biden said: “I promise you, we’ll be able to do it.”’
Glenn Greenwald observed recently:
‘The NYT — after feeding the public several bullshit versions about who blew up Nord Stream (an environmentally devastating act of industrial terrorism) — now announces: “it may be in no one’s interest to reveal more.”
‘Maybe there’s a clue in the article’s last 2 paragraphs?’
Here are those last two paragraphs in question:
‘And naming a Western nation or operatives could trigger deep mistrust when the West is struggling to maintain a united front [over the war in Ukraine].
‘“Is there any interest from the authorities to come out and say who did this? There are strategic reasons for not revealing who did it,” said Jens Wenzel Kristoffersen, a Danish naval commander and military expert at the University of Copenhagen. “As long as they don’t come out with anything substantial, then we are left in the dark on all this — as it should be.”’
The NYT even emphasised the point in its tweet highlighting their article:
‘Intelligence leaks surrounding who blew up most of the Russian-backed Nord Stream pipelines last September have provided more questions than answers. It may be in no one’s interest to reveal more.’
So, if you still harbour the illusion that ‘mainstream’ journalism can be relied upon to report the truth to the public, rather than covering it up, you may have to reconsider what even the ‘best’ news media, including the NYT, the BBC and the Guardian, do routinely.
4. Propaganda Operations That Remain Hidden
One of the central tenets of western political ideology is that ‘we’ have free access to information, and that only ‘the other side’ does propaganda, a dirty word that we are not supposed to discuss; except, when it does get mentioned in polite company, it is termed ‘counter-disinformation’. In other words, it is information that is intended to ‘counter’ the ‘misleading’ narratives spun by ‘official enemies’.
Last month, the UK government announced ‘emergency funding’ of £4.1 million ‘to fight Russian disinformation’. The press release stated that this large sum would help the BBC World Service continue to bring:
‘independent, impartial and accurate news to people in Ukraine and Russia in the face of increased propaganda from the Russian state.’
Of course, we are expected to swallow the myth that we in the West already enjoy ‘independent, impartial and accurate news’ from the BBC.
‘Britain’s media routinely takes information from private groups countering Russian and other disinformation without saying these organisations are funded by the UK government and directed by people linked to the UK or US foreign policy establishment.’
The same authors reported earlier this month that the UK Foreign Office has given over £25 million since January 2018 to organisations targeting ‘disinformation’. Four of these organisations are directed by former members of the British and US foreign policy establishment and are focused overwhelmingly on ‘official enemies’.
McEvoy and Curtis observed:
‘These organisations tend to focus on Russian war crimes and information operations, particularly in Ukraine, while failing to conduct comparable investigations into Britain, the US or NATO.
‘Much of these groups’ research is thus unidirectional, presenting malign information operations as the sole domain of enemies identified by the UK government. The impact is likely to be one-sided information entering the public news arena.’
Indeed, unsuspecting members of the public will have no idea that analysis from supposedly ‘independent’ experts commenting on the war in Ukraine often comes from Foreign Office-funded organisations.
In particular, Declassified UK noted of two such organisations:
- 25 Guardian and Observer articles referenced the Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Research Lab, none of which mention its funding by the UK and US governments.
- The Centre for Information Resilience was referenced 29 times in the UK media, with only one article mentioning its UK government funding.
Also buried by state-corporate media is the extent and nature of the UK’s global militarism since 1945. Curtis reported earlier this year that:
‘Britain has deployed its armed forces for combat over 80 times in 47 countries since the end of the Second World War, in episodes ranging from brutal colonial wars and covert operations to efforts to prop up favoured governments or to deter civil unrest.’
Faithful consumers of British media over this period, right up to the present day, are meant to believe that successive UK governments have been acting out of benign intent in such foreign ‘interventions’. To unearth the reality requires digging deeper and further than the tightly-restricted domain overseen by state-corporate media.
The above sections are but a taste of the systematic blanking, sidelining and even smearing of those who present facts and perspectives that challenge state-corporate policies and pronouncements. In an era of volatile international tensions, threat of nuclear conflict, class warfare against the majority of the population, inhumanity towards refugees, and the overarching spectre of the climate crisis, the propaganda system needs to be exposed and replaced by genuine public-interest media.
Do you think electing establishment stooge Sir Keir Starmer is a solution to any of this? Or do you see that his promotion by establishment media, not least the Guardian, is how the establishment seeks to perpetuate its own interests?
Alex Nunns, mentioned earlier, recently noted that when Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader it ‘gave the Labour right the fright of their lives’. Nunns explained:
‘Suddenly the right saw the left as an existential threat. Whatever electoral benefits there were to having the left in the tent were outweighed by the risk of the Labour right permanently losing the party they saw as their property.’
Starmer and his supporters in the party are determined to ensure that the prospects of a left-wing Labour leadership are permanently crushed. Banning Corbyn from standing for Labour in the next General Election is:
‘about sending a message, first to the left, and second to the establishment, that they have nothing to fear from a tamed Labour Party. They want to prove that the insurgent, radical leftism that Corbyn represented will never be repeated.’
In this very real sense, the current Labour Party is part of the established interests that are determined to suppress grassroots opposition to endless war, class exploitation and the steps required to avert the worst of the onrushing climate catastrophe.