by Editor (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 6, Ramadan, 1432)
Most people with even limited understanding of how media outlets spin news can see through the lies dished out by the likes of Fox News and CNN. But how does one explain the lies habitually repeated by such supposedly venerable institutions as the BBC, the New York Times or the Washington Post? All of them in their own right are considered paragons of wisdom and their word is considered sacrosanct. Newspapers on the other side of the Atlantic are no better, often much worse, even if we ignore Rupert Murdoch’s filth-filled News of the World that has already bitten the dust.
Let us consider Libya. Justifications advanced for attacking civilians have taken bizarre forms. When NATO missiles kill Libyan civilians, the corporate media simply repeats the official line that its mission is to “protect” civilians. The BBC is as guilty of this distortion as are CNN and the New York Times. The West’s purity of intentions is never questioned even if “occasionally the missiles go astray”, killing innocent civilians. This is brushed aside as collateral damage. How does killing civilians protect them?
The aid flotillas to Gaza are branded as “provocations” and a threat to Israel’s security. Even Western officials are part of this propaganda. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Israel would be justified in “defending” itself. Against what: people delivering food and baby formula to Palestinian children? Have media pundits learned anything from such blatant lies? Perish the thought. They continue to peddle other equally insidious lies about the perceived enemy. The list of targets is endless: Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is presented as a “threat” to world peace; Israel’s nuclear arsenal is seldom if ever mentioned. It is even justified as necessary for Israeli defence. Hizbullah and Hamas are labeled as “terrorist” organizations but Israeli war crimes are acts of self-defense. When US drones kill Pakistani civilians they are labeled as “suspected militants.” That justifies their killing; end of story.
Prior to the US attack on Iraq in January 2003, US Vice President Dick Cheney’s office had fed fabricated stories to the media about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Judith Miller of the New York Times eagerly splashed these on the front page in August 2002. President George Bush and his supposedly honorable Secretary of State Colin Powell used these “reports”, published by the “respectable” Times (it wouldn’t lie, would it?) to justify the war. These were on par with allegations made in October 1990 about Iraqi troops throwing babies out of incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals. The allegations were made in testimony before the US Congress by a teary 14-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayyirah who claimed she had personally “witnessed” the beastly Iraqis kill Kuwaiti babies.
Nayyirah was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and was not in Kuwait when the incident allegedly occurred. Most US media outlets as well as congressmen/ women knew her identity yet this information was deliberately kept from the public. The incubator story was a complete fabrication, made up by the American PR firm, Hill and Knowlton, hired by the Kuwaiti government to convince a skeptical American public of the legitimacy of the US attack on Iraq.
Media outlets have been used as effective weapons to create fear against Muslims and Islam. Such fear-mongering is not confined to the well-known Islamophobes comprising the neo-cons and their Zionist co-belligerents. Mainstream media outlets habitually peddle lies about Muslims projecting them as the “other” and a threat to the Western way of life. “They do not accept Western values,” is an oft-repeated line. The other is that they want to impose Shari‘ah law in the West. This disease has now spread to US lawmakers who have no clue about what Shari‘ah means or when and where Muslims have asked for, much less imposed such laws in the US. But the real issue is not about truth; the allegation is made to create panic in order to enable these officials to “save” people by getting the tools they need to curtail everyone’s rights: pat downs and body scans at airports, vast new powers to the police and FBI to intrude into people’s private lives and keep everyone under surveillance.
The most dangerous part of this policy is the scapegoating of Muslims at a time when the US and its European allies have been militarily defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan and their economies are in turmoil. The wars and the casino economy run by greedy executives are primarily responsible for this meltdown. Despite warnings by honest American economists — Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and others — these have been deliberately ignored. It is far easier to scapegoat Muslims than to make the hard choices to set things right.
The media’s role in this whole sordid affair is quite despicable. No amount of claims to fairness or objectivity can hide their role as apologists for the crimes perpetrated by corporate thieves and war mongers.