Corporate media are ignoring many important questions related to 9-11 and have defaulted on their First Amendment obligation to keep the American electorate informed on key societal issues. Corporate news star Dan Rather in a recent interview with Matthew Engel for The Guardian admitted that the surge of patriotism after 9-11 resulted in journalists failing to ask the tough questions. Rather stated, "It starts with a feeling of patriotism within oneself. I know the right question, but you know what? This is not exactly the right time to ask it."
When was the right time to question the levels and intensity of civilian deaths during and after the bombings of Afghanistan? According to CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson there was never a good time. In a memo to his CNN correspondents overseas Isaacson wrote, "We're entering a period in which there's a lot more reporting and video from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. You must make sure people [Americans] understand that when they see civilian suffering there it's in the context of a terrorist attack that caused enormous suffering in the United States." Isaacson later told the Washington Post, "…it seems perverse to focus too much on the causalities of hardship in Afghanistan."
Marc Herold, an economics professor at the University of New Hampshire compiled a summation of the death toll in Afghanistan-saying that over 4,000 civilians died from U.S. bombs-more than died at the World Trade Center. Yet only a handful of newspapers covered his story. Time magazine reviewed Herold's report but dismissed it stating, "In compiling the figures, Herold drew mostly on world press reports of questionable reliability." Time went on to cite the Pentagon's unsubstantiated claim that civilian casualties in Afghanistan were the lowest in the history of war.
We were all shocked after 9-11. That same shock may well have extended to families being bombed in Afghanistan, but our corporate media refused to investigate civilian deaths. Media chose instead to do be "patriotic" and propagandize the public on behalf of the Pentagon.
Other big questions abound. Both the BBC and the Times of India published reports several months before 9-11 that the U.S. was then planning an invasion of Afghanistan. The Unocal oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea region was to be built through Afghanistan and the U.S. needed a cooperative government in power. Agence France-Press in March 2002 reported that the U.S.-installed interim leader of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has worked with the CIA since the 1980s and was once a paid consultant for Unocal.
An explosive post-9-11 report emerged from France regarding how the Bush administration, shortly after assuming office, slowed down FBI investigations of al-Qaeda and terrorist networks in Afghanistan in order to deal with the Taliban on oil. This slowdown has been related to the resignation of FBI Deputy Director John O'Neill, expert in the al-Qaeda network and in charge of that investigation. O'Neill later took a job as chief of security at the World Trade Center where he died "helping with rescue efforts."
And what ever happened to the story in the San Francisco Chronicle September 29, 2001 about how millions of dollars were made on pre-9-11 put options on United & American Airlines stocks?
Or what about the October 31 report in the French daily Le Figaro describing how Osama bin Laden met with a top CIA official while in the American Hospital in the United Arab Emirates receiving treatment for a chronic kidney infection last July?
Corporate media today is interlocked and dependent on government sources for news content. Gone are the days of deep investigative reporting teams challenging the powerful. Media consolidation has downsized newsrooms to the point where reporters serve more as stenographers than researchers. Emerging in the vacuum are hundreds of independent news sources. Independent newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and TV are becoming more widely available. Labeled by the corporate as having "questionable reliability", emerging news sources are building their own audiences worldwide. For listings and links to independent news sources try www.indymedia.org http://globalresearch.ca/ , http://www.projectcensored.org http://www.mediachannel.org/
Peter Phillips is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director Project Censored a media research group. He can be reached at [email protected] Copyright© Peter Phillips 2002. For fair use only
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