Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation


Canada's Role in the War

and the Media's Crisis of Credibility

by Richard Sanders

www.globalresearch.ca   29  March 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/SAN303C.html

How long can the government persist in making blatantly erroneous statements that they are against the war and that Canada is not involved in it?

How long can this pretense be maintained by those in the media that persist in presenting the government's lie as if it were the truth?

Are we approaching a point at which the myth of Canadian non-involvement in this war is perceived by so many Canadians as a baldly false and ridiculous statement that the government and media will have to backtrack on the official story?

Thanks largely to the media for disseminating government statements, and seeming to accept their veracity, the erroneous assertions that Canada stands for peace and is not involved in this war, have spread quickly and have taken root in our society's consciousness. This myth of Canada's pro-peace stance was an easy one to perpetuate because it feeds directly into a much broader, already widely-accepted, myth that has been built up over many years, that is, the myth of "Canada the global peacemaker." This myth is basic to Canadian cultural consciousness. It is part and parcel of how we define ourselves as cultural beings. It reaches so incredibly deeply in the roots of our national self-image that even though Canada continues to take a leading role in the international weapons trade and in aiding and abetting illegal, US wars of aggression, the myth of Canada as a force for global peace continues to persist.

Since this war began, despite much evidence to the contrary, many in the media have persisted in presenting government lies as if they were the truth. Through the subtle phrasing of thousands of questions and statements made by hosts, anchors, interviewers, columnists, editors and others, many voices representing the media have parroted the government's line of approach to the matter of Canada's supposed peace-loving, non-role in this war.

It is as if a kind of quasi-judicial set of rules apply between government and the media. The government is innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps more to the point, the government line on the truth is accepted by the media, until it is proven false.

That's fair enough, but who's job is it to prove that the government is lying? Is this the responsibility of opposition parties, academics, activists or, perhaps, everyone in society? What about that dying breed, the investigative journalist?

We're in a new world now. In this new revolutionary era of internet communications, many millions of Canadians get their news and information in ways that completely bypass the mainstream media's historic, near control over what is accepted as "fact." It wasn't too long ago -- even during the 1991 Iraq war -- that the mainstream media was just about the only way that people could get any information about the war.

Nowadays, using the internet, members of the public are doing their own research. Even being able to quickly access media coverage from other countries has made a big difference. There are also scores of alternative ways to interpret current and historic events that can be quickly accessed by anyone who is plugged in. Nowadays, when people hear some small piece of evidence that contradicts the official story for instance that Canada has for months had war planners working for US Central Command even though the government asserts that Canada is not involved in the war -- they can within a few moments access a wealth of information that exposes the contradiction. This means that the public can sometimes quickly build arguments proving that such contradictions are evidence that the government is being hypocritical, or is deliberately trying to deceive the public. If the media persists in broadcasting such deceptions while the public simultaneously becomes aware of the deception, the media not to mention the government -- loses credibility.

In the past, collecting evidence to build arguments that expose contradictions within the official propaganda took much longer and, even more significantly, it was very difficult to disseminate such counter-propaganda. Now, with ready access to alternative sources of news, information and analysis, the public has become much more aware of facts that are being ignored by the media and the public is becoming much more sophisticated in their media criticism. The public can much more quickly see through the lies and, what's even more threatening to the status quo, the public can debunk those lies very quickly to a much wider audience than ever before in history.

This has created a very sticky situation for those who have long made their business to lie to the public.

As people begin to see through government efforts at deception, their perception of an official story goes through various stages. The internet revolution in communications has effected this process. At first, when members of the public feel themselves to be in a small minority that sees the official story as a lie, they may feel extreme irritation upon hearing the status quo perspective expressed in the media. Many then boycott the media because it is so irritating, infuriating and disempowering to be exposed to what are perceived to be as such dangerous lies being spread through their society. However, in the old days, when the mainstream media was our only access to the news, we had to keep consuming the media and become more skilled at reading between the lines.

Exposure to propaganda inspires some people to produce counter-propaganda to correct the predominant misperceptions that permeate the public pysche. Another response is to seek out alternative means of getting news and information. Both of these responses are now made much easier by the internet. This means that a positive feedback loop is created because as more people use the internet to conduct research into the contradictions inherent in the reporting of government lies, and as more and more people make their research findings available on the internet, the number of people who realize that the mainstream perspective is a lie, increases incredibly rapidly.

As the percentage of the population grows who have become aware that the official story is a lie, the official story comes to be seen as a ludicrous joke. The government and the media lose credibility and become a source of ridicule and contempt.

Governments and the media have always ignored such public perception and awareness at their peril.

Knowing, from opinion polls and audience feedback mechanisms, that the public is no longer buying the official line, the government and media have learned to slightly alter their descriptions of the official story in order to accommodate public awareness of what's really going on. However, thanks to the rapidity of communications offered by the internet, this need to alter the official story is occurring so frequently that even more people are made aware of the patterns of deception. It is easier to remember the previous version of the official truth because the upgraded versions are coming out so frequently. This may lead people to think the government is confused, muddled or waffling in its indecision on a certain subject. This may in fact be a defence mechanism to cover for their duplicity. As a result, there is now an almost constant crisis in credibility for the government and the media.

The official story that the Canadian government is against the war in Iraq and is not supporting it, cannot possibly hold its shape. Canadians will increasingly see through this lie and the government will increasing look hypocritical. They will have to manufacture new lies to cover for their old ones. Will the media assist them in this cover operation that will be necessary to put out the fires of controversy resulting from their initial deception.

The media is being put to an incredible test in this crisis of government credibility. Who in the media will stand for truth, and who will stand, wittingly or not, for the continued deception of the Canadian public? Canadians are watching the media in this struggle for truth, but we are also participating in the struggle.

 Richard Sanders is the editor of Press for Conversion! magazine. Copyright R Sanders  2003.  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .

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