A Call Out for Citizenship Media


If ever there was a time for citizenship media, today’s 21st century America is definitely that time.  This article clearly demonstrates how dangerous corporate media easily manipulated or agenda driven can become, and that’s not to say citizenship media won’t suffer the same problems, but the increase in the number of sources to choose from opposed to the monopoly that’s slowly enveloping mainstream media offsets that risk.  There are a lot of examples of good citizenship media and one of my favorites is Consortiumnews.com an excellent blog run by Robert Parry, but there are certainly others.  We are not defenseless in the face of corportate media’s onslaught; while it has its place, main stream media has become increasingly irrelevant in covering or even defining today’s issues.  The article below is just one of the reasons why (emphasis in red mine)

Declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 23rd, 2010. The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel’s clandestine programs for “cultivation of editors,” the “stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines” as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility. Documents are now available for download from http://IRmep.org/ila/azc include:

Dimona (excerpt): “The nuclear reactor story inspired comment from many sources; editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists.  Most of the press seemed finally to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs.” http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf

Content placement and promotion (excerpt): “The Atlantic Monthly in its October issue carried the outstanding Martha Gellhorn piece on the Arab refugees, which made quite an impact around the country.  We arranged for the distribution of 10,000 reprints to public opinion molders in all categories… Interested friends are making arrangements with the Atlantic for another reprint of the Gellhorn article to be sent to all 53,000 persons whose names appear in Who’s Who in America…Our Committee is now planning articles for the women’s magazines for the trade and business publications.” http://www.irmep.org/09101961AZC.pdf

Pressure campaigns (excerpt): “It can be said that the press of the nation…has by and large shown sympathy and understanding of Israel’s position.  There are, of course, exceptions, notably the Scripps-Howard chain where we still need to achieve a ‘break-through,’ the Pulliam chain (where some progress has been made) and some locally-owned papers.” http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf

Magazine Committee achievements (excerpt): “We cannot pinpoint all that has already been accomplished by this Committee except to say that it has been responsible for the writing and placement of articles on Israel in some of America’s leading magazines….” http://www.IRmep.org/10301962_AZC.pdf

According to Grant F. Smith, director of IRmep, “It is frightening how easily some in the American news media surrendered to a foreign public relations campaign that spent the 2010 equivalent of $36 million over two years. Time has proven most of the planted content to be misleading, if not dangerous.  These historical documents hold many important lessons for Americans who have long needed—but rarely received—straight reporting on key Middle East issues.”

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper.  It retains 1%-3% of the most important documents of business conducted by the United States Federal government.  The Israel Lobby Archive, http://IRmep.org/ila is a unit of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington.

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All in the family


In a previous post I alluded to how people in media with a certain interest are neglectful of trends that are staring them in the face when those trends don’t suit their agendas, such as advancing the notion that one group of people has invested in it all the anti-social behavior and negative traits are the worse while ignoring the very same inclinations in other groups.   Here is an article written by Alison Weir that states that case far better than I could.

Recent exposés revealing that Ethan Bronner, the New York Times’ Israel-Palestine bureau chief, has a son in the Israeli military have caused a storm of controversy that continues to swirl and generate further revelations.

Many people find such a sign of family partisanship in an editor covering a foreign conflict troubling – especially given the Times’ record of Israel-centric journalism.

Times management at first refused to confirm Bronner’s situation, then refused to comment on it. Finally, public outcry forced Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt to confront the problem in a February 7th column.

After bending over backwards to praise the institution that employs him, Hoyt ultimately opined that Bronner should be re-assigned to a different sphere of reporting to avoid the “appearance” of bias. Times Editor Bill Keller declined to do so, however, instead writing a column calling Bronner’s connections to Israel valuable because they “supply a measure of sophistication about Israel and its adversaries that someone with no connections would lack.”

If such “sophistication” is valuable, the Times’ espoused commitment to the “impartiality and neutrality of the company’s newsrooms” would seem to require it to have a balancing editor equally sophisticated about Palestine and its adversary, but Keller did not address that.

Bronner is far from alone

As it turns out, Bronner’s ties to the Israeli military are not the rarity one might expect.

• A previous Times bureau chief, Joel Greenberg, before he was bureau chief but after he was already publishing in the Times from Israel, actually served in the Israeli army.

• Media pundit and Atlantic staffer Jeffrey Goldberg also served in the Israeli military; it’s unclear when, how, or even if his military service ended.

• Richard Chesnoff, who has been covering Mideast events for more than 40 years, had a son serving in the Israeli military while Chesnoff covered Israel as US News & World Report’s senior foreign correspondent.

• NPR’s Linda Gradstein’s husband was an Israeli sniper and may still be in the Israeli reserves. NPR refuses to disclose whether Gradstein herself is also an Israeli citizen, as are her children and husband.

• Mitch Weinstock, national editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune, served in the Israeli military.

• The New York Times’ other correspondent from the region, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli citizen. Israel has universal compulsory military service, which suggests that Kershner herself and/or family members may have military connections. The Times refuses to answer questions about whether she and/or family members have served or are currently serving in the Israeli military. Is it possible that Times Foreign Editor Susan Chira herself has such connections? The Times refuses to answer.

• Many Associated Press writers and editors are Israeli citizens or have Israeli families. AP will not reveal how many of the journalists in its control bureau for the region currently serve in the Israeli military, how many have served in the past, and how many have family members with this connection.

• Similarly, many TV correspondents such as Martin Fletcher have been Israeli citizens and/or have Israeli families. Do they have family connections to the Israeli military?

• Time Magazine’s bureau chief several years ago became an Israeli citizen after he had assumed his post. Does he have relatives in the military?

• CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, while not an Israeli citizen, was based in Israel for many years, wrote a book whitewashing Israeli spying on the US, and used to work for the Israel lobby in the US. None of this is divulged to CNN viewers.

Tikkun’s editor Michael Lerner has a son who served in the Israeli military. While Lerner has been a strong critic of many Israeli policies, in an interview with Jewish Week, Lerner explains:

“Having a son in the Israeli army was a manifestation of my love for Israel, and I assume that having a son in the Israeli army is a manifestation of Bronner’s love of Israel.”

Lerner goes on to make a fundamental point:

“…there is a difference in my emotional and spiritual connection to these two sides [Israelis and Palestinians]. On the one side is my family; on the other side are decent human beings. I want to support human beings all over the planet but I have a special connection to my family. I don’t deny it.”

For a great many of the reporters and editors determining what Americans learn about Israel-Palestine, Israel is family.

Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth, writes of a recent meeting with a Jerusalem based bureau chief, who explained: “… Bronner’s situation is ‘the rule, not the exception. I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

Cooks writes that the bureau chief explained: “It is common to hear Western reporters boasting to one another about their Zionist credentials, their service in the Israeli army or the loyal service of their children.”

Apparently, intimate ties to Israel are among the many open secrets in the region that are hidden from the American public. If, as the news media insist, these ties present no problem or even, as the Times’ Keller insists, enhance the journalists’ work, why do the news agencies consistently refuse to admit them?

The reason is not complicated.

While Israel may be family for these journalists and editors, for the vast majority of Americans, Israel is a foreign country. In survey after survey, Americans say they don’t wish to “take sides” on this conflict. In other words, the American public wants full, unfiltered, unslanted coverage.

Quite likely the news media refuse to answer questions about their journalists’ affiliations because they suspect, accurately, that the public would be displeased to learn that the reporters and editors charged with supplying news on a foreign nation and conflict are, in fact, partisans.

While Keller claims that the New York Times is covering this conflict “even-handedly,” studies indicate otherwise:

* The Times covers international reports documenting Israeli human rights abuses at a rate 19 times lower than it reports on the far smaller number of international reports documenting Palestinian human rights abuses.

* The Times covers Israeli children’s deaths at rates seven times greater than they cover Palestinian children’s deaths, even though there are vastly more of the latter and they occurred first.

* The Times fails to inform its readers that Israel’s Jewish-only colonies on confiscated Palestinian Christian and Muslim land are illegal; that its collective punishment of 1.5 million men, women, and children in Gaza is not only cruel and ruthless, it is also illegal; and that its use of American weaponry is routinely in violation of American laws.

* The Times covers the one Israeli (a soldier) held by Palestinians at a rate incalculably higher than it reports on the Palestinian men, women, and children – the vast majority civilians – imprisoned by Israel (currently over 7,000).

• The Times neglects to report that hundreds of Israel’s captives have never even been charged with a crime and that those who have were tried in Israeli military courts under an array of bizarre military statutes that make even the planting of onions without a permit a criminal offense – a legal system, if one can call it that, that changes at the whim of the current military governor ruling over a subject population; a system in which parents are without power to protect their children.

* The Times fails to inform its readers that 40 percent of Palestinian males have been imprisoned by Israel, a statistic that normally would be considered highly newsworthy, but that Bronner, Kershner, and Chira apparently feel is unimportant to report.

Americans, whose elected representatives give Israel uniquely gargantuan sums of our tax money (a situation also not covered by the media), want and need all the facts, not just those that Israel’s family members decree reportable.

We’re not getting them.

Another Face of Terrorism


There’s no doubt about it in this observer’s mind Joe Stack was a terrorist, and his act of flying an airplane into a building which contained the offices of a government agency (and I don’t care which acronym like agency it was) was straight out of the book of terror that this Nation went through a decade ago, yet very few people in corporate media or in government want to label him as such. Wonder why?

There’s been a certain amount of self-righteous discussion among media types why this is the case but in the end those who are self-indulgent simply say Stack doesn’t meet the criteria of a terrorist. There are even some who claim, such as Stack’s daughter that he was a hero of sorts, protesting against government. Wonder why?

Stack’s singular act of protest doesn’t even begin to meet the definition of the legally acceptable form of dissent, but it fits perfectly into the definition of terrorism. Yet there are people who are determined to not call it that and the simple reason why is because the West has been gripped by a virulent form of racism that is ethnocentric in nature towards people of color.  This indignation attempts to dress itself in a cloak of preserving a Judeo-Christian ethic, but when the results of such preservation have included diminishing the progress of that ethic, subversion of the rights of those who enjoy that ethic, such as privacy rights, free speech, et.al that excuse too falls by the wayside and is as hypocritical as media’s refusal to be inclusive in the terrorism appellation.

The refusal of corporate media to label Stack the terrorist he was has allowed all the other fringe groups to come out in support of his action in their opposition to the Nation’s first black president.    The Tea Party movement is nothing more than the 21st century Ku Klux Klan dressed up with the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman, et.al who are used to give such a movement legitimacy.  There is this symbiotic relationship, therefore, between corporate media and these racists.  They give rationale  to one another; the racist relish the media attention to their cause of opposing the first black, “foreign born”, “Muslim” president and the media loves the sound bites such idiots the likes of Stack, and Scott Roeder (the murderer/terrorist who stalked legally licensed American physicians) give them ignoring  their, media’s,  own responsibility to this collective hypocrisy and morass.   At the same time corporate media plunges headlong into their racist diatribe against Muslims, Arabs and especially Palestinians justifying any and all forms of state sponsored oppression against them because to media types the designation “terrorist” is appropriate and they have no hesitation at all using that term to describe them.

This way of doing business means the  Joseph Stack story is merely a mention in the headlines of the day, social titillation at best not worthy of any real consideration or reflection about the role of government, the impact of violence in society, the responsibility of citizens to social cohesion, the role of media if any in all of this, nothing to see just move along.  We should now expect this social irresponsibility from a upper middle class mostly white media with a strong affection for power and those who wield it in defense of their, corporate media’s interest.  However, the public, infinitely smarter than given credit by that same media, has to realize the impact media’s dereliction has on the over all society, in the form of their, corporate media’s, justification for wars of occupation and the sublimation of the rights of citizens, legal residents, and yes, even foreigners living in America to the wishes of government and corporate entities.

A Nation that is immersed in healthy not stifled debate is much more informed and enlightened.  Corporate media mimics its forefathers of old who sought to keep people in the dark by allowing only those deemed worthy the right or ability to read and get an education.  That dispensation of rights and responsibilities by the wealthy and often oppressor class became a rejected standard of living, and societies were better off for doing away with such notions.   Joseph Stack was a terrorist, no more and no less, who committed the same heinous act as those on 911, in his rejection of government policy and it resulted in the loss of human life, his and other(s) and that’s that.  Corporate media’s refusal to simply say that says more about them than Stack.  Perhaps its time we did away with them.

The Race Card-Again, from Main Stream Media


There was a rally in Jerusalem against Obama’s policies towards our petulant ally, in which he was called a racist.  Big deal.  Israelis are upset at what they think is a slight by the President against their occupation of Palestinian land and have resorted to playing the race card and it’s a much improved choice of words than those on display here.  Check out the vitriol levelled at the President of the United States.  The link provided is the only place you can find this video on the web today.  So much for free speech.

Who Played the Race Card in the Gates’ Arrest?


89236432RS003_The media, that’s who and with the insertion of the word black men, the media played us the public.  It  was able to inflame American passions about a subject we’re known to want to avoid, and embroil the Obama presidency at a time when it needs public support for issues like health care and Afghanistan.  Turns out the word “black” men was NOT used by the caller who placed the 911 call.  In fact when she was asked if the people she saw were black she said she wasn’t sure, so how did this description get inserted into media accounts??  Anyone?

One other interesting point I noticed about what was heard from the released police tapes is Sgt. Crowley asks the dispatch to send someone from Harvard’s police.  Why?  Gates supposedly supplied both his state’s driver’s license as well as his university identification; did Crowley not accept them, were they not good enough, were they suspect, would he only accept the word of a fellow police officer?   Perhaps this was the cause of Gates’ ire; having done everything he was asked to do, i.e. give identification and then some, it still was not good enough for Crowley to stop what at some point must have been considered harassment by Gates. 

The media gets knocked around a lot, and this time, it’s deserved.  If anyone thinks media doesn’t have an agenda, think again.  By touching on a hot button topic, race, the media was able to portray all in a way they determined and at a time and place of their choosing.  That said, this wasn’t an issue of bad policing, as I think it was, but rather a racial issue, which the media made.    One solution to that is to forsake organized, main stream, corporate media and turn to citizenship media.  It has some of the same risks, but it provides you more choices and I am a believer people are their best police, leaders, politicians, defenders, doctors, owners of companies.  Try it.

Harvard Scholar Disorderly

911 truth-It isn’t just for kooks anymore


Hat tip to Niqnaq.