Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Networks & the National Security State

Edited by Alex Constantine

Cable News Lies Website:

CNN tells reporters: No propaganda, except American
By Patrick Martin
6 November 2001

In an extraordinary directive to its staff, Cable News Network has instructed reporters and anchormen to tailor their coverage of the US war against Afghanistan to downplay the toll of death and destruction caused by American bombing, for fear that such coverage will undermine popular support for the US military effort.

A memo from CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson to international correspondents for the network declares: “As we get good reports from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, we must redouble our efforts to make sure we do not seem to be simply reporting from their vantage or perspective. We must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the Taliban have harbored the terrorists responsible for killing close to 5,000 innocent people.”

“I want to make sure we’re not used as a propaganda platform,” Isaacson declared in an interview with the Washington Post, adding that it “seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan.”

“We’re entering a period in which there’s a lot more reporting and video from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan,” he said. “You want to make sure people 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.”

In a second memo leaked to the Post, CNN’s head of standards and practices, Rick Davis, expressed concern about reports on the bombing of Afghanistan filed by on-the-spot reporters. Davis noted that it “may be hard for the correspondent in these dangerous areas to make the points clearly” about the reasons for the US bombing. In other words, the CNN official feared that overseas correspondents might be intimidated by local opposition to the US military intervention and allow such sentiments to influence their reports.

To ensure that every CNN report always includes a justification of the war, Davis prescribed specific language for anchors to read after each account of civilian casualties and other bomb damage. He suggested three alternative formulations:

* “We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this from Taliban-controlled areas, that these US military actions are in response to a terrorist attack that killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the US.”

* “We must keep in mind, after seeing reports like this, that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan continues to harbor terrorists who have praised the September 11 attacks that killed close to 5,000 innocent people in the US.”

* “The Pentagon has repeatedly stressed that it is trying to minimize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, even as the Taliban regime continues to harbor terrorists who are connected to the September 11 attacks that claimed thousands of innocent lives in the US.”

Davis concluded with an ultimatum to journalists concerned that they may sound like parrots for the White House: “Even though it may start sounding rote, it is important that we make this point each time.”
The Origin of Roger Ailes

Ailes is the president of Fox News, but before that, the producer of the television version of The Rush Limbaugh Show and a Republican Party strategist. In the early 1990s, Ailes adopted a populist mantra of "Us versus Them" in his various programming initiatives (with Limbaugh, but also as president of a cable network that preceded MSNBC).

Ailes role in the media industry includes:

in 1991 persuading "a syndicator to bring Rush Limbaugh from radio to television and became executive producer of the late-night show"

In 1993 was appointed President of NBC's cable channel CNBC

introduced NBC cable channel, America's Talking in 1994

in January 1996 was appointed as chief executive officer of Fox News and the FOX News Channel and, according to his biographical note, "also serves as a senior advisor to Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of the News Corporation Limited."

Jolly Roger's grand plan
Oct. 16, 2005

The news czar is revamping Rupe's station group, and your local newscast will never be the same


Two months after Lachlan Murdoch's abrupt resignation as News Corp. deputy chief operations officer, cable news impresario Roger Ailes is wasting no time bringing the conglom's network of 35 TV stations into the Fox News fold. ... Ailes added CBS exec Dennis Swanson to a group of Fox News Channel hands to run the group, including CEO Jack Abernethy and senior veep of news operations Sharri Berg in what amounts to a grafting of the Fox cable news operation onto its network of 35 local stations.

Now, with the stations and 20th Television under his wing, suddenly Ailes becomes one of the most powerful execs in television with the ability to see his vision writ large across the broadcast landscape. At the stations, some staff expressed concern that Ailes' army would politicize the news operations.

Few would deny that Ailes knows how to create compelling TV and identify charismatic news talent. What local news director wouldn't want dozens more Shepard Smiths to bloom in Orlando, Chicago or Kansas City?

News Corp. owns both a Fox and a UPN affiliate in the top three media markets --New York, Los Angeles and Chicago -- and other duopolies in six more of the top 20 markets, including Dallas, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. News Corp. owns stations in 26 markets in all, reaching 45% of the country. ....
Murdoch’s MySpace expands data collection/ad targeting, including on whether users say they smoke, drink, religious beliefs, etc.

August 27th, 2007

The powerful commercial forces shaping new media platforms like MySpace–so they can better reap big dollars from powerful brand advertisers– should raise user alarm bells. MySpace is going to [our italics] “leverage the data input by each MySpace user into their profile from a group of predefined menu choices (related to questions such as […]

Backspin for War: The Convenience of Denial
Asset A03245 Posted By anthony

The man who ran CNN’s news operation during the invasion of Iraq is now doing damage control in response to a new documentary’s evidence that he kowtowed to the Pentagon on behalf of the cable network. His current denial says a lot about how “liberal media” outlets remain deeply embedded in the mindsets of pro-military conformity.

Days ago, the former CNN executive publicly defended himself against a portion of the War Made Easy film (based on my book of the same name) that has drawn much comment from viewers since the documentary’s release earlier this summer. As Inter Press Service reported, the movie shows “a news clip of Eason Jordan, a CNN News chief executive who, in an interview with CNN, boasts of the network’s cadre of professional ‘military experts.’ In fact, CNN’s retired military generals turned war analysts were so good, Eason said, that they had all been vetted and approved by the U.S. government.” ...

he film provides a wide range of evidence that “all of the cable networks were actively complicit in promoting the war” — the result of chronic biases rather than “journalistic laziness.” And CNN, like the rest of the cable news operations, comes in for plenty of tough scrutiny in the documentary. As the magazine Variety noted in a review of “War Made Easy” a few days ago, “Fox News is predictably bashed here, but supposedly neutral CNN gets it even harder.”

CNN is among the news outlets at the core of the myth of “the liberal media” — perpetuated, in part, by the fact that people are often overly impressed by the significance of rhetorical attacks on some media organizations by more conservative outlets. (Before his resignation from CNN in 2005, Eason Jordan was himself subjected to denunciations from the right — for allegedly skewing news coverage to curry favor with the Baghdad government during Saddam’s rule and, after the invasion, for reportedly stating that U.S. troops had targeted some journalists in Iraq.) But antipathy from right-wing pundits is hardly an indication of journalistic independence. ...
The Pentagon Channel

April 14, 2006
The Propaganda Channel and the Net Neutrality Debate

If you haven’t seen the “Pentagon Channel” produced by the Department of Defense, you’re missing a classic—and outrageous–propaganda effort aimed for U.S. audiences. This 24/7 “video news” network, as it calls itself, outshines even Fox News in its fealty to the official U.S. government line about Iraq. But since one of the channel’s star “talents” is Don Rumsfeld himself, it’s not surprising. What is shocking is that the U.S. is producing a channel for domestic use that is clearly propaganda—and should be taken off the many U.S. cable systems and satellite services that carry it.

With a program line-up that includes the daily “Freedom Journal Iraq” and “Around the Services” (from the Pentagon “NewsCenter-daily…military news from top Defense officials”) to “Inside Afghanistan,” and the “Stallion Report” ( “a bi-weekly news program from Mosul, Iraq”), the Pentagon Channel airs the official view. We are all fighting for “freedom.” We are winning the “hearts and minds” of the Iraq people, says one reporter for “Freedom Journal Iraq.” Scenes of “hunting bad guys,” and “missions of good will” are shown (including pictures of renovated schools displaying posters of Disney characters).

Major cable, satellite and telephone companies have given the U.S. government channel free carriage, including Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, Cox, and Echostar. The channel reaches about 12 million cable and satellite viewers; it’s also distributed in the U.S. and around the world on military bases. The channel is working to expand its distribution, including going after space reserved for public access channels (which were created to promote free speech—not governmental PR). This week the channel launched itself as a video and audio podcast via the Internet. Secretary of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared that he was “…pleased that we are using video casting and other increasingly important technologies to reach our global audience…”

The Voice of America is prohibited from airing its service in the U.S. The Pentagon Channel should also be similarly banned. We hope the Pentagon Channel will be scrutinized by more media critics and policymakers. Having a taxpayer-backed channel that promotes itself as “news” when it’s really about pushing an Administration’s political agenda should clearly be unacceptable policy.

But—now for the connection with network neutrality. In a world where the big cable and phone companies can dominate the U.S. broadband and TV market—expect more favorable treatment for such official government PR efforts. Whether it’s giving the Department of Defense a helping hand with its propaganda channel or turning over to the NSA and other agencies our personal communications—the big cable/telco broadband monopoly will strive to please officials. That’s where the quid pro quo deal making—let’s us control the network and we will treat you `right,’ is likely to occur. You can be sure that when Ed Whitacre of AT&T charges a Google for using what it considers its “pipes,” it will give the official view–such as the Pentagon Channel–a free, high-speed broadband ride.

"Carlucci" bleeped from HBO version of Lumumba
Ex-CIA official threatened lawsuit
By Joanne Laurier
15 March 2002

Home Box Office (HBO), the US cable television network, is currently broadcasting a censored version of Lumumba, the award-winning film about Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of independent Congo, assassinated by imperialist agents in January 1961.

Haitian-born director Raoul Peck’s work fictionally reconstructs Lumumba’s coming to power in 1960 and the intrigues which led to his brutal murder. The film shown on HBO is a version of the French-language original dubbed into English, which bleeps out the name of Frank Carlucci, a future deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and secretary of defense, in the dialogue and masks his name in the credits. At the time of Lumumba’s death, Carlucci was the second secretary at the US embassy in the Congo and, covertly, a CIA agent.

This attempt to keep Carlucci’s role in the Congo from television audiences follows the release of US government documents revealing that President Dwight Eisenhower ordered the CIA to murder Lumumba. Minutes of an August 1960 National Security Council meeting confirm that Eisenhower told CIA chief Allen Dulles to “eliminate” the Congolese leader. The official note taker, Robert H. Johnson, testified to this before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1975, but no documentary evidence had been previously available to back up his claim.

Carlucci’s lawyers threatened Peck and distribution company Zeitgeist Films with legal action if the name of the former US official was not bleeped out of a scene that shows American Ambassador Clare Timberlake and Carlucci, along with Belgian and Congolese officials, plotting Lumumba’s assassination. Carlucci insisted that only the altered version of the film, with his name missing, could be used for mass market venues, such as television, video and DVD, allowing the original track to remain intact for theater showings. Zeitgeist officials said they were too small and weak financially to fight a case in court.

Carlucci is an immensely wealthy individual, with connections at the highest levels of the US government. Deputy chief of the CIA under Jimmy Carter and secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, Carlucci is now chairman of the Carlyle Group, a private equity investment group with billions of dollars of assets in the defense industry. The company employs prominent ex-officeholders, such as former president George Bush, former British prime minister John Major and former president of the Philippines Fidel Ramos. Carlucci has the closest financial, political and personal ties to the Bush family. Other figures involved in Carlyle Group operations include former secretary of state James Baker, who headed up George W. Bush’s effort to block vote recounts in Florida in 2000 and hijack the presidential election. Carlucci has a long-term political relationship with his former classmate and wrestling buddy from Princeton, the present secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

At a January 24 screening of the film in New York held at the Council on Foreign Relations (CRF), publisher of Foreign Affairs magazine, Peck confirmed that the film had been changed in response to Carlucci’s legal threats. Despite considerable media presence at the event, during which Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, for one, raised a question about Carlucci’s name being removed, virtually nothing has appeared in the mainstream media about the issue.

The WSWS spoke with freelance journalist Lucy Komisar, who attended the screening and wrote an article about Carlucci’s action for the Pacific News Service. She commented: “This is censorship. This is a story that he [Carlucci] does not want to talk about. Although he was not in charge [of the CIA’s Congo activities in 1960], he was involved in what was going on. It is a part of his history. The honorable thing to do would have been to acknowledge that the Americans helped in doing away with a man who could have helped that region—that they supported Mobutu, who for decades led a brutal dictatorship which caused enormous suffering. I think the incident shows the extremes to which people like Carlucci will go to cover up actions they know were wrong—even to censoring a movie.”

The panel at the CFR screening included Brian Urquhart, chief assistant to Ralph Bunche, who headed up the United Nations (UN) mission in Congo during the Lumumba crisis. According to Urquhart’s own account of the affair recently published in the New York Review of Books, he was in touch with Lumumba on nearly a daily basis until the latter broke off relations with Bunche. Urquhart’s article, as his statements at the film screening, depicted the UN as an independent, neutral force that was, albeit reluctantly, helping Lumumba.

Contrary to Urquhart’s version of events, Peck’s film depicts the UN as an instrument of the US and Belgium and an accessory to the campaign of subversion mounted by the imperialist powers against Lumumba and the newly indepdendent Congolese government. Lumumba invited in the UN “peacekeepers,” but broke contact with them when their role became clear. UN officials and troops, in turn, refused to take any action to prevent his murder.

Carlucci’s attack on the film dates back at least to last summer. At a July 25 screening of Lumumba in Washington, DC, he was a panelist along with Howard Wolpe, the former congressman and chairman of the House subcommittee on Africa. Carlucci called the subsequently censored scene in the movie “a cheap shot.” He did make a mild—and thoroughly cynical—criticism of the US role. “Did [the United States] handle him [Lumumba] right?” Carlucci asked. “It’s clear we were too strident,” he replied.

In an interview with Komisar, Carlucci claimed that the US had “no role whatsoever” in plotting Lumumba’s death. He referred to Madeleine Kalb’s book, The Congo Cables, and asserted, “You’ll find no references to me.” As Komisar notes, “Carlucci has a bad memory.” Not only does Kalb’s book refer to Carlucci, it describes “the efforts by the US Embassy and the CIA to topple Lumumba.” The book, she writes, “contains documents by [US ambassador] Timberlake and CIA chief Lawrence Devlin talking about their desire and efforts to stop Lumumba, and even Devlin’s unhappiness [about] one leader’s refusal to commit murder. The State Department’s official ‘Analytical Chronology of the Congo Crisis’ talks about a plan ‘to bring about the overthrow of Lumumba and install a pro-western government...Operations under this plan were gradually put into effect by the CIA.’”

In a letter to Peck, Belgian Ludo De Witte—author of the recent book, The Assassination of Lumumba —also made clear that Timberlake, Devlin and Carlucci worked together “on Congolese efforts to get rid of Lumumba.” De Witte further commented: “We know that Devlin and other US personnel in the capital were informed about the transfer of Lumumba to the Kasai or Katanga... Everybody knew that there were waiting some subcontractors to do the dirty job, and, given the rank and involvement of Carlucci in Lumumba-related activities from the US embassy, we may assume (although it’s not proven) that Carlucci knew of what equaled a death sentence for Lumumba.”

After leaving the Congo, Carlucci was in Brazil at the time of CIA and US State Department efforts to overthrow the Goulart government, which lead to a military coup in March/April 1964. He was the US ambassador to Portugal during the years of intense revolutionary crisis in 1974-77, before returning to Washington and assuming top posts in the military and intelligence apparatus.

Carlucci’s efforts to suppress his role demonstrates that US complicity in Lumumba’s death remains a sensitive issue. The American establishment does not care for anyone to know that its interventions—past, present and future—are guided by the economic and political interests of US capitalism and often carried out by criminal and bloody means.

The bleeping of Carlucci’s name from Lumumba is not simply a matter of covering up the past. Carlucci remains a major figure in both the US state and the American corporate world, as well as within the Republican Party. The US, moreover, is intensifying its intrigues in Africa, and a reminder of its dirty past complicates its present-day activities on the continent.

The crude censorship of the film underscores as well the increasingly open assault on democratic rights and freedom of expression in the US.

No comments: