15 September, 2006

". . .newspapers which are not real life but real life with the reality left out"

". . .because the newspaper reader must not have a shock of change" Gertrude Stein

. . . so everything in the newspaper begins with its not being so and that like everything complicates and makes difficult telling and listening, it may complicate and the newspaper does by making it too easy, so much do they have to deceive the reader into feeling that yesterday is to-day that they have to make it too easy and in making it too easy they do do something they had not intended to do they make it no longer an exciting thing. . . . I said that once to a reporter and he said you have no idea I am sure how terribly hard we work. Yes I said but after you have done all that hard work you have to write it up as it would be if you had known it all beforehand. . . . There is no discovery there is mostly no discovery in a newspaper or in history, they find out things they never knew before but there is no discovery and finally if all this goes on long enough it is all too easy.

Stein, Narration: Four Lectures, (1935)

As the stories (news, drama, documentary, 'reality' show) flicker across a screen, 'we' - spectators of the spectacle in a sporting-nation - are still required to exercise some minimal reading skills in order to fully function as consumers of the propagandized simulacra. That is, the creation of meaning by an active reader/listener/watcher ("discoverer") takes a backseat to a passive reading experience whose moves are directed into habitual patterns of thought, to the regurgitation of received opinion and official 'fact' - driven through the point of view of the masters, the meaning-makers. "Aha! I get it now" exclaims the Consumer; "I've figured it out," one beams, happy to have made a bit of sense.

Get / got / had

the minded


. . . because of this, the propaganda machine need not even tell the story in full. It shows us instead a trailer for the story. There need be no thicker or less compact and generically familiar form of spectacle, (indeed more would pose problems). This brevity and allusiveness, and indeed the exaggerated character of the clips, is what allows the well schooled spectators to fill in, to position themselves as free, encouraged and competent to do so.

"The most political decision you make is where you direct people's eyes. In other words, what you show people, day in and day out, is political. . . . And the most politically indoctrinating thing you can do to a human being is to show him, every day, that there can be no change." film-maker Wim Wenders, The Act of Seeing, epigraph to David Levi Strauss' Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics


". . . the more educated you are, the more indoctrinated you are. After all, propaganda is largely directed towards the privileged." Chomsky


The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.

Walter Pincus, Washington Post, transcribes [from the Secretary of Defense] & notes:

"The enemy is so much better at communicating. I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say -- all of which are not true -- is harmful."

"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he said. "They are actively manipulating the media in this country... They can lie with impunity." [Donald Rumsfeld]

U.S. military leaders in Baghdad have put out for bid a two-year, 20-million-dollar public relations contract that calls for extensive monitoring of U.S. and Middle Eastern media in an effort to promote more positive coverage of news from Iraq.

. . . the "contract calls for assembling a database of selected news stories and assessing their tone as part of a programme to provide 'public relations products' that would improve coverage of the military command's performance, according to a statement of work attached to the proposal."

Another Journalist on the U.S. Payroll, in Haiti :

The Associated Press has terminated its relationship with a freelance reporter in Haiti after learning she was working for a U.S. government-sponsored organization," the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In October 2005, reporter Regine Alexandre began working for NED as a "part-time facilitator" between the U.S. organization and Haitian non-governmental organizations. After another journalist questioned the relationship, Alexandre "denied she was an employee." However, NED confirmed her employment, saying "it was unaware when it hired Alexandre that she worked for the AP or any other media organization." Alexandre has also reported for the New York Times and National Public Radio, though it's unclear whether she contributed to either while working for NED.

"Exxon Mobil Corporation . . . admits it was behind the criminal complaint brought by Homeland Security against" Greg Palast. He expects charges to be dropped:

I’ve learned that, in April last year, Exxon brought a similar Homeland Security charge against Willie Fontenot, an assistant to the Attorney General of Louisiana. Fontenot was guiding a group of environmental studies pupils from Antioch College on a tour of Cancer Alley. Exxon’s complaint about the “national security” threat posed by their photos of the company’s facility cost Fontenot his job.
The issue is not national security but image security. You can get all the film you want from Exxon of refineries if you’ll accept nice, sanitized VNRs (video news releases) of clean smokestacks surrounded by happy herons.

What’s dangerous is not that reporters will end up in Guantanamo; the insidious effect of these threats is to keep networks from filming government and corporate filth, incompetence and inhumanity. Besides the Exxon foolishness, our camera crew was also blocked from filming inside the notorious Katrina survivors trailer encampment.

Furthermore earlier that same day, a FEMA contractor had grabbed our camera, in mid-interview, when polite but pointed questions exposed their malfeasance.

As with Exxon, the bar from filming at the refugee camp and in the offices of the government contractor were presented to us as a “Homeland Security” matter.

"Freelance reporter Josh Wolf spent 30 days in jail for refusing to give authorities a video of a protest he filmed in San Francisco. Lance Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle could soon be jailed for refusing to disclose confidential sources to the government in the Barry Bonds steroid case."

AMY GOODMAN: Ben Rosenfeld is . . . Josh Wolf's attorney. What are these reporters' rights?

BEN ROSENFELD: Well, there are a couple of threads coming together here. In Josh's case, particularly, he's the victim of a general federal stepped-up campaign of harassment against activists and dissidents and, particularly in this case, against anarchist activists. And this was an anarchist-organized protest. And he’s also the victim of an increased campaign of government harassment against journalists in this kind of new world in which we're living, in which the government expects and demands total obeisance by everybody in society and now including by journalists. Their rights are very weak under federal law, but they’re not nonexistent. And the court in this case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and before that the district court, failed to recognize that they do have First Amendment rights. But in California, they have very strong rights.

from Hubris (2006) by Michael Isikoff and David Corn:

On the eve of war in Washington, journalists and others gathered at a cocktail party at the home of Philip Taubman, the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times . . . Another journalist present asked if she was planning to head over to Iraq to cover the invasion. [Judy] Miller, according to the other guest, could barely contain herself. "Are you kidding?" she asked. "I've been waiting for this war for ten years. I wouldn't miss it for the world!"
(via tiny revolution)
(let alone miss the world for it)


Robert Fisk describes the embedded journalists of Gulf War I, decked out in their desert camouflage uniforms, as ". . . dependent on the troops for communications, perhaps for their lives. [Al Jazeera and other targeted journalists would drop the "perhaps."] And there was thus a profound desire to fit in, to 'work the system,' a frequent and growing absence of critical faculties." At odds with his peers when his eyes witness Iraqi soldiers roaming the streets of a town - one the military had misled reporters into believing was 'already retaken,' one he isn't 'author-ized' to be in (the others kept 25 km away), Fisk is informed by "an American marine 'public affairs' officer" that "You're not allowed to talk to U.S. marines and they're not allowed to talk to you." An NBC reporter, who knows to obey the rules of the 'minders' [what a word, that], shouts: "You asshole . . . You'll prevent us from working." Thus the minded are set against the working mind working outside the "pool." Divide & conquer redux. Another reporter from the Sunday Times is admonished: "You'll ruin it for the others."

The "others," however, already had problems. When American correspondents on the carrier Saratoga quoted the exact words of air force pilots, they found that the captain and other senior officers deleted all swearwords and changed some of the quotations before sending on their dispatches after a delay of twelve hours. On the Kennedy, news agency "pool" reporters recorded how U.S. pilots watched pornographic videos in order to relax - or to become aroused - before their bombing missions. This was struck from their reports.

At one of the two American airbases in Bahrain, a vast banner was suspended inside an aircraft hangar. It depicted an American "Superman" holding in his arms a limp, terrified Arab with a hooked nose. The existence of this banner, with its racist overtones, went unreported by the "pool" journalists on the base. A "pool" television crew did record Marine Lieutenant Colonel Dick White when he described what it was like to see Iraqi troops in Kuwait running for their lives. His words are worth repeating. "It was like turning on the kitchen light late at night and the cockroaches started scurrying," he said. "We finally got them out where we could find them and kill them." These astonishing remarks did not elicit a single question from the "pool" reporter, although there was certainly one that was worth putting to the colonel: What was the "New World Order" worth when an American officer, after only three weeks of bombing, compared his Arab enemies to insects?

Journalists even felt the Iraqis had not been punished enough and sought to falsify the record of the war to prove it, suggesting that the land liberation of Kuwait, which took just over four days, constituted the entire conflict. In the Washington Post . . . "the war lasted, you will recall, just one hundred hours." [note the comforting imperative placed before "recall"] As Arab-American activist Sam Husseini would point out, "forgotten were the nearly 40 days and nights that the U.S. rained down 80,000 tons of explosives on Iraq - more than all the conventional bombing of Europe in World War II."

But long before this war had concluded with the wholesale slaughter of fleeing Iraqi troops - and in the disgrace of our betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of brave Iraqis who rose against Sadaam at our request - journalists had become mere cyphers, mouthpieces of the generals, discreetly avoiding any moral questions, switching off their cameras - as we would later witness - when the horrors of war became too obvious. Journalists connived in the war, supported it, became part of it. Immaturity, inexperience, upbringing: you can choose any excuse you want. But they created war without death. They lied."

Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, pp.623-4

Stein again:
What do they want to know in the newspapers that is what does anybody want to know just anybody and do they want to know what they do want to know or do they only think so only think they want to know what they do want to know from the newspaper because if they do if they only think so then they do get what they want. [snip]

When the yellow press began, I can remember when the yellow press began that was about thirty-five years ago or so. Anybody knows what the yellow press did. The yellow press that is really the American press then had in every way by headlines by scare lines, by short lines and by long lines, by making all the noise and sound they could with their words and lines tried to invent in every way they could making it be as if the news that had happened on one day had happened not on that day but on the day the newspaper day. [snip]

Now what I mean by hang over from the yellow press is this that reporters always think they bombard you with questions but they do not they mostly talk a little and answer questions and you talk a little and a good deal and more or less do not answer questions. But as I say there was a yellow press and so there is the violence of the yellow press words but as I say the metropolitan newspaper must be soothing it must be yesterday's news, and so no matter how pleasant and gentle and pleasant any reporter is he must have the emotion of the violence that was once the yellow press, they still have the machinery of it, the headlines the bombarding with questions, but actually what they want is a pleasant conversation these reporters and then to write down the same general thing that was always written down about the one reported. [snip]

Think of the whole business, what the newspaper says about anything, it always every time it mentions anybody or anything it has to say the same thing using the same words otherwise it would be a shock to the newspaper reader who has gotten used to this formula about this thing . . .

from "American Newspapers" (1935), in How Writing Is Written, (Black Sparrow, 1974)

Mark Twain (1835-1910) on the Moro Crater Massacre:

[It must be noted that Twain found it prudent to delay publication of this text until after his death. ". . . in 1906, while choosing sections of the autobiography for publication in the North American Review, he marked these dictations as not usable yet."]

Contrast these things with the great statistics which have arrived from that Moro crater! There, with six hundred engaged on each side, we lost fifteen men killed outright, and we had thirty-two wounded — counting that nose and that elbow. The enemy numbered six hundred — including women and children — and we abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. This is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by soldiers of the United States.

Now then, how has it been received? The splendid news appeared with splendid display-heads in every newspaper in this city of four million and thirteen thousand inhabitants, on Friday morning. But there was not a single reference to it in the editorial columns of any one of those newspapers. The news appeared again in all the evening papers of Friday, and again those papers were editorially silent upon our vast achievement. Next day's additional statistics and particulars appeared in all the morning papers, and still without a line of editorial rejoicing, or a mention of the matter in any way. These additions appeared in the evening papers of that same day (Saturday), and again without a word of comment. In the columns devoted to correspondence, in the morning and evening papers of Friday and Saturday, nobody said a word about the "battle". Ordinarily, those columns are teeming with the passions of the citizen; he lets no incident go by, whether it be large or small, without pouring out his praise or blame, his joy or his indignation about the matter in the correspondence column. But, as I have said, during those two days he was as silent as the editors themselves. So far as I can find out, there was only one person among our eighty millions who allowed himself the privilege of a public remark on this great occasion — that was the President of the United States. All day, Friday, he was as studiously silent as the rest. But on Saturday, he recognized that his duty required him to say something, and he took his pen and performed that duty. If I know President Roosevelt — and I am sure I do — this utterance cost him more pain and shame than any other that ever issued from his pen or his mouth. I am far from blaming him. If I had been in his place, my official duty would have compelled me to say what he said. It was a convention, an old tradition, and he had to be loyal to it. There was no help for it. This is what he said:
Washington, March 10, Wood, Manila:
I congratulate you and the officers and men of your command upon the brilliant feat of arms, wherein you and they so well upheld the honor of the American flag. (Signed) Theodore Roosevelt.
I'm honored to stand with the men and women of the Military Officers Association of America. I appreciate the board of directors who are here and the leaders who have given me this platform from which to speak. I'm proud to be here with active members of the United States military. Thank you for your service. I'm proud to be your commander in chief.
Your presence here reminds us that we are engaged in a global war against an enemy that threatens all civilized nations. And today the civilized world stands together to defend our freedom. We stand together to defeat the terrorists. And we're working to secure the peace for generations to come. I appreciate my attorney general joining us today, Al Gonzales. Thank you for being here.
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff is with us.(APPLAUSE)
Three members of the United States Senate . . . [& on adnauseam]

This is the great ideological struggle of the 21st century, and it is the calling of our generation.

George W. Bush, 5 Sept, 2006, as reported by the Washington Post

"In real life that is if you like in the newspapers which are not real life but real life with the reality left out, the reality being the inside and the newspapers being the outside and never is the outside inside and never is the inside outside except in the rare and peculiar cases when the outside breaks through to be inside because the outside is so part of some inside that even a description of the outside cannot completely relieve the outside of the inside."
Gertrude Stein, (1874-1946), from Narration, (1935).


Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

Not being immune to the irresistible allure of couldawouldashoulda, I am obliged to point out that it is possible that if the world had addressed the American Question at the time of the Moro events, we would not find ourselves today staring down the barrel of The Situation.

12:25 PM  

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