9 June 2011
The monopolization and digitization of the media has standardized and concentrated the production process. This has resulted in virtually identical output regardless of its source. Not only the nature of the ‘news’ but also what is considered to be worthy of our attention comes at us in lockstep regardless of where we are or the medium, blanketing out any alternate views on the subject.
Every day I receive hundreds of stories and of course I can’t read but a small fraction of them but still I get a sense of the story from the title and the description as to whether it warrants further investigation. One thing is apparent from the process of scanning so many stories is that patterns emerge, especially in the mainstream corporate/state media. They follow very predictable routes from headline to oblivion, the frequency diminishing day-by-day.
When Wikileaks hit the headlines, stories were pouring out of the MSM at an extreme rate of knots but it soon became clear that the leaked cables contained quite damaging (to the Empire) information thus attention was switched to Julian Assange, a job made all the easier by the (convenient?) rape allegations.
Thus it seems the only way to get a story into the MSM is to be accused of something bad, better still something really bad and morally reprehensible. But of course the original reason for seeking exposure gets lost in the resulting media shuffle as priorities are rearranged.
L’affaire Wikileaks exemplifies this process, a process that consists of quite distinct elements or phases to the MSM’s handling of such a ‘sensitive’ subject as to how the Empire functions. After all, the ruling elite have behaved like a private club for centuries, justifying secrecy in the name of the defending the state. Quite so, but as a writer in an allegedly democratic society it’s my right to find out what the state is up to, especially when it’s being done in my name! If nothing else, the arrival of Wikileaks has challenged the notion of ‘diplomatic privilege’.
Phase 1: Question the legality/danger of whistle-blowing, after all that’s what it is;
Phase 2: Attack the organization’s credibility, patriotism etc;
Phase 3: Seek to discredit its spokesperson (Assange gets questioned, released, rearrested, locked up, bailed, extradition sought);
Phase 4: Ignore the leaks entirely except for the ‘juicy bits’.
This process goes for any news or analysis that questions the fundamental status quo. My (assumed) co-conspirators over at Media Lens summed it up well in their latest missive:
“Working on Media Lens has given us ten years of first-hand experience of just how tightly discussion can be controlled in an ostensibly democratic society. No matter how carefully we have formulated our questions, no matter how politely we have delivered them, we have been branded angry, irrational, unworthy of attention.” — ‘Ten Years Of Media Lens – Operation Rheinübung‘, Media Lens 9 June 2011
Anybody who visits here on a regular basis will know that I publish dozens of media links to stories leaked/massaged/analysed on the ongoing Wikileaks that originate from sources far and wide across the planet.
But check this out: in the releases (9/6/11) I published links to fifty stories that mentioned Wikileaks but of these fifty only seven originated with the corporate press and aside from one story from the Daily Telegraph, the rest were all US-sourced from just three major newspapers, the Washington Post, the Miami Herald and the LA Times.
But of greater importance is the subject matter of the seven stories the first of which is a Washington Post piece titled ‘Six Apart Releases Movable Type Updates To Plug Security Holes, Following PBS Hack‘ that has nothing to do with the cables, followed by ‘Jesse Ventura Says He Would Abolish U.S. Income Tax‘, also from the Washpost. Not looking good so far.
Then we get an LA Times story ‘Diplomat nominated as ambassador to Mexico‘ which at least actually refers to a leaked cable (on the Drug Wars in Mexico).
The Telegraph story is titled ‘Apple iCloud: the criticism‘ and is only incidentally concerned with the leaked cables (actually, it’s about how to stop them, leaks that is). Predictably, the Miami Herald has a story on Osama bin Laden’s alleged successor as revealed in a leaked cable.
Then comes a Reuters story on the now infamous Lulz hackers who have been claiming that they hacked US public broadcasters’ website over a doccie on Wikileaks‘, though the story is titled ‘US urges code of conduct for Internet commerce‘.
Finally we get another Washpost Blog piece titled ‘Sarah Palin’s emails: What to expect‘ and it’s about a student who hacked her website in 2008.
The New York Times goes one step further:
Help Us Investigate the Sarah Palin E-Mail Records
We’re asking readers to help us identify interesting and newsworthy e-mails, people and events that we may want to highlight. — NYT, 9 June 2011
There you have it, the sum total of a day’s worth stories that between them only actually refer to a cable or its context twice. Going back through previous daily Wikileaks Newslinks, the pattern is repeated over and over again (Newslinks 8/6/11 had just one story in the MSM). There is simply no substantive coverage of the issues and events being revealed by the cables and those stories that do get covered are, for the most part, trivial or trivialize the contents.
The important thing to remember here is that whilst many of leaked cables often concern events in small countries, all revolve around the US Empire and its actions. So for example we have the Hindustan Times story ‘US had asked Zardari not to humiliate Musharraf: WikiLeaks‘. There is an important story on US attempts to get the Canadian government to ‘cover’ for the US (here). The list goes on… Guantanamo, Haiti, Syria, Bahrain, yet none of these important stories get an airing in the MSM at all.
Equally, a search of the BBC’s RSS news feed for a mention of Wikileaks (or even Assange) between 24 March and now yielded not a single story. One can only conclude that there is a concerted effort to conceal the cables from the public’s view, unless of course the revelations are salacious or deemed ‘newsworthy’ as the Palin story exemplifies.
So whilst the bulk of the mainstream media coverage of Wikileaks is either about how dangerous Wikileaks is, or how to stop it happening again, the stories and what they imply being revealed by Wikileaks no longer warrant a mention. Even worse, the revelations of US blackmail, double-dealing, bribery and lies (not-to-mention out-and-out murder) raise not an eyebrow.
Take the following story from the ever-alert Bill Blum’s Anti-Empire Report:
“The recent disclosure by Wikileaks of US State Department documents included this little item: A cable was sent by Michael Parmly from the US Interests Section in Havana in July 2006, during the runup to the Non-Aligned Movement conference. He notes that he is actively looking for “human interest stories and other news that shatters the myth of Cuban medical prowess”.
“[A] Wikileaks State Department cable: “On January 31, 2008, a State Department official stationed in Havana took a made-up story and sent it back to his headquarters in Washington. Here’s what they came up with: [The official] stated that Cuban authorities have banned Michael Moore’s documentary, ‘Sicko,’ as being subversive. Although the film’s intent is to discredit the U.S. healthcare system by highlighting the excellence of the Cuban system, the official said the regime knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.”
“Moore adds that the people of Cuba were shown the film on national television on April 25, 2008.” — Anti-Empire Report, 2 June 2011
So here we have a US federal employee inventing a story about Cuba banning Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ in order to discredit the country’s healthcare system and given the fact that the MSM and the state are joined at the hip, such stories will never make the front- or any other page in the MSM.
In short, the leaked cables have been relegated to wallpaper, their contents stripped of meaning and context and now form a decorative backdrop to the corporate security state’s war on our right to know what our leaders are plotting to do behind closed doors. Until Wikileaks came along, it was a ‘we know best, leave it up to the experts, don’t rock the diplomatic boat’.