Infomercials for Despots
by Stephen Lendman
Sanitizing news and suppressing what’s most important is bad enough. Imagine compounding it by producing infomercials for despots. CNN stands accused. More on that below.
It’s well known that Western major media represent wealth and power interests. Fox New is a Republican party house organ. It also reflects Rupert Murdoch’s worldview.
It features demagoguery, managed news, scandal, sleaze, and warmongering. It’s prototypical presstitute media. Famed journalist George Seldes (1890 – 1995) denounced it in books like “Lords of the Press.”
He called them “the most powerful force against the general welfare of the majority of the people.” He exposed their tactics long before Project Censored and Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.
(FAIR) once called Fox News “the most biased name in news….with its extraordinary right-wing tilt.” Viewing it is like watching “a Harlem Globetrotters game (knowing) which side is supposed to win.”
It’s hard-right, pro-business, pro-war, pro-occupation, anti-populist, sleazy and biased. It combines the worst of yellow journalism with juiced-up infotainment and junk food news.
It’s a mouthpiece piece for Republican extremism. It long ago stopped pretending it’s legitimate. It mocks real journalism. It’s not tolerated on air.
Britain owns and operates BBC. It scrupulously follows government marching orders. It backs its imperial and neoliberal agenda.
Media Lens is an antidote to misinformation. Last July, co-editor David Edwards headlined “Blocked By The BBC,” saying:
Its reports are notoriously pro-Israeli. Accuracy on Occupied Palestine is sorely lacking. Edwards asked Jon Williams, its World News Editor, to comment on Greg Philo/Mike Berry’s book “More Bad News From Israel.”
An updated edition analyzed BBC and ITV Cast Lead coverage. It was unconscionably biased. “The most striking feature of the news texts,” said Philo and Berry, “is the dominance of the Israeli perspective, in relation to the causes of the conflict.”
Truth and full disclosure got short shrift. One-sided Israeli support excludes accuracy of what happened and what’s ongoing daily. In classic understatement, said Edwards, both writers said it’s “difficult in the face of this to see how the BBC can sustain a claim to be offering balanced reporting.”
Edwards called these serious, well-substantiated charges. Williams didn’t respond. He blocked Media Lens from his Twitter page. He’s not the only one. BBC’s Middle East bureau chief, Paul Danahar, did the same thing.
Millions globally follow BBC reports regularly. Most perhaps don’t know they get propaganda, not real news, commentary and opinion. Notoriously one-sided, imbalanced, and biased accounts are featured. It’s standard fare.
Anyone paying attention can spot it. Western interests alone are represented. Viewers and listeners get one side only. BBC does what it’s told. It’s government funded, operated and controlled. It’s Britain’s official voice. It pretends to be independent and impartial.
It denies Palestine is occupied. It claims Israel’s capital is Jerusalem. In 1947, the UN designated it an international city. It remains so to this day. American and UK embassies are in Tel Aviv. So are most others.
In profiling Palestinian territories, the word occupation is omitted. Nothing explains daily reality or how mass slaughter, destruction, and ethnic cleansing created Israel. BBC says its content informs. It doesn’t mislead. Claiming it is laughable on its face.
Instead of condemning criminality, it defends it. Its justification is none at all. It reports spurious propaganda globally. Millions aren’t told they’re lied to. Misinformation and illusion substitute for reality. Viewers and listeners are betrayed.
What’s more important than war or peace? When Britain and America wage wars or plan them, BBC marches in lockstep. It’s no different from America’s scoundrel media.
NPR and PBS are called public to conceal their real agenda. Critics ridicule NPR as National Pentagon or Petroleum Radio for good reason. It’s true as well for PBS. Calling it Propaganda Public Broadcasting more accurately describes it.
Nation magazine and publications like it fall far short of their mandates. Some get funding from corporate and other disreputable sources they should condemn.
George Soros is a stealth media mogul. Broadcast outlets and print publications he funds reach hundreds of millions globally.
So-called progressive media like Democracy Now take tainted Soros and other corporate foundation money. It’s given to buy influence and gets plenty. Dirty money comes with strings.
Do as they say or lose it. Obeying means producing managed, not real, news and information. Cheerleading imperial lawlessness is demanded and gotten. It shows up in scandalous reporting.
Progressive media sources doing it are especially insidious. Viewers, listeners and readers think they’re getting legitimate information. Instead they’re being lied to. They support these groups monetarily. They’re throwing good money away on organizations betraying them.
Video News Releases (VNRs) are fake news. They masquerade as real. They’re corporate-sponsored propaganda. PR firms produce them to look legitimate.
Scoundrel broadcasters air them. They fill time slots. Viewers aren’t told they’re watching prepackaged garbage. They influence public opinion. They promote commercial products and services. They publicize issues and individuals. They constitute deception writ large.
TV stations fill air time without cost. Corporations get free advertising. VNR producers profit from lying. Everyone wins but viewers. They’re deceived and scammed.
Audio News Releases (ANRs) are also produced. Radio stations air them. Public airwaves are used fraudulently.
Government officials produce fake news. They’re broadcast the same way on television and radio. Issues are promoted like imperial wars and homeland neoliberal policies.
Journalists shill for power. They’re paid government employees. They support programs they should condemn. Viewers, listeners, and readers are none the wiser.
On-the-take journalism pays well. Tax dollars buy public deception. FCC officials turn a blind eye. They do nothing. AJ Liebling (1904 – 1963) said, “People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.” It’s the same on television and radio.
Manipulating public opinion is policy. Truth is suppressed. Misinformation infests airwaves and fills broadsheet space like crabgrass besets lawns.
Censorship is policy at CNN. So is producing infomercials for despots. Bahrain dirty money bought it. The Al Khalifa monarchy is one of the world’s most ruthless regimes. It’s a case study in despotism. It’s one of the worst. State terrorism is policy.
Since winter 2011, it waged war on its own people. They’ve braved security force attacks with tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets, live fire, arrests, torture, disappearances, and imprisonments.
Nonviolent men, women, children, doctors, journalists, human rights activists, and foreign observers are targeted. Western governments turn a blind eye. They offer support, not condemnation.
Media scoundrels are no better. Ongoing state terror is suppressed. Practically nothing about Bahrain is reported. CNN’s the exception. Former reporter Amber Lyon exposed how it buys favorable content.
On October 6, Fars News Agency headlined “Ex-CNN Reporter: CNN Bribed by Dictators to Censor Realities,” saying:
Amber Lyon said “CNN gets paid by despotic regimes to produce and broadcast what she referred to as ‘infomercials for dictators,’ saying that the sponsored content of such pieces aired on CNN International ‘is actually being paid for by regimes and governments.’ “
Bahrain’s monarch paid CNN blood money to suppress information on its brutal crackdowns. Lyon went public and told all.
On October 3, Russia Today (rt.com) headlined “Bahrain buys favorable CNN content,” saying:
Amber Lyon explained. RT interviewed her. She said she “created a lot of documentaries for CNN that didn’t air internationally.”
They should have, but CNN suppressed or sanitized them. She spent time in Bahrain. She witnessed state terrorism firsthand. She videotaped it. It wasn’t aired internationally. She learned “Bahrain was actually a paying customer for CNN.”
Favorable content was created. “Even though CNN says its content is editorially independent Bahrain can affect that – what we’ve seen with that documentary not airing and also with the constant struggle I had at CNN to get Bahrain coverage, accurate coverage of the human rights abuses on-air while I was there.”
“What CNN is doing is they are essentially creating what some people have termed ‘infomercials for dictators.’ And that’s the sponsored content that they are airing on CNN International that is actually being paid for by regimes and governments.”
“And this violates every principle of journalistic ethics, because we’re supposed to be watchdogs on these governments.”
“We are not supposed to allow them to be a paying customer as journalists. And that’s the issue here – that CNN is feeding, then, this propaganda to the public and not fairly disclosing to the public that this is sponsored content.”
It’s not just Bahrain. CNN does the same thing for Saakashvili’s Georgia and Kazakhstan. Instead of getting correspondents to report accurately, viewers are systematically lied to.
The self-styled “most trusted name in news” reports managed news misinformation and willful lies. Disturbing truths are suppressed. Regime friendly accounts substitute. What viewers most need to know isn’t broadcast.
Lyon took great risks in Bahrain. She dodged her minders. She went to villages and witnessed atrocities firsthand. She videotaped it. She saw injured patients run out of hospitals. Birdshot targeted them.
Ambulance drivers who helped them were beaten. Coming back, she and her producer were accosted. About 20 masked men with machine guns stopped them. They tried to erase videos they found.
She and her producer concealed some discs in their bras. They managed to get them out of the country.
“You can imagine Bahrain’s surprise when we got back to the US and this content was airing on CNN, and right after that is when the phone calls started coming into the network complaining about me and trying to get my coverage off the air.”
CNN and other scoundrel media vilify Syria and Iran unjustifiably. At the same time, they suppress horrific atrocities committed by US allies. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are two of the worst.
Viewers are systematically lied to. They’re denied real information. RT said Bahrain issued a statement. It denied Lyon’s accusations. It lied saying so. That’s how despots operate.
CNN International also lied. It calls its editorial and commercial operations “completely separate.” Lyon, of course, knows otherwise. So do RT viewers who followed their reports. They explained what everyone needs to know.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.