Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Aug. 2, 2013
“There is an odor to any press headquarters that is unmistakable: the unavoidable smell of flesh burning quietly and slowly in the service of a machine.”
- Norman Mailer
If you’ve ever wondered why someone like Bradley Manning gets far less media coverage than, say, a “royal” birth or a mayoral candidate’s penis, well… you can always count on the “newspaper of record” to reveal the method behind the madness.
A July 30, 2013 New York Times article by John M. Broder and Ginger Thompson was deftly entitled, “Loner Sought a Refuge, and Ended Up in War.” The stage was set in a single word -- the first word, in fact -- as we all know what America thinks about “loners.” Those are the ones who turn out to like Oswald or Dahmer or Klebold and Harris.
Any lingering hope for a nuanced discussion on privacy or war crimes was dashed by the opening paragraph:
Feeling outcast and alone in Iraq, Bradley Manning, then a 22-year-old Army private, turned to the Internet for solace in early 2010, wanting to share with the world what he saw as the unconscionable horrors of war, an act that resulted in what military prosecutors called one of the greatest betrayals in the nation’s history.
Not only a loner but an “outcast,” Manning merely exposed “what he saw as the unconscionable horrors of war.” Well played by the Times as loyal readers -- long conditioned by daily propaganda -- are given the comfortable choice of accepting that some weirdo geek with a grudge against god’s country misinterpreted U.S. military behavior. For good measure, Broder and Thompson only tell us how military prosecutors perceive his actions.
For the handful of mainstream folks who might actually continue reading the article beyond this point, the Times offers passing mention of Manning being “confined to a tiny cell 23 hours a day at the Marine base at Quantico, Va.,” before quickly returning to their more familiar role of stenographer to power.
Those same military prosecutors, we’re told, “accused Private Manning of being a self-promoting ‘anarchist’ who was nothing like the tortured man of principle portrayed by his lawyers, supporters around the world celebrated him as a martyr for free speech.”
Let’s stop for a second to note that the NY Times not only dragged out the all-purpose smear of “anarchist” but has yet to find it “fit to print” to include any details of the specific “unconscionable horrors of war” Manning exposed. This omission allows Broder and Thompson to claim his supporters are solely focusing on the issue of “free speech.” As for the Times’ mocking phrase “tortured man of principle,” it wouldn’t take the reporters (sic) much effort to find Manning’s own thoughts and words on the topic. But, of course, the article’s atuhors don’t want to complicate matters with such context. Instead, they educate their readers with news that the “heated language on both sides” tends to “overshadow the human story at the center of the case.”
With all due respect to both Manning’s courage and the criminal treatment he’s endured, the story at “the center of the case” is not his personality, upbringing, or political leanings. The story cleverly but predictably obscured by the Times is all about the Home of the Brave™ sanctioning war crimes as policy and throwing the full weight of its legal (sic) might at anyone crazy enough to expose such global criminality.
As Amnesty International recently concluded: “It's hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning's trial was about sending a message: the U.S. government will come after you, no holds barred, if you're thinking of revealing evidence of its unlawful behavior.”
Rather than discuss any of that, of course, journalists (sic) Broder and Thompson treat us to details like Manning being “the child of a severed home” and “a teenager bullied for his conflicted sexuality” who “never fit in.” Even in the Army, he was a “misfit” and just in case you’re not sure why, the Times gleefully clarifies: “In early 2010, he covertly downloaded gun-camera videos, battle logs and tens of thousands of State Department cables onto flash drives while lip-syncing the words to Lady Gaga songs.”
Who ya gonna trust, big strong white men with lots of stripes on their uniforms or a Gaga-loving misfit outcast?
The slander and innuendo goes on -- and on -- but it isn’t until paragraph 12 (when maybe 90 percent of readers have already moved on?) that Broder and Thompson deign to mention Manning as “disturbed by footage shot by an Apache helicopter of an attack on a street in Baghdad in July 2007 that killed two Reuters journalists and several other men.”
Before any of you get the bright idea to ponder a U.S. military helicopter given the name “Apache” or to question our (sic) heroic (sic) men and women in uniform, Broder and Thompson lay it out simply but firmly: “While larger questions about government secrecy and the role of the news media in the Internet age swirl around the case, the roots of Private Manning’s behavior may spring as much from his troubled youth as from his political views.”
The remainder of the article provides tidbits about Manning playing video games, being teased by classmates and rejected by his father, living in his car for a while, and “his geeky fascination with computers, his liberal political opinions and his sexual orientation.”
To fully illustrate the sheer weirdness of this America-hating gay anarchist loner, Broder and Thompson make sure they tell us that Private Manning wore a dog tag that said “Humanist” and kept a toy fairy wand on his desk.
Which brings me back to the title of this article…
The U.S. government charged Bradley Manning with aiding the enemy but, let’s state the obvious: the enemy is the U.S. government… and the multi-national corporations that fund it. The crime isn’t whistle-blowing, the crime is relentless, lawless global war in pursuit and protection of profit. The New York Times and all corporate media outlets, therefore, should be charged with aiding the enemy.
It is the role, the mission, of the corporate-run media to aid the enemy.
Whether you label them liberal or conservative, most major media outlets are large corporations owned by or aligned with even larger corporations, and they share a common strategy: selling a product (an affluent audience) to a given market (advertisers).
Therefore, we shouldn’t find it too shocking that the image of the world being presented by a corporate-owned press very much reflects the biased interests of the elite players involved in this sordid little love triangle.
If you created a blueprint for an apparatus that utterly erased critical thought, you could make none more efficient than the American corporate media -- and please don't fall into the trap of only demonizing Fox News.
A major component of the free press illusion is the notion that some media outlets are more liberal while others are more right-wing -- belief in this myth further limits the already limited parameters of accepted debate.
Reality Check: The media are as liberal or conservative as the corporations that own them.
So, of course the mainstream media distorts and/or ignores the Manning story. That's their job and it's a waste of our time and energy to expect otherwise. The major media corporations been given the keys to the public (sic) airwaves and we don't yet have the means to change that. We do, however, have the means to circumvent this model.
Tracy Chapman once promised that revolution “sounds like a whisper.” Well, we may not be able to yell louder than the professional propagandists of the corporate media but we damn sure can whisper more effectively.
The media can't be "fixed" any more than all the other dying institutions (banking, health care, education, etc.) can be. So, I say: Let the corporate press rot while we utilize our resources and ingenuity to create an entirely new model.
If we build it, they will join us…
It will require both outrage and outreach for us to outlive the corporate pirates (and the politicians they fund) who have hijacked our future. To help make this happen, we need more of the 99% to get aware and active. Thus, we must keep whispering the truth and continue working to model new alternatives.
Let’s not allow Bradley Manning’s efforts and sacrifice to be in vain!
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.
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