The Difficulty of Being an Informed American
By Paul Craig Roberts
January 08, 2009
The American print
and TV media has never been very good. These days it is horrible. If a person
intends to be informed, he must turn to foreign news broadcasts, to Internet
sites, to foreign newspapers available on the Internet, or to alternative newspapers
that are springing up in various cities. A person who sits in front of Murdoch’s
Fox “News” or CNN or who reads the New York Times is simply being
brainwashed with propaganda.
Before conservatives nod their heads in agreement, I’m not referring
to “the liberal media.” I mean the propaganda that issues from the
US government and the Israel Lobby.
It was neoconservative Bush regime propaganda fed to America through Judith
Miller and the New York Times and through Murdoch’s Fox “News”
that convinced Americans that they were in danger from a small secular Arab
country half way around the globe called Iraq. It was the American media that
convinced Americans that getting rid of dangerous “weapons of mass destruction,”
weapons that did not exist in Iraq, would be a cakewalk paid for by Iraqi oil
It is the same propagandistic American print and TV media that has rationalized
Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan based on seven years of
lies and deception.
It is the same media that today provides only Israeli propaganda as “coverage”
of the Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
It was the New York Times that spiked for one year the leaked information
from the National Security Agency that the Bush regime, in violation of US law,
was illegally spying on Americans without warrants. The “liberal” New York Times
agreed to suppress the story so that Bush would not face reelection under the
cloud of his outlaw behavior.
Conservatives think the Washington Post is “liberal media” despite
the fact that the editorial and commentary pages are controlled by neocons and
During the run up to wars and during wars, the American media has always been
a propagandist for the government. The only exceptions occurred during the Vietnam
war and the Contra-Sandinista conflict in Central America. Karen de Young and
some others tried to honestly cover the Contras and Sandinistas and were demonized
by “patriots” taken in by the government’s lies.
Conservatives still blame the “liberal” media for losing the Vietnam
war, when in fact all the media did was to provide some truthful reports that
opened some American eyes.
When the truth cuts against the position of the US government, conservatives
see it as “liberal.”
When propaganda supports the government’s lies, conservatives see it
However, any resemblance to independent reporting disappeared from the American
media when the Democratic regime of President Clinton allowed Murdoch and a
small handful of moguls to concentrate the American media in a few corporate
hands. That was the end of American reporting.
Journalists disappeared from media management and were replaced by corporate
advertising executives with an eye not to offend any source of advertising revenue,
and certainly not to offend the government, which controls the broadcast licenses
that comprise the value of the mega-companies. Today reporters write the stories
that their masters want to hear, or they are out. The function of editors is
to make certain that no uncomfortable information reaches the public.
The public is slowly catching on, and the print media is slowly dying. The
New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times are
all on the ropes to one extent or the other.
Americans are still subjected to Fox “News” and CNN propaganda
piped into airport waiting rooms, doctors’ offices, and exercise centers.
It is very much the situation that George Orwell describes in 1984.
People ask me where they can get reliable information. I tell them that their
goal cannot be reached without their commitment of time.
People who have access to television services that provide English language
foreign broadcasts, such as Iran’;s Press TV, Russia Today, or Al Jazeera,
can get get news and insights from those parts of the world demonized by the
The BBC World Service still reports facts while covering itself by providing
the views of the US, UK, and Israeli governments.
Both the Asia Times and Israeli newspapers, such as Haaretz,
can be read online in English. There are other such newspapers, and all of them
provide information that Americans will never see in their own media. Any American
newspaper that was as truthful about the Israeli government as Haaretz
would be closed down.
The only US print media with which I am familiar in which some honest reporting
can be found on a regular basis is the McClatchy papers.
Americans addicted to print media must turn to alternative newspapers, which
tend to be weekly or bi-weekly. However, the news and commentary provided are
I have made no study of alternative newspapers and know very few. The Rock
Creek Free Press (www.RockCreekFreePress.com)
is terrific. After reading one issue, you will waste no more time on the “mainstream
media.” The Rock Creek Free Press is likely to rescue even the dullest
mind from its brainwashed state.
Other alternative newspapers, such as The Liberty Voice (www.TheLibertyVoice.com),
lift your spirit as well as inform.
Alternative newspapers are often the children of people motivated by a sense
of justice and the love of truth. Such people have become an endangered species
in the American “mainstream media.” The free press Americans have
today is online and in the alternative media.
The function of the “mainstream media” is to sell products and
to brainwash the audience for the government and interest groups. By subscribing
to it, Americans support their own brainwashing.
Dr. Roberts was associate editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal,
columnist for Business Week, and columnist for the Scripps Howard Newspapers.