Monday, December 6, 2010

Associate professor Joseph Palermo on the US media censorship of the WikiLeaks stories

Associate professor Joseph A. Palermo (California State University) is among the first I have seen who puts focus on the recent effort of journalists to stand behind the United States political establishment in their coverage of the WikiLeaks stories. Palermo writes in a column today in Huffington Post that "American journalists tend to either frame the story as being about the "over-classification" of documents or the personal motivations and private life of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange."

Palermo also writes on the self-censorship imposed by these newspapers to hide details I have not yet managed to pick up:

"Lost in the media static are many tidbits of information such as the squandering of U.S. tax dollars to enrich Afghan officials like the former vice president, Ahmed Zia Massoud, who was ushered through customs in Dubai carrying $52 million; or the spectacle of corrupt Sunni Arab sheikdoms (including Saudi Arabia) joining forces with Israel in demanding the United States attack Iran; or Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili nearly snookering the U.S. into a shooting war with Russia; or the double-dealing with terrorist organizations by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Even when the New York Times reports on the substance of the documents its editors couldn't resist pumping up the volume on the alleged sale of nineteen North Korean missiles to Iran, only to walk back the story a couple of days later."

Palermo's conclusion is about as interesting:

"The old Soviet news outlet, TASS, couldn't have asked for more obedience to the State from its "journalists" as American commentators (...) have shown in their attacks on WikiLeaks."

Palermo also refers to the tendency of politicians and media figures either subtly pointing to, or being open about, the "need" to assassinate Julian Assange.

"Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, (FAIR), the journalism watchdog group, printed in its December issue of its monthly magazine Extra! a summary of an exchange that took place on October 22, 2010 between ABC News's Daine Sawyer and Martha Raddatz when the first trove of WikiLeaks documents came out. After Raddatz summarized some of the revelations, which included "deadly U.S. helicopter assaults on insurgents trying to surrender . . . the Iraqi civilian death toll far higher than the U.S. has acknowledged . . . graphic details about torture of detainees by the Iraqi military." Sawyer's next question was: "I know there's a lot of outrage about this again tonight, Martha. But tell me, anything more about prosecuting the WikiLeaks group?" FAIR also quoted the former Bush State Department official and contributor to, Christian Whiton, who called for the U.S. government to label Assange an "enemy combatant" and take "non-judicial actions" against him. FAIR's conclusion: "It's hard to think of another country where the opposition news media complains that the government doesn't assassinate enough journalists.""

It surely is.

And it is highly recommended to read the full story too.

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