Two weeks before the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan, an unnamed military officer involved in the planning offered the Washington Post some chilling insight into the Bush administration’s media strategy: “This is the most information-intensive war you can imagine,” the source said. “We’re going to lie about things.”
If you expected the press to summon up some outrage at the prospect of a deliberate disinformation campaign—to maybe start asking, “Was that a lie? No? How about that?” at White House news briefings—you were probably disappointed. Not one major U.S. paper bothered to reprint the quote. (Salon.com did.)
A free, independent, and critical press is never more crucial than in wartime, when millions of lives and the course of history can turn on small bits of information. But since the September 11 attacks, corporate media outlets have been busy doing what News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch called their “patriotic duty”: waving the flag, toeing the government’s line, and ceding their major editorial judgment calls to Condoleezza Rice and other administration bigwigs. These insiders have pressured news executives to suppress information ranging from Al Qaeda statements and security details to public health data available under the Freedom of Information Act.
Rather than challenge government censorship, the press seemed willing propagandizers: the U.S. war should be “media-driven,” a Forbes writer said. On network broadcasts, news analysts and pundits currently or formerly affiliated with the White House, Pentagon, CIA, and FBI portrayed military retaliation as inevitable. While such insiders are valid sources, it’s unsurprising that they provided little historical context regarding the CIA’s prior role in aiding Osama bin Laden and the mujahideen in Afghanistan’s battle with the Soviets. And though they argued that the Taliban should be overthrown partly for their violent misogyny, these mostly male hawks didn’t mention that for years, the United States largely ignored feminists’ pleas on behalf of brutalized Afghan women.
In contrast, international peace and justice experts who could offer non-military response options were virtually invisible in a debate rarely broader than “How Wide a War?,” as PBS’s News Hour framed it. Some journalists, like Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, answered that question by advocating the starvation of civilians; others, like former New York Times Executive Editor A.M. Rosenthal, answered the question by proposing the complete destruction of the civic infrastructures of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Sudan—war crimes that would surely kill millions of innocent people.
Other influential reporters, while not as bloodthirsty, saw themselves as proud partners of the politicians they cover. On David Letterman’s Late Show, CBS anchor Dan Rather announced, “George Bush is the president. Continued
7/27/2015 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Blocked Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood - An attempt in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood by Mike Lee (R-UT) was blocked this weekend by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Lee tried to attach the elimination of federal funds for Planned Parenthood to a vote for highway legislation, a move which was rejected by McConnell as out of order.
Republican legislators have redoubled their efforts to block funding for Planned Parenthood since the release of two heavily edited clandestine videos of different PPFA employees taken without their knowledge. . . .
7/24/2015 Katherine Spillar Urges Cleveland to Dramatically Increase Hiring of Women Police to Mitigate Police Violence - In a well-received speech at the City Club of Cleveland today, Katherine Spillar, Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation urged Cleveland city officials to dramatically increase the hiring of women police officers as a way to decrease police brutality incidents.
Following a number of high profile police killings in Cleveland of African Americans, and an eight-month investigation by the US Attorney's office of the Northern District of Ohio, the City of Cleveland has now entered into a Consent Decree that requires numerous reforms in how the city oversees and investigates police operations, including training in use of force.
"Among the most important reforms mandated by the consent decree - and the most easily overlooked - are the changes the Cleveland Division of Police must make in its recruitment and hiring practices,
said Spillar. . . .