Plural Perspectives

Plural Perspectives
Plurality promotes and powers Perspectives

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Why Burlington Prefers Plurality over Paucity?

The viewers in Burlington pressing for a choice to diverse news channels are in fact the torch bearers for greater access to alternate information sources. Armed with diverse news sources, the American people can crosscheck and verify the government's position to rid themselves of half-truths from the corporate media, which remains a willing accomplice in keeping American viewers continually subjected to "Washington's Culture of Deception."

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception" has a chapter titled "Selling the War," where he says the administration repeatedly "shaded the truth." He also stated, "In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage." In what might be the most disturbing statement in the book, McClellan said, "What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary."

It was McClellan who turned Eric Boehlert author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush" onto research compiled by analyst Andrew Tyndall, who found that almost all the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC, and CBS from September 2002 until February 2003 could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department. Only 34 stories, or just 8 percent, were of independent origin. The manipulation of information grew to a level where according to Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein Washington had been overtaken by a “permanent campaign culture” with its constant spin, exaggeration and shading of the truth, all in the service of “manipulating the narrative” to partisan advantage.

In his October 2007 Address to the Military Reporters and Editors in Washington Lt. General (Ret) Ricardo S. Sanchez made a very vocal indictment of the media so far where he singled out the following aspects where the American media was failing some crucial challenges:

(1) "The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry."

(2) "Other major challenges are your willingness to be manipulated by “high level officials” who leak stories and by lawyers who use hyperbole to strengthen their arguments. Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda driven biases contribute to this corrosive environment. All of these challenges combined create a media environment that does a tremendous disservice to America. "

(3) "As a corollary to this deadline driven need to publish “initial impressions or observations” versus objective facts there is an additional challenge for us who are the subject of your reporting. When you assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground on a story because we have not respond to questions you provided is the ultimate arrogance and distortion of ethics."

(4) "As I assess various media entities, some are unquestionably engaged in political propaganda that is uncontrolled."

He went on to remind the journalists that one of their highly respected fellow journalists once told Sanchez that there are some amongst the reporters who “feed from a pig’s trough.”

McCellan saw closely how political news was manipulated for years, while as the commander of coalition forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004, General Sanchez despite access to all defence intelligence felt that truth was not coming out to the American public. Sanchez's just out book "Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story" accuses the Bush administration of "the cynical use of war for political gains." His sharp tongued conclusion: "Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars were unnecessarily spent, and worse yet, too many of our most precious military resource, our American soldiers, were unnecessarily wounded, maimed, and killed as a result. In my mind, this action by the Bush administration amounts to gross incompetence and dereliction of duty."

When it came to the facts from the Middle East, McClellan explains that Bush "and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war." In effect the administration and the compliant media were engaging in "self-deception."

Those who champion the cause of defending Vermont need to spell out how the American people can assure wider access to competent and qualified perspectives to challenge such practices. Critics of Al Jazeera should list alternates by listing which American channels have risen up to
provide clear cut answers to what's really going on in the Middle East.

Media outlets ought to answer why it hasn't sufficiently probed the cakewalk crowd who promised a casual march to victory in Iraq. How many media activists pressed for accountability of the likes of Ken Adelmen who misled the American media by claiming 'measured by any cost-benefit analysis, such an operation would constitute the greatest victory in America's war on terrorism.' Had American taxpayers an easy access to alternate information sources it wouldn't have taken them four years to question the wisdom of the 'cakewalk' bunch. Instead of making wrong choices and pursuing wrong approaches that are just goose chasing and witch-hunting exercises the US needs to befriend with the ones that capture and portray the facts professionally and far effectively. Now more than ever the US public and its opinions makers need tools that can help them separate the wheat from the chaff not occasionally but on an on-going, round the clock basis.

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