The Liberal Media: Rest in Peace – by Stephen Lendman
The New York Times never qualified, run exclusively as a voice for power and privilege. The same, of course, holds for virtually all mainstream publications, including the Nation magazine, suppressing, sanitizing, and distorting truths, betraying its readers since 1865.
Its founding prospectus said it “will not be the organ of any party, sect, or body. It will, on the contrary, make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration, and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred.”
Today it claims “Nobody owns the Nation….We are a wholly owned subsidiary of our own conscience.”
Yet, in disservice to its readers, its record since inception has been shameless. It was unapologetic about slavery, then didn’t support minority, labor, or women’s rights. It championed 19th century laissez fare, attacked the Grangers, Populists, trade unions and socialists. In 1999, it called the US/NATO Serbia/Kosovo aggression “humanitarian intervention.”
After 9/11, it backed the official explanation despite convincing evidence debunking it. Initially it supported the Iraq war, and until recently the Afghan one. More on that below.
It also ignored the blatant 2000 fraud for George Bush, claimed “no evidence” showed the 2004 election was stolen, and in January 2006, ran an offensive full-page anti-Muslim ad titled, “Arabian Fables,” claiming Palestinians are prone to violence and deception. Two months later, it said Haiti’s Jean-Bertrand Aristide was “feared and despised,” then blamed Haitians for their own misery.
After the January 2010 earthquake, it backed America’s intervention, Washington correspondent John Nichols praising Obama’s “dignity and determination,” saying:
“At a time when there is so much disappointment regarding the unmet promise of a presidency that finished its first year on a bitter note of a lost Senate seat, Obama responded to the crisis in a spirit that has the potential to reassure not just Haitians but Americans.”
The reality is far different, and Nichols knows it or should. Haiti is occupied and oppressed for the duration. Conditions on the ground are horrific. Essential aid is obstructed and limited. A health emergency continues. Malnutrition is rampant, clean water scarce, sanitation nearly non-existant, and only a small fraction of those needing tents and other essentials have them, leaving hundreds of thousands out of luck and on their own.
Yet for Nichols, Obama “has projected a concern and a commitment that meets the moment,” when, in fact, he militarized Haiti, blocked essential food, medical, and other supplies, and plans more sweatshops, resource exploitation, and commercial development instead of vital aid, Nichols saying, thanks to Obama, Haitians are in good hands.
In June 2007, The Nation ran a slanderous anti-Hugo Chavez diatribe by contributor Joaquin Villalobos, a neocon Colombian government advisor/assassin of Roque Dalton, the renown leftist Salvadoran poet/journalist.
Long a notorious Democrat party flack, it cheerled Obama’s candidacy, extolled his election, sees in him a “sea-change of course (for) progressive-driven reform, (the) end of the Reagan era….an end of the occupation of Iraq, and a socially liberal new beginning.”
Eighteen months later, Nation writers are still supportive, ignoring Obama’s lies, deceptions, contradictions, and crimes – campaign promises made and broken, including permanent occupations; raging imperial wars; others threatened in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, Asia and South America; shameless handouts to Wall Street bandits and other corporate favorites; and hardline homeland repression against Muslims, undocumented immigrants and minorities, while millions of Americans are impoverished, jobless, homeless, hungry and cheated by a president who doesn’t give a damn.
Neither does the Nation, including its editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, an establishment figure, a regular on corporate TV, and member of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations (CRF), an organization committed to one-world government based on centralized financial control, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. once calling it a “front organization (for) the heart of the American Establishment.”
Her maternal grandfather, Jules Stein, founded MCA, the entertainment conglomerate. Her father, William, was executive assistant to William Donovan, former Thailand ambassador involved in the CIA’s creation. Father William was also a Farfield Foundation board member, a CIA front group active during the Cold War, and later special assistant to New York Governor Averill Harriman and US Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Vanden Heuvel is a Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) Board of Governors member. Others include former Senator Paul Sarbanes, former Democrat vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, and John Brademas, former New York University president and National Endowment for Democracy board member, a US foreign policy instrument funding anti-democracy groups globally.
Initially an Afghan war supporter, vanden Heuvel and Nation writers then backed humanitarian intervention to make the country and region “secure” and “stable.” Yet after WikiLeaks revelations, she showed unease in her July 29 editorial (published on July 27 in her weekly Washington Post column) titled, “Could WikiLeaks Offer a Way Out of War,” saying:
“The war in Afghanistan just got a little foggier – or a little more transparent – depending on how you choose to see” the WikiLeaks dump, quoting a London Guardian editorial “show(ing) a conflict that is brutally messy, confused and immediate,” neither she nor the editorial writer exposing the conflict’s lawlessness, mindless slaughter, daily war crimes, and shocking atrocities, including torture in America’s offshore gulag. Instead, she quotes The New York Times saying:
“The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not,” responding only that “Perhaps a new take on an old war is just what we need to extract ourselves from another quagmire. (We’ve seen) enough to know that (Obama’s) strategy cannot work, and enough to understand that the cost of continuing the war far outstrip any conceivable benefits.”
“Benefits?” Only for imperial pillagers, criminal politicians, media hacks, and war profiteers, none for beleaguered Afghans and cheated Americans, lied to and denied vital services when they most need them – she and the editorial expressing no moral outrage, no sympathy for massive suffering, and no concern for the truth, just support for winnable wars, not ones that “cannot work.”
In response to Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize award, vanden Heuvel was effusive in her October 11, 2009 article titled, “The Burden & The Nobel,” calling it “an ingenious leap of faith – the endorsement of the hope and the promise represented by America’s new President….I think those who argue that the Prize is cheapened are just plain silly. The Prize doesn’t go to only those who succeeded in their efforts, nor is it a lifetime achievement award. Instead, it is often and wisely given to endorse and encourage those who are working to bring about a better and more peaceful world.”
This writer’s October 12, 2009 article titled, October Surprise – Peace Prize to a War Criminal expressed another view, accessed through the following link:
In his Nobel acceptance speech, Obama argued for continued war, saying: “the instruments of war do have a role in preserving the peace, (that) all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace,” and imperial warlords should be honored “not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace” – “War is peace,” Orwellian doublethink, the Nobel Committee legitimizing wars and leaders who wage them, not peacemakers wanting swords turned into plowshares.
Nation writers, however, enthused, John Nichols calling Obama’s speech “a glimpse of (him) at his best,” vanden Heuvel saying it reflected “humility and grace,” endorsing the Obama Doctrine – wars without end, for historians Charles Beard (1874 – 1948), Harry Elmer Barnes (1889 – 1968), and Gore Vidal – “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace,” the title of Barnes’ 1953 book and Vidal’s in 2002, saying “our rulers for more than half a century have made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own.”
A worried Barnes wrote:
“If trends continue as they have during the last fifteen years, we shall soon reach this point of no return, and can only anticipate interminable wars, disguised as noble gestures for peace. Such an era could only culminate in a third world war which might well, as (historian) Arnold J. Toynbee has suggested, leave only the pygmies in remote jungles, or even the apes and ants, to carry on ‘the cultural traditions’ of mankind.”
Thanks to the Bush and Obama Doctrines, we’ve surged closer to the abyss. No matter, the Nation remains rapturously supportive, a voice for power, privilege and imperial wars, mindless of their destructive consequences, its readers betrayed by its anti-populist tradition, its backing wrong over right, and indifference to human suffering – lacking vision, honor and moral courage to report truths.
Three Other Faux Liberals
The liberal media landscape is strewn with others like vanden Heuvel and the Nation’s stable of writers, two notables on MSNBC, betraying their viewers the same way, establishment figures in good standing.
Rachael Maddow for one. Calling herself a “national security liberal,” she says “I’m undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I’m in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform.”
In August 2008, Nation magazine called her a “ballsy gremlin of the left, (an) explosive star, (a) popular guest analyst on MSNBC (now likely to) get her own show (as) one of the few left-liberal women to bust open the world of TV punditry, (not by) bluster and bravado but with a combination of crisp thinking and ‘galumphing’ good cheer.”
The New York Times calls her a “defense policy wonk” reporting embedded in July from Afghanistan, supporting the war, not how bad it’s going, yet opposing withdrawal, defending power and privilege like other faux liberals. Some call them liberal fascists, well paid to suppress, sanitize and distort truths, support imperial wars, and why not.
Maddow represents upwardly mobile middle class values. She’s a Democrat party stalwart, indifferent to working class needs or suffering imperial wars cause, let alone why fought, reasons unrelated to democracy, human rights, and moral principles, notions never considered by her or other fake liberals.
At a time of deepening economic crisis, unemployment, poverty, and other needs aren’t discussed, nor is Obama’s public trust betrayal and permanent war agenda, one Maddow supports.
On his nightly Countdown program, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is another unabashed Democrat party supporter, uncritical of outrageous Obama policies, including:
— imperial wars without end;
— anti-labor opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), and agenda to destroy, not create, jobs when they’re most needed;
— a “Race to the Top” scheme to destroy public education;
— stiff-arming budget-strapped states, and freezing out millions trapped by poverty, homelessness, hunger and despair;
— militarizing Haiti and backing the Honduran coup, ousting a democratically elected leader;
— supporting banker bailouts and bogus financial reform for Wall Street, not main street;
— endorsing preventive detention, police state surveillance, and plans to assassinate US citizens named terrorists, with or without proof; and
— bogus health care reform, for many weeks the top Countdown story, Olbermann flacking for Obamacare, now passed – a destructive program to enrich insurers and drug giants, making a dysfunctional system worse.
For months, he was unabashedly one-sided, feigning liberalism for a pro-business agenda – shamelessly pro-Obama when not jousting with Fox News or his nightly buffoonery, acting more like Bozo the Clown than a newsman, why critic David Forsmark calls his program “Meltdown,” nightly “public ravings,” not real news and information, evident by his topics, choice of guests, and discussions, supporting Democrat party politics, not good governance and public needs.
Georgetown history Professor Michael Kazin calls him “O’Reilly on the left – completely predictable, unfunny, and arrogant.” University of Chicago Professor Harold Pollack said he “can be smart and funny, but I’ve basically had my fill. My life is full of shticky and rude blowhards already. Why add another?” Harper’s editor Luke Mitchell described him as “irritating and his obvious sexism is reprehensible,” despite some positive attributes.
On June 23, 2008, New Yorker writer Peter Boyer called him “One Angry Man,” saying:
At home one night, he penned “the first draft of a lacerating indictment of Bush, a twelve-minute-long j’accuse, addressed personally to” (him). The denunciation hit the high notes of the most fevered antiwar rhetoric, accusing Bush….his alleged puppet master (Dick Cheney and those around them) of perpetrating a ‘panoramic and murderous deceit’ on America and the world, (saying) ‘you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people,’ ” accusations applying to Obama never aired on Countdown, in reports or commentaries, Democrats exempted from jeremiads, reserved exclusively for Republicans and Teabaggers, bashed separately in a nightly Tea Time segment.
In the 1980s, he was a CNN sportscaster, later co-hosting ESPN’s Sportscenter from 1992 – 1997, switching over to Fox Sports amid controversy, Olbermann calling it “the pressure of working in daily long-form television….not the broadcasts….an inability to digest all that led up to those hours (in) a medium so complex it would’ve made Rube Goldberg blanch.” Others said he was fired for being caustic and thinking he was bigger than the network.
After Fox, he rejoined MSNBC in 2003 hosting Countdown, a sportscaster turned newsman, impersonating a progressive, calling himself “not a liberal, an American,” his specialty – flacking for Democrats, bashing the political right, feuding with Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin, and including nightly buffoonery/junk food news segments.
He should have stuck with sportscasting, the right venue for fun and games, pranks, horseplay, and tomfoolery. Consumers of real news and information won’t find much on Countdown.
Nor from National Public Radio, including from its now departed Daniel Schorr, recounting in his memoir that “being poor, fat, Jewish (and) fatherless” made him feel like an outsider, later “achiev(ing) identity” through journalism, reporting for over 70 years until passing on July 23 at age 93.
NPR rhapsodized in numerous tributes, comparing him to Edward R. Murrow, citing his many awards, his analysis “broadened by his firsthand perspective” on history, starting as a journalist at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) and Jewish Daily Bulletin from 1934 – 1941, followed by the Dutch news agency. In 1946, he was a foreign correspondent, later covering the Cold War, 1953 McCarthy hearings, the Clinton impeachment ones, and Nixon era, a noted member of his enemies list.
He observed superpower summits, from Krushchev to Gorbachev, worked for Army intelligence in WW II, later the Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, CBS, and CNN before joining NPR in 1985 as a senior news analyst.
Hold the plaudits, Nation magazine’s eulogy notwithstanding, lauding him for “making the right enemies, (his) unofficial beat always….the abuse of power….relentless questioning, (then) NPR’s resident truth teller” until his death.
Others see him differently, notably his quarter century at NPR, recent critics citing his waltzing with Bibi, one-sidedly supporting Israel with comments like:
“Netanyahu will not accept the Palestinian state with its own defense capability. The Palestinians will not accept a Jewish state that nibbles away with settlements in Occupied Territory.”
Nibbles? Over 42% of the West Bank has been stolen, total Judaization of East Jerusalem is planned, and some observers expect mass expulsions throughout the Territories for a Greater Israel, besides keeping Gaza besieged, and daily incursions, mass arrests, targeted killings, torture, and intermittent wars, unmentioned in Schorr commentaries, a committed Zionist until death. A man who lied on air about the Mossad’s role in assassinating Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last February.
Last December, commenting on Obama’s West Point speech announcing a 30,000 Afghanistan force surge, he said:
“I would characterize it as being a statesmanlike speech, (explaining the) need to send more troops,(and try to placate) many liberals in the Democrat party,” saying withdrawal will begin in 18 months. According to Schorr, “not really a very wise thing to do if you want to get the Taliban and Al-Qaeda out of there. You don’t say just hang around, we’ll be leaving in 18 months.”
Not a word about an illegal war; imperial agenda, daily slaughter; appalling atrocities; willful targeting of civilians; millions killed, displaced, oppressed, and immiserated; and a shocking betrayal of the public trust to be there or in Iraq in the first place – suggesting only that the war continue and be won.
Ignoring the dire economy, he supported Obama’s approach, suggesting conditions are headed in the right direction when they’re worsening. Production is falling. Housing crashed. Consumer confidence plunged. Leading indicators point down. Jobless benefits have been extended seven times in the past two years. Nearly half the unemployed have been looking for six months or longer.
Youth unemployment is 25%. For Black and Latino youths it’s far higher, in major US cities topping 80%, according to a report by the Northeastern University Center for Labor Market Studies. Since January, over 100 banks folded. The federal deficit is out of control. Consumer credit and spending are falling, but Schorr sounded like a CNBC pundit. Not to worry. Things are looking up.
Earlier he was positive about Obamacare, finance reform, and other pro-business measures, not their harm and betrayal of the public trust.
Yet, the Nation’s John Nichols hailed his “art of making the right enemies.” Others said he was aggressive, tenacious, a pioneer. NPR called him a “legend….speaking truth to power.” Most often he spoke for it instead.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.