Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]
02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]
02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]
02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]
02.11 'People Shouldn't Be Going Bankrupt and Dying': Nationwide Week of Action Aims to Build Mass Movement Behind Medicare for All [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.09 The potato solution: how the Guardian switched to biodegradable packaging [Non-recyclable products should be illegal]
News Media Matters
02.16 We Shouldn't Stick Our Heads In The Sand, But We Do It Anyway [26:46 audio; Fear like Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]
02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
02.16 ‘A Parkland every five days’: project tells stories of the children lost to gun violence [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.16 Rambling Trump calls an emergency in speech that goes on and on and on [1:42 video; an incoherent president just paraphrases lies and distortion from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh...]
02.16 Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]
02.15 Jayapal Says Medicare for All Bill Coming in Two Weeks as Expert Calls Plan 'Astonishingly Strong' [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.14 Pentagon Fears Climate Crisis, w/ Billions in Damage to US Bases & Societal Upheaval [In maniacally twisted capitalist countries inconvenient truths are ignored or harshly ridiculed, and Trump's stupid Wall obsession dominates the news instead.]
Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism
02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]
02.12 Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]
02.11 Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]
International & Futurism
02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]
02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]
02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]
“PUBLIC” MEDIA CRITICISM:
Time for PBS to Go?PBS is broadcasting what amounts to a neoconservative propaganda series entitled “America at a Crossroads,” which has included a full hour info-mercial for George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq written and narrated by Richard Perle, one of the war’s architects.
To show examples of these pathetic anti-war lunatics, the PBS program included short clips of actors Martin Sheen and Tim Robbins while Perle did a voice-over that talked about them like a psychiatrist who sadly saw no choice but to sign commitment papers.
The implication of the PBS program was that there was only one reasonable and moral conclusion, which was to support President Bush wholeheartedly in his invasion of Iraq and his conduct of the “war on terror.”
PBS officials also have declared that they see no reason to give a similar length of time to opponents of the Iraq War. Indeed, Jeff Bieber, an executive producer at PBS’s Washington affiliate WETA, endorsed the right-wing bias of “The Case for War” as an opportunity for PBS to “showcase a conservative viewpoint.”
Beyond the journalistic violation represented in such an acknowledged bias, the history of the series reveals a willingness of PBS to transform itself into a compliant propaganda organ for the Bush administration and the congressional Republicans.
PBS’s parent, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, commissioned the neoconservative series a couple of years ago when the Republicans controlled all branches of the U.S. government and the Bush administration dominated the information reaching the American people, from Fox News to the New York Times.
So, instead of offering an outlet for the widely ignored Americans who questioned Bush’s Iraq invasion, PBS chose to go with the flow and join with the powers-that-be in taking cheap shots at war critics.
“America at a Crossroads” was financed directly by CPB, a quasi-public institution which used both tax dollars and contributions from “viewers like you” to pay for the avowedly pro-Bush series.
The original idea was to air “America at a Crossroads” before Election 2006, possibly around the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, all the better to help ensure continued Republican one-party control of the federal government.
But production delays and internal PBS disputes pushed the broadcast date back to April 2007. Now, the series is helping energize Bush’s supporters to fight Democratic proposals for setting a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Decline of PBS
PBS has been sinking into this pattern of corrupt behavior for years, especially after the Right took aim at public broadcasting in the 1980s and early 1990s. CPB was intended to insulate PBS from political pressure, but the Reagan administration began a systematic process of salting the board with partisan Republicans and neocon ideologues.
By reshaping the CPB board, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush turned CPB from its original purpose as a shield to defend professionalism at PBS into a weapon for breaking down the network’s editorial independence. Simultaneously well-funded right-wing pressure groups went after individual PBS journalists and programs.
When I worked for the PBS documentary series “Frontline” in the early 1990s, I saw this process first-hand, as CPB and PBS increasingly bent to Republican pressure. At one PBS conference, Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan gave a keynote speech trashing “Frontline” – and few PBS executives dared come to the program’s defense.
After Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994 and targeted PBS funding, the network twisted itself more to the Right, hoping to appease the angry Republicans by adding more and more conservative content while taking for granted the bedrock support of the Democrats and liberals.
This PBS dynamic had become second nature by the second Bush administration – and grew more entrenched after 2002 when Republicans gained control of all branches of the federal government. The few PBS holdouts, like Bill Moyers, were soon isolated and pushed toward the door.
Even when the invasion of Iraq turned sour and more prominent Americans began to speak up, CPB and PBS knew to rush to Bush’s defense. To correct for supposed “liberal bias,” CPB ordered up and funded the “America at a Crossroads” series.
“America at a Crossroads” – and especially Perle’s “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom” segment – has the look of Pravda during the Soviet era.In that sense, “America at a Crossroads” – and especially Perle’s “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom” segment – has the look of Pravda during the Soviet era when the Russian people could learn what dissidents had to say mostly by reading between the lines of Pravda denouncing them.
The Perle-narrated program – and PBS’s disdain for the idea of giving equal time to the other side – had that kind of feel to it.
The likes of Martin Sheen and Tim Robbins were held up as enemies of the state, either disloyal or crazy. However, Perle still managed to present himself as the victim, noting that Robbins had written a play in which a character modeled after Perle was the bad guy.
Perle also offered an uncontested neocon narrative of recent American history. In Perle’s narrative, liberals and other weak-minded people believed that the Soviet Union was invincible until Ronald Reagan told Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down that wall” and the Soviet empire collapsed.
After the program aired on April 17, I got a call from a former CIA analyst who was stunned by both the sophomoric quality of Perle’s narrative and PBS’s willingness to put such nonsense on its network. The ex-analyst noted that Perle was one of the hardliners who had opposed Reagan’s arms-control talks with Gorbachev near the end of Reagan’s term.
Beyond that, a true historical narrative would have shown that CIA analysts were aware of the disintegrating Soviet empire by the early-to-mid-1970s, but they were challenged and bureaucratically defeated by the neocons who argued that the Soviet Union was on the rise both economically and militarily, thus justifying bigger U.S. military budgets.
The neocon-led politicization of the CIA during the Reagan years resulted in the purging of the CIA’s top Soviet specialists and thus the silencing of dissent against the neocon alarmist view of expanding Soviet power.
The politicization caused the CIA to “miss” the Soviet collapse in the late 1980s. Ironically, the neocons then ridiculed the CIA’s analytical division and claimed credit for the “unexpected” demise of the Soviet Union. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]
But the question now is what to do about PBS.
Why should American liberals and the Democratic Party continue to support an entity that has surrendered its journalistic principles and treats as crazy the two-thirds of the public that now opposes Bush’s Iraq War?
There might have been an argument for supporting PBS news programs if they could be protected from government financial pressure. But once the Republicans learned that they could wrest journalistic concessions from PBS by threatening its money, PBS changed unavoidably into a government propaganda agency.
During the unified Republican control of the federal government from 2003 to 2006, that PBS reality solidified, best represented today by the “America at a Crossroads” series. PBS is still responding to its Republican masters even though they no longer control Congress.
Given the 3,300 dead American soldiers and the widespread recognition that the Iraq War has been a disaster, what should be said about a corrupt and propagandistic entity like PBS that still is willing to carry water even if its timing is a little off?
What should be done with a news outlet that has demonstrated that it will sell its journalistic integrity for money?
One possibility is for PBS contributors to express their disgust by either cutting off donations or at least demanding back a percentage of what they’ve already given. At least that might show CPB board members and PBS executives that there is a price to pay for selling out journalistic principles.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.' This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
Copyright © 2007 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
This story was published on April 19, 2007.