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Western "press freedom" hypocrisy and self-censorship   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2011-11-23 23:23:59 |Display all floors
http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MK22Ak01.html

THE ROVING EYE
Exposed: US press 'freedom'
By Pepe Escobar

Last week, independent journalist Sam Husseini went to a news conference by Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia at Washington’s National Press Club - where Husseini is a member.
Then he did something that is alien to United States corporate media culture. He behaved as an actual journalist and asked a tough, pertinent, no-holds-barred question. Here it is, as relayed by Husseini's blog:
I want to know what legitimacy your regime has, sir. You come before us, representative of one of the most autocratic, misogynistic regimes on the face of the earth. Human Rights Watch and other reports of torture, detention of activists, you squelched the democratic uprising in Bahrain, you tried to overturn the democratic uprising in Egypt and indeed you continue to oppress your own people. What legitimacy does your regime have - other than billions of dollars and weapons? [1]
Prince Turki, former Saudi intelligence supremo, former pal of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, former Saudi ambassador to the US, reacted by changing the subject. [2]

Were this to happen in the Middle East, Husseini would have been duly kidnapped by Saudi intel, tortured and snuffed out. Ask the remains of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. For much less - saying out loud in an Arab League meeting that King Abdullah was a traitor, because he was encouraging the George W Bush administration to invade Iraq - the House of Saud did everything in its power, for years, to make sure Gaddafi was taken out.

Turki exhibits all the trademark democratic credentials of the House of Saud. He refers to the push for democracy in the Arab world as "Arab Troubles".

After the Turki shoot
According to Husseini, on the same day of the news conference he received "a letter informing me that I was suspended from the National Press Club 'due to your conduct at a news conference'. The letter, signed by the executive director of the club, William McCarren, accused me of violating rules prohibiting 'boisterous and unseemly conduct or language'."

Husseini, communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, which showcases critical journalism from all over the world, is a calm, thoughtful man with impeccable credentials. The accusation is not only bogus - it is downright pathetic.

Was this a one-off? Obviously not. Flashback to January 2009, at the same National Press Club, during a news conference by then-Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni. When Livni was asked a tough question - once again by Husseini - the mike was cut, and the conference abruptly terminated. My cameraman, Sebastian Pituscan, was there with me. [3]

So this is how the much-lauded "freedom of the press" myth in the US actually works. If you perform the job of an actual journalist, telling truth to power, forget about attending press conferences at the White House, Pentagon or State Department. You won't even be admitted in the building.

If you are an official from a "valuable ally" - such as the House of Saud or the regime in Israeli - you are assured a tough question-free pulpit anywhere you choose, especially if you're fluent in English.

But if you are an official from a "rogue" regime, the maximum you can aspire is to be humiliated in public, as it happened to Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University in New York. Especially if you don't speak English, and most of what you say is lost in translation.

On the other hand, if you are a travelling US corporate media hack, you can get away with murder.

Example. During the Asian financial crisis, in 1997 and 1998, I went to countless press conferences where parachuted US hacks intimidated Asian leaders as if they were a bunch of hooligans (the hacks, not the leaders). Perky chicks emerging from some two-bit journalism school in the flyover states treated then-Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad as if he was a child rapist, because he had established capital controls.

Mahathir turned out to be right - as Malaysia overcame the crisis much earlier than those, such as Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea, that surrendered to the International Monetary Fund's dreadful "adjustments".

In 1989, Chinese students protesting in Tiananmen Square were hailed by US media as heroes standing up to tyranny. In 2011, American students protesting all across the country against financial tyranny are "lazy", "bastards", both, or downright criminalized.

United States corporate media could not possibly admit that repression in Tahrir Square by Egyptian riot police is exactly the same as repression in New York, Oakland, Portland or Boston by American riot police.

Still there's no word from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization about setting up a "humanitarian" no-fly zone over selected Occupy sites in US cities. They are still consulting with the House of Saud.

Notes
1. See the blog here.
2. Video of the exchange is here.
3. The exchange is here.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.


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Post time 2011-11-23 23:52:56 |Display all floors
That's a very pertinent question but here it is more than just press freedom but also diplomacy. I don't think the americans care much about the question but care much more about the consequences it will have for their relationship with Saudi Arabia.

And that's pretty much the same in every country in the world, when the prime minister of Japan comes to China, I doubt the government will allow the reporters to ask about the Nanjing massacre in order to safeguard the diplomatic relationship.

However, it is true that the western press does a lot of self censorship, at least the french press.

I wouldn't go on to say it's a hoax however more than a lack of vision and professional conscience. For example, there are very few real reporters who actually report. They go to a foreign country with a certain vision and try to find the testimonies to fit their vision. Then they write it in their newspapers and the readers, who do not know any better, just believe it's true.

It's just like when I read in western newspapers that chinese people are fed up with the CCP and yearning for more democracy, with plenty of testimonies to back this statement. Of course, you can come to China and find people like that, but they certainly aren't the majority of the people.

However, I wouldn't say this is only limited to western press, this is press all over the world, this is why I always read from 2-3 different sources.
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Post time 2011-11-24 01:38:06 |Display all floors

RE: Western "press freedom" hypocrisy and self-censorship

According to Husseini, on the same day of the news conference he received "a letter informing me that I was suspended from the National Press Club 'due to your conduct at a news conference'. The letter, signed by the executive director of the club, William McCarren, accused me of violating rules prohibiting 'boisterous and unseemly conduct or language'."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


What really piss me off is not so much National Press Club and rest of neocon bandits propaganda nest but I’m more angry with rest of those that work in press. How come none of so called journalist stand up and defend Husseini right to ask as a colleague and member of same often risky profession.

Why American journalists do not speak out , why none of them rebel and organise protest against this kind of blunt intimidation and bullying.

Husseini asked most normal and fair question that one can imagine , there is nothing provocative and out of line in his question.

Question of legitimacy of regime in S. Arabia is hardly new or revolutionary and must a be asked.

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Post time 2011-11-24 04:18:19 |Display all floors
"In 1989, Chinese students protesting in Tiananmen Square were hailed by US media as heroes standing up to tyranny. In 2011, American students protesting all across the country against financial tyranny are "lazy", "bastards", both, or downright criminalized. "

Who is calling them that?  Not our president who has spoken in support of the protesters.  Its the right-wingers that are criticizing the occupy movement.
  
Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.

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Post time 2011-11-24 04:25:32 |Display all floors
#2

Very good assessment.  I agree with most points.

I also look up several sources for the same news story.

But also, not only do reporters make reports to fit their particular viewpoint, people in general will only see what they want to see.  

With the internet you can find hundreds of news sources covering the same story and you can find a vast array of news stories.  

But do you think that makes people more objective?  

They just look for what they want to see and ignore anything that doesn't fit in that mold.

If you look for evil, you will always find it.  Didn't Confucius say that?



  
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Post time 2011-11-24 04:54:15 |Display all floors
JFenix Post time: 2011-11-23 21:18
"In 1989, Chinese students protesting in Tiananmen Square were hailed by US media as heroes standing ...

Both gangs: DemocRATs and RepubliCONs are corrupted by banksters, Big Pharma, Oil, etc.

Right-Left - NO DIFFERENCE.

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Post time 2011-11-24 10:18:50 |Display all floors
This post was edited by wowzers at 2011-11-24 12:16

"I want to know what legitimacy your regime has, sir. You come before us, representative of one of the most autocratic, misogynistic regimes on the face of the earth. Human Rights Watch and other reports of torture, detention of activists, you squelched the democratic uprising in Bahrain, you tried to overturn the democratic uprising in Egypt and indeed you continue to oppress your own people. What legitimacy does your regime have - other than billions of dollars and weapons? "

That was not a question it was an indictment. (I don't know the standards and practices of the host organization but it's no surprise that they would have looked into this)

Real reporters don't frame questions with such obvious bias and malicious intent.
A more appropriate query would have been, What legitimacy does your government have? Do you hold open and fair elections?
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