PHILIP GIRALDI : Shaping the Story on Iran

There have been recent reports that Iran has enabled the travel of al-Qaeda leaders to Afghanistan and Pakistan where they will be able to confront and kill American soldiers. If you think you have heard the story before, you have, in another context. In the earlier rendition it was Saddam Hussein who was hand-in-glove with al-Qaeda, helping the group in its nefarious planning to attack the United States and kill Americans. Saddam, who was in reality only a threat to his own people, was on the receiving end of a barrage of fabricated information claiming that he was secretly developing weapons of mass destruction and clandestinely dealing with the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11. Or so the story goes. And now it is Iran’s turn and the story and the storytellers are exactly the same.

Even when everything changes, nothing changes for the American mainstream media (MSM), which continues to be wedded to a policy of all war all the time. There is a long history of media lies. William Randolph Hearst’s New York Morning Journal used deliberately sensationalized news reports to stir up hysteria in 1897 that led to war with Spain, a war that he later boasted had been enabled by his newspaper. But other leading American newspapers of that era were a lot more cautious in their reporting and some even lampooned Hearst’s hysterics in the lead-up to the conflict. Today it is different as newspapers rarely compete for market share and have no interest in exposing the half-truths of their peers. The unanimity of view is particularly evident on the editorial pages where the neocons and the groupthink that they have fostered have become deeply embedded. Everyone in the MSM agrees that Iran either already has nukes or is about to go nuclear and that the country shelters terrorists on every block, all colluding to attack a completely innocent and guileless United States. Saturated with the propaganda, the American public more or less accepts that narrative.

How we Americans have arrived at this sorry point is somewhat difficult to explain. That most media outlets have become parts of much larger corporations that are uninterested in challenging authority, making their news coverage a large dose of pablum, is clearly part of the problem. The closure of most overseas newspaper bureaus hasn’t helped either as it has reduced the number of local reporters who might have applied their own insider knowledge to developing stories. Also the use of embedded journalists in war coverage has meant that only reporters writing stories favorable to the Pentagon spin are given access to the “hot information.” But the biggest factor has been the de facto takeover of many editorial pages by hardliners who perversely believe that the United States can resolve its problems by continuing with the so-called “long war,” a conflict in which Washington is fated to engage in never ending struggles against an enemy that is increasingly being seen around the world as all Muslims.

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