When the media suppresses facts
It’s easy in Greensboro to get sucked into the shouting match stoked by a drumbeat of articles in The Rhinoceros Times about the supposedly nefarious control exercised by the black Simkins PAC over city government and how, notwithstanding the indictments of two police officers, the city’s cowed leadership purportedly purged an honorable police chief because of his efforts to root out corruption. Our competitor’s editorialized coverage has masterfully presented a selective set of facts and pushed the right ideological buttons with its readership to effectively shape political reality by helping elect sympathetic city council candidates.
We may be arguing about former Chief David Wray in Greensboro long past the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. For all the allegations on both sides of the Greensboro police fiasco, it’s penny-ante stuff in the larger picture. It would be wise to shift focus from Hammer Publications to a much more powerful media empire – that being Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. – and pay attention as it attempts to maneuver Rudy Giuliani, an aggressive warmonger with a financial stake in the homeland security complex, into the presidency of the United States.
News Corp.’s cable property, Fox News Network, is undoubtedly the predominate platform in the Murdoch empire in terms of audience reach, and its ardent cheerleading for the political right makes it part of a seamless message machine for the most reactionary elements of the governing class rather than an exemplar of the free press. Fox News created a sense of inevitability for the current president on election night 2000 when it declared George W. Bush the winner in Florida before all the results were in. The network surely bears responsibility for the widespread and mistaken belief that Iraq was responsible for the 9-11 attacks. And its patriotic chest-beating in the run-up to the Iraq war set the tone for the credulous reporting that allowed the Bush administration to take the nation to war without a serious debate.
News Corp. and its properties have a track record of producing propaganda. Their primary functions are to shape impressions and suppress facts – drives that run counter to the mission of journalism.
Strong evidence for this comes in the form a lawsuit filed last week by Judith Regan against News Corp., her former employer, that offers a glimpse of the well-tended alliance between the media empire and Giuliani. Regan and her former lover, Bernard Kerik – whose book The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice Regan published under the Murdoch owned ReganBooks imprint – figure at the center of this sordid union of interests.
The former New York City Police Commissioner and Giuliani Partners employee’s recent indictment for corruption poses a liability for his old boss and close friend, Giuliani. Regan was jettisoned from News Corp. ostensibly for a different reason – her involvement in the ill-fated and ill-conceived OJ Simpson If I Did It book project. It appears that Regan’s former employer has made a concerted effort to insulate Giuliani from the fallout of Kerik’s indictment.
Regan’s lawsuit reportedly states: “In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”
The particulars of what Regan knows about Giuliani are likely vital to American voters having the necessary information to exercise their democratic rights in electing the next president. As New York Times columnist Frank Rich notes in a piece published on Sunday, Kerik was awarded a contract to train police in Iraq. Did the publisher and former police commissioner discuss this enterprise? And what other ground did they cover?
“Perhaps, too, they talked about the business ventures the mayor established after leaving office,” Rich writes. “Mr. Kerik worked at Giuliani Partners and used its address as a mail drop for some $75,000 that turns up in the tax-fraud charges in his federal indictment.”
And it’s not just the specter of fraud and corruption that should give voters pause about Giuliani’s business dealings and his favorable coverage on Fox News. The website for Giuliani Partners, which still lists Kerik as a member of the “team,” describes it as a management consulting firm that “draws upon its senior executives’ experience and expertise in security, public safety, emergency preparedness, business continuity….”
As Rich writes, “Amazingly, given that he seeks the highest office in the land, Mr. Giuliani will not reveal the clients of Giuliani Partners.”
If I can put this bluntly, all this matters. The current administration and the mass media are sounding a familiar drumbeat to war – with Iran. This would be disastrous for the American and, not least, for the Iranian people. Fuel prices would skyrocket. US military casualties would dwarf those we now see in Iraq. The Middle East as a region would descend into chaos. War with Iran would be a psychotic move, but manufactured crises are crucial for distracting people from their real interests and shoring up the power of despots.
Two tidbits of information should make us demand the full picture.
This from a September 2004 press release quoting Bear Stearns Merchant Banking Managing Director Rick Perkal and announcing a new partnership with a company called GlobeSecNine: “We believe that our work with GlobeSecNine, who bring a unique set of experiences in special forces, classified operations, transportation security and military operations, complements our work with Giuliani Partners. GlobeSecNine and Giuliani Partners both offer valuable insights and unique skills to companies in this highly fragmented but dynamic sector.”
And this from an Oct. 29 New York Observer article by Jason Horowitz about Giuliani’s leading foreign policy advisor and a founder of the neoconservative movement, Norman Podhoretz.
“I was asked to come in and give [Giuliani] a briefing on the war, World War IV,” Podhoretz told Horowitz. “As far as I can tell, there is very little difference in how he sees the war and how I see it.”
Podhoretz, who believes a global struggle against “Islamofascism” is likely to take three decades and should include toppling the governments of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt, spells out his prescription for Iran very plainly.
“The choice before us,” he says, “is to either bomb those nuclear facilities or let them get the bomb.”
To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.