Media Scoundrels on the Wrong Side of History

Stephen Lendman

Famed journalist George Seldes (1890 - 1995) called them "prostitutes of the press." Paul Craig Roberts calls them "presstitutes." They're that and much more. They're propagandists, not journalists. They're charlatans. They're scam artists. They're blackguards. They're scoundrels in the worst sense of the term. They make street whores look respectable by comparison. They're paid to lie, distort, misinform, and blame imperial victims for horrendous crimes committed against them. They support powerful monied interests. They ignore popular ones. They march in lockstep with imperial lawlessness.

AJ Liebling (1904 - 1963) once said: "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." He added: "People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news."

Western television is worst of all. It's a wasteland. Educator/media critic Neil Postman (1931 - 2003) called Americans "the most entertained and least informed people in the world." In 1950, Boston University President Daniel Marsh said: "If the (television) craze continues...we are destined to have a nation of morons." Comedian Ernie Kovacks (1919 - 1962) once said he knew why television is called a medium - "because it's neither rare or well done."

Media critic George Gerbner said mainstream media "have everything to sell and nothing to tell." Investigative journalist IF Stone (1907 - 1989) once said: "All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed." The same holds for media scoundrels. Integrity isn't their long suit. Media scholar/critic Robert McChesney said "the corporate media system...generates a depoliticized society."

People are misinformed. They deliberately deceived. They're told what powerful interests want them to believe. They're fed a pack of lies, distortion and falsified rubbish. "The corruption of journalistic integrity is always bad," McChesney added. Today it's "obscene under conditions of extreme media concentration..."

When America seeks another imperial trophy, it's worst of all. Media scoundrels march in lockstep with lawlessness. They carpet bomb readers and viewers with managed news misinformation garbage.

The New York Times stands out. - It does so disgracefully. It's the closest thing in America to an official ministry of information and propaganda. It misreporting masquerades as real news, commentary and analysis. It has global clout. Its main stories get worldwide attention. The so-called Paper of Record has a long, deplorable history. It supports what demands condemnation. It does so consistently. It backs wrong over right.

A January 2013 open letter to Times editors was this writer's most widely ever read article by far. It touched a raw nerve. It confronted Times editors head-on. It did so over why they consistently back wrong over right. It challenged them to report responsibly.

It said doing so is its own reward. It offered a checklist of responsible policies. It urged they support:

putting money back in public hands where it belongs;
progressive policies;
social justice;
curbing corporate power;
full compliance with rule of law principles;
getting money entirely out of politics;
aiding impoverished millions;
running free, fair and open elections;
letting independent candidates compete freely;
ecological sanity over financial gain;
strengthening the disappearing middle class;
universal healthcare;
public education;
organized labor rights;
protecting human and civil rights;
shutting down predatory banks;
prosecuting corporate crooks;
prosecuting government ones to the highest levels; and
ending corporate personhood.

It urged condemning bipartisan, anti-democratic policies. It called for denouncing imperial lawlessness. Does it bother you, it asked? Does human suffering matter? Is business as usual OK? What about backing what growing millions call a pariah state? Is this the America you support? Dare you call it beautiful? It's by far the worst human and civil rights abuser in world history. It's the most corrupt. It's the most lawless. It's the most unprincipled. It's the most dismissive of what matters most. It's the real evil empire. It threatens world peace. It threatens humanity's survival. Resisting it is a moral imperative.

Why don't Times editors support right over wrong? Why don't they publish "All the News That's Fit to Print" for real? Why do they violate their own journalistic ethics? Why do they do so consistently? Why do they willfully misinform? Why does their reporting lack credibility, accuracy, fairness, integrity, independence and accountability? Why does it support imperial lawlessness? Why does it promote war over peace? Why doesn't serving readers responsibly matter most? Why doesn't reporting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth without exception every time?

Throughout months of conflict in Ukraine, Times editors, contributors, commentators and correspondents one-sidedly supported fascist street thugs. They outrageously consider mob rule democratic governance. They oppose Vladimir Putin's principled position. They bash him mercilessly. They do it irresponsibly. They do it repeatedly.

A previous article discussed their March 2 editorial. They headlined "Russia's Aggression." They lied. They distorted. They misinformed. They suppressed vital information. They ignored clear facts refuting their arguments. They back Washington's orchestrated imperial lawlessness. They do it every time. They twist facts to fit their position. They turn truth on its head doing so. They betray their readers in the process. Their columnists and contributors operate the same way.

David Brooks' columns aren't fit to read. They're biased. They lack journalistic integrity. They support what demands denunciation. "On March 3, he headlined "Putin Can't Stop." He outrageously accused him of "throwing his weight around the world." He forthrightly seeks peace. He wants conflicts resolved equitably. He respects rule of law principles. He believes obeying them is fundamental. He calls national sovereignty inviolable. He opposes imperial lawlessness. Not Brooks. He nonsensically calls Ukraine's US-backed fascist coup "a dispute." "Western policymakers..may not be dealing with a 'normal' regime' " in Moscow, he claims. It's led by a "cynical and cold-eyed host" he added. He irresponsibly bashed the one world leader challenging imperial America responsibly. He's our best chance for world peace. Don't expect Brooks to explain.

Roger Cohen is no different. He's shameless. He's one of many Times imperial apologists. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti calls him a bigot. On March 3, he headlined "Putin's Crimean Crime," saying: "The Russian seizure of control of the Crimean Peninsula, a clear violation of the very international law Putin likes to invoke, has turned Ukraine into a European tinderbox." He called his reason for responsibly wanting to protect Russian nationals "baloney, a trumped-up Russian case." He lied saying so. He did so willfully. He did it maliciously. He supports US-backed fascist coup plotters.

He ignores clear facts. Ukraine's legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych wrote Putin. He requested help. He did so to restore law and order. "Under the influence of Western countries, there are open acts of terror and violence" ongoing, he said. "People are being persecuted for language and political reasons. So in this regard I would call on the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defend the people of Ukraine," he added.

At the same time, the safety and security of Russian nationals are threatened. Their lives are in danger. Putin wants them protected. He didn't invade Crimea. He seized nothing. Obama bears full responsibility for "turn(ing) Ukraine into a European tinderbox." Complicit EU partners share it.

Cohen turned truth on its head. He willfully lied. He did it deceitfully. He turned a blind eye to Washington's imperial lawlessness. He continued, saying: "Putin's obsession with a (Soviet Russia) 20th-century order..blinds him to the passionate attachment to their nationhood of states liberated from stifling Soviet subjection." "There is a grotesque amnesia to Russia's Ukrainian gambit."

Cohen's best of all possible worlds are dystopian wastelands. They're unfit to live in. Don't expect him to explain. He urges hardline US policy. "Pivot to Asia cannot mean abandonment of Ukraine," he said. "Every form of diplomatic, trade and economic pressure should now be mustered by Obama to isolate Putin," he added. He wants "every political means used to buttress the Kiev government; and NATO's readiness to defend its members should be ostentatiously underscored." He represents the lunatic fringe. He practically endorsed war. He supports fascist mob rule in Ukraine. He ignored US-supported neo-Nazis toppling a democratically elected government. He turned a blind eye to their lawless power grab.

Fact check

Cohen is mindless of rule of law principles. So are Times editors. Their position shocks the conscience of everyone valuing fundamental freedoms. Real democratic governance in so-called liberated states is a convenient illusion. The worst of neoliberal harshness is policy. Mass impoverishment, unemployment and extreme deprivation harm millions. Rule of law principles are disappearing in America. They're eroding across Europe. Ukrainian fascists abolished them altogether. Don't expect Times editors to explain. Or wealth and power supporters like Brooks, Cohen, and likeminded Times contributors. Challenging them responsibly more than ever is needed. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He has devoted his time and efforts to progressive causes and organizations, all involved in working for a more humane and just world for all people everywhere, but especially for the most needy, disadvantaged and oppressed. His efforts since summer 2005 have included writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians. He also co-hosts The Global Research News Hour, gives occasional public talks, and appears frequently on radio and at times television. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. Also visit his blog and listen to The Lendman News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening. His new book "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" can be ordered HERE. He can be reached at

Image: Anthony Freda Illustration


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