The beauty of the New York Times and most of its fellow corporate “mainstream” newspapers is that they do the right assessment only to reach the wrong conclusion.
Nicholas D. Kristof article, “A Slap in the Face,” in the New York Times (April 12, 2005) is the latest and most appropriate example of this trend.
Very few critics of the so-considered mainstream media would as accurately describe the vanishing public trust in its reporting and analysis as is described by Kristof. However, he closes the argument with a grave misconception and an utterly wrong conclusion.
He sums up his whining over public's lack of interest in the four months house arrest of NBC Journalist, Jim Taricani, in these words: “If one word can capture the public attitude toward American journalists, I'm afraid it's ‘arrogant.’"
He goes on to conclude: “Unless we can recover the public trust… we'll wake up one day to find ourselves on the wrong side of history.”
If Kristof and his fellow corporate mainstreamers are not yet awake, it does not mean that they are not on the wrong side of history.
It doesn’t mean that the public shun them just because they are 'arrogant.' The public has shunned them because they present lies of their the US administration as facts and facts on the ground as fiction.
Public can deal with arrogance but not lies and outright deception. Kristof’s fellow journalists, who are facing government’s wrath in the form of up to 18 months for protecting their sources, are actually facing the same monstrous system and an invisible tyranny which they have been propping and supporting all along. Best of luck to them now.
The public knows well that the so-called “mainstream” media does not belong to them, nor does it represents them.
This media is actually serving the cause of the totalitarians who are out there to kill hundreds and thousands of people, occupy other countries, establish concentration camps abroad and pass draconian legislations at home only for protecting their personal interests and promoting their religious fantasies.
The public knows how the New York Times, for example, behaved in the run up to the Iraq war and how its hallow apologies for supporting administration's lies didn’t prove it innocent at all before the public.
The “mainstream" media is itself responsible for the worsened climate for freedom of the press because the tyrants they served for so long now want the same kind of subservient attitude and submissive media to continue toeing their line.
Seeking the passage of a federal shield law for journalists is now too little and too late a measure to undo what the journalists in the multi-million dollars media business have already done to themselves. Kristof's right analysis and wrong conclusions further confirm that when you lie for so long, you start believing in your lies.
The journalists and analysts associated with the “mainstream" media — the mainstreamers — have gone sick to the extent that they are hardly able to reflect on why all this is happening now.
They can see and they admit it. According to Kristof's admission: “I think, is that we in the news media are widely perceived as arrogant, out of touch and untrustworthy.” However, it once more shows the missing why aspect it the discussion.
They still believe, they are on the right side of history for promoting the truth and justice. They still look with contempt at the alternative sources of news and analysis to which the general public is flocking for information and understanding.
To the mainstreamers, most of the truth diggers are either Muslim "radicals," or mere “conspiracy theorists.” Despite failing to answer a single question out of the hundreds posed by the so-considered conspiracy theorists, the mainstreamers blindly and dutifully regurgitate the official line.
Journalists from the mainstream media still make a mockery of the accurate analysis on many web logs and independent web sites. Even giving a reference to the work of the organizations and web sites which are monitoring the inaccuracies of the “mainstream” media is embarrassing for the stars of the “mainstream” media.
This is how the mainstreamers decided to serve the interest of the corporate and totalitarian world behind them. They turned their back on accuracy, impartiality and truth. In turn the public turned its back on them. Now Mr. Kristof realizes that in his “society, public support for the news media has all but evaporated.”
This is too sad and too late a realization. However, it is meaningless because of the lack of determination to break out of the chains of self-imposed censorship on the truth. Still there is no intention to wake up because they still cherish the hope that things will improve and they would have something for face saving.
The leading mainstreamers are quick to give reference the recent studies, such as the one by the Pew Research Center, "Trends 2005," which says that 45 percent of Americans believe little or nothing in their daily newspapers, up from 16 percent two decades ago. However, the mainstreamers can hardly question how this unbelieving public voted for a lying administration?
Despite an overwhelming evidence and heavy criticism and complaints to the contrary, to the mainstreamers the 2004 elections were still the most free, fair and democratic elections of the US history.
It must not be surprising to find the tyrants and the tyranny the mainstreamers have been supporting all along, turn around and start jailing the mainstreamers. In the environment, which the product of their own hands, the mainstreamers must not be surprised at the creation of their own hands. The journalists heading for jails is not even the actual beginning.
Many would feel relieved to read Mr. Kristof whining in the New York Times today because it will give them some confidence that turning their back on the “mainstream” media is, after all, being felt by the mainstreamers: the accomplices of the totalitarians who starved 1.8 million innocents to death through genocidal sanctions and waged wars on the basis of lies upon lies.
Interestingly, Kristof is the one who is single-handedly waging a crusade for bringing justice to the victims of oppression in Sudan. He never stops using the word “genocide” for the situation in Sudan. However, he has hardly uttered this word a single time to describe the death of 1.8 million Iraqis who perished due to the genocidal UN sanctions on Iraq.
Now he says: “Public approval is our life-support system, and it is now at risk.” It is not just at risk. It is now gone. "Mainstream" is history as far as its usefulness is concerned. Hope this shows Mr. Kristof and his fellow mainstreamers how biased they have been in their reporting and analysis.
According to the National Opinion Research Center analysis public confidence in the press has fallen sharply since 1990. Is it not the time when the neocons and other totalitarians in the US administration, media, academia and other fronts have decided to go out all gun blazing and talking to the world from both sides of their mouth? And, have not the mainstreamers been their main accomplice to the genocides and wars since 1990?
Public distrust in the corporate mainstream media is not unfair at all. Even the PEW study that is cited by Kristof in defense of his whining is insufficient.
The study says only 14 percent of Republicans believe all or most of what they read in the New York Times, whereas among Democrats the figure is only 31 percent. The Fox News Channel is considered credible by fewer than one-third of the Republicans - and an even smaller number of Democrats.
It is ironic that this study does not give statistics of those Americans who do not trust either of these parties and hence don’t believe in anything that is reported in support of the official stories.
Reconnection to the public is not easy. It is just face saving to suggest that there should be more willingness to run corrections, more ombudsmen, and more acknowledgement of our failings, because studies have suggested that the media has been running corrections as a routine matter but the image that their initial wrong story leaves is incorrigible. So this process of wrong reporting, correction and belated apology is just the “mainstream” media’s modus operandi. That is how it serves its hidden objectives and leaves something for face saving. But, it will not be so any more.
Similarly, establishing diverse newsrooms at home is no alternative to total silence over the ban on Al-Jazeera TV and other news outlets abroad. Diverse newsrooms can never cover for volunteering to be embedded journalists in service of the naked aggression and cover up of the war crimes.
If two words can capture the public attitude toward the so-called mainstream media, I'm sure it's "liar, deceptive." Not surprisingly, this charge is absolutely fair. It's imperative for the public and sources of alternative news and views to take heart from the whining in the New York Times op-ed pages today and continue to show them their real face.
The “mainstream: media has already proved itself to be on the wrong side of history. We must reassure ourselves that in the face of the deep personal interests of its bosses, there is no hope that the "mainstream" media or mainstreamers will correct their ways of reporting and analysis in the near future.
The alternative sources of news and views should redouble their efforts and remain committed to telling as it is. This whining is the first admission of defeat.
By Abid Ullah Jan Al-Jazeerah, April 13, 2005