The truth is dear,
We must profess;
Just don’t seek it,
In the press.
Maybe we were fortunate that the U.S. press chose to print any WikiLeaks disclosures at all. Given the media’s generally supportive stance of unilateral American foreign policy, it could have simply said, “We’re not interested.” Luckily it did better than that, but not much. The media reported articles of minor diplomatic embarrassment with glee, but let matters revealing serious U.S. government perfidy or brutality slide.
Take Honduras. There was always strong suspicion that the State and Defense Departments had quietly supported the military that overthrew the populist president. Naturally, our media never noticed. It has always taken a dim view of liberal presidents. But then WikiLeaks provided chapter and verse of our involvement. Still no coverage.
An even deeper diplomatic cesspool bubbles daily in the Middle East and Pakistan. The United States has conducted illegal warfare in Yemen and Pakistan for some time. Our authoritarian allies there and elsewhere have long engaged in brutal repressions in the name of anti-terrorism. Much of this calumny WikiLeaks has now revealed. Yet the press considers it a non-issue. Even the graphic video of an American helicopter gunning down Iraqi civilians in Baghdad generated little media investigation or follow-up.
Unfortunately this ho-hum response to the most significant disclosure of government impropriety since the Pentagon Papers hardly comes as a surprise. The press tends to share Wall Street’s perspective and back Washington’s interventionist foreign policy. To wit, my local paper just headlined an Associated Press story, “More Positive Signs for Economy.” It’s as though unemployment and foreclosures simply don’t exist in the media’s parallel universe.
The messages behind the protests at last summer’s arrogant G-20 summit in Toronto received the same “blind-eye” coverage. Much ink was consumed recounting damage to property, mounting arrests, and dismissive comments by world leaders. Any parallel analysis of the destructive wealth-heavy economic policies promulgated by those leaders landed on the cutting room floor.
Media support of our various wars is equally plain. Just before Christmas, hundreds of military veterans and supporters gathered in the snow in front of the White House to protest the war in Afghanistan. More than 130 vets were arrested. That probably wasn’t as painful an ordeal as their basic training. But in our society, willingness to risk jail time for one’s beliefs marks’ a real commitment. Nonetheless most of the mainstream media, including The New York Times, didn’t report a word.
Conservatives are more blessed. They don’t need to get arrested. They hold a rally and earn front page coverage. Check out the tea party. By contrast, a liberal coalition convened last summer’s U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. More than 20,000 people debated issues and conceived strategies. Somehow, the cat got journalists’ tongues on that one, too.
So don’t expect WikiLeaks’ dramatic revelations to lead to change in the short run. Since the mainstream media is a co-conspirator in our nation’s corporate pro-war culture, the tide of domestic disgust with wars rises very slowly. But abroad, it ascends far faster, and pressures are mounting internationally for us to behave ourselves, as we have recently been forced to do in Egypt.
Don’t hold your breath, but don’t give up either. Just watch Al-Jazeera English, which you can only view on the Internet unless you live in Toledo, Ohio, or Burlington, Vermont, or Washington, DC. The truth will eventually set us free. Meanwhile, I nominate Julian Assange to be Man of the Year.