Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The US Mainstream Media: Selective Omission and Planned Misinformation

The US Mainstream Media: Selective Omission and Planned Misinformation

by Solomon Comissiong

There is method to the maddening homogeneity and shallowness of the U.S. corporate media. Keeping the public as dumbed down as possible keeps their corporate clients happy and their political partners in power. Media corporations advertise that they sell “news,” but what they're really marketing is a daily defense of imperial rule. That's why, for example, they won’t tell you how so-called 'free trade' policies create sweatshops, plunder, mass migration, and civil unrest.

The idea that the American mainstream media system is a reputable source for comprehensive news and information should be the punch line for any series of good jokes. However, the mainstream media is actually taken seriously within United States borders. And because it is taken seriously, it does immeasurable harm by sustaining a vastly misinformed and isolated American populous. This misinformation begins in public schools and colleges from sea to shining sea.

Far and extremely few between will one find a classroom in the U.S. that actually portrays America, her founders, and her policies as the “bad guys.” Instead of that being the point of reference in which we begin our history and social studies courses, we find the complete opposite: premeditated lies, kicked off bright and early in the morning with the cultish reciting of the “pledge of allegiance.”

The pledge, ending with the words “with liberty and justice for all,” should be laughable to anyone that has studied history outside the mainstream channels. With liberty and justice for all? Those words have been disingenuous and insincere since the Pledge of Allegiance’s inception in 1892. I don’t think living under the terror of Jim Crow, lynching, and the US convict lease system embodies “justice for all” for its citizens of color.

The sad but honest truth is that most Americans have absolutely no idea of the vast carnage–the crimes against humanity - their country has committed since its tainted “inception.” And for that reason, the American mainstream media system continues to be the perfect tool for those who control the empire.When a majority of the populace has no accurate historical reference whatsoever, and is isolated from the rest of the world, you can feed them whatever pack of lies you wish.

An analytical, diverse, and well working media system informs, engages, and educates its viewers/listeners/readers. The American media system performs none of these beneficial functions. Whether it's the white supremacist Fox “News” or the so-called liberal CNN (whatever the word ‘liberal’ means to them), the limited range by which they cover current events is pretty much the same. They basically all carry the same narrowly focused news, with different voices and overhead. They all (MSNBC, FOX “News,” CNN, et al) purposely leave out huge chucks of contextual information when they actually do report on events that occur outside of the US.

For instance, I recently viewed a “news” story on the so-called liberal MSNBC which was headlined, “War Planes strike Taliban in Pakistan.” I was intrigued to see if the report would have any mention of the masses of civilians that have been destroyed by these US air-strikes. Needless to say, I was not pleasantly surprised. There was no mention of the civilians who were disproportionately affected by the aggressive US policy.

If you believe the “news” out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, U.S. armaments are deployed with precision accuracy, destroying only “enemies.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Since taking office the Obama administration has carried out the same hawkish military approach as did the mentally challenged George W. Bush and his band of war mongers. As Obama fans continue to ride the hollow wave of “change you can believe in,” civilians are perishing by the score in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Why does much of that part of the world hate the US? For an easy answer, start with US foreign policy. If the American mainstream media were actually concerned about professionalism and raising the consciousness of their audiences, the public would be presented with all sides of the story. Given that MSNBC’s parent company is General Electric, the weapons contractor, we shouldn’t be surprised by their pro-military reporting.

US mainstream media abhor historical context and shun expositions of root causes. They won’t tell you how so-called “free trade” policies create sweatshops, plunder, mass migration, and civil unrest. A recent example would be the mass killings of civilians ordered by Peru’s pro-western president, Alan Garcia, when indigenous Peruvians protested the selling off of enormous chunks of the Amazon rainforest.

If no change is made, the indigenous Peruvians will see North American gas and oil companies, like ConocoPhillips, destroy vast tracts of their land to serve greedy capitalist interests. You won’t see a full and fair presentation of this story on any mainstream outlets. And you can bet that whatever coverage of the Peruvian crisis is allowed will be from the capitalists' perspective. As a result, Americans are at least partially shielded from the suffering caused by their own country’s long legacy of imperialism.

The American mainstream media system is a very powerful and dangerous appendage of a system that does not give a damn about the advancement of the rest of humanity. Its true function is to project the worldview and culture of the imperial system, of which it is an integral component. Popular apathy and disengagement, and an abysmal general ignorance, are the inevitable and natural result.

The criminal minded mainstream media have no interest in putting domestic and world events in their proper context. Keeping the public as dumbed down as possible keeps their corporate clients happy and their political partners in power. After all, if most Americans truly knew that their country’s government was at the root of most of the nation’s international disputes, they actually might try to rise up and do something about it. Whether it be murderous coup d’├ętats, illegally funded clandestine wars, assassination attempts, unequal and oppressive “free” trade agreements, or inhumane sanctions - the US government has participated in all of the above.

These are the dirty little secrets that, if exposed to the majority, could provoke real change in the way America does “business” with other countries. The corporate media keep us in the dark because they have to. These private communications corporations dictate to Americans what they need to think, when they need to think it, and who they need to hate.

They fulfill the role assigned them by the larger corporate structures. After all, if Americans knew the real truth, they might recognize that the nexus of their – and the world's – problems is located in their own government's policies.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News radio program ( He may be reached at:

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