Once you know how our so-called ‘news’ is manipulated in order to deceive us it’s quite difficult not to see it in action wherever you look. The Times last Saturday was, as it invariably is, rich in examples, and because the Times sets itself up as the leading authority on news reporting this is obviously quite serious. I mean, if it were a paper that was commonly known to peddle absolute rubbish, and didn’t pretend otherwise, we could safely ignore its lies on the assumption that no-one in their right mind would believe it anyway; but the Times is supposed to be a serious paper, so obsessed with the truth that it used to claim it would rather be late to report a story than report one inaccurately. All this creates an impression of trust: we can always trust the Times to tell us the truth. The problem is of course, we can’t.
Headlines are a very important part of the propagandist’s art. They are seldom written by the same person who writes the article to which they refer. As far as ‘news’ reporting is concerned, headlines are the vanguard of subliminal brainwashing. We automatically think they summarise a news report, telling us in advance what we can expect to learn from that report. A headline will remain in our memories as a summary of that article. Even if we do not actually read the article at all, we will probably have noticed the headline, and a little note will be stored in our memories that we have read something, somewhere about whatever that story is about, and the vague memory of the headline will be our sole recollection of that story.
North Korea has been a popular western whipping boy for about as long as Cuba. It is identified as the same sort of threat to world peace that Iran currently enjoys. Consequently when a headline in last Saturday’s Times read “South Korean ship ‘sunk by torpedo from North Korea’”, we naturally expect the attached ‘news’ report to inform us of how that arch-villain North Korea has been spoiling for a fight again. The problem is the article which accompanies that headline simply doesn’t provide a single shred of evidence to justify it.
The very first sentence of the report reads: ‘A South Korean naval ship sank last night after an explosion that may have been caused by a North Korean torpedo.’ Note the words ‘may have been’, as they’re quite important. As soon as they’re employed the writer is at liberty to conclude the sentence any way they like. They could claim the explosion ‘may have been’ a suicide bomber, an asteroid, the cook forgetting to turn off the stove … anything. So we read a little further to find the evidence of this North Korean torpedo, but already feeling a little suspicious of the words ‘may have been’.
Next we learn that ‘Six naval ships and two coastguard vessels’ were in the area. As these vessels rescued most of the crew of the sunken ship, and because the article doesn’t say otherwise, we can probably assume they were all South Korean. Then we read that ‘it was not clear whether North Korea was the cause of the explosion’. Not clear? That’s a little different from the very clear headline. So too was this sentence: ‘”We have been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the incident,” a spokesman for the South Korean Navy said.’ Next we learn that a ‘South Korean ship in the same area fired shots towards an “unidentified target”’.
In short, apart from a vague reference to unattributed ‘reports from Seoul’, not a single word in the actual article offers any evidence at all that North Korea had anything whatsoever to do with the sinking of the South Korean ship. In fact, what the ‘news’ report tells us is that the only ships in the area appear to have been South Korean, and the only ship that appears to have been doing any shooting was South Korean – a very different set of circumstances to that suggested by the headline.
The similarity between this story and the ‘Gulf of Tonkin Incident’ is quite remarkable. That scandal is now known to have been made in America two months before the USS Maddox was allegedly attacked – an action that was used to trigger a full scale US invasion of Vietnam. Not that the Tonkin Incident was the first time the US had taken itself to war on the back of an alleged attack upon it. In 1898, the sinking of the USS Maine in mysterious circumstances off the coast of Cuba was used to provoke the brief Spanish American war over ownership of that blighted island.
How on earth is the Average Person supposed to have any chance at all of forming a reasonable understanding of how her world works? When pillars of the journalistic profession such as The Times routinely peddle such obvious propaganda, presumably on behalf of The Empire, what price truth?