FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from







We Need a New Media Relationship
by Paul Street
July 12, 2004

Send this page to a friend! (click here)


You know when you reach that point in a relationship where apologies don’t matter? You need a change of behavior. Actually, more than that, you need a change of relationship.

That’s where the U.S. populace needs to get with “their” media.

Gee, wasn’t it great that certain key “mainstream” (corporate-state) media institutions saw fit to admit to -- and even to apologize for -- uncritically reporting George W. Bush administration lies about the supposed grave threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s alleged great stocks of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)?

Not really. Sorry, but too many people died because of their reporting “mistakes” to accept the apology.

Did the New York Times apologize personally to the tens of thousands of Iraqis who died in the illegal U.S. assault on their nation? Has it asked for forgiveness from the loved ones of the dead and maimed American GIs?

The mainstream U.S. media could have prevented all of that death and often terrible injury by doing something simple –- by telling the truth. The reality of Saddam’s WMD non-threat we well known prior to the launching of the disastrous “war” on Iraq.

Whatever, I’m less interested in past behavior than in present conduct. The real way for the corporate communications empire to show contrition, it seems to me, is to start aggressively telling the truth about Iraq in the present, when it matters, before it enables more imperial crimes.

And a good place to start in that regard would be with relentless, forthright, page-one, and prime-time reportage and commentary on the laughable nature of the White House’s claim to have given Iraq back its “sovereignty.”

As if it was theirs to steal and return in the first place.

As if any nation can be sovereign when its government is subject to the sort of savage abject neocolonial domination that the U.S. is imposing on Iraq (you can find numerous decent analyses on Iraq’s mock sovereignty on ZNet, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, and various other usual Internet suspects).

I’m not talking about making occasional clever side references to Iraq’s merely “paper sovereignty.” That's all over the mainstream “free press” (especially in the safer, upper-end segments), whose authorities know very well that Bush II’s claim to be letting nationally independent “freedom ring” in Iraq is a sick joke (the editorial boards chuckle about that one over cocktails).

I’m talking about thorough and meaningful page-one dissection and exposure of the emptiness of the White House’s claims. This can hardly be found in “our” media.

If the myth of Iraqi sovereignty is not exposed by the gigantic institutions that filter and otherwise control such a huge share of the domestic information flow, then the U.S. populace has little chance of understanding the reasons for persistent Iraqi resistance after "we gave them their country back." Lacking such vital context, they will be all the more likely to support the United States’ continued (under Kerry or a second Bush II term) and thoroughly illegitimate violence against the people of Iraq.

Even when they report certain facts "accurately," it's quite remarkable how dominant media presents the “truth” in a way that destroys all democratic risk: after-the-fact (too late to do anything), without context (as with the nightly urban minority crime stories on the 10 o'clock News), or (a big tendency leading up to the invasion of Iraq) as “inevitable. These are just three ways the media lords eviscerate the real story while technically reporting it.

The dominant medias’ hands get a little bit more blood-soaked every time they fail to forcefully tell the really big story -- the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth -- about the latest stage in the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

But they’re not going to stop being this way, on the whole, for reasons that Dissident Voice readers know all too well.

We are not talking about mistakes. It’s structural. This is all because of who they are and what they are about. More precisely, it's about who they are owned by and how they enjoy and relate to concentrated political and economic power.

The corporate media masters don’t see the world through democratic eyes and never will.

I couldn’t care less about their after-the-fact apologies and I have no faith in their ability to change.

Paul Street is a writer and researcher in Chicago, Illinois. He can be reached at:

Other Recent Articles by Paul Street

* “Failed States” at Home and Abroad
* Be “Part of Something”: Sign Up With The American Empire Project
* Congratulations, Mr. Bush: You Have Not Presided Over the Final Collapse of Capitalism
* "Slaves Had Jobs Too"
* Brown v. Board Fifty Years Out: Still Separate and Unequal
* Let Them Eat "Cakewalk"
* England, America, Empire, and Inequality
* Niall Ferguson Speaks on the Need for Imperial Ruthlessness
* Richard A. Clarke, Rwanda, and “Narcissistic Compassion”
* Honest Mistakes? The New York Times on "The Failure to Find Iraqi Weapons"
* Urban Race Relations: "Everything Changed" After 9/11?
* Forbidden Connections: Class, Cowardice, and War
* The "Repair" of "Broken Societies" Begins at Home
* Deep Poverty, Deep Deception: Facts That Matter Beneath The Imperial Helicopters