Rejoinder to TRNN’s Paul Jay

In his “Reply to Independent Media as Mouthpiece for Centers of Power,” to RNN CEO Paul Jay states that I overlook his actual questions. The video was embedded within the original article, so I leave it to the readers to decide.

Next Jay establishes what was already established in my article: “that this was an interview with Wilkerson.” The thrust of my article questions why TRNN would choose to ask a Bush administration official to speak about what is happening in Korea. Why did Jay and TRNN not ask Korean officials from the North and South to respond? What is the rationale behind this? Is this good journalism? Jay still does not answer this.

Jay says he questioned Wilkerson repeatedly about the veracity of his claim that the North Korean’s were responsible:

JAY: And how do we know that it’s a torpedo? How do we know that the North did it? People are assuming this.

Sure, and what response did Jay expect from a Bush administration official – despite Wilkerson having expressed a dissident voice on some topics since his departure from government? It was not long ago that David Barstow exposed the Pentagon psy-op to manipulate TV voices.1 Lob softball questions to a tendentious source, without facts presented from the other side, and then posit this is challenging “the veracity of his claim”? The video to the Jay-Wilkerson interview is embedded for viewing.

Jay says, “Petersen neglects to inform his readers that one of my questions was precisely that:

JAY: Is there anyone that gains if war breaks out on the Peninsula? Who’s got to gain from this?”

Jay asks, “Doesn’t this question raise the issue Petersen says I omitted?”

I demur. Semantically, “why would anyone else do it?” and “Who’s got to gain from this?” are speciously similar but substantively and qualitatively different. Readers may decide. Jay asks an open question to a former US official about a US-declared enemy state. Never was another potential terrorist named (and rightly so without sufficient evidence to make such a claim) during the interview; only North Korea was named as the malefactor — with zero evidence presented to viewers. However, the main problem is Jay’s choice of who to interview. Who was the best person to turn to for insight to a region? Someone outside that region? Someone who worked for an administration that demonized North Korea?

To Jay’s question — “Who’s got to gain from this?” — Wilkerson replied, “I can’t find anyone who gains…” Jay did not debate.

If no one gains, then who loses?

TRNN presents news stories from outside corporate media range, and it turns to sources that the corporate media marginalizes. But instances crop up where TRNN appears to violate Amira Hass’s journalistic dictum and serve as a mouthpiece for centers of power.

TRNN did run an Al Jazeera story that included a North Korean-friendly viewpoint – but it was unbalanced by two viewpoints that did little to monitor or challenge centers of power.

Jay ends thusly:

I should add this. When Peterson writes that North Korea is simply a ‘socialist country’, a la Cuba, he may lead his readers to assign a level of rationality to a leadership that might not be worthy of it. I would be more likely to label it a ‘xenophobic cult-of-personality in the midst of a catastrophic economic failure’.

Jay should not have added that. I have nowhere written that “North Korea is simply a ‘socialist country’, a la Cuba.” This is preposterous. First, it is very easy for some pundits, supposedly professing a superior moral compass than others, to denounce political systems and their leaders because they do not like them. How much do we really know about the situation in North Korea? Whether North Korea is ruled by lunatics or dynasties is irrelevant. What is important, is that in the current Pax Americana there are only a few countries that are resisting at a low level. But at least they are resisting! Second, it is just as easy to ridicule the capitalist-dominated political system and leaders in Canada and the US where masses of people find themselves abandoned to the dictates of neoliberal dogmas.

Yes, North Korea is socialist, but I make no comparison to Cuba. For socialism to survive and flourish in North Korea, it must do so while devoting enormous resources to maintaining a defense against the capitalist South backed by the nuclear-armed military superpower of the United States. One cannot draw any definitive conclusions at this stage about theoretical praxis and the economic situation between the North and South given the current and historical context. As depicted by the notoriously unreliable corporate or state media, the DPRK leadership has created a cult-of-personality. It is undemocratic. Its people are impoverished. It bears, however, only a minor semblance to Cuba. DPRK’s regime has engineered great crimes and acts of skulduggery against the South. Are the hands of South Korea and the US clean against the North? Tu quoque? Hardly; it is relevant since Jay speaks to a voice from the Bush administration. Therefore, Jay’s innuendo that I “may lead … readers to assign a level of rationality to a leadership that might not be worthy of it” is itself guilty of what it claims: misleading. By virtue of their turning to independent media, the readers have differentiated themselves from those people who rely preponderantly on the corporate media. I discern critical thinking ability from such readers and would expect them to read with skeptical open-mindedness, question, and come to their own conclusions.

I expect TRNN would also tend to attract critically thinking viewers. I urge readers to view Jay’s interview with Wilkerson and reach their own conclusions on whether it would reflect TRNN’s adherence to Hass’s journalistic criterion of monitoring centers of power.

TRNN offers a promise of what such viewers long for in video- or TV-based media. It will reach and hold onto such a viewership through its fidelity to journalistic integrity. Good journalism benefits us all.

  1. See David Barstow’s piece on using pro-military officials to control the media message: “Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden HandNew York Times, 20 April 2008. []
Kim Petersen is an independent writer and former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Twitter: @kimpetersen. Read other articles by Kim.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on June 4th, 2010 at 9:14am #

    Knowing or studying implicatory structure of language, reveals “who gains from it {the war}”? that it is a tacit conclusion or even a wish.
    It appears to hide the wish that socalled war breaks out! Obviously, n. korea can only attack s. korea; never US
    Thus the question imbeds a tacit wish n. koreas attacks s. korea or US predefends s. korea.
    The cryptoquestion contains an averment that US never gains from any war and wld not gain anything from the war with n.korea.
    This begs the qusetion, why is US waging so many wars {ab 170}? Especially, if no one in US gains anything from wars.

    He also suggest by that ‘question’ that all wars are equal; i.e., ‘war’ against panama=wars against germany and japan; in toto justified and btwn evenly matched foes.

    I think, US masters of war are salivating at the prospect of nato-s.korea having a go at n.koreans. tnx

  2. bozh said on June 4th, 2010 at 9:25am #

    I cld have made it clearer if i had said that jay knows who gains more from a war either started by n.korea and/or s. korea-nato forces.

    That’s why he ?cleverly-cunningly avoids to say that it wld be US or US/nato which gains a lot by that ‘war’ and koreans lose much or everything!
    Or does one think n.korea can nuke even one city in US. And so what if it cld! Masters of war love violence! tnx

  3. bozh said on June 4th, 2010 at 9:55am #

    Kim, many canadians and americans feel acute shame and despondency, but do have things. So, please, that info shld be included ab n. korea. If n.koreans are equally poor, they’d be ?equally ashamed and self-blaming. Or probably not at all! Especially if communist party[ thank god] keeps american liest from getting into n.korea.
    In add’n , using less has the great vlaue for biota.
    US style of living causes enormous harm. Obviously u’r not heeding my advice ab casting widest look.

    If there wld be an idyllic society anywhere on earth and sans rich people and priests, i wld move there even if i all the people wld have very meager but equal possessions: one pants, shirt; one pair of shoes; to avoid feeling like a subhuman in wicked societies.

    Kim u have said that we do not know waht goes on in n.korea! So, why u make conclusions and ?present them as facts. Are u also an asocialist? So what is radical ab u and DV? tnx

  4. Kim Petersen said on June 4th, 2010 at 10:19am #

    Bozh,

    Pls read more carefully. The sentence that precedes the “conclusions”: “As depicted by the notoriously unreliable corporate or state media, …” I conclude nothing about North Korea because I have no reliable source of information.

  5. bozh said on June 4th, 2010 at 11:21am #

    Kim, yes, u’r right. Conclusion that n.korea is impoverished is not urs.
    And one can be impoverished in morw that two ways That’s why i objected to such a conclusion.
    However, did u say or are u quoting s’mone when u wrote that n. korea had engaged in skulldggery and crimes?
    Mind u, i don’t know! But i reread that section 3 times, but is still not clear to me whether u or THEM are saying it. tnx

  6. dan e said on June 4th, 2010 at 12:51pm #

    Not directly related to Q. re TRNN’s “independence” or lack of, this provides much quality info re issue mouthpiece Wilkerson was interviewed about:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/lee06042010.html
    Weekend Edition June 4 – 6, 2010
    Korea Rising
    The Cheonan Incident
    By PETER LEE

    The Cheonan incident has emerged as a potentially major gambit in South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s efforts to distance his country from China, establish it as America’s full geopolitical partner in North Asia, and substitute the United Nations Security Council for the six-party talks as the primary venue for international engagement-cum-confrontation with North Korea.

    China, for its part, apparently prefers that the Cheonan incident does not impede the current movement toward economic integration with South Korea.
    ////SNIP, cf. URL above for more.

  7. Deadbeat said on June 4th, 2010 at 3:40pm #

    I think Kim is asking the key question about “alternative” media …

    By virtue of their turning to independent media, the readers have differentiated themselves from those people who rely preponderantly on the corporate media. I discern critical thinking ability from such readers and would expect them to read with skeptical open-mindedness, question, and come to their own conclusions

    Not to belabor the point but I think we’ve witness the retardation of the Left as many activists believed they were being informed via “alternative” sources when in fact they were being manipulated and indoctrinated.

    Ego also plays a role here as well as activists believe they are “above the fray” by getting the “news” from “alternative” sources only later to find out that the circles (and even CLASS) these newsgathers run in are quite the opposite.

    While appreciating Kim’s critique, there needs to be further scruntiny of the funding sources and ideological affinities of “alternative” media. Isn’t that exactly what they advise us to do when it comes to the corporations and “U.S. Imperialism”?

  8. dan e said on June 4th, 2010 at 4:30pm #

    Selling versions of reality… there a suckers born every minute, but not all suckers go for the same koolaid.

    So the Masters of the Universe periodically update their Ideological State Apparatus, adjust it to take into account changes in the spectrum of Buyer Receptivity. For instance, at one time in Western Europe it was enough to claim divine sanction for your violent military takeover of a piece of real estate. Stuff like that is still enough to get compliance out of quite a few folks, but most new expect the powerful to provide a veneer of Democracy, to flavor their power grabs & capital accumulation with some Rule of Law syrup, appeal to The Intent of the Founding Fathers, Abe Lincoln, FDR, JFK.

    Modern Marketing strategy is based on Diffrent Strokes for Diffrnt Folks. Thus we have Rev Hagee, Rush the Flush, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin & the T Baggers for people who are satisfied with that kind of crap.

    For people a little more in touch with reality they have Wolf Blitzer, CNN, MSNBC, and for people not satisfied with that level of BS they have PBS, “pure bs”.

    Then for people who’ve been to a good college they have Amy Goodman & the kind of people that appear on DN. If DN isn’t radical enough for you, they have PSL and Noam Chomsky.

    It used to confuse me when I’d read some really insightful analysis by somebody who sounded really radical, like that moneygrubbing creep who runs The Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees? I once was so impressed I sent him a small donation because I wanted to oppose the KKK:)

    But now after going for the okeydoke so many times I’ve tumbled to the fact that I have Sucker Tendencies. So whenever somebody comes along with a good rap but something seems not quite right, I say a prayer to Father Gapon and check my wallet’s still in my pocket.

    Father G you may recall was the Tsarist agent that actually had got himself wormed into being accepted by the St Petersburg “mob” as their Leader, & oops, found himself leading the march on the Winter Palace.

    Also I never forget The Willibrown:) Mr Speaker as he was known before he became Mayor of SF. What a speaker!

    He’d get up there on the podium & get going, you’d think it was the 2nd coming of Frederick Douglas. To the left of Joe Stalin, made Malcom X seem like a girl scout. Spouting that fire & brimstone, sparks flying everywhere:)

    The slimy SOB was the biggest slumlord in the Fillmore district & half of Oakland, pushed Workfare through the CA legislature before Clinton got elected.

    But that’s how they work. Have any of you readers every found yourself being befriended by a junkie? A real qualified professional junkie can convince you that he’s your long lost friend, the one you imagined in childhood, that he’s the one person who appreciates what is special about you:)

  9. hayate said on June 4th, 2010 at 8:38pm #

    Kim Petersen

    I forgot to thank you for exposing jay and trnn. Thanks.

  10. Kim Petersen said on June 4th, 2010 at 9:54pm #

    hayate,

    I do not expose Mr Jay or TRNN, I call into question the journalism on a particular story. There are also other stories that are questionable on TRNN. However, TRNN has come out with several good stories that are virtually absent from the corporate media. It is my hope that TRNN will strive toward independence, monitor the centers of power, and steer away from “elitist” journalism.

    As for who stands to gain, Castro offers his answer: “US navy commandos sank a South Korean warship in March in order to blame North Korea, raise tensions and convince Japan to keep US forces in Okinawa, Cuban former president Fidel Castro wrote in an editorial on Friday.”
    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/1061176/1/.html

  11. hayate said on June 4th, 2010 at 11:34pm #

    Kim Petersen

    Well, jay was being rather less than honest in his rebuttal, you exposed that. 😀

    (Actually, jay exposed himself for what he is. If he wasn’t shilling and just messed up, he would have admitted his choice of guest was the wrong one for an independent assessment. He did the opposite, though, and played dishonest games about it – like an unrepentant israeli pirate – ;D)

    I agree with you about trnn doing some good work. They have some very well done, informative stories and interviews. The questions is why do they revert to israeloamerican propaganda on certain events/issues. The Iranian “color revolution”, the Cheonan, are two examples of this. I have a theory it’s the relative importance of the issue at the time, in the eyes of the israeloamerican oligarchy which determines what issue will be lied about.

    This is psy-war tactics. Part of it is that by reporting accurately on many stories, they build up trust in their reporting with their audience. Then, when called to duty to lie, that audience’s built up trust will lead them to accept the lies trnn repeats for massa. The audience’s guard is down, they are less skeptical.

    Another aspect of these psy-war tactics is what people first hear about an issue/event has a great influence on how they will later view it. It also manipulates their immediate reaction. Look how the israelis controlled the flow info about their terrorist piracy against the Gaza aide convoy. In the usa, that was successful, theirs is the only version most americans are getting even now.

    With Iran, they blitzed the media with propaganda how the Iranian people were “rising up against their overlords”. With the Cheonan, the dirty North Koreans torpedoed her. This is what people in the usa now think of these issues as the “facts”. The reason for going all out on Iran is obvious. Regime change in Iran is important to israeloamerica. Failing that, the demonisation process would deny/lessen Iran existing support of many in progressive circles because of the propaganda associated with that covert israeloamerican op. If people are lead to believe the Iranian guv is illegitimate, they’ll be more susceptible to later propaganda and less likely to oppose covert ops and/or military action against Iran, as long as its framed to “bring democracy” or similar bs. Ultimately, psychologically, the goal is why should be people get involved if Iran is a “bad guy” too.

    With the Cheonan, the effect on Japanese and Korean politics most certainly was rather urgent in israeloamerican oligarch eyes. Things started going pear shaped pretty fast. And therefore it was necessary to bring the so-called “independent” assets on programme. Hence trnn. Personally, I don’t think the ship was intentionally attacked, but sunk by an accident when the americans were playing around with some of their mines. I posted a couple of articles about that possibility to your original article on trnn and jay’s interview with whatshisname. They seemed to be trying to play the story down at first and it was only later they went into “git N. Korea” mode. I think the accident took place, they sweated thinking how they would “explain” the accident, some time later, they realised it would make a good issue to support their interests in Japan and Korea and then had their pet media run with it.

    I noticed a similar sequence of events when litvinenko contaminated himself handling the po-210 he was smuggling. At first, his handlers tried suppressing what it was that happened and played dumb, they didn’t want what they were doing advertised, so the media wasn’t activated. Then when it became clear litvinenko was doomed, they had to do something to avert suspicion (dirty bomb ingredients bring bad press to dirty bombers playing falseflag games). They decided to blame the Russians for murder and at that point the media went into high gear smearing the Russians. That covered up the real story there, and it made another good bludgeon to hit the evil Putin with.

    Anyway, back to trnn and their intermittent shilling for the israeloamerican propaganda. Had trnn made a real effort to cover these issues honestly, then I would agree, there might be hope for this org if they are lobbied to make a greater effort to get better sourced info. The thing is, jay did not make an honest effort, but deliberately ran the propaganda. And when called to task, he lied and played semantic games. This is an individual who has no intention to be honest. Expecting these shills to change is like expecting israel to negotiate with the Palestinians in good faith. I know that when jay’s oligarchy calls on him again, he will do it again. The question is when, on what issue/event, will trnn go into “shill mode” again. Will it be something I know about, so the betrayal will be obvious, or will it be something I’m unfamiliar with and I get taken cause I didn’t catch the shift to “shill mode”? That is a trust that once you betray it, you can not be trusted again. You can not undo the damage.