The Greek Elections and Media Bias

Who are the heroes of Greece?

As you may have heard, Greece will be holding national elections this Sunday, January 25. I’m not here to talk about the election itself, however—I’d rather focus on how the for-profit media has skewed their reporting on the election to imbue everything they write with a clear anti-Syriza bias. And this is an important issue to keep in mind, because as Malcolm X once observed: “If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

With that in mind, notice how virtually every mainstream Western media outlet immediately frames Syriza as an extreme—and potentially dangerous—party. The Associated Press refers to Syriza as both “radical left” and “Communist-rooted.” TIME, not to be outdone, calls them a “radical left-wing” party. Reuters, keeping it simple, calls them “leftist.” And then The Economist, ever the bastion of capitalist thinking, calls Syriza a “far-left populist party.”

Oh my god—the horror!

And of course, the corollary to Syriza being an (allegedly) radical, Communist-rooted, populist, left-wing party is that any election that would result in their victory is unacceptable to the global business class. The same Associated Press article linked above makes that clear: Syriza’s rise, they tell us, “has alarmed markets and investors.” Ah yes, because democracy should be about what markets and investors care about—I must have missed that lecture in history class—not what the people want. Further, notice that Western media organizations never portray the creditors’ demands as “radical” or austerity policies as “radical.” That term, which is already loaded with negative bias in the West, becomes reserved exclusively for the politics of anyone who opposes austerity or international creditors.

But to hell with that corporate nonsense—the people of Greece should spook markets and investors. After all, what have markets and investors done for them? Ever since Greece adopted stringent “austerity measures” as demanded by their voracious creditors, the quality of life for working-class Greeks has plummeted. As recently as December 2014, Reuters pegged the unemployment rate there at about 25.5%—and 75% of them have been unemployed for over a year. This disastrous employment situation doesn’t even take into consideration the slashing of pensions, brutal pay cuts, a raise in the retirement age, and various other draconian measures that an already-suffering population had to undergo in order to satiate Greece’s money-hungry creditors (see here and here for a partial list of Greece’s austerity measures).

In other words, your average working-class Greek does not benefit from the status-quo at all. The only people who benefit from the status quo, in fact, are markets, investors, and creditors—obscenely rich individuals and institutions who stand to lose some money if Greece defaults on its debts. In other words, that’s that real lens through which to view the Greek election: the (overwhelmingly broke and hungry) Greek people vs. (very wealthy) creditors who can’t stand to lose any money.

And again: the for-profit Western media is patently on the side of the creditors, not the people. That’s why the Associated Press engages in scare-mongering, telling readers that “a financial whirlwind may lurk round the corner” if Syriza wins. Stoking the same fears, TIME tells its readers that if Syriza wins and Greece abandons the EU the result “could be calamitous for the stability and long-term prosperity [of the region].” And The Economist headline cuts right to the chase: a potential Syriza victory would bring Europe to its “next crisis.”

We should be dumbfounded by such statements. I’m tempted to ask these so-called objective journalists: “next” crisis? A financial whirlwind “around the corner”? A Syriza victory “could be” calamitous? Who the fuck are they talking to? Working-class Greeks have suffered financial whirlwinds, crises, and calamities continuously ever since austerity measures were first imposed years ago. Their standard-of-living has been in free-fall for years. They are working (if they can find work, that is) harder than before for less money than before. Let’s get it clear in our minds, then: the Greek people have already experienced hardship of immense proportions.

In short, the implicit threats and clear anti-Syriza bias of mainstream media outlets should not blind us to the fact that the Greek people have nothing to fear except fear itself. They can suffer no more than they already have, and their economic outlook can hardly look any worse than it already does. It’s time, in short, for a change. Just like more surveillance won’t stop—and hasn’t stopped—terrorism, more austerity is not going to solve the ongoing crisis for everyday Greeks. What’s needed is change, and right now Syriza seems poised to offer Greeks the type of change they so clearly want and need.

Otherwise, if the people of Greece choose to stay the course with brutal austerity measures that have crippled their way of life, I fear they will end up like the Greek mythological character Sisyphus. Like Sisyphus, who was condemned to forever roll a boulder up a hill before it inevitably rolled back down for him to repeat the movement ad nauseum, Greeks may find themselves trapped in an endless toil that ultimately yields them nothing. Syriza, however, may offer working-class Greeks an opportunity to smash that oppressive boulder once and for all, and to forge their own future as so many Greek heroes did before them.

Winston Alpha is a a young American who has been independently writing on many social justice issues. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Winston, or visit Winston's website.