Image: George Orwell
Hard Rain Journal 5-8-07: In Russia, China and the USA -- Permutations of Orwell's Nightmare Vision
By Richard Power
NOTE: This post is a follow-up to World Press Freedom Day 5-3-07: In Russia and Philippines, Journalists Risk Their Lives; In USA, They Won't Even Risk Their Jobs
The truth will set you free.
In the USA, it can certainly free you of your paycheck.
In China or Russia, it could free you of your life or your liberty.
How far behind China and Russia is the USA?
How long will it be until press freedom in the USA is wholly compromised?
Unless the trend is reversed, not long.
As I rattle off the burgeoning litany of Bush-Cheney outrages, my friends and colleagues throughout the world shake their heads in disbelief: the theft of Florida in the 2000 election, the cover-up of pre-9/11 indifference to dire warnings of imminent attack, the foolish military adventure in Iraq, the contempt for the Geneva Accords, the corporatist disinformation campaign on global warming, the theft of Ohio in the 2004 election, and the willful neglect of the people of New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina.
How could it happen in the USA?
Why aren’t angry mobs milling around the White House and the Republican National Committee?
How can these people, as discredited and unpopular as they are, continue to avoid accountability and hold on to power?
The answer is agonizingly simple.
The US mainstream news media is owned by men (yes, men) who are wholly complicit and wholly invested in the corporatist agenda.
For proof, look here (Buying the War, Moyers documentary exposes media culpability in Iraq War, FAIR, 4-27-07), here (Global Warming: Misinformation Action Center, Media Matters), and here (When The Levees Broke, Spike Lee, HBO), and that’s just a sampling.
If you live in the USA, if you believe in the Bill of Rights, you should learn as much as you can about what is happening in China and Russia -- because even though the lullaby you sing to yourself is that these two totalitarian states are becoming more like us, the truth is we are becoming more like them.
Last week, in observance of the UN’s World Press Freedom Day, Open Democracy blogger Maryam Omidi attended an informal lunch with two prominent Russian activists, Oleg Panfilov of the Centre for Journalists in Extreme Situations and Tatiana Lokshina of the DEMOS Centre for Information and Russian journalism.
Her oD Today post on the events highlights what's going on in Russia:
All five national television channels are state-controlled and independent newspapers are fast disappearing into the hands of either the government or conglomerates with strong ties to the state. Independent businesses and political parties are, says Ms Lokshina, non-existent.
Last year, Mr Panfilov's organisation carried out extensive research to ascertain the levels of propaganda on television; a medium chosen because it is free of charge and as such the primary source of information for 97% of the population. Prime time news was monitored and the results revealed that 93% of all information covered Putin, his party and the government at large. This investigation was also carried out a year in advance of the elections in order to expose the impossibility of holding free and fair elections in an environment saturated in propaganda.
To read the rest of this important report, click here.
In China, too, brave individuals struggle to expand press freedom:
Zeng Jinyan is the online progeny of Wang Wei Lin, the protester who blocked a column of advancing tanks during the Tiananmen Uprising in 1989. When Zeng's husband, AIDS and environmental activist Hu Jia, was taken into custody and detained by the Chinese government without any legal proceedings last year, Zeng, who is now 22, started a blog detailing her experiences and the oppressive activities of the country's secret police. Since then, her blog has been blocked in China, and she and her husband have been harassed, intimidated, and subjected to round-the-clock surveillance. But she has steadfastly continued to blog, attracting an international audience with her sardonic style -- and especially her courage ("These people are like flies after a piece of meat," she wrote of the "goons" who are constantly watching her.)
She is Tiananmen 2.0. Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post, 5-6-07
In Russia and China, the issue is government control of the news media; in the USA, the issue is Corporatist control of both government and news media -- either way it is Orwell's nightmare vision come true.
The truth will set you free.
Yes, it comes at a price.
Recent Related Posts
World Press Freedom Day 5-3-07: In Russia and Philippines, Journalists Risk Their Lives; In USA, They Won't Even Risk Their Jobs
Hard Rain Journal 1-5-07: Global Free Press Update -- “2006 was the worst year on record — a year of targeting, brutality, continued impunity..."
Hard Rain Journal 10-10-06: Global Free Press Update -- Tales of Violence, Intimidation & Censorship Perpetrated By Both Governments & Corporations
Hard Rain Journal 8-12-06: News Media Control on the Poorest Continent & in the Richest Nation
Hard Rain Journal 7-13-06: Dan Rather Not -- Will Former CBS Anchor Join Moyers & Cronkite in Wilderness, & Speak Truth to Abuse of Media Power?
Hard Rain Journal 6-19-06: Coulter, Beck and The Death of The News
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: email@example.com. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
News Media, Media Reform, Media Matters, FAIR, Bill Moyers, Russia, Zeng Jinya, China, Anna Politkovskaya, George Orwell, UNESCO, World Press Freedom Day, Oleg Panfilov, Tatiana Lokshina, Maryam Omidi, Richard Power, Words of Power