by Stephen Lendman
Major media scoundrels suppress truth and full disclosure. In times of war or when they're planned, it dies first.
John Pilger calls journalism war's first casualty. It's a "weapon of war," he says.
"(V)irulent censorship" by misinformation or "omission" condones imperial lawlessness.
George Seldes once called media scoundrels "the most powerful force against the general welfare of the majority of the people."
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) calls "news" largely "the actions and statements of people in power." Big media and reporters regurgitate what they say as fact.
They "follow Washington's official line. This is particularly obvious in wartime and in foreign policy coverage...."
What passes for news, information, and commentary is fundamentally unprincipled and duplicitous.
"What's wrong with the news," asks FAIR? Institutionalized money and political power control it.
AJ Liebling (1904 - 1963) said "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." He also explained that "People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers (or see on television) with news."
Big lies launch wars. Public opinion is manipulated to enlist support. Truth is suppressed. Fear is stoked. Patriotism and democratic values are highlighted.
Selling war depends on convincing people it's about protecting national security, spreading democracy, humanitarian intervention and freedom.
Imperial wars are called good ones. Manipulative PR and scoundrel media reports convince people to go along with policies harming their interests. Sophisticated campaigns are waged.
Most people don't know they're being had. Real motives and objectives aren't explained. Selling war effectively depends on convincing people black is white. It plays out the same way every time.
Syria reporting reflects it. On July 15, Reuters headlined "UN says Syria killings targeted opposition," saying:
"United Nations observers found blood, burned homes and signs of artillery fire in the Syrian village of Tremseh on Saturday but were unable to confirm activists' reports that about 220 people were massacred in an attack that prompted international outrage."
"Activists" include everyone opposing Assad.
General Robert Mood heads the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). He wasn't picked to report independently. Some observers call him a spy. His statements leave much to be desired.
Commenting on the Treimseh massacre, he said:
Attacks targeted "specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists. There were pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases."
"The UN Team also observed a burned school and damaged houses with signs of internal burning in five of them."
"A wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms."
"UNSMIS is deeply concerned about the escalating level of violence in Syria and calls on the Government to cease the use of heavy weapons on population centres and on the Parties to put down their weapons and choose the path of non-violence for the welfare of the Syrian people who have suffered enough."
Mood largely points fingers the wrong way. Independent eye witness accounts aren't reported. "Opposition activists" are featured. Most are located far from Treimseh and other massacre sites.
Their credibility is sorely lacking. Fake videos portray images unrelated to events. Reuters quoted an unidentified man "on video footage purportedly filmed in Treimseh." Uploaded online, he said:
"We were surrounded from four sides....with tanks and armored vehicles, and the helicopters were hovering above."
"They burned people in front of our eyes. They held the men like this and stabbed them. They took out people's eyes."
We've heard and seen this all before. Manufactured lies conceal what's really happening.
Indeed government forces confronted killer gangs. They overran Treimseh and massacred dozens of civilians before Syria's military arrived.
Independent eyewitnesses report events accurately. Houla and Qubair massacres were replicated.
Syrian troops intervened to stop more killing. Assad loyalists were targeted. Mood left these facts unexplained. So did Reuters. Instead it misreported, saying:
Some people "said rebel fighters rushed to reinforce the village after it came under attack by infantry, artillery and aircraft, leading to a battle that lasted seven hours."
Pro-Assad shabbiha elements were wrongfully blamed. Those responsible aren't held accountable.
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi denied false Western reports, saying:
"Government forces did not use planes or helicopters or tanks or artillery. The heaviest weapon(s) used w(ere) RPGs (rocket propelled grenades)."
Security forces killed 37 insurgents and two civilians, he said. Clashes lasted about 90 minutes, not seven hours. Before government troops arrived, terrorists slaughtered over 50 civilians.
On July 14, the New York Times headlined "Details of a Battle Challenge Reports of a Syrian Massacre."
The Times acknowledged previous misreporting. At the same time, it tried explaining events both ways, saying:
"Although what actually happened in Tremseh remains murky, the evidence available suggested that events on Thursday more closely followed the Syrian government account."
"But Syrian officials colored (it) with their usual terminology of blaming 'foreign terrorist gangs' for all violence. The government said the Syrian Army had inflicted 'heavy losses' on the 'terrorists.' "
"The official report also made the unlikely claim that government forces had killed no civilians, but that the dead civilians found in the town had been killed by the rebel fighters."
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said government forces killed two civilians. Dozens were massacred before they arrived. Nothing in The Times report explains this. While partly admitting erroneous reporting, it still points fingers the wrong way.
At the same time, it repeated the same Wall Street Journal propaganda about Syria moving "parts of its huge stockpile of chemical weapons out of storage."
Unnamed US officials are cited. What's going on isn't certain, they claimed. Targeting civilians may be planned. No evidence whatever suggests it.
Andrew Tabler was quoted. He's a pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) senior fellow. He claims chemical weapons are being moved near Homs.
Again, no evidence was cited. Without saying so, he implied relocation may reflect planned use in the area.
Citing WINEP defense fellow Jeffrey White, The Times said if government forces are given chemical weapons, it "suggest(s) that preparations were being made for their use." Moving them raises concerns, he added.
These type reports hype fear. They advance the ball closer to war. Media scoundrels promote it. They bear direct responsibility for what happens.
A Final Comment
On July 14, the Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined "Israel advised to brace for Syrian missile attack - conventional or chemical," saying:
"Western military sources" that Israel and other regional "strategic targets....should prepare for (Assad) to launch surface-to-surface missile attacks."
Chemical weapons might be used, said DF.
"Western intelligence sources say Assad has a list of targets ready to go."
DF implied, but didn't advocate preemptively attacking Syria. Doing so could be called defensive.
Spurious reports like this make war more likely. Nothing suggests Syria threatens neighboring states. Saying so doesn't wash.
Repeating Big Lies often enough gets people believing they're true. War winds blow stronger. Each day it draws closer.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.