Throw Away Your Telescreen!

the truth is always subversive

Freedom Next Time – John Pilger’s Chicago Address

Posted by Dave (The Void) on July 3, 2007

What better way to inaugurate this new blog than with John Pilger’s address (44 mins) to the recent Chicago Socialism Conference? Drawing upon his own vast experience, Pilger pulls no punches in this comprehensive account of how the media helps promote the agenda of Empire, covering up and normalising some of the 20th century’s worst crimes.

Transcript follows:

The title of this talk is Freedom Next Time, which is the title of my book, and the book is meant as an antidote to the propaganda that is so often disguised as journalism. So I thought I would talk today about journalism, about war by journalism, propaganda, and silence, and how that silence might be broken. Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations, wrote about an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country. He was referring to journalism, the media. That was almost 80 years ago, not long after corporate journalism was invented. It is a history few journalist talk about or know about, and it began with the arrival of corporate advertising. As the new corporations began taking over the press, something called “professional journalism” was invented. To attract big advertisers, the new corporate press had to appear respectable, pillars of the establishment — objective, impartial, balanced. The first schools of journalism were set up, and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around the professional journalist. The right to freedom of expression was associated with the new media and with the great corporations, and the whole thing was, as Robert McChesney put it so well, “entirely bogus”.

For what the public did not know was that in order to be professional, journalists had to ensure that news and opinion were dominated by official sources, and that has not changed. Go through the New York Times on any day, and check the sources of the main political stories — domestic and foreign — you’ll find they’re dominated by government and other established interests. That is the essence of professional journalism. I am not suggesting that independent journalism was or is excluded, but it is more likely to be an honorable exception. Think of the role Judith Miller played in the New York Times in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Yes, her work became a scandal, but only after it played a powerful role in promoting an invasion based on lies. Yet, Miller’s parroting of official sources and vested interests was not all that different from the work of many famous Times reporters, such as the celebrated W.H. Lawrence, who helped cover up the true effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August, 1945. “No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin,” was the headline on his report, and it was false.

Consider how the power of this invisible government has grown. In 1983 the principle global media was owned by 50 corporations, most of them American. In 2002 this had fallen to just nine corporations. Today it is probably about five. Rupert Murdoch has predicted that there will be just three global media giants, and his company will be one of them. This concentration of power is not exclusive of course to the United States. The BBC has announced it is expanding its broadcasts to the United States, because it believes Americans want principled, objective, neutral journalism for which the BBC is famous. They have launched BBC America. You may have seen the advertising.

The BBC began in 1922, just before the corporate press began in America. Its founder was Lord John Reith, who believed that impartiality and objectivity were the essence of professionalism. In the same year the British establishment was under siege. The unions had called a general strike and the Tories were terrified that a revolution was on the way. The new BBC came to their rescue. In high secrecy, Lord Reith wrote anti-union speeches for the Tory Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and broadcast them to the nation, while refusing to allow the labor leaders to put their side until the strike was over.

So, a pattern was set. Impartiality was a principle certainly: a principle to be suspended whenever the establishment was under threat. And that principle has been upheld ever since.

Take the invasion of Iraq. There are two studies of the BBC’s reporting. One shows that the BBC gave just two percent of its coverage of Iraq to antiwar dissent — two percent. That is less than the antiwar coverage of ABC, NBC, and CBS. A second study by the University of Wales shows that in the buildup to the invasion, 90 percent of the BBC’s references to weapons of mass destruction suggested that Saddam Hussein actually possessed them, and that by clear implication Bush and Blair were right. We now know that the BBC and other British media were used by the British secret intelligence service MI-6. In what they called Operation Mass Appeal, MI-6 agents planted stories about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, such as weapons hidden in his palaces and in secret underground bunkers. All of these stories were fake. But that’s not the point. The point is that the work of MI-6 was unnecessary, because professional journalism on its own would have produced the same result.

Listen to the BBC’s man in Washington, Matt Frei, shortly after the invasion. “There is not doubt,” he told viewers in the UK and all over the world, “That the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now in the Middle East, is especially tied up with American military power.” In 2005 the same reporter lauded the architect of the invasion, Paul Wolfowitz, as someone who “believes passionately in the power of democracy and grassroots development.” That was before the little incident at the World Bank.

None of this is unusual. BBC news routinely describes the invasion as a miscalculation. Not Illegal, not unprovoked, not based on lies, but a miscalculation.

The words “mistake” and “blunder” are common BBC news currency, along with “failure” — which at least suggests that if the deliberate, calculated, unprovoked, illegal assault on defenseless Iraq had succeeded, that would have been just fine. Whenever I hear these words I remember Edward Herman’s marvelous essay about normalizing the unthinkable. For that’s what media clichéd language does and is designed to do — it normalizes the unthinkable; of the degradation of war, of severed limbs, of maimed children, all of which I’ve seen. One of my favorite stories about the Cold War concerns a group of Russian journalists who were touring the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by the host for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said the spokesman, “that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV day after day that all the opinions on all the vital issues are the same. To get that result in our country we send journalists to the gulag. We even tear out their fingernails. Here you don’t have to do any of that. What is the secret?”

What is the secret? It is a question seldom asked in newsrooms, in media colleges, in journalism journals, and yet the answer to that question is critical to the lives of millions of people. On August 24 last year the New York Times declared this in an editorial: “If we had known then what we know now the invasion if Iraq would have been stopped by a popular outcry.” This amazing admission was saying, in effect, that journalists had betrayed the public by not doing their job and by accepting and amplifying and echoing the lies of Bush and his gang, instead of challenging them and exposing them. What the Times didn’t say was that had that paper and the rest of the media exposed the lies, up to a million people might be alive today. That’s the belief now of a number of senior establishment journalists. Few of them — they’ve spoken to me about it — few of them will say it in public.

Ironically, I began to understand how censorship worked in so-called free societies when I reported from totalitarian societies. During the 1970s I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. I interviewed members of the dissident group Charter 77, including the novelist Zdener Urbanek, and this is what he told me. “In dictatorships we are more fortunate that you in the West in one respect. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and nothing of what we watch on television, because we know its propaganda and lies. I like you in the West. We’ve learned to look behind the propaganda and to read between the lines, and like you, we know that the real truth is always subversive.”

Vandana Shiva has called this subjugated knowledge. The great Irish muckraker Claud Cockburn got it right when he wrote, “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied.”

One of the oldest clichés of war is that truth is the first casualty. No it’s not. Journalism is the first casualty. When the Vietnam War was over, the magazine Encounter published an article by Robert Elegant, a distinguished correspondent who had covered the war. “For the first time in modern history,” he wrote, the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield, but on the printed page, and above all on the television screen.” He held journalists responsible for losing the war by opposing it in their reporting. Robert Elegant’s view became the received wisdom in Washington and it still is. In Iraq the Pentagon invented the embedded journalist because it believed that critical reporting had lost Vietnam.

The very opposite was true. On my first day as a young reporter in Saigon, I called at the bureaus of the main newspapers and TV companies. I noticed that some of them had a pinboard on the wall on which were gruesome photographs, mostly of bodies of Vietnamese and of American soldiers holding up severed ears and testicles. In one office was a photograph of a man being tortured; above the torturers head was a stick-on comic balloon with the words, “that’ll teach you to talk to the press.” None of these pictures were ever published or even put on the wire. I asked why. I was told that the public would never accept them. Anyway, to publish them would not be objective or impartial. At first, I accepted the apparent logic of this. I too had grown up on stories of the good war against Germany and Japan, that ethical bath that cleansed the Anglo-American world of all evil. But the longer I stayed in Vietnam, the more I realized that our atrocities were not isolated, nor were they aberrations, but the war itself was an atrocity. That was the big story, and it was seldom news. Yes, the tactics and effectiveness of the military were questioned by some very fine reporters. But the word “invasion” was never used. The anodyne word used was “involved.” America was involved in Vietnam. The fiction of a well-intentioned, blundering giant, stuck in an Asian quagmire, was repeated incessantly. It was left to whistleblowers back home to tell the subversive truth, those like Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersh, with his scoop of the My-Lai massacre. There were 649 reporters in Vietnam on March 16, 1968 — the day that the My-Lai massacre happened — and not one of them reported it.

In both Vietnam and Iraq, deliberate policies and strategies have bordered on genocide. In Vietnam, the forced dispossession of millions of people and the creation of free fire zones; In Iraq, an American-enforced embargo that ran through the 1990s like a medieval siege, and killed, according to the United Nations Children’s fund, half a million children under the age of five. In both Vietnam and Iraq, banned weapons were used against civilians as deliberate experiments. Agent Orange changed the genetic and environmental order in Vietnam. The military called this Operation Hades. When Congress found out, it was renamed the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand, and nothing change. That’s pretty much how Congress has reacted to the war in Iraq. The Democrats have damned it, rebranded it, and extended it. The Hollywood movies that followed the Vietnam War were an extension of the journalism, of normalizing the unthinkable. Yes, some of the movies were critical of the military’s tactics, but all of them were careful to concentrate on the angst of the invaders. The first of these movies is now considered a classic. It’s The Deerhunter, whose message was that America had suffered, America was stricken, American boys had done their best against oriental barbarians. The message was all the more pernicious, because the Deerhunter was brilliantly made and acted. I have to admit it’s the only movie that has made me shout out loud in a Cinema in protest. Oliver Stone’s acclaimed movie Platoon was said to be antiwar, and it did show glimpses of the Vietnamese as human beings, but it also promoted above all the American invader as victim.

I wasn’t going to mention The Green Berets when I set down to write this, until I read the other day that John Wayne was the most influential movie who ever lived. I saw The Green Berets starring John Wayne on a Saturday night in 1968 in Montgomery Alabama. (I was down there to interview the then-infamous governor George Wallace). I had just come back from Vietnam, and I couldn’t believe how absurd this movie was. So I laughed out loud, and I laughed and laughed. And it wasn’t long before the atmosphere around me grew very cold. My companion, who had been a Freedom Rider in the South, said, “Let’s get the hell out of here and run like hell.”

We were chased all the way back to our hotel, but I doubt if any of our pursuers were aware that John Wayne, their hero, had lied so he wouldn’t have to fight in World War II. And yet the phony role model of Wayne sent thousands of Americans to their deaths in Vietnam, with the notable exceptions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Last year, in his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the playwright Harold Pinter made an epoch speech. He asked why, and I quote him, “The systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought in Stalinist Russia were well know in the West, while American state crimes were merely superficially recorded, left alone, documented.” And yet across the world the extinction and suffering of countless human beings could be attributed to rampant American power. “But,” said Pinter, “You wouldn’t know it. It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.” Pinter’s words were more than the surreal. The BBC ignored the speech of Britain’s most famous dramatist.

I’ve made a number of documentaries about Cambodia. The first was Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia. It describes the American bombing that provided the catalyst for the rise of Pol Pot. What Nixon and Kissinger had started, Pol Pot completed — CIA files alone leave no doubt of that. I offered Year Zero to PBS and took it to Washington. The PBS executives who saw it were shocked. They whispered among themselves. They asked me to wait outside. One of them finally emerged and said, “John, we admire your film. But we are disturbed that it says the United States prepared the way for Pol Pot.”

I said, “Do you dispute the evidence?” I had quoted a number of CIA documents. “Oh, no,” he replied. “But we’ve decided to call in a journalistic adjudicator.”

Now the term “journalist adjudicator” might have been invented by George Orwell. In fact they managed to find one of only three journalists who had been invited to Cambodia by Pol Pot. And of course he turned his thumbs down on the film, and I never heard from PBS again. Year Zero was broadcast in some 60 countries and became one of the most watched documentaries in the world. It was never shown in the United States. Of the five films I have made on Cambodia, one of them was shown by WNET, the PBS station in New York. I believe it was shown at about one in the morning. On the basis of this single showing, when most people are asleep, it was awarded an Emmy. What marvelous irony. It was worthy of a prize but not an audience.

Harold Pinter’s subversive truth, I believe, was that he made the connection between imperialism and fascism, and described a battle for history that’s almost never reported. This is the great silence of the media age. And this is the secret heart of propaganda today. A propaganda so vast in scope that I’m always astonished that so many Americans know and understand as much as they do. We are talking about a system, of course, not personalities. And yet, a great many people today think that the problem is George W. Bush and his gang. And yes, the Bush gang is extreme. But my experience is that they are no more than an extreme version of what has gone on before. In my lifetime, more wars have been started by liberal Democrats than by Republicans. Ignoring this truth is a guarantee that the propaganda system and the war-making system will continue. We’ve had a branch of the Democratic Party running Britain for the last 10 years. Blair, apparently a liberal, has taken Britain to war more times than any prime minister in the modern era. Yes, his current pal is George Bush, but his first love was Bill Clinton, the most violent president of the late 20th century. Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown is also a devotee of Clinton and Bush. The other day, Brown said, “The days of Britain having to apologize for the British Empire are over. We should celebrate.”

Like Blair, like Clinton, like Bush, Brown believes in the liberal truth that the battle for history has been won; that the millions who died in British-imposed famines in British imperial India will be forgotten — like the millions who have died in the American Empire will be forgotten. And like Blair, his successor is confident that professional journalism is on his side. For most journalists, whether they realize it or not, are groomed to be tribunes of an ideology that regards itself as non-ideological, that presents itself as the natural center, the very fulcrum of modern life. This may very well be the most powerful and dangerous ideology we have ever known because it is open-ended. This is liberalism. I’m not denying the virtues of liberalism — far from it. We are all beneficiaries of them. But if we deny its dangers, its open-ended project, and the all-consuming power of its propaganda, then we deny our right to true democracy, because liberalism and true democracy are not the same. Liberalism began as a preserve of the elite in the 19th century, and true democracy is never handed down by elites. It is always fought for and struggled for.

A senior member of the antiwar coalition, United For Peace and Justice, said recently, and I quote her, “The Democrats are using the politics of reality.” Her liberal historical reference point was Vietnam. She said that President Johnson began withdrawing troops from Vietnam after a Democratic Congress began to vote against the war. That’s not what happened. The troops were withdrawn from Vietnam after four long years. And during that time the United States killed more people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with bombs than were killed in all the preceding years. And that’s what’s happening in Iraq. The bombing has doubled since last year, and this is not being reported. And who began this bombing? Bill Clinton began it. During the 1990s Clinton rained bombs on Iraq in what were euphemistically called the “no fly zones.” At the same time he imposed a medieval siege called economic sanctions, killing as I’ve mentioned, perhaps a million people, including a documented 500,000 children. Almost none of this carnage was reported in the so-called mainstream media. Last year a study published by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that since the invasion of Iraq 655, 000 Iraqis had died as a direct result of the invasion. Official documents show that the Blair government knew this figure to be credible. In February, Les Roberts, the author of the report, said the figure was equal to the figure for deaths in the Fordham University study of the Rwandan genocide. The media response to Robert’s shocking revelation was silence. What may well be the greatest episode of organized killing for a generation, in Harold Pinter’s words, “Did not happen. It didn’t matter.”

Many people who regard themselves on the left supported Bush’s attack on Afghanistan. That the CIA had supported Osama Bin Laden was ignored, that the Clinton administration had secretly backed the Taliban, even giving them high-level briefings at the CIA, is virtually unknown in the United States. The Taliban were secret partners with the oil giant Unocal in building an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. And when a Clinton official was reminded that the Taliban persecuted women, he said, “We can live with that.” There is compelling evidence that Bush decided to attack the Taliban not as a result of 9-11, but two months earlier, in July of 2001. This is virtually unknown in the United States — publicly. Like the scale of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. To my knowledge only one mainstream reporter, Jonathan Steele of the Guardian in London, has investigated civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and his estimate is 20,000 dead civilians, and that was three years ago.

The enduring tragedy of Palestine is due in great part to the silence and compliance of the so-called liberal left. Hamas is described repeatedly as sworn to the destruction of Israel. The New York Times, the Associated Press, the Boston Globe — take your pick. They all use this line as a standard disclaimer, and it is false. That Hamas has called for a ten-year ceasefire is almost never reported. Even more important, that Hamas has undergone an historic ideological shift in the last few years, which amounts to a recognition of what it calls the reality of Israel, is virtually unknown; and that Israel is sworn to the destruction of Palestine is unspeakable.

There is a pioneering study by Glasgow University on the reporting of Palestine. They interviewed young people who watch TV news in Britain. More than 90 percent thought the illegal settlers were Palestinian. The more they watched, the less they knew — Danny Schecter’s famous phrase.

The current most dangerous silence is over nuclear weapons and the return of the Cold War. The Russians understand clearly that the so-called American defense shield in Eastern Europe is designed to subjugate and humiliate them. Yet the front pages here talk about Putin starting a new Cold War, and there is silence about the development of an entirely new American nuclear system called Reliable Weapons Replacement (RRW), which is designed to blur the distinction between conventional war and nuclear war — a long-held ambition.

In the meantime, Iran is being softened up, with the liberal media playing almost the same role it played before the Iraq invasion. And as for the Democrats, look at how Barak Obama has become the voice of the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the propaganda organs of the old liberal Washington establishment. Obama writes that while he wants the troops home, “We must not rule out military force against long-standing adversaries such as Iran and Syria.” Listen to this from the liberal Obama: “At moment of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world, that we stood and fought for the freedom sought by billions of people beyond their borders.”

That is the nub of the propaganda, the brainwashing if you like, that seeps into the lives of every American, and many of us who are not Americans. From right to left, secular to God-fearing, what so few people know is that in the last half century, United States administrations have overthrown 50 governments — many of them democracies. In the process, thirty countries have been attacked and bombed, with the loss of countless lives. Bush bashing is all very well — and is justified — but the moment we begin to accept the siren call of the Democrat’s drivel about standing up and fighting for freedom sought by billions, the battle for history is lost, and we ourselves are silenced.

So what should we do? That question often asked in meetings I have addressed, even meetings as informed as those in this conference, is itself interesting. It’s my experience that people in the so-called third world rarely ask the question, because they know what to do. And some have paid with their freedom and their lives, but they knew what to do. It’s a question that many on the democratic left — small “d” — have yet to answer.

Real information, subversive information, remains the most potent power of all — and I believe that we must not fall into the trap of believing that the media speaks for the public. That wasn’t true in Stalinist Czechoslovakia and it isn’t true of the United States.

In all the years I’ve been a journalist, I’ve never know public consciousness to have risen as fast as it’s rising today. Yes, its direction and shape is unclear, partly because people are now deeply suspicious of political alternatives, and because the Democratic Party has succeeded in seducing and dividing the electoral left. And yet this growing critical public awareness is all the more remarkable when you consider the sheer scale of indoctrination, the mythology of a superior way of life, and the current manufactured state of fear.

Why did the New York Times come clean in that editorial last year? Not because it opposes Bush’s wars — look at the coverage of Iran. That editorial was a rare acknowledgement that the public was beginning to see the concealed role of the media, and that people were beginning to read between the lines.

If Iran is attacked, the reaction and the upheaval cannot be predicted. The national security and homeland security presidential directive gives Bush power over all facets of government in an emergency. It is not unlikely the constitution will be suspended — the laws to round of hundreds of thousands of so-called terrorists and enemy combatants are already on the books. I believe that these dangers are understood by the public, who have come along way since 9-11, and a long way since the propaganda that linked Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. That’s why they voted for the Democrats last November, only to be betrayed. But they need truth, and journalists ought to be agents of truth, not the courtiers of power.

I believe a fifth estate is possible, the product of a people’s movement, that monitors, deconstructs, and counters the corporate media. In every university, in every media college, in every news room, teachers of journalism, journalists themselves need to ask themselves about the part they now play in the bloodshed in the name of a bogus objectivity. Such a movement within the media could herald a perestroika of a kind that we have never known. This is all possible. Silences can be broken. In Britain the National Union of Journalists has undergone a radical change, and has called for a boycott of Israel. The web site has single-handedly called the BBC to account. In the United States wonderfully free rebellious spirits populate the web — I can’t mention them all here — from Tom Feeley’s International Clearing House, to Mike Albert’s ZNet, to CounterPunch online, and the splendid work of FAIR. The best reporting of Iraq appears on the web — Dahr Jamail’s courageous journalism; and citizen reporters like Joe Wilding, who reported the siege of Fallujah from inside the city.

In Venezuela, Greg Wilpert’s investigations turned back much of the virulent propaganda now aimed at Hugo Chávez. Make no mistake, it’s the threat of freedom of speech for the majority in Venezuela that lies behind the campaign in the west on behalf of the corrupt RCTV. The challenge for the rest of us is to lift this subjugated knowledge from out of the underground and take it to ordinary people.

We need to make haste. Liberal Democracy is moving toward a form of corporate dictatorship. This is an historic shift, and the media must not be allowed to be its façade, but itself made into a popular, burning issue, and subjected to direct action. That great whistleblower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and the ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the Bastille of words. That time is now.

27 Responses to “Freedom Next Time – John Pilger’s Chicago Address”

  1. […] of my own TV channel as an alternative to the shite on the normal box.  Thus was born my new blog, Throw Away Your Telescreen (beta; name and design subject to change).  If any of my fellow bloggers are interested, I would […]

  2. michaelgreenwell said

    i have a youtubve channel with loads of good stuff on it.

    wouldnt mind getting involved.

  3. Dave On Fire said

    welcome aboard!

  4. Freedom Next Time: John Pilger’s Chicago Address

    Drawing upon his own vast experience, Pilger pulls no punches in this comprehensive account of how the media helps promote the agenda of Empire, covering up and normalising some of the 20th century’s worst crimes. Video and Transcript.

  5. Calvin said

    this is fantastic. An absolute jewel. Thank you!

  6. Calvin said

    I write articles myself. Bit lonely at Would like to contribute (I don’t swear all the time ;))

  7. […] As we are preparing to present our next media deconstruction and analysis event (XLT ^s. MDC at Station 40 2morrow night – read below) the experience of seeing Herzog’s Rescue Dawn remains a fresh and open wound on the psyche. And we just don’t have the time to fully flesh out all the dizzying falseness this film foments, but fortunately John Pilger has investigated the Vietnam delusions so thoroughly, it was a perfect coincidence to hear him on Democracy Now this morning. This was a special KPFA fundraiser that is not in their daily archives, but anyway you can catch the speech they played, which he gave in Chicago in June. Re-posted Here. […]

  8. Bob said

    WOW! this guy is AWESOME, and entertaining. SO great to hear these thing heard in such a way. I will keep a watch for this guy. Truly a great writer/speaker.


  9. Dave On Fire said

    I’m glad you’re all impressed. Pilger is certainly remarkable for his unsqueamish honesty, almost unique in modern journalism (Chomsky describes him as “a shining beacon in very dark times” or something like that), and I’d recommend his new film, War On Democracy, to anyone able to go. For the rest, you can expect to see plenty more of him on TAYTS and other video sites.

    Calvin, I appreciate the offer but I’d like to keep TAYTS focused on audio/video content. I’ll certainly keep an eye on your articles though, and take this opportunity to plug my own more general blog, Complex System Of Pipes.

  10. Brian said

    John Pilger is one of the very few remaining investigative
    journalists left on this Earth who is still bringing the hidden
    truth to those fortunate enough to have access to his disclosures.

    The political criminals hate this man, the right wing press won’t
    or can’t print his stories. He is a truly brave man.
    A Man of our time.

  11. Rabbit said

    I stopped wtching this video the moment I noticed you have that yellow dog Monbiot on the list of independent journalists.

    I will listen to John Pilger any time, but not in the company of George Monbiot.

    George Monbiot with his recent pathetic one eyed hit piece on 911 Truth, “Bayonetting a Scarecrow” lost all credibility with many people. It was an empty hollow hit piece, exactly the sort of sycophantic propagandistic journalism John Pilger is supposedly speaking against.

  12. Dave On Fire said

    I think you’ve just vindicated Monbiot’s motto, Rabbit:

    “Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new and they will hate you for it.”

    By addressing the Truthers, Monbiot opened himself up to a lot of flak.

    Personally, though more open to the idea of government involvement in the attacks on New York, I think many of his criticisms are spot-on – namely, that the obsession with 9-11 (and the absurdly powerful cabals that would have engineered it) is irrational and deeply counterproductive.

    You may not share that analysis, but it would be sad if your objections made you blank out all of Monbiot’s work – frequently he is a lone voice of reason in the broadly sycophantic and superficial press – and plain bizarre if it made you blank out anyone cited by a blog that also cited Monbiot.

  13. James said

    Fantastic speech and I want to thank this man for his vigor and digging for the Truth. We are among a very interesting time in history where mass awakening to this corruption is happening. The Internet has been a savior and we must protect this independent resource for speech.

  14. Day Brown said

    Pilger’s warning will go unheeded. The only thing that would disempower the transnational media is an economic collapse that dries up the funding. Til then, the spuds will keep on dozing on the couch with the remote. They wont wake up to reality until the lites go out.

  15. Dave On Fire said

    Even in case of economic collapse, Day Brown, I suspect the elites will always try to monopolise the truth. The nature of the internet has suddenly made it a lot harder for them to do so.

  16. patrick said


    I have to agree to some degree with Rabbit, although I am interested enough in Pilger not to stop because of Monbiot’s presence.

    I believe that Monbiot’s name is out of place in that list of independent journalists, he pontificates and blusters around, selling his liberal, concerned, environmental views, but is merely supporting the system that he purports to expose. Definitely better off without him described as ‘independent’, maybe an additional category for journalists like him and Chomsky is needed. The danger with journalists like Monbiot is that he portays himself as anti-establishment, it is an insidious journalism that in many ways is much worse than those that are overtly obvious.

    In no way has he got the credence and respect that Pilger, Jamail, Curtis, Klein and others like Wilding so well deserve.

    Look forward to reading more on your blog.


  17. Dave On Fire said

    Well, I regularly read Monbiot’s work and I don’t see where that characterisation comes from! I hope that his presence won’t put you off the rest of our content, though.

    You’re right, in any case, that the “independent journalists” category is pretty ill-defined and by no means complete. I will be adding and recategorising links as time goes on.

  18. Jason Bo Green said

    George Monbiot is a hypocrite and a liar, and anyone who takes him seriously can’t be taken seriously.

    FWIW, I’m extremely pro-environment and feel so strongly about Monbiot because he is only using a good cause for his own ego and fame. He is a deceiving hypocrite, and his interest is not saving any part of the planet.

    “Oliver Stone’s acclaimed movie Platoon was said to be antiwar, and it did show glimpses of the Vietnamese as human beings, but it also promoted above all the American invader as victim.”

    No, this is intriguing but far too simplistic an analysis – it misses the mark, sadly. Oliver Stone’s point is that idealistic young men were victims who were betrayed into a lie by their own government, and let down by their military “leadership”. He suggests that Americans were deceived and fooled, victimized by their own officials and leaders. He suggests that “the American invader”, the individual, the young men hoping to do right but misled, are victims – sure. But he never, ever suggests that “the American invader” as personified by the leadership in Washington in the Oval Office or the Pentagon, is a “victim” – he characterizes the liars and deceivers as victimizers. It’s an important distinction, between the people of America and the American leadership, that you fail to make.

  19. Dave On Fire said

    A hypocrite and a liar? That’s a very serious accusation and I doubt you can substantiate it. Seriously, I don’t know how to interpret all this Monbiot-bashing (especially on a post that has absolutely nothing to do with Monbiot) as anything other than flak; any further baseless attacks will be considered as such and moderated appropriately.

    As for Platoon, what makes you think Pilger (please note, BTW, that I am not Pilger) is talking about the war leaders in Washington? The film, as you say, is about the victimisation of the American troops, and this is among the only Vietnam films that one could call antiwar. To be sure, the invading American troops have suffered and died in Vietnam and Iraq, and it is this sufferring that seems to galvanise the antiwar movements – not the immensely greater suffering of Vietnamese and Iraqis.

  20. Yahya Farah Hamed said

    An excellent address. Being one from the Middle East, an Afro Arab, a third world country citizen, one who was about to despair and, to my fear, started to justify most of the terrorist actions, one of the many victims of the atrocities that have been inflicted upon me and many of my people and other misfortunate people in other parts of the world from the policies of some of the governments in the west, and to watch main stream media like the BBC, CNN, SKY, and FOX, this and similar addresses tell me that there are still good people in the west whose conscious is still there and in so they give me hope. Thank you John Pilger (sorry I cannot explain myself better than this as English is not my mother tongue, but I have a lot to say)

  21. Dave On Fire said

    On this blog and elsewhwew, this address has found an enormous audience – and that’s only among people who’ve actually gone out and looked for this kind of thing on the internet. Many millions of people consume the media a lot more passively, and if they were exposed to a bit more Pilger and a bit less warmongering and consumerism, they might engage with things a bit differently. Please don’t think FOX and CNN speak for us all!

    Anyway, Pilger’s hugely important film War On Democracy will be shown on British TV next week (Monday 20th August, 11pm, ITV1, with only one commercial break) and presumably will be bouncing around youtube not long afterwards. I’ll be posting it here, of course.

  22. This is interesting. This is what i am thinking. I have 25 channels on
    TV, but there are nothing to watch. In Belarus under Lukashenko I had
    3 channels, and this was interesting.
    Even modern russian TV is much more interesting, there are different
    opinions, and they
    critisize Putin in any way. They image USA as powerfull stupid world
    policeman, who can not provide security even in Bahdad, what about all
    world. Russia hate war with Iraq, because Saddam was their friend. You
    need to see their coverage of this war: very ironic.
    I sent thousands messages to all US newspapers, and did not get many answers.
    Some of journalists answered me that their editors will never allow
    them to run something like that

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  25. Ian Fantom said


    A group of us from various countries have just been discussing what the mainstream media have been saying about Kosovo, just after the declaration of independence. We got very different stories. I then found this speech.

    John – your address was so brilliant, that I translated the whole text into Esperanto for the rest of the group to discuss. The Russians know they have to read between the lines; the Brits don’t. Thanks.

    If anyone can use the translation, please do. It’s at:

  26. Donald said

    The truth is always subject to those reporting it; and the paychecks attached to it.

    Rupert Murdoch owns those reporters- and Rupey’s got tons of folks in Washington that wanna make sure the American confidence is secured in a functional government. So the reporters, for a paycheck, have to report exactly as they are given; and nothing more or less

    Not that the facts aren’t in what they are reporting; but it’s what they AREN’T reporting that has to be investigated. Example: 1967 the Pentagon reported American troops death in vietnam from 1961 up to that point was about 15,000. Officially documented now, the number is closer to 20,000. In 1971 at the end of the war, the number of KIA that year reported by Pentagon officials was 1,380; when revealed later on the number was twice that. So the number of 55,000 KIA over the course of the war wasn’t reported, and in fact covered up.

    Even looking online now- you try in vain to search for any archive news from that era showing such figures. I had to search diligently for many hours myself to find those figures; and I believe even those to be suspect- because Pentagon reporting to news stations might have been different according to what Pentagon reporting gave that website concerning what they recorded (and most likely updated) from that time.

    It would be nice to have reporting that is thus described: however, it takes alot of work to find the full-on truth; and such reporting is not very well received, nor is profitable. Imagine Bush declaring his repentance for years of subjecting the publick to the lies that so inflamed everyone to “go get ’em” in Afghanistan; [1] his handlers wouldn’t let him [2] the public doesn’t like seeing the strength of their nation presented as weak [3] he would be booted out of office for such a show. Yet it would be the greatest show of strength since the Pope renounced and apologized for decades of murder, torture, and other horrors the Roman Catholic Church has caused to humanity. Yet since that declaration, we hear more and more of Roman Catholic priests who were involved sexually with the young boys of their congregations becoming commonplace in our media: so exposed to weakness they were opened to mock and ridicule.

    That is why I believe full-on truth reporting won’t happen; because if it were to happen, America would take a fast fall to utter mockery, and confidences in America’s dollar would fail. Because of this light reporting though, we are only delaying that inevitable moment, and perhaps inflaming those who would have it, to expose it by all means necessary (i.e. Osama)

  27. Ian Fantom said

    The Esperanto translation has now appeared, with illustrations at under the title * LIBERO VENONTFOJE.

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