29.01.2016 Author: Martin Berger

American Take on the Freedom of the Press

345345354222In the “free and democratic system” being pushed upon all other states in the world by the United States and its Western allies, journalists are increasingly unhappy about the repressions they’ve been facing over the last decade, along with constant surveillance and the demand to cooperate with intelligence services. That is why German-speakers have even coined a special term for the Western media – Lügenpresse or “lying press”. It’s no wonder that the credibility of the most famous Western media outlets recently has hit a new low.

Since the days of Richard Nixon no American president was as hostile to the media as Barack Obama – this was stated by the former editor-in-chief of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie in a report that he drafted on the dire situation of the freedom of speech in the United States. According to this report, the Obama Administration has been routinely spying on journalists, while punishing harshly all sorts of whistleblowers. Moreover, the members of the administration feel personally offended when a critical article about its actions appears somewhere in the media. In order to prevent such perceived slights, government officials are being accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 that in the first 90 years of its existence was used only three times to convict foreign spies. Yet, in the period from 2009 to 2013 eight US officials went to jail on accusations of providing journalists with the information that could lead to a major scandal. As for US journalists, Leonard Downie notes, they are living in the atmosphere of constant fear, under a sense of being monitored daily.

Despite promises to put an end to the “excessive secrecy” that was imposed by the Bush Administration, Obama has only expanded it further still. It happens so that even the documents that pose no threat to national security whatsoever are being classified today in the West as “Top Secret” to ensure that reporters never get access to them. Since October 2011, civil servants in all US government bodies are being officially encouraged to spy on their colleagues, while employees of federal departments since 2012 are forced to regularly report their contacts with the press, as well as to inform superiors about “suspicious behavior” of their colleagues. The former head of the CIA, Michael Hayden, stated that these measures were adopted to “prevent any contact.” Even the employees of media outlets obedient to Washington, such as the Associated Press and Fox News have been targeted by the Obama Administration.

There’s growing evidence that suggests that Operation Mockingbird, launched by the CIA in the 1950s, has never ceased to exist. The main objective of this operation was to influence both the US and foreign media through agents that were planted among genuine journalists. When the operation was made official, US authorities have had more than three thousand permanent and contracted agents of the CIA in hundreds of Western media outlets. And it seems that nothing has changed since those days, since the Western media spreads disinformation, produces propaganda and whitewashes anything that might harm the well-being of Western elites.

But the worst part is that it’s not simply the American media that has been destroyed, since the European media has suffered a similar fate. How else can the bias of the European press be explained?

The Western media is usually tasked with targeting specific individuals who dare oppose Washington. It will suffice to recall the rigid disinformation campaign against Saddam Hussein and the so-called “weapons of mass destruction” that never existed in the first place. Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi was subjected to a similar treatment, and now we are hearing revelations made by Hillary Clinton that regime change in Libya was carried out in the best interests of Washington, since Gaddafi had considerable oil and gold reserves at his disposal. A similar propaganda campaign has been launched by the United States against Syria, and especially Russia in light of the Ukrainian crisis. Even the revelations made by the French journalist Laurent Bravard or the speech given by the Director of French Military Intelligence Christophe Gomart in front of the National Assembly of France were ignored by the absolute majority of Western media sources.

The total control of the media by Western intelligence services has become painfully obvious recently. A while ago a German journalist contributing to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dr Udo Ulfkotte, admitted that all authors are receiving gifts in the form of expensive watches, exotic tours, or stays in luxurious hotels. One can easily live a life of the rich and famous if he’s writing good things about NATO and demonizes Russia. In his book, published under the title Gekaufte Journalisten (Corrupt Journalists), Udo Ulfkotte says that those who write as they were told to, especially those “inspired” by the CIA or other Western intelligence services, are enjoying full protection and regular promotions. The utter and complete control over the Fourth Estate (as the press is usually referred to) exercised by intelligence services and oligarchs has turned the Western press into a political fifth column. As for those people who do not agree with this state of affairs, they simply have no say in the West.

It is impossible to publish facts in the West not simply because of the rigid censorship, but due to the fact that the better part of media outlets are owned by a small group of wealthy individuals. The world’s media, as well as the leading centers of Europe are being dominated by the Wall Street and the City of London, and none of these people, even if they understand the danger of obeying the orders of the few, dare to speak up against the actions of the US. For this reason European media outlets are facing a serious crisis these days.

The extensive amount of pressure that media is forced to live under has become so distinct and apparent that some Western reporters have decided to revolt against the system. A while ago, an American economist and author Paul Craig Roberts noted that we are a witnessing a complete decomposition of Western journalism, while journalists are forced to lie or simply give up their chosen profession.

According to the data published by the Insurge Intelligence project it’s not the media alone that is being used for propaganda purposes, but also search engines like Google as well. While bypassing the democratic norms and laws, Western intelligence agencies are influencing policies and public opinions in the United States and other states, to ensure “information superiority”. It is therefore not surprising that in 2015 the US took 49th place in the World Press Freedom Index, along with El Salvador, Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger.

Martin Berger is a Czech-based freelance journalist and analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.


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