Journalistic Malpractice

Only one business–the press–enjoys protection under the U.S. constitution, very special protection that our nation’s news-mongers routinely abuse. The damage they do is all but incalculable, but it’s safe to say the awards would be astronomical if our courts recognized legal liability for journalistic malpractice. 

The latest atrocity from our embedded mass  media is their coverage of the US missile attack on a Syrian military airfield. As is their custom, US news reporters rushed past the facts surrounding the events, hurtling headlong into accusations, political pronouncements, declarations of pride and glory and applause for the brave civilian warriors in Washington who launched the missiles. Reporters had to abandon professional responsibililty to sell the story, which is not just false, but preposterous.

The story they’re telling is that the Syrian leader (who, in unreportable news, is supported by the overwhelming majority of Syrians and has waged a six-year struggle with a rebellion armed by governments in the US and Europe) this leader dropped poison gas on a village currently controlled by rebels. The only evidence presented by the media is a video of people who look as if they might have been poisoned. The video was provided by the rebels, who enjoy widespread support in Washington, London and Tel Aviv. This evidence is considered sufficient, in the nearly unanimous opinion of US news-mongers, to launch guided missiles against Syrian soldiers without legal authority of any kind. Although the missile attack was clearly meant as revenge, our media characterize it as an act of humanitarian intervention. Lately, they have been offering the attack as a seminal indication that Trump might just be a real president after all.

Whether news-consumers are buying this story can’t be known, since the media never assess their own credibility. Polls asking whether people believe what they hear in the news are few and far between. The media tell us we believe three skyscrapers fell down in Manhattan because airplanes crashed into two of them. They tell us we believe our government had nothing to do with the deaths of the people who were inside those buildings when they came down. Millions have expressed disbelief at the media account, skepticism that the media, speaking  with one voice, treat as madness.

From the point of view of media critics, madness is believing anything the media tell us. A wise man said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. We’ve had experience with presidents who waged war to escape adverse public opinion. Typically, the media allow them to lie about events and conditions, and we shed an ocean of blood in consequence on one or another pretext sold as a rationale for war. We’ve let this happen over and over again. If we’re not insane, we’ll eventually put a stop to this madness and hold our media to account.

If they were honest, the reporters would acknowledge that they probably invited the poison gas attack. The rebels know that our media will accept as truth any propaganda they care to produce. Poison a few civilians, put the sick and the dead on CD, send the CD off to CNN, and within days US missiles will rain down on your enemies in the Syrian army. It’s plausible, and it actually happened a few years ago, minus the missiles, which the president at the time decided not to launch. Now,  with a new, dumber US president, we’re expected to believe that the Syrian leader just felt like poisoning some civilians, and that’s the only reason this happened.  Yeah, right.

Reporters could have demanded additional evidence of the gas attack–debris from a bomb or missile, contaminated material or living tissue, photos of the site attacked, for instance–but they didn’t do that. They could have asked whether there was legal authority to attack Syria, but they didn’t. They could have invited a discussion of possible alternatives to armed force in response to the video, but they didn’t. They didn’t do anything to find out what really happened or to help us decide on the best course of action, as journalists are supposed to do. They are liars. They are whores. They are enemies. In a just world they would be sued till naked.