The virtually universal norm — the business-model for major ’news’ media in the ‘democracies’ — is to be propaganda organs (not only for their advertisers but above all) for their government, which is controlled by politicians who have been bought by that country’s international corporations, or more specifically by the billionaires who own the controlling blocs of stock in them and whose companies advertise in those major ’news’ media. It’s 100% «I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine», and, in international affairs, the government is the wheel’s hub.
But here’s the Independent:
They don’t prohibit their reporters from reporting that the public are being lied-to by their ‘news’ media generally. And especially the Independent’s war-reporting, is the best in «The West». For example, they report U.S. invasions not with their reporters being «embedded ‘journalists’» (i.e., propagandists), but truly independently (which the invader doesn’t want) — and, which is likewise crucial, they place events honestly into context, so that readers can recognize when the ‘news’ media generally are mere propaganda-organs about the given matter. They’re not reluctant to note that their reporting is at variance with what’s normally published on the given matter.
Here are some examples of this:
On October 17th, their Robert Fisk headlined «When Mosul falls, Isis will flee to the safety of Syria. But what then?» and he reported:
The real purpose behind the much-trumpeted US-planned «liberation» of the Iraqi city, the Syrian military suspect, is to swamp Syria with the hordes of Isis fighters who will flee their Iraqi capital in favour of their «mini-capital» of Raqqa inside Syria itself… In other words, if Mosul falls, the entire Isis caliphate army could be directed against the Assad government and its allies — a scenario which might cause some satisfaction in Washington… Given the possibility that Syrian troops and their Russian allies may have to confront this same group, it’s little wonder that they are trying to conclude their capture of eastern Aleppo — whatever the cost in lives — before the fall of Mosul.
On October 21st, their Patrick Cockburn bannered «Compare the coverage of Mosul and East Aleppo and it tells you a lot about the propaganda we consume», and he reported:
I was in Iran in early 2011 when there were reports from opposition sources in exile saying that protests were sweeping the country. … by the time I got to Tehran a few days later, nothing much appeared to be going on, though there were plenty of bored looking riot police standing around in the rain doing nothing. It looked as if the protests had dwindled away, but when I checked the internet I found this was not so. Opposition spokesmen were claiming that protests were taking place every week not just in north Tehran but in other Iranian cities. This account appeared to be confirmed by videos running online showing protesters resisting baton-wielding riot police and militiamen.
I met some friendly Iranian correspondents working for the foreign media and asked why I was failing to find any demonstrations. …
One journalist usually sympathetic to the opposition said that «the problem is that the picture of what is happening in Iran these days comes largely from exiled Iranians and is often a product of wishful thinking or propaganda.» I asked about the videos online and he said that these were mostly concocted by the opposition using film of real demonstrations that had taken place in the past. He pointed to one video, supposedly filmed in the middle of winter, in which trees covered in leaves were clearly visible in the far background, … but added gloomily that, even if they were free to report, their Western editors «would not believe us because the exiles and their news outlets have convinced them that there are big protests here. If we deny this, our bosses will simply believe that we have been intimidated or bought up by the government. …
In Libya, Gaddafi was demonised as the sole cause of all his country’s ills while his opponents were lauded as valiant freedom fighters whose victory would bring liberal democracy to the Libyan people. Instead, as was fairly predictable, the overthrow of Gaddafi rapidly reduced Libya to a violent and criminalised anarchy with little likelihood of recovery.
In present day Syria and Iraq one can see much the same process at work. In both countries, two large Sunni Arab urban centres — East Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq – are being besieged by pro-government forces strongly supported by foreign airpower. …
Destruction in Aleppo by Russian air strikes is compared to the destruction of Grozny in Chechnya sixteen years ago, but, curiously, no analogy is made with Ramadi, a city of 350,000 on the Euphrates in Iraq, that was 80 per cent destroyed by US-led air strikes in 2015. …
It may be that Isis will not fight for Mosul, but the probability is that they will, in which case the outlook will not be good for the civilian population. Isis did not fight to the last man in Fallujah west of Baghdad so much of the city is intact, but they did fight for Khalidiya, a nearby town of 30,000, where today only four buildings are still standing according to the Americans.
The extreme bias shown in foreign media coverage of similar events in Iraq and Syria will be a rewarding subject for PhDs students looking at the uses and abuses of propaganda down the ages.
Back on 27 March 2003 (eight days into America’s invasion of Iraq), Fisk headlined «It Was an Outrage, An Obscenity», and he reported what he found among the victims of the U.S. invasion:
It was an outrage, an obscenity. The severed hand on the metal door, the swamp of blood and mud across the road, the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still-smouldering car.
Two missiles from an American jet killed them all — by my estimate, more than 20 Iraqi civilians, torn to pieces before they could be ‘liberated’ by the nation that destroyed their lives. Who dares, I ask myself, to call this ‘collateral damage’? Abu Taleb Street was packed with pedestrians and motorists when the American pilot approached through the dense sandstorm that covered northern Baghdad in a cloak of red and yellow dust and rain yesterday morning.
It’s a dirt-poor neighbourhood, of mostly Shia Muslims, the same people whom Messrs Bush and Blair still fondly hope will rise up against President Saddam Hussein, a place of oil-sodden car-repair shops, overcrowded apartments and cheap cafés. Everyone I spoke to heard the plane. One man, so shocked by the headless corpses he had just seen, could say only two words. «Roar, flash,» he kept saying and then closed his eyes so tight that the muscles rippled between them.
How should one record so terrible an event? Perhaps a medical report would be more appropriate. But the final death toll is expected to be near to 30 and Iraqis are now witnessing these awful things each day; so there is no reason why the truth, all the truth, of what they see should not be told.
For another question occurred to me as I walked through this place of massacre yesterday. If this is what we are seeing in Baghdad, what is happening in Basra and Nasiriyah and Kerbala? How many civilians are dying there too, anonymously, indeed unrecorded, because there are no reporters to be witness to their suffering?
The next day, the 28th, he reported: «Two British soldiers lie dead on a Basra roadway, a small Iraqi girl — victim of an Anglo American air strike — is brought to hospital with her intestines spilling out of her stomach, a terribly wounded woman screams in agony as doctors try to take off her black dress.»
That was the war being reported from the standpoint of its victims.
Americans, instead, received our ‘news’ from «embedded journalists» who reported from the standpoint of the invaders. The U.S. press slathered over the victims’ bloodshed with the «victory» reports from the Pentagon. As Newsweek observed (14 April 2003, p. 49), «the war Americans see on their television screens is wholly different from what’s shown elsewhere. U.S. programming concentrates on victory. Arab and Muslim TV focuses on victims».
However, even this statement from the U.S. press was distorting: it wasn’t only «Arab and Muslim TV» that was reporting a different reality; it was only the American press — and virtually all of it — that was exceptional, in the sense of standing out as unusual, and also in the sense of its being exceptionally bad. America’s press virtually lied to its public, with its one-sided and grossly oversized focus on «our heroic troops,» reporting this invasion of an ancient Muslim nation by a young Christian one, as being, instead, simply a «liberation».
Of course, after the invasion was over, Americans were shocked to see that Iraqis didn’t perceive things in quite the same Pollyannaish way. And only after the war, not during, did the U.S. press start reporting the victims’ perspective — and, even then, not much.
Americans had been shielded from the realities of what their own federal tax-dollars were purchasing in Iraq. The entire U.S. ‘news’ media were like this. And most of the foreign ‘journalists’ were too. But not the reporters for Britain’s Independent. They haven’t yet been muzzled.