The abject servility of the mainstream media to the US imperialist order is once again on naked display, as anti-Putin protests surge across Russia and the new Joe Biden administration seeks to capitalize them.
In contradistinction, headlines, comments and presentation styles of stories on anti-Putin protests and the recent pro-Trump protest in the U.S. Capitol, would yield the hypocrisy, ulterior motives and the imperialist interests the mainstream media (MSM) embodies and upholds; all the while flying high banners of democratic principles and objectivity. Mendacity, cloaked under subtlety and blended with grains of truth, is paraded across paragraphs and audio-visuals to mislead general readership and bolster public support for war-campaigns.
A report of The Guardian headlined “EU foreign chief to fly to Moscow to condemn Navalny arrest” on January 25, 2021, reads:
“The US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, was summoned on Monday for a conversation with Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov. Ryabkov protested about the Biden administration’s support of Saturday’s demonstrations, which Moscow says were ‘illegal’.
“The US was guilty of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs by allowing its tech companies to circulate pro-Navalny content, a foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/25/navalny-protests-eu-to-consider-next-steps-after-russia-carries-out-mass-arrests)
Any reader would take notice of the double quotation that appears over Moscow’s characterization of the protest: “Illegal”. And, the double quotation does the job it was intended for. The unsuspecting gullible reader is now subject to a doctrine that advocates for Navalny, establishes the wicked nature of the Russian state machine and promotes US intervention.
Moscow has its own reason to label the protests as illegal. The organization of the protests was not in accordance with Russian law and health protocol instituted to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
But does The Guardian mention any of that?
One may disagree with the legal provisions of the Russian state. One may even call into question the very basis of such legal provisions. But shouldn’t one be informed of the legal structure and the socio-political-economic context the structure stands on, before making apparently pithy remarks?
Well, one shouldn’t be surprised if The Guardian editors think otherwise. What is the role of a media giant than to be complicit in the schemes of the empire?
Let us take a look at a video of The Guardian on the US Capitol protest. The headline reads: “’Sedition and conspiracy’: prosecutors cite wide-ranging crimes in Capitol attack – video.” The headline is quoting the US Attorney for the District of Colombia.
The first paragraph of the caption of the video states: “The acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, has indicated that many amid the hundreds of pro-Trump rioters who violently invaded the US Capitol last Wednesday are suspected of a range of crimes including felony murder, sedition and conspiracy.”
Why The Guardian did not bother to put double quotation marks over phrases like rioters, violently, invaded, felony murder, sedition and conspiracy?
The caption goes: “’The range of criminal conduct was unmatched,’ Sherwin said. He warned rioters: ‘You will be charged and you will be found’.”
Why is it that there was no double quotation over unmatched? Why is it that the editors thought that the prosecutor “warned” but not “threatened”? (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2021/jan/12/sedition-and-conspiracy-prosecutors-cite-wide-ranging-crimes-in-capitol-attack-video)
This is not an enquiry into the usage of double quotations in stories and reports by the MSM. Neither would such enquiries accomplish much in deducting the political orientation and motives of the MSM. There have been far extensive researches by eminent scholars that have long proved the imperialist bias of the world renowned news outlets. Notwithstanding those, a study of the media propaganda preceding and during the Iraq War should suffice as a comprehensive lesson on the true colors of the MSM.
However, organizations and individuals resisting imperialism and capitalist exploitation must take into notice each and every note the MSM strikes in its orchestra. Misinformation campaigns can successfully exploit the public’s trust in media. Through years of institutional education and exposure to mainstream narration, a significant portion of the public across all countries has been molded into a pulp that absorbs whatever the MSM brands issue.
In order to effectively challenge the bourgeois-imperialist narratives, the progressive movements must emerge as an interpreter to the public, where the interpreter would expose each and every move of the MSM to the public, and, thereby, not only explain the class-character of the bourgeois propaganda machinery, but also the inner-mechanisms that make successful disinformation campaigns possible.
The movement must also confront the “Liberals” who as the loyal servants of capitalism, have a mission to establish credibility of the MSM to the public.
In this effort, the progressive movements would find the laws of dialectics and historical materialism by their side.
A Countercurrents piece, dated January 22, 2021 summarizes a very significant survey:
“New data from Edelman shows that American trust in media is at all-time low.
“While 56% believe that journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead, 58% think news organizations are more interested in ideology than facts, and only 18% of Republicans trust the media versus 57% of Democrats.
“[…] Trust in traditional media hit an all-time low this year, with just 46% of Americans saying they trust traditional media.
“The poll found a 15-point drop in media trust among Trump supporters (18 percent) since November, opening up a staggering 39-point gap with Biden voters.
“Nearly the same share, 58 percent, think that ‘most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.’” (https://countercurrents.org/2021/01/american-trust-in-the-mainstream-media-hits-an-all-time-low/)
Given the systematic repression of alternative voices and the comparatively weak state of the leftist progressive movements in US, it is clear that something has gone wrong in the bourgeois propaganda scheme in that land. Given the profusion of technological advances and the expansion of MSM’s reach, it is hard to believe that the propaganda machinery has acquired rust or even lost its edge by a little.
Then, why is it that the US public, the presumably “gullible audience”, is now turning away from the seemingly irresistible and the inescapable might of the US MSM? Is it because the public now finds itself at odd with the narratives the MSM are propagating? If so, does that indicate an intensification of contradictions, rooted deep in the base of the society?
If so, then double quotations would not come to much use.
Omar Raad Chowdhury is a student of University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.