The Sovietization of the American Press

I collect Soviet newspapers. Years ago, I used to travel to Moscow’s Izmailovsky flea market every few weeks, hooking up with a dealer who crisscrossed the country digging up front pages from the Cold War era. I have Izvestia’s celebration of Gagarin’s flight, a Pravda account of a 1938 show trial, even an ancient copy of Ogonyek with Trotsky on the cover that someone must have taken a risk to keep.

These relics, with dramatic block fonts and red highlights, are cool pieces of history. Not so cool: the writing! Soviet newspapers were wrought with such anvil shamelessness that it’s difficult to imagine anyone ever read them without laughing. A good Soviet could write almost any Pravda headline in advance. What else but “A Mighty Demonstration of the Union of the Party and the People” fit the day after Supreme Soviet elections? What news could come from the Spanish civil war but “Success of the Republican Fleet?” Who could earn an obit headline but a “Faithful Son of the Party”?

Reality in Soviet news was 100% binary, with all people either heroes or villains, and the villains all in league with one another (an SR was no better than a fascist or a “Right-Trotskyite Bandit,” a kind of proto-horseshoe theory). Other ideas were not represented, except to be attacked and deconstructed. Also, since anything good was all good, politicians were not described as people at all but paragons of limitless virtue — 95% of most issues of Pravda or Izvestia were just names of party leaders surrounded by lists

— source | Matt Taibbi | Mar 14, 2021

Nullius in verba

Saudi Festival Organized by Vice Media

Saudi Arabia’s lavish Azimuth music festival was secretly organized by American-Canadian youth media company Vice, all subsidized by its government had a cost over 20 million dollars. According to insiders at Vice, just three years after officially announcing that it would not organize any other event in the country due to the murder of journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi, the corporation was pursuing business once more in the country and still doing business in Saudi Arabia.

— source | 1 Feb 2022

Nullius in verba

We have to understand that the news cycle is going to do what it does

Authorities are continuing to probe Saturday’s 11-hour standoff at a synagogue outside Fort Worth, Texas, when an armed British man took a rabbi and three congregants hostage. The standoff began when the armed man, who’s been identified as Malik Faisal Akram, entered the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, Saturday morning. The first hostage was released at 5 p.m. The other three escaped after Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the gunman, who was later shot dead.

know that a lot has been made of the training that he received to be able to deal with a terrorist situation like this, and that clearly came into play and was extremely important in the moment. At the same time, Rabbi Cytron-Walker has spent many, many, many more hours training himself to understand other people, to be compassionate with people that he doesn’t know very well and who may be foreign to him. And that’s what I think led him to invite this man in, in the beginning, and to give him tea and to be concerned about him.

And, you know, I think that — I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because I do a lot of work with Rabbi Cytron-Walker on a lot of issues here in Texas. And we face a lot of sources of trauma in this state. We have children — one in five children is food insecure. We have the highest rate of the uninsured for medical insurance in this state. We had a

— source | Jan 18, 2022

Nullius in verba

PEN America and the Betrayal of Julian Assange

Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, is one of the very few establishment figures to denounce the judicial lynching of Julian Assange. Melzer’s integrity and courage, for which he has been mercilessly attacked, stand in stark contrast to the widespread complicity of many human rights and press organizations, including PEN America, which has become a de facto subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee.

Those in power, as Noam Chomsky points out, divide the world into “worthy” and “unworthy” victims. They weep crocodile tears over the plight of Uyghur Muslims persecuted in China while demonizing and slaughtering Muslims in the Middle East. They decry press censorship in hostile states and collude with the press censorship and algorithms emanating from Silicon Valley in the United States. It is an old and insidious game, one practiced not to promote human rights or press freedom but to envelop these courtiers to power in a sanctimonious and cloying self-righteousness. PEN America can’t say the words “Belarus,” “Myanmar” or the Chinese tennis star “Peng Shuai” fast enough, while all but ignoring the most egregious assault on press freedom in our lifetime. PEN America only stopped accepting funding from the Israeli government, which routinely censors and jails Palestinian journalists and writers in Israel and the occupied West Bank, for the literary group’s annual World Voices festival in New York in 2017 when more than 250 writers, poets and publishers, many members of PEN, signed an appeal calling on the CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, to end PEN America’s partnership with the Israeli government. The signatories included Wallace Shawn, Alice Walker, Eileen Myles, Louise Erdrich, Russell Banks, Cornel West, Junot Díaz and Viet Thanh Nguyen. To stand up for Assange comes with a cost, as all moral

— source | Chris Hedges | Dec 27, 2021

Nullius in verba

Whether the Guardian has honored its stated commitment to the truth

In 1921, the Manchester Guardian’s editor, Charles Prestwich Scott, marked the newspaper’s centenary with an essay entitled “A Hundred Years.” In it, Scott declared that a newspaper’s “primary office is the gathering of news. …Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”

One hundred years on from Scott’s famous essay, and on the three-year anniversary of the Guardian’s Julian Assange/Paul Manafort story, we question whether the Guardian’s coverage of Julian Assange has honored the newspaper’s stated commitment to the truth.

Based on private communications between a Guardian correspondent and their source inside a security company at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, as well as two exclusive interviews, we trace the events behind two of the Guardian’s most explosive stories this decade.

“Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK”

On September 21, 2018, the Guardian published a bombshell report entitled “Revealed: Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK.” The story detailed an alleged

— source | John McEvoy, Pablo Navarrete | Nov 27, 2021

Nullius in verba

Farmers win on many fronts, media fails on all

What the media can never openly admit is that the largest peaceful democratic protest the world has seen in years – certainly the greatest organised at the height of the pandemic – has won a mighty victory.

A victory that carries forward a legacy. Farmers of all kinds, men and women – including from Adivasi and Dalit communities – played a crucial role in this country’s struggle for freedom. And in the 75th year of our Independence, the farmers at Delhi’s gates reiterated the spirit of that great struggle.

Prime Minister Modi has announced he is backing off and repealing the farm laws in the upcoming winter session of Parliament starting on the 29th of this month. He says he is doing so after failing to persuade ‘a section of farmers despite best efforts’. Just a section, mind you, that he could not convince to accept that the three discredited farm laws were really good for them. Not a word on, or for, the over 600 farmers who have died in the course of this historic struggle. His failure, he makes it clear, is only in his skills of persuasion, in not getting that ‘section of farmers’ to see the light. No failure attaches to the laws themselves or to how his government rammed them through right in the middle of a pandemic.

Well, the Khalistanis, anti-nationals, bogus activists masquerading as farmers, have graduated to being ‘a section of farmers’ who declined to be persuaded by Mr. Modi’s chilling charms. Refused to be persuaded? What was the manner and method of persuasion? By denying them entry to the capital city to explain their grievances? By blocking them with

— source | P. Sainath | Nov. 20, 2021

Nullius in verba