Speech on media propaganda

A Reuters article today, containing false U.S. Government propaganda, illustrates the media's role


Glenn Greenwald
June 10, 2011 2:10AM (UTC)

The 30-minute speech I gave last month at the Symphony Space in New York is now available on video, and is posted below in three YouTube segments (the first segment also contains the 4-minute introduction of my speech). The speech pertains to the evolution of my views on media criticism, the nature of media propaganda and what drives it, and what can be done to combat it. A DVD of the entire event -- featuring the three other speeches: from Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore -- is available at FAIR's website.

I want to note one example, from today, that vividly illustrates many of the themes I discussed in that speech.  It is found in the following passage from this Reuters article on Obama's escalation of the covert war in Yemen and his targeting of U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki for assassination:

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A U.S. official confirmed to Reuters that a U.S. strike last Friday killed Abu Ali al-Harithi, a midlevel al Qaeda operative, which followed last month's attempted strike against Anwar al-Awlaki, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Whether Awlaki has any operational role in Al Qaeda at all is a matter of intense controversy.  The U.S. Government has repeatedly asserted that he does, but has presented no verifiable evidence to support that accusation.  But what is not in dispute is the notion that Awlaki is "the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."  He unquestionably is not, and never has been, as multiple Yemen experts have repeatedly noted.  The Reuters claim is factually and entirely false.

Whatever one's views are on Obama's assassination program, targeting U.S. citizens without due process obviously raises extraordinary and vitally important questions.  As The New York Times' Scott Shane put it when confirming Awlaki's inclusion on Obama's hit list: "The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen. . . . It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said."  Given that, one would think that media outlets would be interested in covering the weighty issued raised by this assassination program.

Here, though, we have Reuters doing exactly the opposite: they're ending the debate before it even begins by "reporting" -- falsely -- that Awlaki "is the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."  If he really were that, who would object to Obama's efforts to kill him?  Very few people, as it would make him the Osama bin Laden of Yemen.  So instead of raising vital questions about Obama's extraordinary conduct, Reuters suffocates those questions by disseminating false fear-mongering propaganda on behalf of the U.S. Government (he's the leader of Al Qaeda!!) to justify what the administration is doing.  Overwhelmingly, that's what the role and function of the establishment media is.  This isn't the most significant or notable  example ever: to the contrary, it's depressingly common, and I note it only because it happened to occur on the very day that I was preparing to post this speech about how the U.S. media subserviently disseminates and amplifies government propaganda, the very antithesis of what they claim to do and were intended to do:


Glenn Greenwald

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