When I worked in Washington during the Nixon Administration there were not very many reporters who covered government like stenographers and propagandists. The few who did stood out like a bikini in a nunnery. One such type who covered the Pentagon actually left his news organization to become a flack for the Pentagon. “He didn’t change jobs,” an old pro remarked. “He just changed offices.”
I was reminded of that situation this week when Michael Gordon of the New York Times got caught flacking for the administration in a story about Ukraine. On Monday Gordon and two colleagues took a handout from the Pentagon and reported it as fact. A trove of grainy photos provided to them by government officials, Gordon et al said, proved that Russian special forces were behind the popular uprisings in eastern Ukraine. It was the lead story on the Times front page.
An online news outfit, probably tipped by BBC, revealed the truth; the photographer who took the pictures confirmed it: the pictures were a red herring. The Times published an “Oops!”, albeit one buried deep in a story on page 9 Wednesday. It wasn’t the first time Gordon was caught pushing the government line. Alone and with the infamous Judith Miller, he helped propagate the myths that led to the invasion of Iraq.
Whereas this kind of non-journalism once was rare, now it is the standard for inside-the-Beltway “reporting.” Simply put, if you rely on the United States mainstream media for your information, you cannot possibly know the truth about Ukraine. (Or, for that matter, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Niger, Sudan . . . .)
Our print and electronic media either did not make mention, or buried passing references deep in their coverage, of the role played in the Maidan demonstrations in Kiev by Svoboda and Right Sector, two quasi-military, pro-Nazi parties. We were never told about the 300 members of these two extremist groups who were sent to Poland with U.S. funds ostensibly to take part in a student exchange program. (Never mind the 40-somethings with bushy beards and crude speech unbefitting a college student.) In fact they underwent training by NATO and the CIA in in the violent arts of guerilla war and revolution, including how to post snipers on rooftops to randomly shoot demonstrators, and leave behind false evidence to link the shootings to others. The new, unelected “president” of Ukraine was chosen by Victoria Nuland, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Europe, and Goffrey Pyatt, U.S. ambassador to UkraIne, in consultation with Washington powers in the CIA and State and Defense Departments. Orders also came through black channels from the armed mercenary wings of Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Repsol, who have already begun sinking their squid-suckers into Ukraine’s trove of shale gas reserves — more than 42 trillion cubic feet. For their role in tossing out the democratically elected president of Ukraine — Viktor Yanukovych — the neo- Nazi parties were rewarded with the directorships of four key agencies in the putsch government. The rest of the world knows, if our people don’t, that Nuland boasted to Pyatt that the US. had invested $5 billion in the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government.
The insatiable craw of our endless war machine — principal source of the obscene wealth of our ruling oligarchs — has to have fresh meat daily. The neocon pols and bureaucrats who front for it and for Israel cannot forgive Vladimir Putin of Russia for heading us off from war in Syria, which they consider to be an essential stepping stone to their real goal in the Middle East — bombing Iran, Russia’s friend, into bloody submission. And so Putin — who has far cleaner hands than Obama in Ukraine — has been dutifully demonized by the American stenographers of journalism.
They don’t even bother to change offices these days.