Thursday, March 01, 2007

What They Don't Want You to Know

It is interesting how in this country, which prides itself as the model of freedom for the rest of the world to follow, media often tells us a story with a slant, and then refuses to correct the faulty information. How often has the press declared someone guilty of a crime or a bad deed, and then when he/she has been found innocent, the rebuttal is to be found hidden somewhere in a hard-to-find spot near the end of a section, or is conveniently missing. We seem to have an odd censorship practice at work, with elements of propaganda attached to it. Certain institutions, starting with the government and ending with non-profits, are able to have stories published that make certain groups or individuals look bad, or deflect interest from really negative news to something else, often a trivial matter.

Terrible news from Iraq and Afghanistan were conveniently put on back burner when a former stripper died. For many days Anna Nicole Smith’s death was the main topic even on CNN news, Larry King Live and Anderson Cooper. People die unexpectedly every day. What made this Playboy centerfold’s story more worthy than that of a 12-year-old boy who died of a toothache? Only the Washington Post and some minor publications bothered telling his tragic story, although it spread overseas, further making our way of life seem ridiculous. His mom had lost Medicaid and had no other coverage, and couldn’t afford to pay $80 to have the son’s tooth extracted. The bacteria spread to his brain, resulting in his all-too-early death. Poor Deamonte became a Deadmonte. Was this story too revealing of an example how upside-down this country’s values are? With the money spent on creating the mess in Iraq, much of it having simply disappeared, every single person could have first rate medical care for probably many decades. It is all a question of priorities. If my wife and I can afford to give free lessons to some students who couldn’t afford to study otherwise, wouldn’t there have been a dentist willing to extract that tooth for nothing?

I can’t help but think back to the horrors of 9/11 and the scary days following it. I still find it very strange that our Vice President Cheney was taken underground to be protected at any cost, and nobody knew about his whereabouts, yet George W. Bush himself was allowed back in the White House, after zigzagging across the country’s military bases on Air Force One for a day. Does this tell the true story of who really holds the power in the administration? What about the even greater mystery of the deadly anthrax attacks by mail that followed just a couple days later? The country was led to believe we were attacked by chemical and biological weapons. When it later became evident that the anthrax, based on its ‘signature’, only could have come from our government’s laboratories, a scapegoat, Dr. Stephen Hatfill, was quickly named. Of course there was no evidence and he had to be freed, but that again was not a front page news item. Five and half years later this topic has conveniently been swept under a rug in the mainstream media, although one would think pursuing the matter would be of utmost importance to our national security. Independent sources, such as this one, of course continue their search for the truth.

About a half year ago many colleagues of mine in this city were accused of workplace terrorism, attacking some coworkers’ instruments, slashing their tires and threatening them with hidden razor blades et cetera. The local media gave a lot of space for these accusations, as the ‘victims’ had gone to their friends in the press. With the help of the internet these stories spread, making the Seattle musicians look like a bunch of adolescent hooligans, instead of serious and respectable artists. A private investigator was hired, by both the musicians and their employer, but he came back with absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. Of course the media should have cleared the defamed musicians and told about the findings, but to my knowledge that never happened. So, perhaps intentionally, these colleagues of mine still appear guilty in the public eye, and whatever they will say in the future will not be taken as seriously as it should, as they have been discredited by these false accusations.

It is amazing how a local media tries to protect some affluent members of the community. Not long ago, the Los Angeles Times wrote a series of long and well-researched articles about the questionable global investments of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Although I see a possible personal bias in the story, many facts presented are indisputably true. One of the local dailies reprinted a shortened version of the initial L.A. Times story, but the other one supposedly didn’t (I don’t read either, so I can’t be sure).

Wouldn’t it be great if we had access to completely neutral and unbiased press, which would give equal space to both sides in case of a dispute, and would honor the common law principle of “innocent until proven guilty?” Also, it would be a pleasure to read good news, nice articles about nice people, instead of becoming anxious by seeing nothing but stories of horror and evil. Or is it true that one can, sadly enough, reverse the saying “no news is good news” and admit that “good news is no news?”