Friday, July 09, 2010

The media enforcers

Glenn Greenwald reflects on which journalists or pundits get fired for expressing politically incorrect opinions. Although it is the "Liberal Media" that has the power to destroy careers and reputations, punishment comes only at the behest of right wingers, especially the neoconservative media monitors. Here are excerpts from Greenwald's column at Salon.com:

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First, consider which viewpoints cause someone to be fired from The Liberal Media. Last month, Helen Thomas' 60-year career as a journalist ended when she expressed the exact view about Jews which numerous public figures have expressed (with no consequence or even controversy) about Palestinians.

Just weeks ago, The Washington Post accepted the "resignation" of Dave Weigel because of scorn he heaped on right-wing figures such as Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh.

CNN's Chief News Executive, Eason Jordan, was previously forced to resign after he provoked a right-wing fit of fury over comments he made about the numerous -- and obviously disturbing -- incidents where the U.S. military had injured or killed journalists in war zones.

NBC fired Peter Arnett for criticizing the U.S. war plan on Iraqi television, which prompted accusations of Treason from the Right.

MSNBC demoted and then fired its rising star Ashleigh Banfield after she criticized American media war coverage for adhering to the Fox model of glorifying U.S. wars; the same network fired its top-rated host, Phil Donahue, due to its fear of being perceived as anti-war; and its former reporter, Jessica Yellin, confessed that journalists were "under enormous pressure from corporate executives" to present the news in a pro-war and pro-Bush manner.

What each of these firing offenses have in common is that they angered and offended the neocon Right. Isn't that a strange dynamic for the supposedly Liberal Media: the only viewpoint-based firings of journalists are ones where the journalist breaches neoconservative orthodoxy? Have there ever been any viewpoint-based firings of establishment journalists by The Liberal Media because of comments which offended liberals? None that I can recall.

I foolishly thought that when George Bush's own Press Secretary mocked the American media for being "too deferential" to the Bush administration, that would at least put a dent in that most fictitious American myth: The Liberal Media. But it didn't; nothing does, not even the endless spate of journalist firings for deviating from right-wing dogma.

Beyond journalism, speech codes concerning the Middle East are painfully biased and one-sided. Chas Freeman was barred from a government position -- despite a long and accomplished record of public service -- due to AIPAC-led anger over comments deemed insufficiently devoted to Israel.

Juan Cole was denied a tenured position at Yale after a vicious neocon campaign based on his allegedly anti-Israel remarks, and Norman Finklestein suffered the same fate, despite a unanimous committee recommendation for tenure, after an Alan-Dershowitz-led demonization campaign based on his blasphemous scholarship about Israel.

Does anyone ever suffer career-impeding injuries of this type -- the way Nasr and Thomas also just have -- for expressing anti-Muslim or anti-Arab views? No. The speech prohibitions and thought crimes on the Middle East all run in one direction: to enforce "pro-Israel" orthodoxies. Does this long list of examples leave room for doubt about that fact? ...

With the Octavia Nasr firing, here we find yet again exposed the central lie of American establishment journalism: that opinion-free "objectivity" is possible, required, and the governing rule. The exact opposite is true: very strong opinions are not only permitted but required. They just have to be the right opinions: the official, approved ones. ...

The reality is that "pro-Israel" is not considered a viewpoint at all; it's considered "objective." That's why there's no expression of it too extreme to result in the sort of punishment which Nasr just suffered (preceded by so many others before her). ...

It's true that much of the world sees some of Hezbollah's actions as Terrorism; much of the world sees Israel's that way as well. CNN requires the former view while prohibiting the latter. As usual, our brave journalistic outlets not only acquiesce to these suffocating and extremely subjective restrictions on what our political discourse allows; they lead the way in enforcing them.

Read complete article here.

1 comment:

kevinernest said...

Now there's one -- Juan Williams.