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“Remember the Maine!”
That was the slogan used by William Randolph Hearst and The New York Journal to stoke American public opinion into war with Spain after the U.S.S. Maine sunk in Cuban waters in 1898. However, Hearst started in the publishing business in 1887, when he took over the San Francisco Examiner.
William Randolph Hearst bought the failing New York Journal in 1896. His sensational journalism style, now called “yellow journalism”, drove the failing paper to prominence. While there is no historical evidence of collusion between the government and the Journal to get public support for the war, and, in fact, the government wanted no part of going to war with Spain, there is plenty of evidence that there was collusion later. After spending time in the House of Representatives from 1903-1907, Hearst started several new papers in various cities with the help of the Democratic National Party in the 1920’s.
The story of William Randolph Hearst is now history, but, history has a way of repeating itself. You see, Hearst saw profit in the Cuban revolt that occurred in 1895 and had been selling papers for years sensationalizing the Ten Years War in Cuba.
War meant selling papers and that meant profit.
One of the enduring conspiracy theories of all-time was the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and whether or not President Roosevelt knew that the attack was imminent. After researching, I found some interesting facts.
Joseph P. Lieb did an interview with Hustler Magazine in which he stated that he had insider knowledge that FDR did, indeed, know that Hawaii was about to come under attack. Whether or not you believe his story, there is one part of the story that is fact; the Honolulu Advertiser ran the headline on November 30, “Japanese May Attack Over Weekend.” The Honolulu Advertiser archives clearly prove that this picture is credible as the other lede, “Kuruso Bluntly Warned Nation Ready For Battle,” is on the newspapers on archive dated November 30, 1941.
The part that is interesting in Lieb’s story is how the Honolulu paper was the ONLY paper to run the story. How did only ONE newspaper have the story that Japan might attack over the weekend? Keep in mind, that story ran on SUNDAY, November 30th, so, it could ONLY have ACCURATELY predicted the very time of the Japanese attack, that very next weekend, Sunday, December 7th, 1941. That is VERY SPECIFIC information, not conjecture. According to Lieb, they weren’t the only paper contacted with the information, yet, were the only paper to run the story.
This is as good of evidence that there was collusion between the Roosevelt administration and the media as you can ever find.
The next historical time where politics intersected with the publishing business was in the 1950’s during the McCarthy “Red Scare”.
It is reported that newspapers, radio, and the emerging television industry, all began with a massive response to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s claims. However, as Sen. McCarthy gained more political power, these same media outlets were soon all cowed in three short years. It took Edward Murrow and a brave television show, See It Now, and the Army-McCarthy Hearings to finally discredit Sen. McCarthy in 1954.
Politics and the publishing business again intersected during the Nixon administration with Watergate in 1972.
The Nixon administration had been part of a break-in at the Watergate Office Complex of the Democratic National Committee. Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, was found to have lied about his, and the President’s, involvement with both Watergate and the running of a secret “slush fund”.
The connection between the break-in and the re-election campaign committee was highlighted by media coverage. In particular, investigative coverage by Time, The New York Times, and especially The Washington Post, fueled focus on the event. The coverage dramatically increased publicity and consequent political repercussions. Relying heavily upon anonymous sources, Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered information suggesting that knowledge of the break-in, and attempts to cover it up, led deep into the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and even the White House.
Nixon was forced to resign his office in 1974 before he was impeached. But, there is no doubt that without the media coverage, Nixon could easily have finished out his term of office.
Given that many who have held office since Nixon’s administration were part of his administration, or disciples of them, there is no doubt that the lesson they learned was clear; control the media.
The next elected Republican President to have office after Nixon’s was Ronald Reagan. While no evidence has ever linked Reagan to having knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair, there is little doubt that this type of operation could have been undertaken without his knowledge.
The scandal may never have been made public if not for the fact that a Lebanese newspaper reported the arms-for-hostage deal between the U.S. and Iran in 1986. Iran confirmed the deal ten days later.
After the story was revealed to the world, President Reagan and his administration moved to try and mitigate the damage, but, the damage was done. The scandal involved the CIA, top military officials, the administration, the NSA, and, you guessed it, the Attorney General’s office, among others.
But, the biggest question surrounding the Iran-Contra scandal is how could such an operation NOT have been leaked to the press? In fact, there were leaks and reporters were on the case.
Robert Parry documented in 2006 with Amy Goodman how his reporting was going unpublished by the Associated Press.
ROBERT PARRY: Well, there was a lot of resistance to any of this kind of reporting in Washington at the time. The Reagan administration was extremely aggressive in going after journalists who were digging into these areas. These were extremely sensitive areas. They were both politically sensitive and legally sensitive. So it was hard for journalists to do this work.
There were a number of journalists in the field in Central America, who were doing courageous work, people like Ray Bonner of the New York Times, who had been digging into the human rights problems in El Salvador, in particular. And he was-his career was very badly damaged, and he was made a sort of an example of what happens to you if you go into these areas too aggressively. Some reporters said that they were warned off from going after the North story, because that was seen as a career-ender.
At AP, we continued to push that. I was working with Brian Barger during some of this time and were able to find out an awful lot of information. The Miami Herald did some good work. So those stories were hard to get out, because the White House was denying much of it. There was a sense that we were perhaps taking AP into some dangerous territory. But I think most of our stories, in some form or another, did get out.
Basically I left AP because after the Iran-Contra scandal finally broke, I was approached by Newsweek and offered a job there, and I felt, you know, there had been so much-there was a lot of controversy with the stories inside the AP that I had been doing, so it just seemed like the right time to leave.
So I went to Newsweek, but there I found the same kind of problems, perhaps even more so, where there were senior editors at Newsweek who did not want to see these stories pursued aggressively. And they were very happy to accept a kind of series of cover stories that were put out for the Iran-Contra scandal. In effect, after Oliver North was finally exposed in 1986 as having played the central role, the cover story became that it was essentially a rogue operation that he and a few men of zeal had been conducting.
That wasn’t the case either. It had really been approved by President Reagan, deeply involved Vice President Bush, involved the Central Intelligence Agency, from the director, CIA director Casey, down to people in the field, station chiefs, Joe Fernandez, for instance, in Central America. So it was really-it was still a government operation. It was just being done illegally.
The problem was that both the Democrats and the Republicans did not really want that pursued too fully. There was a sense among the Democrats that they were happy to accept the cover stories, because otherwise they might have to impeach President Reagan, because President Reagan was doing much of what we’re now seeing happening in this Bush administration, of going beyond the normal constitutional boundaries in trying to conduct wars, even when there are laws prohibiting these things, but still doing it anyway. And Congress didn’t want that fight. The Democrats really did not want that fight in the late 1980s, and so it never got fully pursued.
And when Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh did take it further and broke through many of the cover stories, he was not well received for doing that. There was a tremendous feeling in Washington: just let it go. It’s old history. We have other things to worry about in the nation’s capital. The Cold War was kind of an explanation for all this, and when the Cold War ended, there was a sense of “Let’s just forget that old history.”
That, in a nutshell, summarizes the state of the Democratic Party, and media, during the worst abuses of power and lawlessness by Republican president’s. Nobody wanted that fight. They still don’t want that fight.
With the lies in the run-up to the Iraq war, torture, the politicization of the entire government, secret wiretapping programs on American citizens, the outting of a CIA operative, all done during the Bush administration, the Democratic Party and media have been strangely silent throughout.
So, how has this occurred? Well, Jesse Ventura, former Governor, has a reason and, method used, in his interview with Cenk Uygur.
Ventura: Well, the great example is myself. When I came out of office, I was the hottest commodity out there. I was the voice of the independent. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox got in a bidding war for me. MSNBC won. I went to do my show, they were putting together a five-day-a-week show for me, and then all of a sudden, a phone call came to one of my subordinates, and they said, “Is it true that the Governor doesn’t support the war in Iraq?” This was right before, as the Iraq war was going on, getting ready to hype up. And they said no. There was a deafening pause at the other end. They said, “Does New Jersey know about this?” And the person said, “I don’t know.” And then they said, “Is there a chance he’d change his mind?” And this person that worked with me four years at the Capitol, he said, “I don’t think so.” Because he said, the Governor’s pretty staunch when he gets, you know, you’d really have to sway him. And the war ain’t gonna sway him. Well, it turned out they wouldn’t put me on the air. They paid me for all three years, they pulled my show, and I sat and collected paychecks and I couldn’t say anything because my contract said I couldn’t do any cable nor any news shows for three years. Yeah.
Uygur: That’s really interesting because that’s exactly what they did to Ashleigh Banfield. When she made the speech against the Iraq War, they literally put her in a closet and paid the rest of her contract so she couldn’t talk to anyone else.
Ventura: Yep. And they did it also, if you recall, to Phil Donahue.
Uygur: That’s right.
Ventura: They had just hired Phil. Phil was their highest-rated show when they pulled him. Have you ever heard of a network pulling its highest-rated show? Never. And remember, this was at the time that MSNBC was trying to be Fox Lite. They weren’t liberal like they are now.
So, if people who COULD talk, WANTED to talk, they were signed to a contract, and paid, while contractually obligated that they COULDN’T talk to anyone else for YEARS.
Isn’t history depressing? It’s not a conspiracy theory, it is simply collusion.