July 1998, Volume 5 Nr. 11, Issue 59
An Associated Press report of June 28, 1998, by Sue Bruel, entitled, "TV Viewers Across Mainland Treated to Presidential Debate", is testimony to historic changes taking place in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). For two hours, viewers around the world, and most dramatically, the Chinese people themselves, were witness to a two-hour public summit between presidents Bill Clinton and Jiang Zemin. This red, white and blue collaboration with the red, was followed by an unprecedented press conference between the two leaders.
The Chinese people heard Bill Clinton speak about the Tian'anmen Square crackdown, human rights, freedom of speech and expression. Bruel reports that this was the first time that the Chinese had heard a foreign leader speak out against the 1989 suppression of the student uprising.
In response to Jiang Zemins statement that the crackdown was necessary in order for China to "maintain the stability" that it has today, President Clinton stated, "I believe, and the American people believe, that the use of force and the tragic loss life [in Tian'anmen] was wrong" and that, "Freedom promotes stability."
One would be hard pressed to argue with the North American President. Yet, while Bill Clinton was participating in a major event, an opening up of the worlds most populous country, exactly the opposite was taking place in "the land of the free."
On the same day that Jiang and Clinton were making history for all the world to see, one would be hard pressed in the land of the free press, to see, listen or hear of the events unfolding in Puerto Rico. This beautiful island, a commonwealth of the United States, and one of the last remaining colonies on planet Earth, is home to a suppression of its own.
While a hundred thousand people marched in opposition to the privatization of the telephone company,
Over the last ten days, the Puerto Rico police have deployed massive armed power against the pickets in front of the facilities of the Puerto Rico Telephone Company.
This show of power has led to bloodshed to such an extent that both Fermín Arraíza, president of the Puerto Rico Bar Association (Colegio de Abogados) and Luis Aulet, the Presidente of the Puerto Rican Commission on Civil Rights, have claimed excessive use of force on the part of the police. The bar Association has posted lawyers on the picket line in order to prevent the violation of the peoples constitutional rights. The telephone workers are not alone. Showing solidarity, the Electrical Workers Union (UTIER) went on a three day strike; the Aqueduct Workers Union (UIA) walked out for 24 hours; the Teamsters stopped working in the ports.Not Much News
While the Presidents of China and the United States were holding their press conference, news and information of the Puerto Rican peoples action and the police brutality was hard to find in the "freest country in the world." There was no coverage of the 1,200 delegates from Puerto Rican trade unions and community organizations, who voted by acclamation to approve a "national strike" of all workers in support of opposing privatization. There was no special TV coverage of the assembly of the Comité Amplio de Organizaciones Sindicales (CAOS- Broad Committee of Trade Union Organizations), which met in the town of Carolina, that brought together the delegates from more than 60 unions.
For over a week, I searched the homepages of "The New York Times", the Associated Press, The Nando Times and performed did Internet searches with various search engines. I could not find any reference to the Puerto Rico strike and turmoil. You would think that in a free society with a free press, the public display of police brutality would make headline news. Should not such a major event merit daily coverage? Not, perhaps, if it means that worlds most powerful and visible proponent of free speech and tolerance were about to embarrassed. This is one lesson that has been clearly learned from the Vietnam war: dont report it and either it will not become an issue or, it will go away. At least, during the Vietnam war, reporters and reporting agencies were somewhat willing to go and get the story in order to let the people know what was going on. Today, all that has changed. Even if such reporters were to still exist, the almost complete ownership of the press by transnational corporations prevents any story which significantly threatens the established capitalist order and interest from being aired or printed.
There is so much emphasis these days on the "free market." This highly touted major accomplishment of neo-liberalism, however, has a hidden agenda. One cannot simply purchase air time to advertise a product or message. If that were the case, then Adbusters magazines revealing and provocative uncommercials would make it onto the television screen. Even Ross Perot with his millions could not buy the time that he needed to get his message across to the American people during the 1996 presidential campaign.
The argument used against Adbusters purchasing TV time in the free market is that the uncommercial does not present a message of a sort that the corporate owners want to promulgate.Green the White Mountains
Granted, New Hampshire provides the free marketplace, as currently defined by corporate pundits, much opportunity. The hype, attention, increased revenue in the White Mountains from thousands of breakfasts, lunches, cocktails, dinners, bumper-stickers, banners, buttons and hotel accommodations, all makes good business sense. Perhaps, that is the point. How can such a disproportionate number of Democrats, fewer than ½ of 1 percent, merit such intense and immense free media coverage of a political almost-non-event, when Ross Perot, with all his money can be shut out of the democratic process with all his money. If Perots millions have had little chance of reaching the people, then third parties and progressive ideas have none. In fact, there is no mechanism in corporate America for the free exchange of ideas. The reason? Threats to the established order and the rich ruling elite, that is, anything that takes away from profit, is to be avoided. New Hampshire is but a game. The Democratic primary in the White Mountains is but a clever strategy modeled after successful sports reporting to bring the largest numbers of viewers to commercial advertisers while at the same time attempting to make the average Joe Citizen feel good about his "participation" in the democratic process. Reasonable Expectation
Kurtz reports that Rupert Murdoch, of the News Corporation, now owns HarperCollins. In addition, Murdoch owns Fox and its affiliates, newspapers worldwide, satellite and television companies in the U.K., Asia and the United States. Perhaps, Murdoch himself is the best example of how big influence can be. The Rupert Murdoch information page on the Internet has him quoted,
For better or for worse, our company (News Corp) is a reflection of my thinking, my character, my values.
Most of the towns and cities in the United States have only one newspaper left; most of these are owned by national chains. In conclusion, the media giants are not in the business of informing, though they would like us to believe so. Unfortunately, many people believe that reporting is factual and informative. The market dominated media not only seek large audiences through entertainment, at the expense of the public sphere; they tend to water down entertainment to avoid a depth and seriousness that might interfere with the commercial message. They also exclude materials that the audience might want to watch [hear or read - ed.] but which might stir up controversy to advertisers."
Recently, a friend said to me that Metaphoria speaks to the converted. Perhaps. Yet, I cannot help but believe that the more progressive voices there are, the more opportunity there will be for the free marketplace of ideas to flourish. These ideas include the single lone voice with an idea - any idea.
We can bookmark this website and the many other links contained therein and elsewhere. Consider setting up your own homepage with links to these and other sites that circumvent the dominant media. Most activist websites have links, which when followed, lead to information on how to easily and quickly send email, regular mail and FAX to relevant individuals involved in a particular event or crisis. For example, the Puerto Rican strike homepage provides the access to direct communication lines to all the major governmental players including governor Pedro Rosello. There is a listserver one can subscribe to where communiqués will automatically be sent to email addresses.
by The Golem While Washington policymakers argue that US overseas intervention is necessary to protect "our interests," the press seldom asks what "our interests" are and who among us is actually served by them. As we have seen in regard to Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and other cases, defending "US interests" usually means imposing a client-state status on nations that might strike a course independent of, and even inimical to, global corporate investment. This is rarely the reason given in the national media. Rather, it is almost always a matter of "stopping aggression," or "protecting" our "national security," or punishing leaders who are said to be dictators, drug dealers, or state terrorists. References may occasionally appear in the press about the great disparities of wealth and poverty in Third World nations, but US corporate imperialism is never treated as one of the causes of such poverty. Indeed, it seems the US press has never heard of US imperialism. Imperialism, the process by which the dominant interests of one country expropriate the land, labor, markets, capital, and natural resources of another, and neo-imperialism, the process of expropriation that occurs without direct colonization, are both unmentionables. Anyone who might try to introduce the subject would be quickly dismissed as "ideological."
Bruel, Sue. China
News Digest. "USA/CHINA: The Power Agenda Itemized"
GTE. About GTE.
Herman, Edward S. and McChesney, Robert W. The Global Media, The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism. Cassell (London and Washington: 1997).
IGC Internet. Labornet Headlines.
"PUERTO RICO: Call for National Strike Wins".
Beckstead, Keith. Rupert Murdoch
Nichols, John. The Nation Digital
Edition, "How Al Gore Has it Wired."
The Golem. PNEWS. "Michael Parenti and
Inventing Reality." Usenet Newsgroup: misc.activism.progressive.
© 1998 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski