Heres how a free press, one owned by a handful of corporations, uses its freedom. It simply tells you what it is good for its business interests, or more generally for the political and business environment it operates in. Its not interested in truth or airing all sides, or even necessarily basic facts.
The only restraint preventing the corporate media from outright lying to promote its material interests is the fear of being found out, of readers starting to suspect that they are not being told the whole truth.
If that sounds like conspiratorial nonsense to you, consider this single example (there are lots more if you trawl through my past blog posts). Lets take the matter of veteran Middle East reporter Robert Fisk arriving in Douma this week, the first western correspondent to get there. Fisk is like some relic from a bygone era, when journalists really sought to arrive at the truth, often at great personal danger, not simply win followers on Twitter.
Until his arrival, all the information we were receiving about Douma in the west originated not with on-the-ground reporters, but with jihadist groups or those living under their Islamist reign of terror. That was true of the Youtube videos, the accounts from western reporters based far off in other countries, the human rights organisations, the World Health Organisation, and so on. The fog of war in this case was truly impenetrable.
So Fisks arrival was a significant event. He was clearly aware of the journalistic burden on his shoulders. Those still in Douma, after the jihadists fled, we can assume, are mostly supporters of the Syrian government. Even if they are not, they may be fearful of retaliation from the Syrian army if they speak out against it.
So Fisk, a very experienced reporter who has won many awards, was careful in the way he handled the story. Unlike many reporters, he is prepared to add context to his reports, such as the manner or tone of the person he talked to clues to help him and us decode what they might really be thinking or meaning, rather than just what they are saying.
But the content of what he reported was incendiary. Just a few days after the US, UK and France had bombed Syria, in violation of all principles of international law, on the grounds that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in Douma, Fisk interviewed a doctor at the clinic where the victims were treated. The doctor said no chemical attack occurred. The video footage from last week was genuine, the doctor added, but it showed civilians who had inhaled dust after a Syrian bombing attack, not gas.
Fisks account is clearly honest about what he was told. And the doctors account clearly is plausible it could fit what the video shows. So, whether right or wrong, it is a vital piece of the jigsaw as we, ordinary citizens, decide whether our gov...