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009 Yellow Journalism, Yellow Journalists
I’m not sure what the presidential debates are revealing more, the sorry state of U.S. politics or the even sorrier state of journalism. I have already devoted two previous blogs as well as a chapter or two in my book Youtopia to the utter absurdity of the corporate news, in 002 Mendacious Media and 005 CIA’s Mockingbird News Network. Journalism as a tool to foment war is nothing new. The east coast establishment newspapers were in service to the railroad, steel and timber barons by labelling Native Americans as “savages” and “barbarians” making it acceptable to commit genocide on the “Godless heathens,” standing in the way of “progress.” Similar inhuman atrocities were committed by the “Roman Catholic “Universal” Church” during the Inquisition and Crusades in the 11th-15th centuries and, so it goes—when you control the press, you control public opinion.
I refer readers to some background information on Yellow Journalism from a 1999 PBS feature: Crucible of Empire, Yellow Journalism, this revealing PBS documentary predates the influence of the Koch Brothers and the millions of dollars these oil refinery tycoons donate to PBS annually. The days when the Public Broadcasting System produced features that actually enlightened the public are history. In fact, PBS refused to air a documentary by Robert Greenwald (Brave New Films) titled, appropriately enough, Citizen Koch. The rapid decline in freedom of the press, even at the PUBLIC Broadcasting System, demonstrates the unabated slide toward fascism in the United States.
As Benito Mussolini coined the phrase, “Fascism might as well be called corporatism, because it is the merger of corporate and state interests.” No wonder the corporate “news” media creates so much hyperbole and fear over the word socialist, as if there is no difference in Democratic Socialism, i.e., the Bernie Sanders variety, and communism, where the state owns and controls all means of production, but the well-paid media hosts and pundits almost never mention the definition of “fascism.” But that is a subject for later. For now we can only look back with fond memories to when “public” news outlets such as PBS and NPR were able to offer an alternative take on various subjects such as PBS’ commendable expose on yellow journalism, an excerpt below.
The Spanish-American War is often referred to as the first “media war.” During the 1890s, journalism that sensationalized—and sometimes even manufactured—dramatic events was a powerful force that helped propel the United States into war with Spain. Led by newspaper owners William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, journalism of the 1890s used melodrama, romance, and hyperbole to sell millions of newspapers–a style that became known as yellow journalism.
The term yellow journalism came from a popular New York World comic called “Hogan’s Alley,” which featured a yellow-dressed character named the “the yellow kid.” Determined to compete with Pulitzer’s World in every way, rival New York Journal owner William Randolph Hearst copied Pulitzer’s sensationalist style and even hired “Hogan’s Alley” artist R.F. Outcault away from the World. In response, Pulitzer commissioned another cartoonist to create a second yellow kid. Soon, the sensationalist press of the 1890s became a competition between the “yellow kids,” and the journalistic style was coined “yellow journalism.”
Crucible of Empire explores the role sensationalist (tabloid) journalism played in the war and pays particular attention to William Randolph Hearst, (aka, Citizen Kane). Hearst, then the upstart editor of The New York Journal, understood that a war with Spain over Cuba would not only sell newspapers, but also move him into a position of national prominence. Hearst’s propaganda offensive, the first in modern media history, demonized Spain for its brutal suppression of the Cuban rebellion and fueled pro-war feeling. With the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor in 1898, Hearst had the perfect pretext for war. The Hearst press saw to it that Spain shouldered the blame and a reluctant President McKinley capitulated.
Two quotes from two presidents of the time included in the PBS feature are intriguing: “War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed,” William McKinley; and “I should welcome almost any war as I think this country needs one,” Theodore Roosevelt, assistant secretary of the Navy.
As we know, McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt, as Vice President, took his place as president and is immortalized on Mount Rushmore. His career was propelled by yellow journalism. “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain” was the battle cry incited by Hearst and Pulitzer newspapers. Then as now, war equals huge readership for newspapers and 24/7 viewership for media outlets. Advertising revenues skyrocket during war, hence, the media empires have plenty of money to pay their venal, mendacious yellow bellied journalists.
More from Crucible:
The U.S. went to war with Spain, winning in a matter of weeks. When the conflict was settled by the Treaty of Paris, Spain relinquished its sovereignty over Cuba, and ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States. Although, rebels in the Philippines and Cuba had looked to the Americans as saviors, the U.S. victory only replaced one imperial power with another. Months after the Spanish surrender, America was fighting its own colonial war against Filipino rebels. Intervention in Cuban affairs lasted until 1934 and left a residue of anti-Americanism. The new territory promised markets, military bases, and influence overseas.
If McKinley was a reluctant war president, so also was one of the top military commanders, U.S. Marine Brigadier General Smedley Butler. Wikipedia provides his short bio:
Smedley Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I.
Butler is well known for having later become an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences, as well as exposing the Business Plot, a purported plan to overthrow the U.S. government. This coup’ de etat is detailed in Jules Archer’s 1973 book, The Plot to Seize the White House.
By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions. As mentioned earlier, Butler’s experiences in the brutalities of war turned him into an anti-war hero for our ages.
From Smedley Butler’s own book, War is a Racket:
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service as a member of our country’s most agile military force-–the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent more of my time being a high–class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just a part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914.
I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals and promotion. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. I operated on three continents.
“We must take the profit out of war”— General Smedley Butler, 1935.
And more from the PBS documentary:
Today, historians point to the Spanish-American War as the first press-driven war. Although it may be an exaggeration to claim that Hearst and the other yellow journalists started the war, it is fair to say that the press fueled the public’s passion for war. Without sensational headlines and stories about Cuban affairs, the mood for Cuban intervention may have been very different. At the dawn of the twentieth century, the United States emerged as a world power, and the U.S. press proved its influence.
When the corporate “press” becomes so involved in assigning blame, in quickly naming the malefactors, in proffering a military response, then the line between reporting on war and instigating war is blurred. In essence, the media provides the false flag narrative for war and collects the profits, meanwhile, the media owners, the banksters and military industrial complex has the public approval to extend military power, to seize natural resources and to control global finances.
It’s not just a little bit ironic that today’s highest award for excellence in journalism is the Pulitzer Prize. And it may be further irony that the Pulitzer Prize winning book in General Non-Fiction category for 2007 was The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright, the book was first published in 2006 and the title and author’s name are printed in yellow.
The Looming Tower reads like a CIA production, there is ample history of the patsies of 9/11, i.e., those hapless al-Qaeda terrorists who managed to defeat the entire combined intelligence agencies of the United States, Britain, and the known western world, and managed to attack us on the very same day that the U.S. military was running five simultaneous war games that included flying jets into skyscrapers, pulling fighter jets out of eastern seaboard airspace, and inserting false radar blips in FAA radar screens.
The Looming Tower doesn’t mention WTC 7, the third skyscraper that fell straight down into the path of greatest resistance, 20-minutes after the BBC announced that it (the Solomon building) had fallen. Wright, the yellow journalist, doesn’t mention the CENTGAS pipelines and the panic among the oil barons to remove the Taliban from obstructing the pipelines, now called TAPI, for Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India pipeline. Wright doesn’t mention GW Bush’s buddy, Ken, Kenny Boy Lay of Enron and their power plant in Dabhol, India. This power plant was built by Bechtel and GE in the mid-1990s and was waiting for the natural gas pipelines to be completed so Enron could power up the electricity generating plant. Wright doesn’t mention Unocal’s VP, John J. Maresca, a member of the CENTGAS project and his plea to Congress in 1998 to please deal with the Taliban problem. He doesn’t mention the project manager for Enron’s Dabhol project, Clifford Baxter, was found with a bullet in his head outside his Houston gated suburb. No one would have known better the importance to Enron in getting those pipelines built than Mr. Baxter.
And while Hearst doesn’t have an “excellence in yellow journalism” prize named after him, the Hearst newspapers and publications continued to attempt to influence the narrative in matters concerning wars and false flag events that start wars.
When real journalists, courageous writers and researchers started piling up hard physical evidence and mountains of circumstantial evidence proving beyond all doubt the three buildings in Manhattan were brought down by controlled demolitions, it was Citizen Kane’s publication, Popular Mechanics that attempted to obliterate the truth when they brought out a special edition of the magazine and even a book attempting to debunk wild conspiracy theories about 9/11. Amazingly enough, the magazine’s poor attempt was researched and authored by Benjamin Chertoff. That surname might sound familiar, after 9/11, the intelligence agencies all came under the umbrella of Department of Homeland Security, the first director was Thomas Ridge, but he was replaced by Michael Chertoff in 2005. When Benjamin Chertoff was asked about his relationship to Michael, he said he didn’t know if he was related or not. Michael Chertoff, of course is well known to be an Israeli/American dual citizen, and likely a Mossad agent and most of the Project for New American Century neocons were also dual citizens of US/Israel.
While Citizen Kane is arguable one of the best motion pictures ever, with the baritone voice of Orson Wells as William Randolph Hearst, Hearst himself was a materialistic war monger media tycoon, who happened to own timber interests in order to supply his newspapers with newsprint. In competition with wood fiber as the raw resource for newsprint, hemp is nature’s wonder plant that grows with little or no herbicides, requires little or no fertilizers. Hemp fibers make wonderful paper while sparing clearcutting the forest, and hemp fibers make very tough and supple cloth. I have a hemp motorcycle jacket made by Joe Rocket advertised as being as abrasion resistant as racing leathers. Adolph Diesel designed his motor to run on hemp oil, hemp oil is one of if not the best proteins the human body can digest. There is no downside to hemp production, only the fact that hemp is competition to the capitalistic insistence that monopolies and cartels are preferable for transnational corporate hegemonies, although they spend a fortune in marketing to avoid actually stating that. The fact that the world is made much poorer because of such manipulative greed manifesting in the continual lobby to outlaw hemp for all practical purposes is lost on the mainstream news consumer.
Lawrence Wright’s CIA approved book mimics the official 9/11 Commission Report that also completely failed to investigate any other probability or suspects other than 19 Muslim hijackers did it. The Commission report failed to even mention WTC 7, the smoking gun of 9/11. The physics of this building’s collapse can only be aligned with controlled demolitions and those real journalists who have covered this exhaustively remain largely unknown for largely well-known reasons.
Journalism is unlike any other profession in that magnanimous awards can be given out for a grossly incomplete work, i.e., reporting. Should an engineer leave out crucial elements in designing a bridge or building, he or she would be disbanded from any association if not jailed after a disaster, a doctor would lose his or her license to practice, and so on, yet a journalist can reap the most prestigious awards even when, or especially when, they conveniently leave out crucial information. The compliant yellow bellied journalist, understanding the halls and catacombs of power, slants his research and conclusions to fall in line with the objectives of the corporate money masters, winning the gratitude, financial reward, and prestigious awards that lead to ever increasing personal notoriety and personal financial security, meanwhile the lies told, or truth withheld, leads to great suffering and insecurity for the world at large. It’s banana republic journalism—yellow journalism.
When the utter failure of the US intelligence agencies was cited as the reason the alleged hijackers were able to pull off the attacks, (a failure of imagination) no one was put in jail, fined or even admonished, instead on December 14, 2004 George W. Bush awarded CIA director George Tenet, L. Paul Bremer and Tommy Franks—the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bush said of these individuals:
“Today this honor goes to three men who have played pivotal roles in great events, and whose efforts have made our country more secure and advanced the cause of human liberty.”
Similarly, the Nobel Peace Prize, the highest honor of its kind, went to Barack Obama in 2009, shortly after his inauguration, this despite the fact Obama greatly accelerated the highly repugnant drone assassination program.
Sourced from the Huffington Post and the Intercept’s Drone Papers:
The controversial U.S. drone strike program in the Middle East aims to pinpoint and kill terrorist leaders, but new documents indicate that a staggering number of these “targeted killings” affect far more people than just their targets.
According to a new report from The Intercept, nearly 90 percent of people killed in recent drone strikes in Afghanistan “were not the intended targets” of the attacks.
Documents detailing a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker, show that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. In Yemen and Somalia, where the U.S. has far more limited intelligence capabilities to confirm the people killed are the intended targets, the equivalent ratios may well be much worse.
The report, compiled from classified documents released by a source in the intelligence community, corroborates the many news accounts of civilian deaths caused by drone strikes. U.S. drone strikes have killed scores of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia since 2009. In December 2013, a drone strike in Yemen killed 14 people returning from a wedding. Government officials mistook their vehicles for those of al Qaeda militants. Parents in Pakistan have reported taking their children out of school to protect them from possible strikes.
The U.S. government has implemented targeted killings since the Sept. 11 attacks as a counterterrorism measure and as retribution against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Under the Obama administration, many of these targeted killings have been carried out using unmanned drones. Despite the high number of civilian casualties and criticism that the program lacks transparency, President Barack Obama has repeatedly defended the strikes.
“The terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes,” he said in 2013.
Again the irony of having the Noble Peace Prize named after Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite and made advancements to the armament industry, an industry devoted to blowing things and people up, and giving the award that comes with $1.4 million dollar prize to Obama, who is highly criticized for blowing up innocent people, is surreal.
There is a surefire way to separate yellowbellied journalists from real journalists, and that is the companion blog coming up: 010 Yellow Journalists and the Great Debate.
Lee is an author who lives with his wife and near his children and grandchildren in the Pacific Northwest, draws substance from a rather unique chapter in his lifestyle, raising a family in a remote wilderness valley in north central British Columbia. (email@example.com) Find Out More >>
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