What in the world is going on? —part 5. Chris Hedges reports on Russia-gate, media credibility and more.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and former New York Times correspondent, Chris Hedges, is, to me, a credible source for real news. In a recent interview he had much to say that gives a clearer picture of the present state of geo-politics, the media, and the global problematique.

About Russia’s swinging the U.S. Presidential election toward Trump, he says, “it’s as ridiculous as Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. It is an absolutely unproven allegation that is used to perpetuate a very frightening accusation—critics of corporate capitalism and imperialism are foreign agents for Russia.”

This obsession with Russia is a tactic used by the ruling elite, and in particular the Democratic Party, to avoid facing a very unpleasant reality: that their unpopularity is the outcome of their policies of deindustrialization and the assault against working men and women and poor people of color. It is the result of disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA that abolished good-paying union jobs and shipped them to places like Mexico, where workers without benefits are paid $3.00 an hour. It is the result of the explosion of a system of mass incarceration, begun by Bill Clinton with the 1994 omnibus crime bill, and the tripling and quadrupling of prison sentences. It is the result of the slashing of basic government services, including, of course, welfare, that Clinton gutted; deregulation, a decaying infrastructure, including public schools, and the de facto tax boycott by corporations. It is the result of the transformation of the country into an oligarchy. The nativist revolt on the right, and the aborted insurgency within the Democratic Party, makes sense when you see what they have done to the country.”

Hedges, himself a correspondent for New York Times from 1990 to 2005, offers a scathing critique of the paper, saying, “Critical thinking on the op-ed page, the Week in Review or the Book Review, never very strong to begin with, evaporated under Keller. Globalization was beyond questioning. Since the Times, like all elite institutions, is a hermetically sealed echo chamber, they do not realize how irrelevant they are becoming, or how ridiculous they look. Thomas Friedman and David Brooks might as well write for the Onion.

He then adds, “The rules aren’t written on the walls, but everyone knows, even if they do not articulate it, the paper’s unofficial motto: Do not significantly alienate those upon whom we depend for money and access! You can push against them some of the time. But if you are a serious reporter, like Charlie Leduff, or Sydney Schanberg, who wants to give a voice to people who don’t have a voice, to address issues of race, class, capitalist exploitation or the crimes of empire, you very swiftly become a management problem and get pushed out.”

Hedges is equally critical of the broadcast media. He says, “The commercial broadcast networks, and that includes CNN and MSNBC, are not in the business of journalism. They hardly do any. Their celebrity correspondents are courtiers to the elite. They speculate about and amplify court gossip, which is all the accusations about Russia, and they repeat what they are told to repeat. They sacrifice journalism and truth for ratings and profit. These cable news shows are one of many revenue streams in a corporate structure. They compete against other revenue streams. The head of CNN, Jeff Zucker, who helped create the fictional persona of Donald Trump on “Celebrity Apprentice,” has turned politics on CNN into a 24-hour reality show. All nuance, ambiguity, meaning and depth, along with verifiable fact, are sacrificed for salacious entertainment. Lying, racism, bigotry and conspiracy theories are given platforms and considered newsworthy, often espoused by people whose sole quality is that they are unhinged. It is news as burlesque.

Of special significance is Hedges’ description of coverage of the Iraq war: “I was on the investigative team at the New York Times during the lead-up to the Iraq War. I was based in Paris and covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East. Lewis Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle and maybe somebody in an intelligence agency, would confirm whatever story the administration was attempting to pitch. Journalistic rules at the Times say you can’t go with a one-source story. But if you have three or four supposedly independent sources confirming the same narrative, then you can go with it, which is how they did it. The paper did not break any rules taught at Columbia journalism school, but everything they wrote was a lie.”

Read the entire interview here. Hedges is a regular contributor to Truthdig.

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2 responses to “What in the world is going on? —part 5. Chris Hedges reports on Russia-gate, media credibility and more.

  1. I totally disagree with any such “off handed” rejection of “any and all” Russian-like intervention in the 2016 elections. I am totally baffled by this claim by journalists I respect for most of their other reports

    No human knows what is actually happening in the material word, beyond their sensory input. We are ALL dependent on human (or machine) authored reports – which all refer back to other reports. Thus, Hedges, Victor, or Greco don’t know what is “really” going on.

    There is much to critique about reports from MSNBC and CNN, but there are no bias free reports. I subscribe to many alt sites that reprint reports. Those that favor Russian propaganda also highlight Hedges & Roberts. Hedges and Roberts focus almost exclusively on the hacks/leaks and ignore the literal avalanche of other “evidence”. The totality of this REPORTED evidence is nearly impossible to explain as an elaborate hoax. Those who accept the hoax hypothesis have a limited resource of reports. The strong emotional attacks on MSNBC and CNN are strong evidence of their bias. Also, our dialog systems now prohibit “rational debate”. A piece of text, such as this, can have no effect on the events unfolding. We need to emerge a radically nu episteme/system within which a nu humanity can emerge. Contemporary humankind is well beyond fixing.

    What is being revealed from assessing a wide sampling of ALL reports, is that human persons (as individuals) are limited in their capacity to comprehend the OBJECTIVITY of complex human societal influenced BEHAVIOR (e.g., writing and selective reading reports).

    For many, the reports – revealing the “evils” of the Deep State, the whole negative history of the USA, and the global battles underway and planned – seem to drive many intelligent persons to defend any force that might be viewed capable of countering this evil. I agree that the USSR (from before WWII) and Russia (today) has has been primarily DEFENSIVE. However, they have their own distortions.

    I don’t yet comprehend the scenarios behind The Trump Phenomenon, BRICS, or the battles for financial dominance – but I don’t see them as anything better than the Deep State, and possibly worse (if you can imagine). I am trying to explore this in writing about SYSTEMS vs EPISTEMES.

    In my wrld, Hedges and Roberts are somehow trapped in an episteme that limits their societal wrlds to a small subset of alternative SYSTEMS. Crudely, that episteme demands a simplistic ranking. If the Deep State is “evil” that which opposes the Deep State must be “good”. Without my alternative, that such binary ranking is scientifically and logically invalid, there is little choice for those really aware of the catastrophic failings of the USA. I speculate that this is related to the suicides of those who face the intractability of climate change extinction, without “a way out” (which I have in Up2Met).

    I see hints that a few others are exploring episteme alternatives. I am just recently interested in the new books by Van Jones and Dan Brown. Also, the “reality” of Las Vegas may explode. Meanwhile, many banking and other systems appear to under hacking attacks.

  2. Hi Tom

    The most appalling thing a judge can say . . .

    Posted: 06 Oct 2017 04:52 AM PDT During the recent oral arguments of a hotly debated case — Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis — Chief Justice John Roberts, in a back-and-forth with University of Virginia law professor Daniel Ortiz said the most appalling thing a judge can say: Let the desired results dictate the law.

    In that case, Justice Roberts observed that a decision in favor of Ortiz’s client *would invalidate employment agreements covering 25 million people – a step that several of the justices would be reluctant to take.*

    I find this appalling for Justice Roberts is not concerned with what the law requires, but rather with what effect enforcing the law will have. This is contrary to the very spirit of the Rule of Law which requires that the law dictate the results, *not* the desired results dictates the law.

    Stated another way, if those 25 million employment agreements violate the law — and a very considerable weight of the legal analysis points to that conclusion — then those agreements violate the law and they *must* be invalidated. Justice Roberts is arguing that certain cases are “too big” to be determined by law but rather must be determined by the amount of inconvenience to the employer. Sickening from a jurist, particularly one who sits as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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