Monday, January 18, 2016

On Helen Thomas and the Castration of the American Press

by William Shanley

During a 2009 interview for my film, America's Divine Comedy (while we were discussing the post 9/11 behavior of White House Press Corps), Helen Thomas told me "the press has been castrated". The answer to every question, she said, was "9/11, 9/11, 9/11," and other reporters in the press room would snear at her if she questioned the accuracy or authenticity of anything the White House said. 

As you know, the Obama White House finally got rid of her uncomfortable questions in a sting wherein very, very few of her brethren came to her defense. Reporters became Court stenographers happy to operate in the atmosphere of power. Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen has reported that the NSA has a Q Group of over 1000 people covering what reporters write and do. 

Today, I cannot even reach people I've known since I was 25 years old, and interviewed over the years, like Judy Woodruff or Sam Donaldson. They must be terrified. As you may recall, in 2013, former President Jimmy Carter told NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Oprah Winfrey and others that, "At this point in time, the United States no longer has a functioning democracy... It is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery." 

And the fact that neoconservatism was ever considered by the news media to be a legitimate approach to governing and anything other than a fascist philosophy that believes in controlling the citizenry through terror and the world through pre-emptive war was an unprecedented game changer. As such, today, as Ralph Nader told me in a 2009 interview, "we live under an inverted form of fascism." 

Nothing could convince me of the truth about this more than my own experiences of the past year, being imprisoned three times for filing Sandy Hook lawsuits, including watching amazon.com ban NOBODY DIED AT SANDY HOOK while it publishes MEIN KAMPF. 

My mother, Helen C. Shanley, was a reporter for the Waterbury Republican-American which won a Pulitzer in 1940 for exposing corruption in Connecticut--but will not today. I remember in the late 60's the paper sued the Thomaston Sewer Commission when it went into executive session to exclude reporters like my mother, who sniffed corruption in sweetheart deals between pols and mob contractors. 

Reporters in those days covered little towns and big cities towns "like Hoover vacuum cleaners." But today, those same newsrooms have been eviscerated. Papers print stuff like, "Mrs. Simoncelli Decorates with Green Balloons to Celebrate St. Pattie's Day."

In 2014, I called my late mother's boss, publisher William Pape II, 80, a Harvard grad, from whom I received The Newspaper Boy of the Year Award in 1967,  and asked him if he'd like to win another Pulitzer by reporting the truth that nobody died at Sandy Hook, that it was a hoax. He hung up the phone and his secretary told me that Pape ordered his staff not to even read, much less publish, anything from me.

The big change in news reporting came under Reagan in the 80's with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine's equal time provisions for responsible points of view and the Wall Street takeover of news media by the asset stripping multinationals that I compare to the transformer monsters that kids play with and star in Hollywood movies. The 7-7-7 Rule, meaning one company could only own 7 TV stations, 7 Radio stations, and 7 newspapers, was also eliminated. 

I remember FCC chairman, Mark Fowler, comparing a TV to a toaster and subsequently companies like Clear Channel and Westwood One were permitted to own over 1000 radio stations, whiping out local radio news in one fell swoop. Print newsrooms were gutted with the ascendancy of companies like Gannett which bought up hundreds of newspapers. Since then, investigative journalism has all but disappeared. There is almost no coverage of crimes by elites, whether they be in business or government. 

When I wrote news at CNN in Atlanta post-9/11 during the early months of the Afghanistan war, we were not permitted to report the effect side of the war on innocent civilians, which was coming in from our own reporters in the war zone. When the news media consortium paid the University of Chicago $1 million to recount Election 2000 votes in Florida and the recount showed Gore won, we were ordered to report that the recount showed Bush won based on the fact that had a recount only gone forward in the counties where Gore was seeking a recount, Bush still would have won. 

Only MSNBC reported the truth, and media whore sleaze bags like The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, whose wife was working for the Bush administration, told his CNN "Reliable Sources" audience (paraphrasing), "Well, that recount is history. We're doing journalism here. George Bush became president when he stood on the rubble of the WTC with a bullhorn and provided leadership to the American people." 

The CNN newsroom was run like a military operation. These were the days of the phony bin Laden tape taking credit for 9/11, Ashcroft's threats to Congress that it would have "blood on its hands" if it failed to pass The PATRIOT Act, anthrax laden letters mailed to Democratic Majority Leader Tom Daschel, Senate Judiciary Leader Patrick Leahy and "liberal" news media, the phony Jessica Lynch story, the Pat Tillman story, American Taliban, and other stories, including a DOD claim of a victory in a battle three weeks before it occurred

CNN trained US military psy-ops personnel during the war in Serbia under Clinton, so when 9/11 happened, they knew just what to do to bully reporters who wanted to keep their jobs. The place was permeated with intel operatives. Copy editors brow beat us over word choices that showed any compassion for innocent victims caught in the crosshairs, like the American Taliban. 

In the 90's, the FCC's public interest requirements of broadcasters for license renewal were all but eliminated by Congress. Bob Dole called it (paraphrasing), "the great American giveaway," essentially gifting broadcasters $35 billion for nothing. With that, value of broadcast properties skyrocketed on Wall Street. 

News organizations also began doing big business with DOD and other agencies--not just for time buys, but in partnership ops like, apparently, Sandy Hook. As such, it matters little to the media multinationals that audiences for CNN, et al., are very small. The business and propaganda values, and the value of not having critical reporting of elite deviance, are virtually beyond measure.

As such, today, virtually everything being reported by the dinosaur media is fake, a psy-op or promotion of money as the only thing worthy of human loyalty. Programs like CBS's "Survivor" teach kids that it's OK to cheat, lie, betray your partner--to do anything, even eat maggots as NBC's "Fear Factor" showed--to win money. Nothing is sacred or off limits.

The final betrayal to me is by people I have known and respected over many years, like Bill Moyers and Hedrick Smith and Walter Pincus, who have been CIA co-ops all along. The Arab Spring, Wikileaks, even the Pentagon Papers are psyops. As Wayne Madsen has told me, reporters today do not have jobs if they report the truth.

William Shanley, flim-maker and director, who resides in Connecticut, has been subjected to the full wrath of the Connecticut legal and judicial system after filing law suits in relation to Sandy Hook. See, for example, the blog by James Tracy about his experiences on memoryholeblog.com.