Government by Journalism

By Fred Trzcinski

At one point in history, the lives of two very famous people intersected.  It is reported by Wikipedia that “A year before the Spanish-American War (1897), William Thomas Stead (1849-1912) (an English newspaper editor) wrote of his crossing the Atlantic to meet William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) (the wealthy newspaper publisher).  Stead taught Hearst about ‘Government by Journalism’ and praised him for his role in creating the Spanish-American War by saying ‘He had found his soul!’”

Reflecting upon reading most of today’s newspapers, it appears that many of those who have followed in the path of Mr. Hearst have also “found their souls”!  Indeed, the craft of what is commonly referred to as “yellow journalism”—-the creation of sensationalized stories of dubious veracity seems to be ubiquitous.  Yes, today, one may easily find “news” which demonizes and vilifies nations which I maintain is targeted by the oligarchs who own and control the majority of today’s newspapers.

During his time, Hearst ostensibly fomented war with Spain.  Today, there appears to be those who depict certain nations and people as being “existential threats” to the U.S.  One current and shining example is the articles published demonstrating that Iran can do nothing right.  Fortunately, at least for the time being, our President’s efforts with respect to diplomacy are winning—but not by much.

The recent prisoner swap with Iran has been interesting to observe.  Certain news reports have provided stories as to the horrific conditions the U.S. prisoners have endured while being held for unwarranted reasons by Iran.  However, and on the other hand, very little is being said in our newspapers about who the U.S. imprisoned, under what conditions, and why.  Of course, as to the why, the U.S. certainly maintains that there were very good reasons.

A stark example of what I believe is clearly “yellow journalism” or “government by journalism” is the coverage of the Occupation of Palestine by Israel.  How many photos of a bandana clad Palestinian youth flinging a stone do we need to see?  Needless to say, notably absent from these photos are the Israeli soldiers, armed to the teeth, or the Israeli armored vehicles at which the youth is flinging the stone.  Also absent are articles which provide unbiased coverage as to the circumstances endured by Palestinian youth which have radicalized them and robbed them of hope for a peaceful solution to the Occupation.  And of course, the flinging of the stone is labeled as being “an act of terrorism”, certainly not what it truly is, “an act of resistance”.

To close, I will cite a quote, surprisingly printed in the Sunday, January 17th edition of USA Today, written by Oren Dorell and Doug Stanglin.  They quoted the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who said this subsequent to the Iranian prisoner swap:  “Today is a day when we prove to the world that threats, sanctions, intimidation, pressure don’t work; respect works.”  Well said!!!



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