Friday, 1 March 2019

The Media’s Double Standards.

Rubbisn-In, Rubbish-Out: If professional journalism, undertaken with courage and diligence, produces only what the powerful want us to hear, then our journalists are truly lost. In spite of their education and training, they have so profoundly internalised the values and expectations of their masters that their journalism can only reflect the interests of the people who pay them.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has been in Hanoi, talking peace with Kim Jong Un. The “Supreme leader” of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) who sat across the table from the American President, has never faced any kind of election that would be recognised as fair and free – let alone democratic – by the United Nations. Indeed, the totalitarian Workers Party regime presides over a vast network of concentration camps teeming with political prisoners.

Economically speaking, the DPRK is fragile. In recent decades, its people have suffered a succession of devastating famines during which thousands of men, women and children are reported to have died of hunger and hunger-related diseases.

In marked contrast to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the DPRK possesses multiple nuclear warheads, and claims to have tested missiles capable of raining down devastation on the United States of America.

None of these facts dissuaded President Trump from praising Kin Jong Un or, indeed, referring to him as his friend.

This should not be construed as a condemnation of the US leader. In the memorable words of Winston Churchill: “Jaw, jaw is better than war, war.” If the meeting in Hanoi between Trump and Kim has eased military tensions on the Korean peninsula, even to a small degree, then the world should be mightily relieved and both men will fully deserve the international praise heaped upon them.

Serious questions do arise from the Hanoi Summit, however, concerning diplomatic and journalistic consistency. The United States and the Western news media both need to explain why the measured diplomacy and largely accurate reporting on display in Hanoi, has been so conspicuously absent with regard to Venezuela. The naked diplomatic aggression and outright lies which have characterised the West’s treatment of the Venezuelan Government could hardly be more different from its handling of the DPRK’s “Supreme Leader”.

The President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro and his fellow Chavistas have, since coming to power in 1998, submitted themselves to – and won – a plethora of democratic elections and constitutional referenda. Many of these have been confirmed as fair and free by no less an observer than the former US President, Jimmy Carter.

Venezuela, unlike the DPRK, is not studded with concentration camps teeming with political prisoners. On the contrary, the streets of Venezuela are teeming with Maduro’s political opponents. Many of these, supported by the United States, have engaged in acts of extreme violence against the Venezuelan Police and National Guard. Rather than respond with deadly force, however, the forces of law and order have consistently restricted themselves to non-lethal means of dispersing Venezuela's far-right protesters.

Where comparisons with the DPRK can be drawn is in relation to economic management. Maduro’s period in office has been marred by runaway inflation and severe shortages. These have given rise to widespread economic hardship and political frustration. Unlike the DPRK, however, Venezuela’s economic difficulties are driven by a combination of low oil prices and the deliberate economic sabotage instigated by Venezuela’s capitalist elites and their US backers. They are not the result of diverting all available resources to the production of a deadly nuclear arsenal. The only diversion of resources of which the Chavistas are guilty is from the state’s oil revenues to the Venezuelan poor.

The explanation for the United States oppressive behaviour towards Venezuela is readily available in any reputable history of the USA’s tutelary relationship with the nations of Latin America. Perceiving itself as the benevolent guardian of all those peoples unlucky enough to live south of the Rio Grande, the United States has intervened again and again. Refusing to sit idly by while its diplomatic wards embraced to the evils of “communism”, due, in the words of the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to “the irresponsibility of their own people”.

But if the American state is straightforwardly imperialistic in its motivation, what is the Western media’s excuse? Why do the editors and journalists of not only the United States and its Nato allies, but also of supposedly free and independent nations like New Zealand, abandon all pretence of discovering and disseminating the truth to parrot the blatant lies of Venezuela’s enemies?

What would happen if One News or the Herald decided to see for itself what was really happening inside Venezuela and along her borders? What would befall the Kiwi journalist who made a point of speaking to the politicians of both the Left and the Right; to the inhabitants of the wealthy suburbs above Caracas, as well as those buried in its overcrowded slums; to police officers and national guardsmen as well as right-wing student protesters; to workers as well as peasants? Would he or she emerge from the exercise spouting exactly the same lines as the US State Department?

If the answer to that question is “Yes”, then we have a very big problem. If professional journalism, undertaken with courage and diligence, produces only what the powerful want us to hear, then our journalists are truly lost. In spite of their education and training, they have so profoundly internalised the values and expectations of their masters that their journalism can only reflect the interests of the people who pay them.

That’s a very grim conclusion, but what other is possible? When the American President can smile benignly at the “Supreme Leader” of a brutal totalitarian regime with nary a word of condemnation from our mainstream news media; but, in the first item up after the ad-break, the democratically-elected leader of a free, if bitterly divided, nation is routinely denounced as a brutal dictator?

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 1 March 2019.


Nick J said...

What would happen to the journalists? Great question. The media is owned by the point zero zero zero one percent. Answer obvious.

Fortunately there is a redemptive quality out there on the net that can't be silenced. They are not hard to find, people like Raul Meijer, Pilger, Orlov, Greer, Escobar. They tell the truth as they see it, it's up to us to validate. The one thing they don't do is sing somebody else's song for the money. At some point voices like theirs will become ascendant; that will signal the reversion to reality, truthfulness. That in itself is the long awaited revolution.

Jens Meder said...

As long as the altruistic Left does not accept the basic physically demonstrable truth that without profitable work, saving and investment there can only be survival at a primitive "hand-to-mouth" existence level or even increasing poverty in the case of negative profitability -

what promising ideas or "revolution" can there possibly be for the critics of liberalism to offer ?

Perhaps there should be clarifying discussions on whether the "basic demonstrable truth" as above really is the irrefutable truth ?

When that has been established, then would not the "revolution" (i.e.innovation) ahead of us be acceptable - and undefeatable - even by the libertarian Right ?

Kat said...

The Herald, that wrinkly old fish wrap, is well practiced in reflecting the interests of the National party and its puppeteers. One News is a training academy for child communication roles at local kindergartens.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"As long as the altruistic Left does not accept the basic physically demonstrable truth that without profitable work, saving and investment there can only be survival at a primitive "hand-to-mouth" existence level or even increasing poverty in the case of negative profitability - "
If it's physically demonstrable, then demonstrate it. Because at the moment it's simply an assumption. One that all due respect, you tend to put forward ad nauseam.

Jens Meder said...

Guerilla Surgeon - suppose we are neighbors with equal patches of land reaping equal crops of potatoes.
Then - if you consume them all e.g. because of living more lavishly or having a bigger family or exchanging some of your potatoes for something else to consume, and by saving only the same amount of seed potatoes for next year's crop you live quite well "hand-to-mouth" - but you are not creating new wealth for security reserves and/or a bigger crop of potatoes.

But I - according to the principle I have been taught from childhood - always save some potatoes for security reserves, investment in bigger crops or for buying productivity helping technology - or building or buying a house.

Very soon I am twice as wealthy as you without having robbed anyone. I might even be able to please your son by offering him pocket money jobs.

If that is not a convincing demonstration of economic truth, then please come up with just one practical of imaginary example of wealth creation without someone's voluntary or enforced savings or contributions at the expense of immediate consumption potential ?

David Stone said...

Your metaphor is fine while it relates to the stored potatoes and by accumulation transfers directly into a house. It fails when you equate that accumulation with accumulated money. The money is an arbitrary concept and can loose all it's value overnight . If you stick to accumulation of real things your that you have direct personal control of your obsession with savings would have merit. But the concept of turning that saving into cash and handing it over to professional speculators to play with on your behalf in the belief that they can and will do better for you is a forlorn hope.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jens... I was sort of expecting economic research and statistics rather than a biblical parable. Those I can figure out for myself.

Jens Meder said...

David Stone - you are right in that speculation with money is not new wealth creative, but only wealth redistributive to winners from losers - like in a lottery.

But in the short term in countries where you have free trade and a stable currency which is a useful and reliable token and measure of value within a modest inflation rate preferably under 5% per annum - the potato metaphor illustrates very well the irrefutable physical reality, the application of which is tremendously enhanced with a stable currency which is trusted enough to exchange any goods for it, and which normally does not rot or perish within a few years.
The low rate of inflation caused by fractional reserves based bank overdraft credit is now seen as a desirable "tax" to discourage keeping it out of circulation by excessively hoarding it "under the mattress".
I think our NZSF up to now has overwhelmingly invested in tangible assets, and that its excellent earning performance so far has been due to capital appreciation rather than speculative trading.
As long as you speculate or gamble only with money you saved and own - not borrowed - and you think you can afford to lose - then there is no real harm to the community even in speculation and gambling, and these "pleasures" within these limits are affordable.

Guerilla Surgeon - about 12 years ago a professional economist proved with a sequence of complicated looking equations the truth, that a higher savings rate is a by-product of wealth...!!!
I knew that already as a child when my mum could not give me as much money for lollies as I desired, because we were not very rich.

Those who learned their economics from Samuelsons text book after WW2 missed discovering the truth, that savings for reserves and profitable investment are not only a byproduct of wealth, but actually the creator of it for a start.

Can you, Guerilla Surgeon - please come up with the statistics (or biblical parables?) of wealth creation without someone's savings in a monetary economy?

If not - then won't you have to accept that "biblical parable" ?

But does not scientific physics also accept, that so far for us humans, it is not possible to create anything on the material level out of nothing ?

greywarbler said...

That's your trouble Jens you are going by the principles taught to you in childhood. They were only partially right then. Now they don't stand up at all. Then there may have been a semblance of belief in morality. That has been replaced by public relations smoozing, the near truth, the half-truth, the comfortable lie agreed to by all the comfortably wealthy who are the only people whose opinions matter, the pretty legal approach.
Tough mate you are in the wrong century.

John B. said...

In 1945, George Orwell wrote an introduction to “Animal Farm.” It was not printed, and remained unknown till now.' (1972) He says:"The sinister fact about lit erary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensa tional items of news—things which on their own merits would get the big headlines—being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that “it wouldn't do” to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand."

Jens Meder said...

Dear greywarbler - physical facts of action and results cannot be altered on the material level by morality, ideology or public relations "smoozing".
If the latter is successful in advocating make-believe economic untruth,the physical truth will predominate eventually (when all the reserves have been exhausted), and the economy or civilization where make-believe over-rules physical realities will degenerate and even collapse, as clearly documented in the history of the Roman Empire.
(They did not manage to save or raise enough wealth anymore to feed their increasing masses of have-nothing proletarians and the armies needed to maintain their empire.)

I am enthusiastic that the economic morals of my childhood have been confirmed as physical truth by university stage 1 economics study in Auckland (I did not use Samuelson's text book) - and enjoy promoting it especially in view of all the dubious "smoozing" you have listed.

Don't you think greywarbler, that it is high time to effectively "resurrect" and guide into more fairly and effectively sustainable channels our "ancient economic morals" so as to prevent our civilization ending up in moral decline and economic bankruptcy ?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jens. Typical of "enthusiasts" of weird ideas of one sort or another. Ask them for evidence and they either don't provide any, or they ask you to prove that it's not true – or both in your case. You're the one making the claims – you're the one that should provide the evidence.

Jens Meder said...

Guerilla Surgeon.
Unless you provide evidence that on the material level wealth something can be created out of nothing - even with the help of repayable credit or money printed "debt free" - is not the evidence with the potatoes not enough for you ?
Do I have to meet you and show how the potatoes saved for trading or more planting create wealth at the expense of the austerity of not having been able to consume them ?

If that is not enough evidence for you, please explain and come up with a practical or even imaginary example as evidence of material wealth created without someone's savings, surpluses or contributions.

What about explaining with evidence how wealth can be created by money printed "debt free" ?
If you don't, then is that not evidence that the "biblical parable" still rules the economy?

So then - on what grounds is the demonstrable evidence with potatoes not "evidence" for you ?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jens... There you go again. Did you not read my last post? Potatoes is a homily,not evidence.

Jens Meder said...

Dear Guerilla Surgeon.
If a "homily" accompanied by a demonstration with tangibles (potatoes, money, etc) which are physically measurable or can be counted is not fool proof evidence of wealth creation through saving for reserves and investment is not " evidence" for you, then what is ?

You cannot even have anything to count or any statistics without tangibles, and how can you even imagine wealth without tangibles, Guerilla Surgeon ?

Could you please now tell us what you believe or know about wealth creation, positive or negative ?