“Journalism is printing something someone else does not want printed: Everything else is just public relations.”–George Orwell
In this day and age of the 21st century, we have a plethora of ways to receive our news and information. Television, radio, newsprint, online news publications, social media: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and more. Having a diverse amount of media resources at our disposal has been proven to be very beneficial in many ways. However, what if the news and information you are receiving is not legitimate? What if the news agency you were receiving your news from was not as accurate as you presumed it to be? We see media bias all the time when it comes to politics and advocacy journalism. Worse off, we are now beginning to see it from the news anchor desk as well, which is supposed to be an objective distribution of the news as it occurs. MSNBC has a bias to promote progressives as being the most sophisticated, tolerant, and intellectual people of society. Fox News has a bias which promotes conservatives as being the most integral, wholesome, fiscally responsible figures in America. RT News (Russia Today) has a bias that is sure to never broadcast any negative press about Russia and President Vladimir Putin, while reporting objectively on all other world news in sum total. We have grown accustomed to bias being reported on political news stories for quite some time, but it’s becoming far more dangerous. Most recently, I have noticed we seem to be in the midst of a Media War. When it comes to coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, which involves the United States and Russia, it has become especially dangerous.
Back on the weekend of February 28, 2014, the corporate owned press here in the United States broke a narrative of an armed invasion of Crimea by Russia. There was use of imagery from the recent Ukraine protests used in the video linked to the Russian invasion article, seemingly used to convince casual news readers and news viewers that there was chaos currently enacted by Russia. This generated a huge media buzz that eventually trickled down to online news publications, social media, blogs, and so on. In reality, this just wan’t the case. In fact, there was an interview released by RT-News which featured antiwar activist Brian Becker. Mr. Becker noted correctly that Crimea and Russia actually had an active Partition Treaty in place since 1997. Also, Becker notes that the Russian military were along the borders of Crimea at this time and had not set foot on Ukraine soil. Nevertheless, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and various media outlets continued to push the Russian invasion story. Before and during the corporate press story of a Russian invasion, there were several pundits from the neoconservative media establishment goading President Obama into being more aggressive when it came to dealing with Putin. Neoconservative war-hawk politicians such as Senator John McCain of Arizona were really making a case against the President claiming that he was weak in the eyes of other world leaders. The neocon establishment voice was really pushing towards more aggression. This is very dangerous for as it turns out, Becker was correct. One thing RT-News is not confirming is the identity of armed gunmen within the borders of Crimea are Russian military.
Vladimir Putin says the masked gunmen in Ukraine are fueling anarchy, but does confirm them as being Russian military personnel. Ukraine’s newly named interior minister, Arsen Avakov, states in a Facebook post that this is a military invasion and occupation. Meanwhile, the reports throughout the media go on to verify approximately 75-90% of the Crimea people are of Russian ethnicity, which is why many of the masked gunmen have weapons and uniforms that appear similar to Russian gear. RT-News reports that Crimea is unwilling to work with “illegitimate” coup appointed Kiev govt. Prime Minister Aksyonov.
Back here in the United States, American RT-News journalist, Abby Martin used the end of her shows [Breaking the Set] platform to speak out against Russia’s military occupation of Russia and flat out says “what Russia did was wrong.” Though this closing monologue was 74 seconds in length, it was symbolic and powerful. As it turns out Russia, during the time that Martin made this noble statement, the Russian military was not confirmed as having invaded Crimea. The 1997 Partition Treaty Becker spoke of notes that Russia has a right to protect its interest with up to 25,000 troops. Aside from that, it has been reported that because of such a large Russian ethnic population in Crimea that they welcomed the aid of Russia. Martin was not reprimanded by her employers in any way and RT says they respect the views and opinions of all their journalists, hosts, and presenters; private and on air. They ensured Abby Martin would not receive any reprimand for her actions.
Martin’s noble actions to go against the message of RT-News’ primarily pro-Russian bias prompted journalist Glenn Greenwald to write an entire piece about Martin’s bold stance. However, Greenwald also used the piece to compare our government’s treatment of journalist to that of Russia’s. Russia being a dictatorship with no Constitutional protection of a free press, was seen as more admirable than the USA from Greenwald’s perspective. Greenwald, who has recently published a report of multiple crimes against the 4th amendment carried out by the US government, has been heavily intimidated by various elected representatives and appointed officials. Representative Mike Rodgers, House Intelligence Chief and John Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, being chief among his critics. Greenwald notes in his article that there were no “Abby Martin” types in our media before the United States before or during the Iraq war. This actually turned out not to be true. Phil Donahue was actually very vocal against the war and used his platform regularly to denounce the idea of the United States invasion of Iraq. In fact, his debut show was on that very topic via MSNBC. After being on air for six months, MSNBC eventually shut Donahue’s show down, citing it was due to low ratings in a public press release. As it turns out, Donahue’s show was rated number one in all of MSNBC programming at that time. Subsequently, a secret memo eventually surfaced and revealed that Donahue was fired because of his strong antiwar stance which was heavily communicated through his show. Approximately 1-2 months after Donahue was off the air, the United States invaded Iraq, and did so under false pretext. Greenwald did update his news story, but unfairly compared Donahue to Martin. Don’t get me wrong. What Martin did was brave, as she could have lost her job. While her segment on Russia’s military aggression in the Ukraine region was likely a one time thing, and the fact that Abby Martin works for a Russian funded news network, she is a US Citizen that resides within the United States. When most people read Greenwald’s article, they initially presumed she was Russian and lived there. As it currently stands, the Russian military may now be in violation of international law, which would certainly validate Martin’s protest. Nonetheless, unless she has another job lined up, becomes extremely outraged by Russia’s more aggressive policies, or just feels like quitting RT, I don’t really expect her to speak out on the issue any further anytime soon. Martin has always been anti-military occupation, aggression, and oppression.
As it relates to Russia, I believe she felt more compelled to speak out in defense of her moral convictions in this case due to criticism from social media circles implied she kept silent about Russia because of her employment status with RT, for as it turns out, Russia has been meddling in the affairs of Ukraine for quite some time. This was during a time Martin did not use her platform to condemn Russia’s behavior.
In all fairness, Martin’s reports featured on “Breaking the Set” generally focuses on affairs relative to the United States. Donahue regularly rallied for months from his platform against the United States government’s proposed invasion of Iraq. It is clear that Greenwald did have his own agenda to promote, while at the same time giving Martin due credit where credit was due. Her stance was brave, bold, and unique in Russian media and surely could have cost Martin her job. She showed that above all else, she’ll always be an independent journalist grounded by her consistency of moral conviction.
These days, even though we have advanced the ways we are able to receive our news and information, it seems that we are in the dark now more than ever, if misinformed of the facts. Whether a person is an advocacy Journalist or a News Anchor, it is very important to always properly fact check what one reads. Most of us learned in Junior High School to acquire our research from various resources, not just one. If I were to only obtain my information from say Fox News, I would believe President Obama was born in Kenya, is not a US citizen, that he hates America, is a socialist, and is incompetent in virtually every way. If I were to acquire my intelligence from just MSNBC, I would be led to believe President Obama never lies when it comes to policy, is the best US President we’ve ever had, signs great policy into law, and is a great upholder of the US Constitution. If I were to only watch RT-News, I would believe the entire world, with the exception of Russia, is inherently corrupt, oppressive, and lacks opportunity. Nonetheless, it has become abundantly clear to me that we are in the midst of a media war. This is a very dangerous time in media, because unfortunately there are many Americans that do gather their news and information from just one media source. Doing this artificially creates greater divides because the various sub-groups are not getting the whole story.
To quote an Old Russian Proverb, which I love, it says “Doveryai, no Proveryai” which translates to “Trust, but verify.” Make no mistake about it. We are in the midst of media warfare and I highly recommend that everyone trust, but verify what you read. What you hear. What you see. We are currently on the verge of a cold war with Russia, something not seen since the 1980’s. Had President Obama listened to the war mongering voices of John McCain, we’d probably be involved in WWIII right about now. Heck, had that have happened, I likely wouldn’t be able to write this entry.
Now if any of you are remain confused as to whether or not Russia has invaded Crimea after reading what I’ve written above, I say to you “welcome to my world.” That’s the whole idea of this Media War that is waged upon all of us. The more confused and distracted we are, the more artificially divided we are to become.
In the United States, 90% of our corporate press is owned by six major corporations. RT-News is funded by the Russian government. Aljazeera America is funded and subsidized by the Qatar government. The list goes on and on. When acquiring news and information, it is generally a good rule of thumb to follow the money so that you at least know ahead of time what bias may or may not be behind that source. If you can find any, I highly recommend supporting independent journalism. I have multiple sources in which I trust, but verify as well. At this time, I don’t want to recommend any in particular to you the reader. I think it would be far more beneficial that you make that determination for yourself and find your own path. Hopefully, the choice you make is the right path for you. On that note, thank you for making the choice today to visit A Valente Journal. Feel free to subscribe or stop by anytime and always remember, “Trust, but Verify.”
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