The Santa Rosa Press Democrat/New York Times: still no answers on why it once again censored and mangled Project Censored and its stories on Bush and Iraq et al
On Sept. 10, 2003, while the New York Times and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and affiliated papers were running Judith Miller's stories making the case for the Iraq War and then seeking to justify it, the Guardian published the annual Project Censored list of censored stories.
Our front page had a caricature of Bush, standing astride the globe holding a U.S. flag with a dollar sign, and a headline that read, "The neocon plan for global domination--and other nine other big stories the mainstream press refused to cover in 2002."
The number one story was "The neoconservative plan for global domination." Our introduction to the timely censored package made the critical point: "If there's one influence that has shaped world-wide politics over the past year, it's the extent to which the Bush administration has exploited the events of Sept. ll, 200l, to solidify its military and economic control of the world at the expense of democracy, true justice, and the environment. But President George W. Bush hasn't simply been responding to world events. The agenda the administration has followed fits perfectly with a clearly defined plan that's been in place for a decade."
In many cases, we noted, the neocon story and the other censored stories laying out the dark side of the Bush administration and its drumbeat to war got little or no play--or else were presented piecemeal without any attempt to put the information in context. (The number two story was "Homeland security threatens civil liberties." Number three: "U.S. illegally removes pages from Iraq U.N. report." Number four: "Rumsfeld's plan to provoke terrorists." Number seven: "Treaty busting by the United States." Number eight: "U.S. and British forces continue use of depleted uranium weapons despite massive evidence of negative health effects." Number nine: "In Afghanistan poverty, women's rights, and civil disruption worse than ever.")
Project Director Peter Phillips told us at that time, "The stories this year reflect a clear danger to democracy and governmental transparency in the U.S.--and the corporate media's failure to alert the public to these important issues. The magnitude of total global domination has to be the most important important story we've covered in a quarter century." In our summary of the neocon plan, we wrote that "it called for the United States to diversify its military presence throughout the world, offered a policy of preemption, argued for the expansion of U.S. nuclear programs while discouraging those of other countries, and foresaw the need for the United States to act alone, if need be, to protect its interests and those of its allies."
And we then asked the critical and timely question. "Sound familiar?"
In that critical year of 2003, only months after the ill-fated Bush invasion of Iraq, the timely and relevant Censored project and stories were not published in the New York Times and the Press Democrat and affiliated papers either censored or mangled the coverage. This year, as Iraq slid into civil war, U.S. war dead rose toward 3,000, and the U.S. public was well ahead of the media in turning against the war, the New York Times should have finally recognized its annual mistake and published the Project Censored story. It didn't (and it never has). The Santa Rosa Press Democrat should have been all over the story, since it was a local and national story out of nearby Sonoma State University, it was reseached by local professors and students, and it was the project's 30th anniversary highlighted with a special conference at the school. Instead, the PD did a front page hatchet job on the story and then refused to run a decent number of complaining letters, according to Phillips.
However, The PD did run an op ed piece in this morning's paper by Phillips (see link below). Which is to the good.
But the paper never answered any of the questions and complaints submitted by Phillips, the project founder Carl Jensen (retired and living in nearby Cotati), or the Guardian (see previous blogs and links). Why? No explanation.
The key point is that the Times and the PD have once again demonstrated in 96 point Tempo Bold the point of Project Censored and the value of alternative voices.
Postscript: More impertinent advice: TheTimes papers that marched us into war, with their flawed front page reporting and backup editorials, ought at minimum to start covering the project and the stories and the voices who had it right before, during, and after Bush committed us to the worst foreign policy blunder in U.S. history. Repeating: the PD ought to invite Jensen, Phillips,and the Project in for a chat and discuss why they have so much trouble handling a local story. B3