The major influential U.S. media have long played an important role in shaping public opinion. For example, social concerns is one area that the media may eventually cover well. However, on challenges to corporate power or to the U.S. empire, the media’s record is extremely problematic.
Two examples where the media has been tremendously biased in favor of corporate interests are the coverage of the chaotic U.S. health care nonsystem and the coverage of so-called free-trade agreements. The media’s coverage is strongly negative against a government-financed health care system. The private health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry have greatly benefited from the continuation of the current situation. The media’s coverage of free-trade agreements continues to be overwhelmingly biased in favor of the trade deals that primarily benefit large multi-national banks and corporations.
The media have strongly supported U.S. campaigns against nations that adopt socialism or communism as an alternative to capitalism. For example, the U.S. supported or initiated attacks against Cuba and also maintained economic sanctions against Cuba for almost 60 years.
Shortly before Chile democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende as president in September 1970, Henry Kissinger, then U.S. national security advisor, said: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.” So much for a belief in democracy. The New York Times’ reporting and editorials strongly opposed Allende and hyped the possibility of Chile going communist, the ultimate scare tactic of that era. The CIA strongly supported the military coup against Allende in 1973.
The media’s coverage of U.S. appalling aggression in Vietnam was mixed, although the media eventually played a role in undercutting public support for continuing the conflict. However, the media didn’t raise the issue of U.S. imperialism or question U.S. intentions. Apparently, there was also little media consideration of the 1954 Geneva Accords that called for an election by July 1956 and the re-unification of Vietnam. The U.S. failed to honor this accord, again opposing democracy.
More recently, the major U.S. media outlets all fell into line and hyped the lies that led to the illegal U.S.-led campaigns against Iraq in 2003 and against Libya in 2011. By this time, the media had become a key part of the U.S. empire. Note that control of oil was a consideration in both these horrendous U.S. war crimes.
In its badly deficient coverage of U.S. relations with Russia, the media downplayed the U.S. violation of its promise not to expand NATO eastward. Russia viewed the U.S. attempt to bring Georgia and Ukraine, two former states of the USSR, into NATO as a major provocation and threat. Without this context, it is hard to understand recent events near the Russian border.
Unfortunately, the integrity of major U.S. media clearly cannot be assumed in many situations.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.