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"Corruption" as a Propaganda Weapon

By       Message Robert Parry       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Reprinted from Consortium News

Sadly, some important duties of journalism, such as applying evenhanded standards on human rights abuses and financial corruption, have been so corrupted by the demands of government propaganda -- and the careerism of too many writers -- that I now become suspicious whenever the mainstream media trumpets some sensational story aimed at some "designated villain."

Far too often, this sort of "journalism" is just a forerunner to the next "regime change" scheme, dirtying up or delegitimizing a foreign leader before the inevitable advent of a "color revolution" organized by "democracy-promoting" NGOs often with money from the U.S. government's National Endowment for Democracy or some neoliberal financier like George Soros.

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Or as the Guardian writes: "Though the president's name does not appear in any of the records, the data reveals a pattern -- his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage. The documents suggest Putin's family has benefited from this money -- his friends' fortunes appear his to spend. "We are now seeing what looks like a new preparatory phase for the next round of "regime changes" with corruption allegations aimed at former Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The new anti-Putin allegations -- ballyhooed by the UK Guardian and other outlets -- are particularly noteworthy because the so-called "Panama Papers" that supposedly implicate him in offshore financial dealings never mention his name.

Note, if you will, the lack of specificity and the reliance on speculation: "a pattern"; "seemingly"; "suggest"; "appear." Indeed, if Putin were not already a demonized figure in the Western media, such phrasing would never pass an editor's computer screen. Indeed, the only point made in declarative phrasing is that "the president's name does not appear in any of the records."

A British media-watch publication, the Off-Guardian, which criticizes much of the work done at The Guardian, headlined its article on the Putin piece as "the Panama Papers cause Guardian to collapse into self-parody."

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But whatever the truth about Putin's "corruption" or Lula's, the journalistic point is that the notion of objectivity has long since been cast aside in favor of what's useful as propaganda for Western interests.

Some of those Western interests now are worried about the growth of the BRICS economic system -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- as a competitor to the West's G-7 and the International Monetary Fund. After all, control of the global financial system has been central to American power in the post-World War II world -- and rivals to the West's monopoly are not welcome.

What the built-in bias against these and other "unfriendly" governments means, in practical terms, is that one standard applies to a Russia or a Brazil, while a more forgiving measure is applied to the corruption of a U.S. or European leader.

Take, for instance, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's millions of dollars in payments in speaking fees from wealthy special interests that knew she was a good bet to become the next U.S. president. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Clinton Stalls on Goldman-Sachs Speeches."]

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
(Image by State Department image)
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Or, similarly, the millions upon millions of dollars invested in super-PACS for Clinton, Sen. Ted Cruz and other presidential hopefuls. That might look like corruption from an objective standard but is treated as just a distasteful aspect of the U.S. political process.

But imagine for a minute if Putin had been paid millions of dollars for brief speeches before powerful corporations, banks and interest groups doing business with the Kremlin. That would be held up as de facto proof of his illicit greed and corruption.

Losing Perspective

Also, when it's a demonized foreign leader, any "corruption" will do, however minor. For example, in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan's denounced Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega for his choice of eyewear: "The dictator in designer glasses," declared Reagan, even as Nancy Reagan was accepting free designer gowns and free renovations of the White House funded by oil and gas interests.

Or, the "corruption" for a demonized leader can be a modest luxury, such as Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's "sauna" in his personal residence, a topic that got front-page treatment in The New York Times and other Western publications seeking to justify the violent coup that drove Yanukovych from office in February 2014.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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