Reprinted from Consortium News
A Malaysia Airways' Boeing 777 like the one that crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.
(Image by (Photo credit: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland)) Permission Details DMCA
Power -- far more than fact -- determines what is defined as true in America, a nation that has become dangerously disconnected from reality in matters both trivial and important.
The way it works now is that, in case after case, the more powerful entity in the equation imposes the answer and the rest of us are invited to join in by throwing stones and jeering at the weaker party. Two current examples make the point:
On the more substantive side, there is the 2014 case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people -- and blamed by U.S. officials and the Western media on ethnic Russian rebels and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (More on that below.)
On the more personal side is the case of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has been defined by the powerful National Football League as a perjurer for denying under oath the NFL's scientifically dubious charges that he was part of a scheme to slightly deflate footballs.
On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had the power to do to Brady or any other player pretty much whatever Goodell wants in acting as judge, jury and executioner.
In the Brady case, the NFL and Goodell were the stronger parties, so they got to define the reality as far as the major U.S. media was concerned, depicting Brady as a liar and cheater although there was no direct evidence that any footballs had actually been deflated.
NFL officials, who launched the brouhaha known as "Deflategate," admitted that they didn't know that cold air and moisture reduce a football's internal air pressure. They simply assumed that the drop in PSI, detected at the halftime of the AFC Championship game more than a year ago, could only come from letting air out of the balls.
A Vendetta on a Roll
Once the vendetta got started, however, it took on a life of its own. In the major U.S. media, the NFL and Goodell controlled the narrative and -- with rival NFL owners playing a significant behind-the-scenes role -- engineered both a four-game suspension of Brady and the stripping of draft picks from the Patriots.
Despite many scientific experts challenging the NFL's sloppy scientific claims, the U.S. media -- from The New York Times to ESPN -- took the NFL's side while fans of other teams joined in the mocking of Brady and laughing at any attempts to apply science and reason to the case.
The NFL and Goodell were allowed to decide what was "true" despite their corrupt role in covering up the dangers from concussions to players. In other words, the NFL's history of lying on a matter as consequential as the safety of all football players -- both amateur and professional -- was not taken into account when balancing the league's credibility against the denials of Brady and two locker-room assistants linked to the supposed scheme to intentionally deflate footballs.
And, despite all the time and attention this silly scandal absorbed, there was almost no examination of the science involved and no one in the major U.S. media looked at the conflict of interest in rival NFL owners on the NFL's Management Council pressing Goodell to impose harsh penalties against Brady and the Patriots.
The Management Council controls whether Goodell gets to keep his $35 million job and these rival owners made anti-Brady recommendations to Goodell as he was considering Brady's initial appeal of his suspension, according to Goodell's own appeals decision.
Although District Court Judge Richard Berman last year overturned Brady's four-game suspension on largely technical grounds, the deck was stacked against the player when the NFL appealed. After Goodell rejected Brady's appeal -- calling Brady's sworn testimony false -- the NFL got to choose which federal court would handle the case, picking one in New York that was known to be heavily pro-management.