From Consortium News
Whenever The New York Times or some other mainstream news outlet holds itself out as a paragon of professional journalism -- by wagging a finger at some pro-Trump "fake news" or some Internet "conspiracy theory" -- I cringe at the self-delusion and hypocrisy.
No one hates fake news and fact-free conspiracy theories more than I do, but the sad truth is that the mainstream press has opened the door to such fantasies by losing the confidence of the American people and becoming little more than the mouthpiece for the Establishment, which spins its own self-serving narratives and tells its own lies.
Rather than acting as a watchdog against these deceptions, the Times and its mainstream fellow-travelers have transformed themselves into little more than the Establishment's apologists and propagandists.
If Iraq is the "enemy," we are told wild tales about how Iraq's non-existent WMD is a danger to us all. If Syria is in Washington's crosshairs, we are given a one-sided account of what's happening there, black hats for the "regime" and white hats for the "rebels"?
If the State Department is backing a coup in Ukraine to oust an elected leader, we are regaled with tales of his corruption and how overthrowing a democratically chosen leader is somehow "democracy promotion." Currently, we are getting uncritical stenography on every conceivable charge that the U.S. government lodges against Russia.
Yet, while this crisis in American journalism has grown more severe in recent years, the pattern is not entirely new. It is reflected in how the mainstream media has missed many of the most significant news stories of modern history and has, more often than not, been an obstacle to getting at the truth.
Then, if the evidence finally becomes so overwhelming that continued denials are no longer tenable, the mainstream media tries to reclaim its tattered credibility by seizing on some new tidbit of evidence and declaring that all that went before were just rumors but now we can take the long whispered story seriously -- because the Times says so.
For instance, we have the case of Richard Nixon's sabotage of President Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam War peace talks in 1968 to give himself a crucial boost in a tight presidential race against Vice President Hubert Humphrey. In "real time" -- both as Nixon was executing his maneuver and in the years immediately afterwards -- there was reporting by second-tier newspapers and independent journalists into what Johnson privately called Nixon's "treason," but the Times and other "newspapers of record" treated the story as little more than a conspiracy theory.
As the years went on and the case of Nixon's guilt grew stronger and stronger, the story still never managed to cross the threshold for the Big Media to take it seriously.
Several years ago, I compiled a detailed narrative of the 1968 events from material declassified by Johnson's presidential library and I published the material at Consortiumnews.com. Not only did I draw from newly available recordings of Johnson's phone calls but from a file of top secret wiretaps -- labeled "The 'X' envelope" -- which Johnson had ordered his national security adviser, Walt Rostow, to remove from the White House before Nixon's inauguration.
I also traced how Nixon's paranoia about the missing White House file and who might have it led him to assemble a team of burglars, known as the Plumbers, whose activities later surfaced in the Watergate scandal.
In other words, by unraveling the mystery of Nixon's 1968 "treason," you change the narratives of the Vietnam War and Watergate, two of the pivotal issues of modern American history. But the mainstream U.S. media studiously ignored these new disclosures.
Just last November, in a review of past "October Surprise" cases -- in the context of FBI Director James Comey telling Congress that the FBI had reopened its investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails -- the Times offered this summary of the 1968 affair:
"President Lyndon Baines Johnson announced a halt to bombing of North Vietnam, based on his claim that peace talks had 'entered a new and a very much more hopeful phase,' and he invited the government of South Vietnam and the Viet Cong to take part in negotiations. Raising hopes that the war might end soon, the announcement appeared to bolster the standing in the polls of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, the Democratic presidential nominee, but Humphrey still fell short in the election against former Vice President Richard M. Nixon, the Republican."
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