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Propaganda v Impropaganda -- MH17, Brand 60 Minutes, and Shell-game Journalism

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Greg Maybury       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   11 comments

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Dutch and Australian police at MH-17 crash site, 3 August 2014
(Image by Wikimedia Commons)
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"A Huge and Embarrassing Mistake?"

The following anecdote may be apocryphal, but either way given the geopolitical zeitgeist the "moral" of the "fable" is a telling one. The story goes that during the 1980s a group of American journalists were hosting a visit to the U.S. of one of their Soviet counterparts. After proudly showing their visitor the "ropes" as to how it all works stateside, most of them expected their guest to express unbridled envy at the professional liberties they enjoyed in the Land of the Free Press. Later, whilst comparing notes about how they respectively went about plying their trade, the Russian scribe was indeed compelled to express his unabashed "admiration" to his hosts -- but it was for the "superior quality" of American "propaganda."

Now it's fair to say his hosts were taken aback by what was at best a backhanded compliment. After some collegial argy-bargy about the stereotypes customarily associated with Western "press freedom" versus those of the controlled media in the Soviet system, one of the Americans called on their Russian colleague to explain himself. In fractured English, he replied with the following:

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"It's very simple. In Soviet Union, we don't believe our propaganda. In United States, you actually believe yours!"

Many people familiar with this relatively obscure yarn might this week have once more been reminded of its enduring pertinence in this the post-Cold War and post-9/11 eras with the airing last week on "60 Minutes" Australia of a report claiming to have solved the mystery of the Malaysian Airlines MH-17 shoot-down disaster last July 17 over the Ukraine. This would especially have been the case with those of us who've had singular difficulty with the official Western position on who was actually responsible for the incident, one to which the "60 Minutes" segment seemed to go out of its way to give its seal of approval.

Along with reviving a major international story that for almost six months now has all but gone missing in media action, the "60 Minutes" crew ostensibly have added fuel to the fire that still attends the broader Ukraine situation, along with that of the resultant standoff between Russia, and America and its Western allies, over what is happening in that country. In this context the above anecdote takes on additional resonance.

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I will return to the actual "60 Minutes" segment shortly along with some reactions to it. However, given the long dormant status of the story, it is necessary to revisit some of the key aspects of this international tragedy, one in which Australia lost 38 people, second only to the Netherlands, which lost 193 nationals.

The significance of the MH-17 story cannot be underestimated, despite -- or indeed because of -- its extended absence from the news cycle. This, not least because of the large number of family members and friends both in Australia and worldwide of those who perished and who themselves are still, some 10 months later, looking for answers and some closure. Moreover, the very fact this incident took place within the supercharged geopolitical atmosphere that is the Ukraine crisis, one even more charged now than it was then, is also of considerable importance.

From the outset, Western governments and politicians from across the political spectrum including here in Australia -- led by the nose by the neoconservative cabals in Washington and dutifully buttressed by their propaganda shills in the corporate or mainstream media (MSM) -- relentlessly sought to assign blame to Russia for the shoot-down. This was a textbook media case study reinforcing the old adage about never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. In the course of doing so, they recklessly inflamed an already intense and exceedingly dangerous standoff between the two countries over the Ukraine crisis, one that like numerous other crises around the planet, is entirely of America's own making.

Despite official denials from Washington, this "crisis" we now know was custom-designed and purpose-built by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and her posse of regime changers in the State Department, dutifully backed up by their neoconservative cronies (including Nuland's husband Robert Kagan), to say little of the liberal interventionists in the Obama administration and in the broader Official Washington community.

As for what actually happened to MH-17 and who was responsible, Washington and the MSM in the West continued to maintain their rage for Russia despite being unable to provide concrete evidence of their claims, all the while singularly failing to provide news consumers and the general public with the full story, at least to the extent it was known.

If nothing else (and with this story there is plenty "else"), the MH-17 fallout was emblematic of the MSM's long, well (if not fully) documented, and not so illustrious history of venal complicity in blindly validating Western governments' approved narratives, along with sanctioning their official agendas and, whether through sins of omission or commission, suppressing their secret ones. This is not conspiracy theory; it's conspiracy reality. In fact it remains one of the key reasons why the generic MSM brand is in such decline among discerning news consumers seeking timely truths and authentic realities about the world in which we live and the forces which shape it.

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For those folks highly skeptical, even dismissive, of the official narrative of the events leading up to and attending the MH-17 disaster, it was and has always been a "put up or shut up" proposition. This is something even the "60 Minutes" folks would have known from the start. And although we can say those promulgating this official narrative were unable to "put up" (albeit not for the want of trying), they eventually did "shut up".

A Media Blame Game

It seems then the politicians and their praetorian guard-dogs in the MSM were unable to sustain the breathlessly hysterical, one-sided blame game they collectively indulged in with respect to Russia, all the while reserving particular animus for its President Vladimir Putin. The "blame game" then was called off, though it was always something of a shell-game in disguise.

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Greg Maybury is a Perth (Australia) based freelance writer. His main areas of interest are American history and politics in general, with a special focus on economic, national security, military and geopolitical affairs, and both US domestic and (more...)
 

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Propaganda v Impropaganda -- MH17, Brand 60 Minutes, and Shell-game Journalism