My guest today is progressive activist, Rania Khalek. Welcome to OpEdNews, Rania. You recently wrote 5 WikiLeaks Revelations Exposing the Rapidly Growing Corporatism Dominating American Diplomacy Abroad. Sadly, there's nothing new about corporations and government being joined at the hip. So, why did you write this article?
photo credit: Lina Khalek
Obviously corporate dominance over Washington is nothing new. But, these cables give us an inside look at the inner-workings of the decisions that get made around the world. And time after time, we see that US diplomats consult with the executives of some of the largest corporations to determine how to deal with conflicts in other countries. These cables also demonstrate the disturbing trend of how our government views any threat to corporate America as a threat to the United States, which is absurd. Just because we know that corporations and US officials have merged, doesn't mean we understand the full extent to which it affects decisions that are made or the implications of those decisions.
Also, the mainstream media has been ignoring the most significant revelations exposed by these cables, which is why I feel it's essential to write about them. People need to know the level of corruption their government is involved in.
Is the press continuing to downplay the significance of the revelations because there's nothing new or because of their corporate masters?
Of everything that WikiLeaks has released, the establishment press has spent more time on reporting about Julian Assange's character and WikiLeaks as an organization, than about the substance of what has been released. This happened during the Iraq War Logs, the Afghanistan diaries, the US embassy cables, the Guantanamo Files, etc, all which exposed a vast amount of previously unknown instances of government corruption.
For a long time now, the establishment press has acted as an arm of the US government, most of all the Pentagon, where they parrot the "official" version of events, rather than actually covering the truth and holding those in power accountable. And for a long time now, the Pentagon has been devoted to destroying the credibility of WikiLeaks, which they view as a threat. The problem is that the press is so cozy with and dependent on the powerful government officials they are supposed to be covering -- for access, money, career advancement -- that they immediately adopted the government's perspective on WikiLeaks.
But we also have to remember that WikiLeaks has exposed many of the lies and corruption surrounding our wars. And the majority of mainstream journalists who have failed to report on anything of substance revealed by WikiLeaks, were some of the biggest cheerleaders for those wars. So of course they are eager to ignore WikiLeaks revelations, smear Assange's character, and insist that there's "nothing new" in these documents.
So, I guess that leaves it up to the independent and online journalists to educate and inform the public. Are we succeeding in breaking through this formidable barrier?
Independent media has done an incredible job at breaking through the echo chamber of the mainstream news, especially given the resources we're up against. The news and perspectives covered by independent media outlets are what got me involved in politics and journalism, so yes, we are succeeding in reaching people with news and views that are neglected in the corporate media. And WikiLeaks has forced the more mainstream outlets to report on at least some of the revelations whether they like it or not, because it's such a huge story.
That being said, there is still a long way to go, because we are up against such a powerful machine of corporately owned news mediums. And on top of the never-ending mergers of multi-billion dollar media conglomerates, the FCC's failure to enforce net neutrality poses a serious danger to the future of independent journalism, most of which is accessible online. So, reporting on the stories that never get covered is going to become an even more daunting task. For now, I think we need to remember what is at stake and people need to support independent media however they can. And reporting about the corruption exposed by WikiLeaks is the best way to demonstrate how indispensable independent media is.
I'd like to know more about how you got involved in politics and journalism. Can you talk about that a bit, Rania?
Coincidentally, I credit independent media for igniting my passion for politics, social justice, and ultimately journalism. Oddly enough, I have a degree in exercise physiology, which has no relation to politics, let alone journalism. The year I graduated from college was the same year as the 2008 presidential election. I had always been a liberal, mostly of the apathetic and uninformed variety, so in the lead up to the election, I was thrilled about Barack Obama.
I wanted to believe, like most liberals did, that Obama would change US foreign policy for the better, but the skeptic in me wasn't convinced, so I went online searching for evidence, and in my investigation I came upon Democracy Now. I remember watching Amy Goodman report the news for a week straight in absolute disbelief. I was truly shocked by the level of corruption and deceit that was being hidden from me by the corporate news. This led me to other independent outlets and where I was exposed brilliant authors and independent journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn, and Chris Hedges, to name just a few.
Independent media has helped shape my understanding of the world and has inspired me to become an active citizen, which is why I'm so passionate about journalism. Writing about underreported stories is my way of reaching out to people who are capable of waking up to reality and participate in their communities but are being deprived of that chance by the censorship and information manipulation of the corporately owned mainstream news.
I agree that knowledge is the first step. And that definitely involves circumventing the corporate media. What kind of stories have you been working on besides this WikiLeaks one?
I just wrote a piece about the militarization of local police departments, a story that is almost never mentioned in the mainstream. I also write about the economy, with a focus on stories about the consequences of the recession, unemployment, and budget cuts on average Americans and the disconnect of our mostly millionaire politicians.
Good but scary stuff, Rania. So what do you think? Are the American people going to wake up to what's really happening in time to save ourselves and the democratic institutions we hold dear?
That's a difficult question, and the answer is I don't know. I do know that it will get worse before it gets better, and things are going to change regardless of whether or not people wake up to the realities of our failing economy, catastrophe-inducing climate change, our unending wars, etc. I have no faith in the political system to fix these problems because the majority of our democratic institutions have been taken over by corporate interests. The one thing I do have faith in is people power and nonviolent civil disobedience, workers strikes, etc. Even though the media doesn't report about it, protests against budget cuts and attacks on unions are taking place every day around the country, and after watching what took place in Wisconsin earlier this year, I do believe that Americans are capable of standing up for their rights. So, I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Thanks so much for talking with me, Rania. It was a pleasure. Keep up the good work!