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Mainstream US Media Is Lost in Ukraine

By       Message Robert Parry     Permalink
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Source: Consortium News


As the Ukraine crisis continues to deepen, the mainstream U.S. news media is sinking to new lows of propaganda and incompetence. Somehow, a violent neo-Nazi-spearheaded putsch overthrowing a democratically elected president was refashioned into a "legitimate" regime, then the "interim" government and now simply "Ukraine."

The Washington Post's screaming headline on Sunday is "Ukraine decries Russian 'invasion,'" treating the coup regime in Kiev as if it speaks for the entire country when it clearly speaks for only a subset of the population, mostly from western Ukraine. The regime's "legitimacy" comes not from a democratic election but from a coup that was quickly embraced by the U.S. government and the European Union.

Objective U.S. journalists would insist on a truthful narrative that conveys these nuances to the American people, not simply behave as clumsy propagandists determined to glue "white hats" on the side favored by the State Department and "black hats" on everyone that the U.S. government disdains. But virtually the entire mainstream press corps has opted for the propaganda role, much as it has in the past. Think Iraq 2002-03.
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You also might remember the mainstream media's rush to judgment over the Sarin attack in Syria on Aug. 21, 2013. The State Department rashly blamed the incident on the Syrian government despite serious doubts inside the U.S. intelligence community.

To conceal those dissents, the State Department and the White House issued a four-page "Government Assessment," rather than a National Intelligence Estimate from the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. That would have had to include footnotes revealing disagreements over the evidence among the analysts.

When the "Government Assessment" was posted online at the White House Web site on Aug. 30, it contained not a single piece of evidence that could be independently checked. That same day, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a nearly hysterical speech that sounded like a declaration of war. He insisted that the U.S. government had conclusive proof of the Syrian government's guilt but he just couldn't reveal any.

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The U.S. press corps showed virtually no skepticism about the U.S. government's case. Only a few Web sites, including Consortiumnews.com, noted the lack of verifiable proof and the absence of U.S. intelligence officials during the presentations, including none sitting behind Kerry when he made the rounds of congressional hearings.

The evidence regarding the Syrian government guilt apparently was so flimsy that no U.S. intelligence official wanted to play the role of CIA Director George Tenet who popped up behind Secretary of State Colin Powell during his deceptive speech on Feb. 5, 2003, asserting a definitive case that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

But the dog-not-barking in the missing intelligence officials on Syria was ignored by the big media. Instead, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other major news outlets reprised their Iraq War roles.

The Vector Analysis

In September, the Times even fronted a story -- by C.J. Chivers and Rick Gladstone -- asserting that it had established Syrian government guilt for the Sarin attack, much as a 2002 Times story reported that Iraq's purchase of aluminum tubes was proof of a secret nuclear program. That Times story became the basis for President George W. Bush and his top aides scaring the American people with warnings about "mushroom clouds."

The Chivers-Gladstone story cited the azimuths (or the reverse flight paths) of two Sarin-laden rockets intersecting at a Syrian military base northwest of Damascus, the "slam-dunk" proof of Syrian guilt, making those of us who raised questions about lack of evidence look stupid.

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But both Times stories -- the one in 2002 and the one in 2013 -- collapsed under scrutiny. The Iraqi aluminum tubes, it turned out, were unfit for nuclear centrifuges (and the U.S. invasion force later determined that Iraq had no active nuclear program), and the intersecting azimuths proved false because only one of the two rockets contained Sarin and its maximum range was around 2.5 kilometers, according to scientific analyses, not the necessary 9.5 kilometers for the two azimuths to cross.

So, in December 2013, three months after the Times ran its front-page "vector analysis," Chivers got the assignment to write a grudging retraction, though the admission of his error was mumbled in the 18th paragraph of a story stuck deep inside the newspaper. [See Consortiumnews.com's "NYT Backs Off Its Syria-Sarin Analysis."]

Because the retraction was "buried," however, much of Official Washington still thinks the earlier story, supposedly proving the Syrian government's guilt, is operational. That's why you see politicians, like Sen. John McCain, accusing President Barack Obama of cowardice for failing to bomb Syria after it crossed his "red line" against using chemical weapons.

You've had a similar rush to judgment in connection with the violence that broke out in Kiev last month. The U.S. government and news media blamed lethal sniper fire on the government of President Viktor Yanukovych and -- after he was driven from office by a neo-Nazi-led putsch on Feb. 22 -- the U.S. media made much of how the new rump regime in Kiev had accused Yanukovych of mass murder.

However, according to an intercepted phone conversation between Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, Paet reported on a conversation that he had with a doctor in Kiev who said the sniper fire that killed protesters was the same that killed police officers.

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http://www.consortiumnews.com

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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