Latest installment of Fran Shure’s series examines how compliant and fearful journalists perpetuate the cover-up
By Barrie Zwicker (Special to Truth and Shadows)
It’s telling that one of the finest critiques of journalism’s abject and historic failure to simply report what’s known about 9/11 comes from a non-journalist.
Frances T. Shure, a psychotherapist from Denver, Colorado, has just completed “The Role of the Media: Act I, Whatever Happened to Investigative Journalists?” which is Part 21 of a series of essays written for Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth entitled “Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—About 9/11?” (The article will be posted on AE911Truth’s website this week, and as soon as it is we’ll post the link here.)
Thankfully, Part 21 ranges well beyond AE911Truth’s well-chosen but specific orbit. As Shure’s disclaimer states, AE911Truth sticks to its knitting, “does not speculate as to the identity or motives of the perpetrators.” That may work in the fields of architecture and engineering, but serious critiques of mainstream and so-called alternative media that fail to expand their canvas to include imperialism and militarism, with monopoly capitalism at their core, are fatally incomplete, in this reviewer’s opinion. Shure does not shrink from examining the roots as well as the crowns of the forest of issues associated with media malfeasance — wherever evidence leads her.
It’s difficult to develop the courage to do that digging and scanning without an approach akin to Albert Einstein’s: seek out both the patterns and the minutiae; do not fear to theorize, because that’s essential; and retain an almost fierce independence from prevailing wisdoms.
It doesn’t hurt that Shure knows her psychology, because among the colours in her expanded canvas are human propensities. In the case of 9/11 the fear of nonconformity within the journalism community blends with the capacity for self-delusion and denial with an overlay of careerism. And Shure’s wide-ranging research has made her aware of the deep penetration of large numbers of embedded CIA “assets” within the media carrying out ideological gatekeeping. A prime directive from Langley to these assets obviously has led and continues to lead to serial infanticide at any and every sign of the birth of questioning of the official 9/11 narrative.
It’s not by chance that widespread surreptitious controls over an all-too-compliant media are most evident, for those with eyes to see, in the instance of arguably the most shocking political event of the 20th century, JFK’s assassination, and the most shocking geopolitical event so far in the 21st century, 9/11. Either one is a litmus test for those concerned about rogue state power and honest courageous reporting. Together, the two pivotal events form a telltale pattern spanning two centuries. The success of rogue state power in the service of capitalist imperialism paired with the failure of public media to even question, let alone investigate, these two outrages against democracy and morality is a double blow against the future of the world and all in it.
“What is wrong with the Western media?” Shure asks at the outset. “Why have they not jumped at the opportunity to cover the scoop of the century — the wealth of crystal-clear evidence that proves the government has been lying about the attacks of September 11, 2001, for the past sixteen years?”
In her 13,000-word essay, rendered jargon-free in a clear flowing style, she answers her own questions. In point form her answers can be summarized:
Fears and their outcomes emerge repeatedly, directly or implied, as a central thread. “The term ‘third rail’ is a metaphor referring to the high-voltage third rail in some electric railway systems. Stepping on this rail would usually result in electrocution. Thus, political third rail issues are those that are considered ‘charged’ and ‘untouchable,’ promising that any public official or media outlet that dares seriously broach these topics will suffer.”
Later she observes: “…with third rail issues such as the Israel-Palestine conflict, big-business profits, war, or the false flag nature of 9/11, mainstream media march in lockstep with their government and corporate news sources, repeating their narratives ad nauseam. Official suppression of the truth, journalists’ self-censorship, and prosecution of whistleblowers regularly accompany these third rail issues. As a journalist friend tersely remarked, ‘It’s okay to be liberal with domestic issues, but don’t mess with the empire.’”
“…journalists who step outside the echo chamber of an official account tend to be shunned by their peers at social or work functions. As I mentioned in the Introduction to this series, humans’ greatest fear may be social ostracism or even physical banishment. At a primal level, we’re aware of our dependence upon one another for survival as well as our strong need to belong and to connect with our fellow beings. Thus, there can be devastating psychological effects on reporters who are shunned or avoided in social or business functions.”
She observes: “Some Americans may fear that a real investigation into the events surrounding 9/11 could challenge our entire political system to the point of paralysis. But this is fear of fear itself and is a ruse of the mind.”
“Pressure produces fear,” Shure writes in introducing the eight specific fears below, “and, not surprisingly, fears abound in the ‘news factories.’” She concludes: “The stress resulting from those fears is enormous. Fear and stress, as we know, are anathema to truth-telling.”
- Fear of not meeting financial analysts’ expectations for the next quarter’s increase in profits.
- Fear of low TV news ratings.
- Fear of litigation by powerful corporations such as Phillip Morris and Monsanto or by other non-corporate but equally powerful entities.
- Fear of the withdrawal of ads by Madison Avenue’s mega advertisers.
- Fear of attacks by other media outlets if reporters or editors veer from a “consensus” viewpoint.
- Fear of persecution by an employer if the reporter refuses to toe that media outlet’s party line.
- Fear of the consequences of not telling a story that other media are telling, even if it is not a credible story.
- Fear of offending influential local public figures or groups.
Sacred myths. U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski told Shure what some journalists confided in her: “…to question the government story about 9/11 is to question the very foundations of our entire modern belief system regarding our government, our country, and our way of life. To be charged with questioning these foundations is far more serious than being labeled a disgruntled conspiracy nut or anti-government traitor, or even being sidelined or marginalized within an academic, government service, or literary career. To question the official 9/11 story is simply and fundamentally revolutionary.” (Kwiatkowski adds: “In this way, of course, questioning the official story is also simply and fundamentally American.”) Perhaps a quaint thought.
Writes Shure: “Outworn beliefs have enormous inertia… They die a protracted death, as we discovered in Part 8 on brain research. But at least they do eventually die, as the Gallup polls confirm — sometimes when people change their views to fit new facts, and other times, unfortunately, by the death of members of the current older generation.”
Careerism. A few reporters still exist “chomping at the bit to expose the mounds of evidence that clearly contradict the official tale of 9/11.” But “they must remain silent to keep their jobs.”
The CIA illegally embedding gatekeeping agents inside media organizations and deceptively meddling in U.S. political affairs. “Both are indicative of a corrupt agency responsive to wealthy individuals who operate behind the scenes in Washington politics — that is, outside normal democratic processes — for the purpose of shaping public policy to benefit themselves.”
Internal censorship by editors in thrall of the media’s corporate owners. “We shall also discover how investigations crucial to an open and democratic society are, across the board, being thoroughly censored by editors, by media’s corporate owners, and by intelligence agencies. And we shall see that this censorship is not unique to the topic of 9/11 — not by a long shot.”
Neutered accounts. When outright censorship is not applied, “well-researched, well-documented exposés of high crimes by officials… even if they do make the news, are rendered … into watered-down, impotent versions, unrecognizable to the authors.”
Delusions. “Western” journalists self-identify as free and actually superior to those who worked or work in Russia or China, for instance. In a section devoted to the nightmare ordeal of U.S. Marine Bobby Garwood, one-time POW in Vietnam, Shure suitably uses the term “[U.S.] puppet media.” This description has been cavalierly applied by generations of “Western” journalists to Pravda, Granma, or any Chinese state media outlet. One is reminded of a line by author W. A. Swanberg in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Luce and his Empire: “Luce had perfected a method of propaganda that was to Pravda as a thousand flashing rapiers are to a clumsy bludgeon.”
The intertwining of the powers of state agencies and corporations. Shure writes: “I am unavoidably reminded of the words of former CIA director William Casey, who remarked in early February 1981 to then-incoming President Ronald Reagan: ‘We’ll know our disinformation program is a success when everything the American public believes is false.’ So, once again, we see that big media, the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and big business are all tightly intertwined.”
Again: “When the curtain is pulled back, we discover powerful puppeteers such as the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, military intelligence, media owners with conflicting political agendas, the White House, advertisers, powerful family dynasties, and extremely wealthy individuals pulling the strings of the marionette media.”
And: “Our global media have become subsidiaries of massive corporate conglomerates that do business in many other industries, including the manufacture of weapons for the military. These mega-corporations, in turn, contribute huge sums of money to members of Congress as well as enormous research grants to universities.”
The media are incapable of shame. “Bush, Congress, and the media are all incapable of shame.” — Daniel Ellsberg. This, of course, is a vast and partially unfair generalization. But it stands, as a generalization.
Of particular concern to those of us focused on the shame of media malfeasance and worse on the subject of 9/11Truth are those otherwise progressive and critical and seemingly independent writers such as Robert Parry, Chris Hedges and many more (and a few broadcasters, such as Amy Goodman). Why do they look like deer in the headlights when they’re asked where they stand on 9/11? Shure wisely turns to and quotes in full Kristina Borjesson, editor of Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press. Borjesson’s response deserves to be seen in full:
“They are talented journalists and have worked hard to navigate between reporting that goes right up to the line of what is acceptable to the powers-that-be and reporting that goes over the line and would cost them everything. It took Parry years to get over being blackballed for his Newsweek reporting on Iran-Contra. When he was at The New York Times, Hedges was reprimanded by his bosses after he criticized what was happening in Iraq while giving a commencement address in 2003. These individuals would immediately become targets for marginalization, loss of funding, and/or outlets for their work, or even worse forms of retaliation if they crossed the line, because they have achieved a “critical mass” audience — i.e., a big enough audience to create problems for the powers-that-be if used to counter official narratives on third-rail issues. If they did that they would attract dangerous if not fatal attention from powers-that-be. The fact that they are widely viewed as good journalists not beholden to the powers-that-be makes them dangerous, but not too dangerous. They would only become dispensable if they invested that credibility in scrutinizing the ultimate third rail issue — 9/11. They’re doing a lot of good carefully hoeing the rows they’re hoeing now, and that would all go down the tubes if they turned their attention to looking into whether or not the official narrative about 9/11 is true.”
I couldn’t agree more. I was also curious to find out how Into the Buzzsaw fared when it came to reviews, so I emailed Borjesson about that and received this reply:
“…although Buzzsaw didn’t get any mainstream airtime on TV or reviewed in The New York Times, it was reviewed in the New York Review of Books and lots of papers and magazines around the country.
“The real story is the silence on my second book, FEET TO THE FIRE: The Media After 9/11, which is more closely tied to 9/11 because 9/11 opened up the space for launching the propaganda campaign to go to Iraq. The book contains interviews with major journalists and news executives talking about the run-up to the war and their failure to get it right. The book was ignored by EVERYBODY (even the Columbia Journalism Review) even though major household-name journalists and top news executives were featured in it.
“At one point, when I asked the editor of the Columbia Journalism Review why the book was not covered in the magazine (I also happen to be an alumna of their J-School), he said that they had written something on it, but decided not to run it at the last minute because of lack of space [yeah, right].”
Shure, being positive by nature, notes: “…we 9/11 Truth activists have done exactly what [Kristina Borjesson and others] have done: We’ve become the media. Observe the research being undertaken; the books and films and articles and online blogs being written; the array of videos, from pithy to lengthy, that are being produced. Witness the perseverance and passion of 9/11 victims’ family members, who are intent on winning a real investigation into the greatest crime of the 21st century. All around me, I see warriors for truth who are refusing to let information be stifled and are mounting vigorous grassroots media efforts that, according to many polls, have successfully challenged the mainstream media’s repetition of the official 9/11 account.”
In her next installment, to be called “Part 22: The Role of the Media: Act II — History, Corporate Blowback, and How the System Censors,” Shure plans to briefly chronicle the history of the American press and delve more into the causes of censorship. But before she does so she writes, “I’ll tell a personal story about a public altercation I had with a 40-year journalist from The New York Times.” Good cliffhanger. It has me hooked.