from the book

War, Lies & Videotape

International Action Center, 2000

Government and media shape news together, censoring and self-censoring sensitive subjects.


Ramsey Clark
If the United States of America ever elected a president with the moral character, the personal experience of lifelong service to others, the noble thoughts and compassionate values of Haiti's President Aristide, then it would become a democracy. I don't expect that to happen in my lifetime. Struggle as we may and must, the greatest challenge in the struggle for democracy is the search for truth. The question of human survival and, if successful, of human nature, will depend largely on whether we can see the truth in time. If the people of the U.S. had full, open, equal access to the truth, they could find and elect their own Aristides.

The Nation magazine - a quote from a station manager for Fox News out of Florida that makes you think of the Robber Barons of America's late l9th century. Some members of the public were protesting the media's silence on the question of the use of chemical insecticides in food products. The station manager's answer was this:

We paid $3 billion for these stations, and we have a right to make the news. The news is what we say it is.

The Romans created the idea of bread and circuses. Give the people enough bread to keep them alive and enough circuses to distract them from their problems. Television and the broader media are by far the best circus that has ever been devised.

The media is owned by the same interests that profit from exploitation of foreign people and weapons sales.


Peter Phillips

The U.S. media has lost its diversity and its ability to present different points of view. Instead, there is a homogeneity of news stories and the major media tend to look alike.

The media in the U.S. has created, to use Neil Postman's words, the "best entertained, least informed society in the world." Americans are ignorant about international affairs and alienated from their own social issues.

The media provide entertainment and fear. The American public watches celebrity news, infomercials, titillation, and sex as entertainment.

I think that the American public needs to know that the U. S. is now the arms merchant to the world, selling 60% of all export weapons, using 650 government employees in embassies all over the world to promote weapons sales for private corporate profits.


Aristide is a devil in the eyes of the U.S. government and the mainstream press because he criticizes their plans for Haiti. He is the "obstacle," the great manipulator, the "threat to democracy." Well, the real manipulator, the real threat to democracy is the corporate media and more generally the capitalist system of which it is a pillar.


Sara Flounders

Every ruling class imposes on society as a whole the lies, deceits and biases that justify their existence.

Today the average person knows that the politicians lie. They lie about their personal lives and sexual affairs, of course. They lie about taxes and finances and they lie about the reasons for going to war. This distrust is reflected first in apathy and alienation. The U.S. today has the lowest voter turnout of any " industrialized democracy." There is not yet a crisis of sufficient proportion to cause millions of people to actively seek an alternative to the media's version of the truth.

The rulers in any society know they must find a way to whip up popular support. Wild claims of self-defense or demonizing an opponent are hardly new tactics in the annals of war. Great wars of conquest and plunder have always been marked by noble appeals.

In the United States, for instance, just 1 percent of the population owns 40 percent of the wealth; the top 10 percent controls 80 percent of the wealth.


Jean-Bertrand Aristide

In 1960, the richest twenty percent of the world's population had seventy percent of the world's wealth. Today they have eighty-five percent. In 1960 the poorest twenty percent of the world's people had 2.4% of the world's wealth, and today that has shrunk to just 1.1%.

Today, worship of the market and its invisible hand has become a world religion in which economic growth is the only measure of human progress. The dominant discourse regarding the meaning of progress is so constricted, so narrow as to represent a global crisis of imagination. Within this discourse the human being fades from view.

The major media often equate democracy with the holding of elections every four or five years... Only the day-to-day participation of the people at all levels of society and governance can breathe life into democracy and create the possibility for people to play a significant role in shaping the state and the society that they want.

Haiti ... the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living on less than $220 U.S. per year ...


Nawal El Saadawi

Never before in history has there been such domination of people's minds by the mass media. Never before in history has there been such a concentration and centralization of media capital, and of military power in the hands of so few people The countries that form the group of seven (in the North) control almost all the technological, economic, media, information and military power in the world.

Five hundred multinational corporations (MNCs) account for 80% of world trade and 75% of global investment. Less than five hundred billionaires own more than half of the wealth of all the inhabitants of the globe. With such concentration of the economic and technological means of

Postmodern deception by the media and the broader information system is subtle. It works on the conscious and the unconscious levels. It gives you the impression that you are free to choose while it robs you of all the means of free choice.


Adel Sanara

In the United States, the media function as a class machine, shaping and reshaping the mentality of the American citizen. The people are taught to support prohibitively expensive space wars despite the fact that 38 million Americans live under the poverty level. They are taught to accept aggression against Iraq, Cuba, Libya and the Sudan. They are taught to accept the colonization of Palestine by the Israelis. The media attempt to get U.S. citizens to adopt a passive attitude when it comes to foreign policy.


Louis Hiken

As Alexander Meiklejohn pointed out:

a robust democracy requires broad channels of discussion and debate on all of society's issues and concerns. It requires a media system which is open to the broadest possible range of views and in which all citizens can effectively express and communicate their ideals, thoughts and concerns, as well as receive and consider the thoughts, ideas and concerns of their fellow citizens.


Robert McChesney

[the] extent to which there is non-elite participation into communication policymaking may be a barometer for the level of democracy in a society.

War, Lies & Videotape

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