By Charles Sullivan
I have been writing political essays for a few years now.
I do so as a reluctant enthusiast, not because I wanted to write on
these themes; but because, it seemed to me, that professional
journalists were not telling the whole story; that significant parts
that would allow people to connect the dots and understand what is
happening from a historical perspective, was being deliberately
omitted from the official version of current events, and from
As propaganda, the elements that are deliberately left out of media
are as important as those that are retained. It is propaganda by
omission, as much as by content. What people are not told shapes
their world view and influences their behavior, as surely as what
they are told. Imposed ignorance and selective knowledge go hand in
hand to forge public opinion and to shape cultural identity. These
conditions set the stage for belligerent government and aggressive
It is not coincidental that professional journalists, those who
write for profit in the mainstream media, are the least likely to
tell us the truth, the whole truth; whereas, free-lance writers, who
operate under a different set of rules and out of the mainstream,
are more likely to serve the public interest, and tell us what we
need to know in order to be a free people, and good world citizens.
Professional journalists are beholden to a code of ethics and
personal conduct that free-lance writers are not. Namely, they are
part of a fraternity, a part of the cultural orthodoxy, with an
incentive in maintaining the established order. The incentive is
always financial and professional, and involves creating the
acceptance and trust of those in power, which may, when properly
executed, even result in the celebrity status of the journalist.
Journalists who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo
or advancing their careers do not operate in the public interest.
Their purpose is not to inform but to deceive.
When a major news anchor reports upon the invasion and occupation of
sovereign nations, uncritically putting forth pentagon propaganda as
justification for the attack, he or she is in essence acting in the
manner of a celebrity athlete endorsing a product. The basketball
star may endorse Nike sneakers, manufactured by indentured servants
in foreign sweatshops; while the news anchor is endorsing war and
disaster capitalism projected around the world by Lockheed Martin
and the Carlyle Group. Both are prostitutes.
Mainstream corporate journalism is not about speaking truth to
power, it is about selling products and perceptions. It is about
creating a culture of ignorant consumers incapable of distinguishing
between propaganda and news, fact and fiction.
This is marketing and perception management masquerading as
unbiased, objective reporting. I call it the big lie.
If the mainstream journalist wants to prosper, if they want to have
access to the inner circles of power, they must play the game
according to the established rules. They must toe the corporate
line, and provide cover for the corporate assault on human freedoms,
and the conquest of nature, while keeping hidden agendas concealed
from public view. Journalists must be able to sell widely
objectionable concepts to the people, packaged in the garments of
seductive—often patriotic language, in order to make them palatable.
How many soldiers, outside of those under the private contracts of
firms like Blackwater, would voluntarily stake their lives for
corporate profits, and the subjugation of a sovereign people, if
they knew that is what they are really fighting for, rather than the
more popular and desirable goal of freedom or democracy?
Freedom, liberation, and democracy have never been corporate
objectives; nor can they ever be the objective of corporate
governance. They are only selling points that conceal hidden
corporate agendas; the attractive packaging for war, occupation, and
privatization, obtained at pubic expense.
If news stories are not believable to the multitudes, if they fail
to garner popular support by masking corporate agendas behind
deceptive language, the majority of governmental polices and private
agendas could not be enacted. If the people knew what was being done
in their name, and who is profiting from those policies, there might
be widespread opposition and even social upheaval. It would be
difficult to field a voluntary military that knows it is fighting
for the bottom line of Halliburton, Bechtel, and Lockheed Martin,
rather than for freedom and democracy, as they are told.
Thus those who would serve in the military as self-ordained patriots
are sold a bill of goods. By invading and occupying Iraq, they are,
in effect, undermining the very principles they claim to hold
sacred, including those set forth in the Constitution and the
preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Likewise, the average
US citizen is sold a similar bill of goods in order to garner
support for policies they would, presumably, never voluntarily
sustain, if they understood them better.
That is the genius of modern capitalism and its impressive marketing
apparatus. The results have been breathtaking.
Skillful perception management always precedes empire. Well
presented propaganda allows history to be presented as a kind of
fairy tale that ignores the horrible things the government has
always done in our name, at the behest of corporate America and our
wealthiest citizens, which should be too well known to bear
In our capitalist culture, journalism must not be thought of as a
reporting of facts, but as marketing propaganda—the selling of ideas
that might not otherwise be embraced by those who must carry out
hidden agendas, or the people on the receiving end of them. Seen in
this way, the US soldier and the Iraqi citizen are both pawns in a
rich man’s game: the former as the implementer of unjust war and
occupation, the other as the unwilling recipient of them.
The end result for both soldier and Iraqi citizen is tragic: the
soldier is told that he or she is protecting their country from
foreign threats, something that is patently false; while the
innocent Iraqi citizen, defending his or her home from foreign
occupation, knows that she or he is not a terrorist, but is treated
like one, nevertheless.
Both occupier and the occupied share a common foe, but it is not
each other; it is the criminals, aided and abetted by the corporate
media, who put them in formal opposition to one another for
Our recent history would have been impossible without the
consolidation of the media that occurred during the Clinton
presidency, and has continued ever since. The entire spectra of
mainstream media are now under the control of only four or five
corporations. We no longer have reporting on local issues stemming
from diverse perspectives rooted in local communities, but a
monoculture of state and corporate propaganda that betrays the
public trust in its pursuit of corporate profits.
Aided by the president and congress, the public owned airwaves were
hijacked and are being used against the people by giant
The result of this media monoculture, as purveyed by the likes of
Judith Miller and Tom Brokaw, and countless others, is tragic. And
they represent only the tip of the mainstream iceberg. Think of the
horrible and shameless lies, the baseless fear and hate that are
continuously voiced by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, and the hateful
broadcasts that emanate from Bob Jones University, masquerading as
Corporate media is the vanguard of empire and environmental
destruction on a global scale.
Unlike its corporate counterpart, reporting truth requires people of
unassailable integrity. It requires a thirst for justice with the
strength of character to oppose the powerful undertow of
manufactured perception and conformity, and the seductive language
created to execute the hidden agendas of corrupt governments.
Uncovering truth requires commitment to the people, rather than to
profit driven corporate agendas.
Only a handful of professional journalists have attained the kind of
stature that makes such reportage possible in the United States.
Their names are not at all well known, with the possible exception
of Seymour Hersch, Robert Fisk, Bill Moyers and Greg Palast.
More often than not, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of
independent journalists and unpaid free-lancers. The professional
journalist must answer to his/her boss, and portray the corporation
that employs them in a favorable light, even if they are profiting
from unprovoked war and occupation. In contrast, the free-lancer is
bound only by the constraints of conscience, imagination, and
Occasionally, an astonished responder to one of my more poignant
essays will tell me that I should forward the piece to the New York
Times: to NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, or even the BBC. I never
It would be hard for me to imagine any corporation undermining its
own profitability by exposing its hidden agendas, and denouncing
itself as a commissioner of murder and mayhem, motivated by
insatiable greed and a lust for wealth and power that would astonish
even the staunchest mafia don. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it
to happen! Snowballs in hell have a better chance.
Its not that free-lancers like me wouldn’t like to get paid for what
we do; it’s that our views do not enhance the bottom line of
corporate giants and, in many cases, actually undermine them. Thus
it behooves the professional journalist and the corporate media to
ignore or discredit us as purveyors of truth and seekers of justice.
Soon it will be an act of sedition to speak truth in this country.
Yet, truth will continue to exist, despite all attempts to destroy
Whether they admit it or not, virtually all of the best known
journalists in the US subscribe to the racist and sexist ideologies
of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny, and they go to
great lengths to advance these ideas, by presenting them as
something other than what they really are. Sleight of hand is the
rule of mainstream journalism, not the exception.
Conversely, by serving the people, free-lance journalists are, of
necessity, undermining the corporate agenda. Thus they are treated
as enemies of the state, which has become indistinguishable from the
corporation itself. We live in a culture where one cannot value
truth and carry forth corporate agendas. Truth is the enemy of
This might also explain why so many unembedded journalists have been
deliberately killed in Iraq and the Gaza strip by US and Israeli
snipers. The world must not know what the occupiers do, or the
propaganda veneer may no longer have its intended effect on the
consumers of media.
Speaking truth to power, especially corrupt power, is dangerous
business— particularly in war zones and fascist states, like the one
evolving in the US.
Corporate media is the vanguard of colonialism and imperialist
policy. It plays a key role in preparing the public mind for
imperialist wars and occupations and their subsequent puppet
governments; it also serves the emerging police state at home that
erodes our freedoms, until there is nothing left of them.
Yet, occasionally, even in this artificially constructed myth loving
culture, truth wins out simply because someone cares enough to tell
it like it is, without sugar coating. Truth matters; and that is—and
always will be—of primal importance to some people. Let future
historical records show that there was opposition to what was being
done in our name, that there were people willing to speak truth to
power, to stem the evil tide by standing up for justice, cost what
Future historians of the dominant culture are likely to cast these
accounts into the memory hole and pretend that they never existed,
carrying forth the myth that the people were always united behind
the injustice and tyranny of our time. We saw this in Nazi Germany
in the buildup to World War Two, and we are seeing it now in the US.
But a culture that does not value truth and justice is not worth
preserving. Such cultures will self destruct and implode upon
themselves; the world will eventually unite against them and bring
them down. All of the military might in the world, all the
subterfuge, is not powerful enough to overcome simple truth.
Any individual who values truth more than lies, who keeps truth
alive in his or her heart, despite all efforts to dislodge it from
its ethical moorings, is more powerful than even the most advanced
weapons systems. Truth emerges unscathed from the rubble of fallen
empire as immutable as an inviolable law of nature. Nothing can
bring it down because it is real.
If we are to evolve into a justice loving people, truth must become
our moral foundation, the basis of our existence as a people. Truth
and justice are inseparable partners on the road to liberation from
tyranny and fascism.
Concord’s greatest citizen, the poet-philosopher, Henry D. Thoreau,
summed it up well: “The one great rule of composition…is to speak
the truth. This first, this second, this third; pebbles in your
mouth or not.” Perhaps more than anything, that simplistic ability
to speak plain truth, and in all languages, is what I most admire
about Thoreau. There is much to admire and respect in a man who
spoke in those terms, and lived by that simple credo.
Truth is simple and uncomplicated, whereas lies and distortions are
complex. Truth stands strong and unwavering without artificial
support; lies and propaganda require elaborate schemes and constant
propping up, the mask of deception.
More of us must learn the language of truth; we must be its faithful
guardians, if we are to be valuable citizens in this world, rather
than the useful idiots of empire. By holding truth and justice in
the highest regard, we demonstrate that another world is not only
possible, but highly probable.
As voracious consumers of media, we must be as careful about what we
admit into our minds, as the food we put into our bodies. Food can
nourish and sustain us, or it can produce disease and decay. And so
it is with media.
To date, we have not been very discriminate, and the result is that
we have become a culture of the mentally obese, fed on junk media.
Our minds, our souls, have been deliberately poisoned; our
perceptions twisted and distorted, our humanity abandoned to the
quest for profits and power.
We must purge our minds of junk media and replace it with something
more nutritious, if we favor health over disease. Peace is not
possible without two essential ingredients: truth and justice.
Neither is possible in the absence of the other. We must live as if
truth still matters.
Charles Sullivan is a nature photographer, free-lance writer, and
community activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of
geopolitical West Virginia.
"The ultimate measure of a man is
not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but
where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.
Cowardice asks the question: Is
it safe? Expedience asks the question: Is it politic? Vanity
asks the question: Is it popular? But conscience asks the
question: Is it right?
And a time comes when man must
take a stand that’s neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but
one must take it because it’s right.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
"All Truth Passes Through Three Stages:
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident"
Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 -
"Every truth must be accompanied by some corresponding act."
The Citizens America Party.Org
The Whole Truth