Covert Propaganda

For those of you so inclined: Take a look at any one of the six reports and editorials that follow. Each of them deals with the Bush Administration’s use of phony “journalists” as fronts to spread administration-friendly propaganda to the American public under the cover of “news.”

And Now, the Counterfeit News,” Editorial, New York Times, March 16, 2005 (as posted by Truthout)
Viewer Beware,” Editorial, Washington Post, March 16, 2005 (as posted by Truthout)
Justice: Propaganda Is A-OK,” Eric Boehlert, Salon.com, March 16, 2005 (as posted by Truthout)

Department of Education–No Child Left Behind Newspaper Article” (B-306349), U.S. Government Accountability Office, September 30, 2005

GAO Faults Faked Reports,” T. Christian Miller, Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2005
Buying of News by Bush’s Aides Is Rules Illegal,” Robert Pear, New York Times, October 1, 2005
GAO Issues Mixed Ruling on Payments to Columnists,” Christopher Lee, Washington Post, October 1, 2005

“Covert propaganda” is how the Government Accountability Office (GAO—though any use of the term “accountability” with reference to the White House reeks of covert propaganda) describes the Department of Education’s hiring of the grossly mislabeled “conservative” talk show host Armstrong Williams to ”convey a message to the public on behalf of the government, without disclosing to the public that the messengers were acting on the government’s behalf and in return for the payment of public funds,” here quoting the GAO.

(Quick aside. Where the quote immediately above says ‘government’, read Bush Administration instead. This is because the Bush Administration most assuredly does not employ “covert propaganda” to promote the interests of the U.S. Government. Much less the interests of American citizens—elite U.S. citizens aside, that is. Rather, the Bush Administration employs covert propaganda to attack the U.S. Government and to attack the interests of U.S. citizens. The distinction is not a trivial one. Indeed. Respecting it makes all the difference in the world.)

To give you an inkling of how committed to deceiving and defrauding the American public the Bush Administration is, this morning’s New York Times reported that

In March, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said that federal agencies did not have to acknowledge their role in producing television news segments if they were factual. The inspector general of the Education Department recently reiterated that position.

But the accountability office said on Friday: ”The failure of an agency to identify itself as the source of a prepackaged news story misleads the viewing public by encouraging the audience to believe that the broadcasting news organization developed the information. The prepackaged news stories are purposefully designed to be indistinguishable from news segments broadcast to the public. When the television viewing public does not know that the stories they watched on television news programs about the government were in fact prepared by the government, the stories are, in this sense, no longer purely factual. The essential fact of attribution is missing.”

This is the practice that both the Justice and Education departments earlier this year had ruled A-OK—”procur[ing] favorable commentary in violation of the publicity or propaganda prohibition,” again quoting the GAO. Within establishment circles, for every pimp a dozen whores.

Still. We need to remember that this is just one extremely narrow case: The Department of Education and Armstrong Williams. Imagine what the actual scale of the Bush Administration’s whole panoply of “covert propaganda” campaigns against us must be, given its hard-core criminality, and its desire to remain above the law even when resorting to serial wars of aggression, violations of international law, the threat or use of force, and the various scams that it uses to sell tax cuts for the wealthiest decile of U.S. society, to bilk Social Security, and the like. When a government—in the case at hand, the Executive branch of the U.S. Government—undertakes “covert propaganda” against its own citizens, it does so for one reason, and one only: Because it regards the citizens of the country as its enemies, and because it is convinced that in order to have its way with them, it first must deceive them. This really is nothing more than Political Science 101, if you think about it, even if the American system has taken it to an unprecedented level of sophistication. Shock and awe may be expressed by the establishment media whenever their gullibility in the face of officially-sourced lies is exposed—as when in late May, 2004, the editorial voice of the New York Times expressed its regret that in the run-up to the Bush Administration’s war over Iraq, The Times had published all of those fake news reports about Baghdad’s “weapons of mass destruction” and “ties” to the perpetrators of September 11, thus lending credibility to the Administration’s propaganda. (The Mother of All Lies, the historical record will show.) But the sense of outrage just as quickly dissipates. The next round of officially-sourced lies that invariably succeeds the previous round does so without a whimper. For every Armstrong Williams who wakes up in a dumpster one fine day, dozens of Judith Millers get rehabilitated.

I bother to rehearse the foregoing material (which I can repeat in my sleep, I assure you) for two reasons.

First, for the very important lesson that it teaches us about the contempt and fear with which the Bush Administration regards us all (most of us, anyway)—a lesson that we ought to be happy to learn, and never tire of repeating. Remember: If your government regards you as somebody whom it needs to deceive in order to have its way with you, then your government regards you as its enemy. Therefore, your government is just as much your enemy as you are its. Such a government lacks legitimacy. You owe it absolutely no loyalty whatsoever.

Second, for the very local and idiosyncratic reason that with the Chicago White Sox’ triumph in the American League Central Division this past Thursday, September 29, I noticed that the Chicago-area media once again allowed the White Sox’ P.R. machine to trot out a fellow named Dan Galligani, a.k.a. “The Get-Up Guy,” as its example of the true White Sox fan—Galligani being the same loud-mouthed windbag that the local media helped the White Sox’ P.R. machine trot out during the Sox’ last division-winning season, in 2000.

We ought to treat all mentions of this corked-bat known as “The Get-Up Guy” exactly as we’d treat Armstrong Williams (and the non-numb-skulled among us treat the New York Times as well): Not as a true fan. Not as the Sox’ “unofficial head cheerleader.” But as a covert propaganda campaign by the White Sox organization—an organization that holds its fans in such contempt and fear that the only way it can engage them is through fraud and deception, fabricating “Get-Up Guys” to pawn-off to the local media, because it can’t stomach the real thing.

Historically, it has been the custom around sporting events that a team’s official mascot looks and dresses like a mascot, rather than a regular person. For example, the Chicago White Sox organization employs a mascot called “South Paw,” and “South Paw” looks like, well, a mascot. No one would mistake “South Paw” for a regular person.

But now, with their A.L. Central Division championship in the books, the White Sox have resuscitated their covert mascot from the 2000 season: “The Get-Up Guy.” Except that this mascot wears civilian clothes—that of the long-suffering White Sox fan, available for media interviews and profiles, and guaranteed to say the right things. Played by a fellow named Dan Galligani, this “Get-Up Guy” is to real White Sox fans what Armstrong Williams was to real journalists (if you can find any, these days): A fake.

But just because the real-fan-fearing White Sox organization seeks to procure favorable commentary by giving the local media “The Get-Up Guy” in place of real fans does not mean that the local media are obligated to go along with it. To rewrite the GAO’s criticisms of the Bush Administration: The Chicago media’s failure to identify Dan Galligani, “The Get-Up Guy,” as an instance of prepackaged fandom misleads the public by encouraging them to believe that “The Get-Up Guy” is a real fan. But prepackaged “fans” such as this Galligani are designed to be indistinguishable from real fans. When news stories portray “fans” like “The Get-Up Guy” as something other than prepackaged or covert propaganda, prepared by the White Sox organization for this purpose, these news stories are not in the least factual—any more than they are factual, when the covert propaganda originates inside the White House.

“The essential fact of attribution is missing,” in the GAO’s words. In actual fact, they are sourcing the White Sox P.R. department. One of the team’s mascots. Even if he dresses in civilian clothes.

Toned-down Get Up Guy is still driven,” Phil Arvia, Daily Southtown, October 2, 2005

Postscript (October 3): For a largely dishonest article by Chicago’s most influential news organization, about an event in the city’s not-too-distant past that deserves to be recollected with more candor and decency than the Chicago Tribune can muster—Major League Baseball’s use of the State of Illinois to force the state’s taxpayers to build U.S. Cellular Field, the stadium where the Chicago White Sox play:

It’s U.S. Insular Field,” John Bebow, Chicago Tribune (Sect. 1, p. 1), October 3, 2005

During the period that the White Sox’ managing general partner Jerry Reinsdorf threatened to move the White Sox franchise out of state, unless the State agreed to build the new stadium for his sports property (ca. 1985 – June 30, 1988, when the Illinois General Assembly adopted the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority Act), the Chicago Tribune used its editorial page and some of its urban reporters (none more so than the “developer”-friendly John McCarron, who has since gone on to edit the Trib‘s Business pages and, ultimately, join its Editorial Board) to lobby for the destruction of Chicago’s South Armour Square neighborhood, and to relocate its residents—”urban renewal” in the classic American sense of clearing out a poor black area and turning over their land to rich white people for some other kind of use. (Can you say “upscale” development, as the ideological literature likes to describe it? Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago: 1940-1960, Arnold R. Hirsch, 2nd Ed., University of Chicago Press, 1998.)

Now. Read the appallingly inadequate account of this by the Chicago Tribune:

When plans for a new White Sox stadium were announced in the late 1980s, the project threatened to consume Wentworth Gardens, a public housing project just south of the stadium where low-income African-Americans have lived since just after World War II. In the end, the stadium was built and Wentworth Gardens was untouched, but dozens of private homes and many businesses were razed. By some estimates, up to 300 jobs were lost.

“Our whole community has been interrupted, disrupted, and destroyed,” Miss Amey concluded then, before perfecting the art of neighborly negotiation.

Sox officials softened the opposition to the new stadium through good works–and Miss Amey’s urgings. Players and team employees built playgrounds, planted landscaping, donated thousands of dollars worth of gifts for holidays and back-to-school celebrations, and spent $120,000 a year on a public housing Little League.

The White Sox also donated food and drink and a luxury box overlooking left field for Miss Amey’s big night at the ballpark….

You see what I mean? Not a single word about the destruction of the South Armour Square neighborhood, which once stood exactly where the footprint of U.S. Cellular Field now stands, but was razed and its residents relocated—quite unlike Wentworth Gardens to its south, a testament to the White Sox’ “good works,” in the Tribune‘s version of local history.

Still. Here are two separate passages that do shine a more honest light on the scene around U.S. Cellular Field:

The courtyard buildings of Wentworth Gardens sit two blocks south of the stadium, and the project’s several hundred residents are all but out of sight to Sox fans. Police along the streets bordering the CHA site strictly enforce a ban on vendors. Some public housing residents gain “day of game” janitorial work inside U.S. Cellular Field, but otherwise there is no coordinated job-outreach program in the neighborhood.

Still, there is a street trade for those who can avoid the police.


Bursts of fireworks usually flash several times a week above the Abbott School parking lot, bathing it momentarily in tones of green, red and purple when the Sox hit home runs. As a child, Omar Bowman stood on that pavement with a bat in his hand and could hear the stadium organ and the rallying claps of the fans at the old Comiskey Park. Bowman and his Wentworth Gardens friends liked to play pickup baseball games when the Sox were at home. In the most perfect moments, Bowman would knock pitches onto Princeton Avenue–home runs, according to the pickup rules–and circle the bases under the fireworks set off to celebrate the Sox sluggers’ round-trippers.

Now, Bowman’s mother lives at 37th and Princeton, in the public housing unit closest to the ballpark gates. On game nights, cars parade by, some containing businessmen still in their neckties, bound for the fenced-off baseball parking lots just beyond Wentworth Gardens. Two blocks farther west, beyond the railroad tracks, residents crowd into pricey new Bridgeport condos.

Some nice contrasts here between the two Chicagoes. Indeed, the two Americas.

As for all of the anecdotes about the White Sox’ largesse in dealing with their neighbors south of U.S. Cellular Field? Something tells me that over the years, Jerry Reinsdorf and his partners have been far more liberal in taking than in giving.

The State builds sports playgrounds for its wealthiest citizens, while abandoning its poorest citizens to the crumbs that fall from the tables of their rich—and richly subsidized—neighbors. (When the State isn’t enforcing its ban on street vendors around U.S. Cellular Field, that is. Or deploying its armed forces to patrol the streets of New Orleans. Along with a sizeable contingent of mercenaries.)

So what happens to a dream deferred?

A certain amount of nothing. A certain amount of impotence.

It ought to explode.

Letters to the Chicago Tribune

Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto, 1890-1920, Allan H. Spear, University of Chicago Press, 1967
Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago: 1940-1960, Arnold R. Hirsch, 2nd. Ed., University of Chicago Press, 1998
American Apartheid : Segregation and the Making of the Underclass, Douglass S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, Harvard University Press, 1998

Rising Values,” Kimbriell Kelly, Chicago Reporter, July/August, 2005
Rapid Change,” Amy Rainey and Whitney Woodward, Chicago Reporter, July/August, 2005
Mortgage Explosion,” Chicago Reporter, July/August, 2005
Neighborhood Transformations,” Chicago Reporter, July/August, 2005

Postscript (October 18): Permit me to take you on a quick tour of the Chicago-area Sportsworld, and show you how it works.—Okay?

Chairman of the Adored: Reinsdorf basks in another title run,” Melissa Isaacson, Chicago Tribune, October 18, 2005
Priceless?” Courtney Greve, Daily Southtown, October 18, 2005

For those fans who were dying to purchase a ticket to one of the Chicago White Sox’ home games in the upcoming World Series, it was good news all around. Prior to the cut-off time Tuesday morning, they could “guarantee a seat for any of the four World Series games scheduled at U.S. Cellular Field by putting down a deposit on 2006 Sox season tickets,” a press release announced Monday.

Always an angle, these owners.

But it’s the first of these reports that I’d like you to take a close look at.

Recounting the professional sports history of the Chicago White Sox and Bulls managing general partner Jerry Reinsdorf since that day back in January, 1981, when the “44-year-old whiz kid tax attorney and real estate mogul” acquired the White Sox, the Tribune reports:

Over the next quarter-century, Reinsdorf would buy controlling interest of the Bulls in 1985; preside over the unpopular firings of Sox manager Tony La Russa and Bulls coach Doug Collins; nearly move the Sox to Florida; alienate baseball fans for his perceived role in the 1994 strike; make the infamous “White Flag trade” in ’97 and be cast in the lead role of the “Two Jerrys,” the ongoing saga of Reinsdorf and Krause, forever linked as the villains responsible for the breakup of the Bulls’ dynasty.

In everything that precedes or follows this paragraph, the Trib cites not a single source that does anything but speak favorably about Jerry Reinsdorf.

Expunged from the record is Reinsdorf’s disastrous Balcor real-estate scheme of the 1980s. Not one word about the literally tens-of-thousands (and likely more) of retirees who swallowed Reinsdorf’s sales pitches about the “Social Security system [appearing] to be in great jeopardy,” and Reinsdorf’s promise that they would enjoy a “more secure retirement future” if they entrusted their retirements to him.

Instead, all that the Tribune acknowledges is that, “Twenty-three years after selling Balcor, the real estate investment firm he founded, for a reported $104 million to American Express, Reinsdorf is still a partner of Robert Judelson’s in Bojer Financial Ltd., a land investment company.”

Nothing can mar the financial genius that is Jerry Reinsdorf. Not the hundreds-of-millions of dollars that the black-hole that was Balcor sucked out of the books of Shearson Lehman Brothers, Shearson having been the dupe unto whom Reinsdorf unloaded his Balcor turkey in the mid-Eighties. Certainly not the retirees for whom Reinsdorf’s old promise of “current benefits, security of principal and future growth” crashed right along with the toxic Balcor by 1990.

Ditto for the Trib‘s treatment of Jerry Reinsdorf’s involvement in the so-called “collusion conspiracy” of the mid-1980s, when Major League Baseball’s owners were determined to have illegally colluded for at least three consecutive seasons to rig the free-agent market and to deny the free movement of ballplayers when their contracts with their clubs expired; for the Trib‘s treatment of Jerry Reindorf’s threat to move the White Sox out of state unless the taxpayers financed a new stadium for him; for the Trib‘s treatment of Jerry Reinsdorf’s principal role in the firing of Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent on Labor Day, 1992, and the disastrous decision to eliminate an independent Commissioner’s office altogether, and to replace it with a regime that openly caters to the interests of the owners as a class, rather than Baseball, much less the fans; and for the Trib‘s treatment of Jerry Reinsdorf’s principal role in the cancellation of the 1994 Baseball season after two-thirds of it had been played, Reinsdorf taking the hardest of hard-line positions among the owners.

Instead silence. Or, at best, evasions.

However, for anyone paying close attention, there was one important passage in the Trib‘s story:

Reinsdorf and Einhorn relied on Gov. Jim Thompson, an old Northwestern Law School buddy, to help convince legislators to fund a new stadium for the White Sox when the old Comiskey Park became structurally unsound.

“He said, `Look, I’m behind you, I’m with you. But you’re going to have to make people think you’re going to move if you’re going to get a stadium,’” Reinsdorf recalled. “We said `We don’t want to play that game,’ but eventually it wasn’t a game, we were ready to move because we had no place to play. But Thompson was right, it was the threat of the move, the fear of the move, that ended up getting the stadium for us.”

It was also when Jerry Reinsdorf officially became a bad guy.

Reinsdorf recalled the news conference, held to show how with Comiskey Park crumbling the Sox needed a new stadium.

“In the early years, I thought I should be available to the media at all times and I should always tell the truth,” he said. “Nobody wanted to believe us [about Comiskey]. What we should have done was leak it to the media … then there would be a clamoring for a new ballpark and it wouldn’t be our idea.”

To repeat it once more: Jerry Reinsdorf has gone on-the-record with the claim (not for the first time, either) that former Illinois Governor James Thompson advised him, “‘Look, I’m behind you, I’m with you. But you’re going to have to make people think you’re going to move if you’re going to get a stadium’.”

Now. In a decent society, Jerry Reinsdorf with these very words would have just hoisted himself (along with a former Governor of the State of Illinois) on his own petard.

But in contemporary Chicago, this passage closes with Reinsdorf lamenting instead that his problem has always been that he was too truthful with the fans and the news media—a grotesque parody of self-exculpation if ever there were one. And one that maybe one-out-of-every-one-hundred readers will catch.

As with most things in the human world (i.e., on the order of 99-point-something percent of them, anyway, my experience has been) Jerry Reinsdorf’s genius rises or falls according to the how many games each of his two sports properties wins.

Just between ourselves: I’ve always dreamed of how a Milton or, especially, a Dante would handle the corruptions of the Sportsworld, including its legions of flatterers, and Jerry Reinsdorf’s unique place within it.

Suggestions are welcomed.

The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, Trans. James Finn Cotter, State University of New York – Stony Brook
Milton, John, 1608-1674. The Online Books Page, University of Pennsylvania
Paradise Lost (1674 Ed.), John Milton

(As one of the old-time Chicago sportswriters told me, White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf used to be lavish in the $$$$$ he’d toss at those reporters involved in covering his sports properties. The moral? Covert propaganda here. Covert propaganda there. Covert propaganda everywhere. So beware.)

Postscript (October 18): For another beautiful example of covert propaganda in action, see the short article from the October 17 New York Daily News (reproduced below). Still. Can’t help but wonder how widespread this technique really is? Essentially, it differs not in the least from what a newspaper such as the New York Times and the establishment media more generally have been doing for decades—or else there never could have been a Manufacturing Consent. The notorious current case of the Times‘s “weapons-of-mass-destruction” conduit, Judith Miller, standing out, of course. For every $$$$$ and the chance to be famous, a thousand whores.

Daily News (New York)
October 17, 2005 Monday

Who knew that the multibillion-dollar U.S. pharmaceutical industry was so keen on publishing pulp fiction?

In a tale worthy of a zany Washington satire – except for the lamentable fact that it’s true – the rich and powerful pharmaceutical lobby secretly commissioned a thriller novel whose aim was to scare the living daylights out of folks who might want to buy cheap drugs from Canada.

When the project fell through in July, I’m told the drug lobby offered $100,000 to the co-authors and publisher in a vain effort to sweep it under the rug.

Talk about thinking outside the box!

“This is the most outrageous example of deception and duplicity on the part of a Washington lobby in the history of the country,” said Capitol Hill denizen Jeff Weaver, chief of staff to Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a diehard foe of the pharmaceutical industry.

Drug-lobby mouthpiece Ken Johnson, executive vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, acknowledged the hare-brained scheme but shifted blame.

“We did not commission a book,” Johnson argued. “The idea was brought to us by an outside consultant. We explored it, provided some background information … but in the final analysis, decided it wasn’t the right thing for us to do.”

I’m told that Mark Barondess, a well-known divorce lawyer in Washington, D.C., was the so-called outside consultant and approached L.A.-based Phoenix Books with the novel idea.

Phoenix honcho Michael Viner, who happens to be Barondess’ publisher, struck a six-figure deal. I’m told PhRMA made at least one payment to Phoenix.

Viner declined comment, and Barondess didn’t respond to my detailed message.

Work began in April, after Viner hired veteran ghostwriter Julie Chrystyn. Her story concerned a Croatian terrorist cell that uses Canadian Web sites to murder millions of unwitting Americans looking for cut-rate pharmaceuticals.

PhRMA has vigorously fought all efforts to legalize the purchase of cheap drugs from Canada. Even though the lobby has found some success, the underground business still takes an estimated $1 billion in annual profits from American drug behemoths.

Chrystyn titled her thriller-in-progress “The Spivak Conspiracy,” an homage to her friend Kenin Spivak, an L.A. telecomm entrepreneur and onetime Hollywood exec.

Spivak said he became Chrystyn’s co-writer after she delivered the first 50 pages, and PhRMA made several editorial suggestions.

“They said they wanted it somewhat dumbed down for women, with a lot more fluff in it, and more about the wife of the head Croatian terrorist, who is a former Miss Mexico,” Spivak told me.

Apparently, women are among the most loyal buyers of Canadian drugs.

“They also wanted to change the motivating factor of the terrorists to greed, because they didn’t want it to be politics,” Spivak said. “They wanted lots of people to die.”

Spivak told me that since PhRMA pulled out – and he and his colleagues rejected the lobby’s offer of $100,000 to kill the project – he and Chrystyn have finished a revised version, “The Karasik Conspiracy,” due early next year.

Postscript (October 19): What follows surely ranks among the Top Ten All-Time performances by the New York Times‘s justly embattled reporter, Judith Miller.

Interviewed on the noxious FOX News Network the very day the first interim report on Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” was released by the Iraq Survey Group (and for the final report, see Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, Charles Duelfer et al., September 30, 2004), FOX News’s John Gibson was beside himself with dismay over the fact that the liberators of Iraq had yet to unearth Saddam’s Doomsday Bomb—which surely must be there, buried somewhere, after all.

But as Miller—who some twelve months earlier had even served as one of The Oprah Winfrey Show‘s guest “experts” on the subject of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” (along with the Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Pollack, who has since traded in his red cape over the threatening storm in Iraq for a yellow cape over those mysterious Persians to the east (Oct. 9, 2002))—counseled Gibson:

We have reported, and I’ve co-written some of those stories, that while they haven’t found evidence of actual weapons, they have found evidence, both of programs, of intent to restart programs, just as soon as the inspectors were out of the country….There are many damming things in David Kay’s interim report. And the administration is hoping that the public will focus on those things as opposed to the lack of actual weapons. But, remember, why did we go to war? We went to war because the American people were persuaded that what Saddam Hussein had posed a clear and imminent threat to the United states and its allies. And that’s the standard of proof ultimately for the administration.

Too bad that winning at Black Jack and Roulette requires no higher standards of proof than Miller was still willing to cut the regime in Washington, some 24 months ago, and more than half-a-year into its criminal and globally disastrous seizure of the sovereign state of Iraq.

On top of which, she blamed it all on the American people. On what committed propagandists such as Judith Miller and her prestigious employer and virtually all of the American media had persuaded their enemies back in the Homeland to believe about the “clear and imminent threat” that Baghdad posed “to the United States and its allies.” Unless the Americans invaded.

As Miller explained to Michael Massing in an interview for his important New York Review of Books analysis of Miller’s and her colleagues at the Times‘s pre-war complicity in advancing the regime’s case for invading Iraq (“Now They Tell Us,” Feb. 26, 2004):

[M]y job isn’t to assess the government’s information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq’s arsenal.

To which Massing tendered only this as his reply: “Many journalists would disagree with this; instead, they would consider offering an independent evaluation of official claims one of their chief responsibilities.”

Let her fry, I say. One less conduit for official U.S. and Israeli government lies masquerading as “news,” the better.

Judy Miller’s War,” Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch, August 18, 2003
Some Notes on Current Reporting About Judith Miller,” Sam Husseini, CounterPunch, October 15 – 16, 2005
Judith Miller, the Fourth Estate and the Warfare State,” Norman Solomon, CounterPunch, October 17, 2005
Judy Miller’s Reporting: A Cancer on the New York Times?” Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post, October 17, 2005

Fox News Network
October 3, 2003 Friday
Transcript # 100305cb.263
HEADLINE: Interview with “The New York Times’” Judith Miller
GUESTS: Judith Miller
BYLINE: John Gibson

GIBSON: As we have been reporting, the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is taking longer than hoped for and part of the blame may lie with the Iraqi survey group. There are charges that the group is inefficient or worse. Earlier, I spoke to “New York Times” reporter Judith Miller and asked her are the weapons inspectors doing the right thing?


JUDITH MILLER, “NEW YORK TIMES”: That was today’s big question. Well, I think finally, John, they are doing exactly the right thing. Perhaps they’re not doing enough over there, but they’re not doing it fast enough, but as David Kay said today in a telephone conversation with several reporters it’s a big country where there is lots of places to hide. People are still shooting at them. It’s extremely difficult to work there. There is not exactly a telephone directory where they can look up the names of general so-and-so who used to work in the chemical weapons program. They have to scour the country, hostile parts of the country, looking for the individuals to interrogate. So, he says that’s why it’s taking so long.

GIBSON: Right. But without attacking David Kay and I don’t mean to do that, they seem to be very slow off the mark. They’re spending all this time putting their buildings in and their air conditioning and getting their computers set up, and they appear to be actually not going out to look, but waiting for information to then go out and follow up on.

MILLER: Well, I think there has been some of that because a lot of the experts themselves are contractors. They are private, sometimes civilian individuals, who say, look, I’m not paid to go out and get myself shot. The XTF, the Exploitation Task Force, which I was embedded, had a very different attitude and they kind of went everywhere. But these are different folks and the conditions are different, and it took them a while to set up. Really it took them over a month to kind of get the infrastructure that they felt comfortable with in place before they actually started to do some serious weapons hunting, according to my sources.

GIBSON: Now on David Kay’s report that we now have seen or we’ve seen parts of, do you think that they’re making any progress? Are they finding the things that the United States government was counting on finding?

MILLER: Well, look, I think clearly the administration is disappointed that David Kay came back with a no smoking gun yet. And, of course, administration officials are emphasizing the “yet.” But I think what senators who heard David Kay, what they are saying is, my gosh, maybe this stuff really isn’t there. So, they’re now asking a whole set of different questions, like if there weren’t weapons of mass destruction there, how could our intelligence have been so wrong? Or did the administration cherry pick or distort intelligence? I remember watching Senator Pat Roberts come out of that hearing yesterday. He is the Kansas Republican who’s supposed to represent the administration. And he said to them, I am not pleased by what I heard and that’s what he said to us, too. So, clearly, you know, the administration has a public relations problem here.

GIBSON: Right. But Dr. Kay did say, and I’m reading the quote now, we’ve discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the U.N. during the inspections that began in late 2002, in the run-up to the war. Why is that statement being characterized as “We haven’t found anything?”

MILLER: well, it is not — I don’t think it has been characterized that way, certainly not in the “New York Times.” We have reported, and I’ve co-written some of those stories, that while they haven’t found evidence of actual weapons, they have found evidence, both of programs, of intent to restart programs, just as soon as the inspectors were out of the country. And they’ve found active purchasing and things that should have been disclosed to the inspectors and weren’t disclosed and repeated violations of the resolutions that Iraq signed. So, yes, you’re absolutely right.

There are many damming things in David Kay’s interim report. And the administration is hoping that the public will focus on those things as opposed to the lack of actual weapons. But, remember, why did we go to war? We went to war because the American people were persuaded that what Saddam Hussein had posed a clear and imminent threat to the United states and its allies. And that’s the standard of proof ultimately for the administration. Did they have reason to believe that was so? Did the intelligence before the war show that was so? And these are difficult questions and those are the questions that David Kay is now grappling with.

GIBSON: Judith, before I let you go, David Kay is counting on spending another $600 million, has already spent $300 million. Where is all that money going?

MILLER: I know that we as reporters will continue pressing to find out because I think that is information that the public has a right to know. I can tell you, John, when I was there, I know the budget for the XTF was $300 million. And it is really hard to imagine how my little group spent $300 million because we certainly didn’t eat that much food or burn that much fuel.

GIBSON: Judith Miller of the “New York Times.” Judith, thank you very much.

MILLER: Thank you.

GIBSON: And still ahead on THE BIG STORY, our California candidate of the day, one who’s showing some real numbers, Tom McClintock, the state senator will explain why he is staying in the race and why so many fellow Republicans want him out.

Postscript (October 22): For yet another example of covert propaganda in action, see:

Reinsdorf’s Little Secret: Even Enemies Like Him,” Murray Chass, New York Times, October 22, 2005

Covert propaganda, you will recall from above, was the phrase used by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in its September 30 finding that “materials produced by or at the direction of the government that fail to identify the government as the source of the materials constitute covert propaganda,” and that the regime currently occupying the White House has resorted to this practice in trying to promote its god-awful No Child Left Behind policies through stooge-like “journalists” such as Armstrong Williams. Though to be perfectly honest, the whole New York Times – Judith Miller -”weapons of mass destruction” thing is 1000-times-over a better example of how this business really works in the postlapsarian world.

Makes me wonder whether even the New York Times‘s sportswriters have worked in the already-vast, yet exponentially-growing, field of psychological operations during wartime?

You know. Psych-Ops. Black-Ops. And the like.

They sure are torturing me.

Postscript (October 27): With the Chicago White Sox’ unceremonious sweep of the Houston Astros in the 2005 World Series, and with the FOX Network’s TV ratings even lower than projected for the four evenings that FOX pre-empted its regular programming to broadcast the ballgames (Oct. 22, 23, 25, and 26), Associated Press is now reporting today that (“Fox Asks White Sox To Play Yankees For ‘Real World Championship’,” Oct. 27):

In a historic development in the 2005 Major League Baseball postseason, Fox executives announced that the Chicago White Sox, who defeated the Houston Astros in four games after a 1-0 victory Wednesday, must now play the New York Yankees in the best-of-seven ‘Real World Series’ beginning Saturday night at 8 p.m., in order to determine the actual world champions. “The White Sox must complete one final challenge before they may be crowned true champions,” Fox president Peter Liguori announced over Minute Maid Park’s PA system, interrupting the White Sox’s celebration. “The Yankees are the keepers of the Real World Series trophy, and in order to win it, the White Sox must travel to New York and beat Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and the other formidable, marketable stars who await their arrival.” Liguori added that, in the event that the White Sox decline the challenge, the Red Sox have been scheduled to stand in for them.

Such a decision strikes me as unprecedented.

But—should we be surprised? After all, the FOX Network is the FOX Network. In the final analysis, it not only makes sense—it makes perfect sense for FOX to demand that Major League Baseball schedule a Supplemental World Series beginning as early as this Saturday. And that if the White Sox decline to play the Yankees, then some other opponent be designated to play them. Preferably another large-market, East Coast team, like the Red Sox.

Postscript (November 2): This morning’s Chicago Tribune published the following letter:

Replace `the Cell’
Noe Sym
Published November 2, 2005

Chicago — Let’s face it, after millions of dollars of renovations and a renaming, Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field is still only a mediocre (at best) place to see a ballgame.

It’s not going to get better with age. It’s not going to gain character.

Its soul-less aura isn’t going away no matter how many seats are eliminated or how many new “attractions” are added. It’s really only a matter of time before it gets torn down.

What with all the truly great architectural gifts this city has been given of late, such as Millennium Park, and now the impetus of the first White Sox World Series win in 88 years behind them, now more than ever would be the perfect opportunity to strike and to give Sox fans and residents of Chicago everywhere a structure they can proud of.

What is needed is something they can grow old with and be proud to bring their grandchildren to decades from now.

I am a Bridgeport resident and my only specific suggestion: build it so that home plate is over the location of old Comiskey Park’s. It would be a great touch.

What impells me to reproduce this letter here is my impression that, in calling for a new stadium to be built on behalf of Major League Baseball’s new World Series Champion, the Chicago White Sox, the letter looks like a plant by the Chicago White Sox themselves (or some other similarly interested party), using the individual who signed the letter as their cover. You know what I mean. Like “weapons of mass destruction” propaganda. Only Major League Baseball. After all, hasn’t the Bush regime’s former White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, now moved on to become—of all things!—a “consultant” to Baseball?

I strongly suggest that everyone compare the analysis that the U.S. Government Accountability Office produced in late September, about the Bush regime’s use of “journalists” as a way of disseminating what the GAO called “covert propaganda“—the whole point of the current blog.

The Business of Baseball
Society for American Baseball Research

Postscript (November 11):

Government Reform Releases Report on Committee Investigation into Rafael Palmeiro Testimony,” Statement by Chairman Rep. Tom Davis, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, November 10, 2005
Report on Investigation Into Rafael Palmeiro’s March 17, 2005 Testimony Before the Committee on Government Reform, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, November 10, 2005

Report doubts Palmeiro: Ex-Oriole’s steroid defense undercut; clubhouse ‘a mess’,” Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun, November 11, 2005
Report Finds No Evidence of Perjury by Palmeiro,” Richard Sandomir, New York Times, November 11, 2005
Baseball’s Palmeiro won’t face perjury charges,” Edward Epstein, San Francisco Chronicle, November 11, 2005
Congress Declines to Prosecute Palmeiro for Perjury,” Jorge Arangure Jr., Washington Post, November 11, 2005

By the way, the November 11 New York Times – online posted its report on the House Committee findings along with the following image:

Associated Press Online
November 10, 2005 Thursday 11:52 PM Eastern Time
HEADLINE: A Glance at House Report on Palmeiro
BYLINE: The Associated Press

A brief look at some of the findings in the House Government Reform Committee’s report on whether former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro committed perjury:

-When Palmeiro testified under oath before the committee March 17, he said: “Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids. Period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never.”

-In May, Palmeiro took a Major League Baseball drug test and tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol. He was suspended for 10 days in August.

-When Palmeiro initially was told he had failed a steroid test, he was asked by the players union if there was a substance he might have taken by accident. Palmeiro didn’t mention then what he later raised as a possible explanation for the positive test: a possibly tainted vial of vitamin B-12 received from a teammate with the Baltimore Orioles (Miguel Tejada).

-Palmeiro said his wife, Lynn, injected him with the B-12, explaining she knew how to use a syringe because she gave the family dogs allergy shots. The vial of B-12 was thrown out and never tested.

-The union attorney representing Palmeiro at an arbitration hearing about his suspension didn’t put forth a defense based on the B-12. In closing arguments, attorney Michael Weiner said: “The players association does not contend that the B-12 shot that Mr. Palmeiro took caused his positive test result. We have no evidence to suggest that. As a matter of fact, all of the evidence that exists runs in the other direction.” Weiner declined a request for comment from The Associated Press on Thursday.

-Asked during the arbitration hearing if he believed his positive test was a result of taking the B-12, Palmeiro responded, “I don’t know that, no.”

-Asked by congressional investigators about Weiner’s closing argument, Palmeiro said: “I disagree with what he is saying. He is speaking on the players association behalf; but I feel that the B-12 was probably the thing that might have done it. I could not prove it.” He also told investigators: “My best guess would be the B-12. Now, I may be wrong. It could be something else. But if I have to guess, if I have to pinpoint something, that is the logical thing.”

-Palmeiro took a polygraph test June 13, ahead of his arbitration hearing, and was asked, “Did you unknowingly receive a B-12 supplement that contained a steroid?” He answered, “Yes.” He never was asked whether he took steroids.

The Associated Press
November 10, 2005, Thursday, BC cycle
SECTION: Sports News; Washington Dateline
HEADLINE: Palmeiro’s statement on positive drug test

Rafael Palmeiro’s statement Wednesday on his positive drug test:

Since I was informed last May that I tested positive for steroids, I have fully cooperated with Major League Baseball and Congress in their respective inquiries into this matter. I have done so because I have nothing to hide. I am grateful to Chairman Tom Davis, Congressman Henry Waxman and their respective staffs for the fairness and professionalism with which they have conducted their investigation.

Now that the House Government Reform Committee is finishing its work, I will address the facts as I have always said I wanted to do. Everything I have been working for all my life – to play the game that I love with dignity and earn the respect and admiration of my colleagues and fans – has been changed by my suspension. For this, I alone take full responsibility.

I have never intentionally taken steroids. But I must also acknowledge that Stanozolol, a banned substance, was found in my system in May. Although I do not know how this substance came into my body, it is possible that a shot of vitamin B12 I took sometime in April might have been the cause. Under questioning by the Major League Player’s Association – the player’s union – I had to reveal the details of how I got the possibly tainted B12 and then had to testify about the facts of this case under oath. I have never implicated any player in the intentional use or distribution of steroids, or any other illegal substance, in any interview or testimony.

I am not trying to hold others responsible. I was careless in not seeking a doctor’s advice and made a foolish mistake. Nobody is more frustrated and disappointed in me than I am. Throughout my adult life, I have worked very hard on and off the field to live my life in an honorable way.

All my accomplishments are now tainted, and many people have been hurt. I deeply regret the pain I have caused my family, my teammates, my fans and the game of baseball. I am sorry for the distraction that I have caused to the Orioles clubhouse and the League.

I remain opposed to the use of steroids by athletes. I hope others find a lesson to be learned in my experience and I will do my part to teach it.

Postscript (December 6):

Under the category of neither overt nor covert, but bathetic propaganda, I hereby file the following factoid:

You’ve all heard of Oprah Winfrey—a figure so heavily fetishized that at this stage, there is virtually no way of differentiating between the celebrity icon and any real flesh and blood human person who may or who may not share certain features with the icon (i.e., name, body, financial portfolio, and the like). (For a tiny bit more on the American phenomenon, see “Oprah shouldn’t expect Letterman-like moment here,” Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times, Dec. 6.)

Anyway. I’ve taken a quick look (i.e., maybe five or ten minutes worth of effort) at the publishing history of O Magazine, since its first issue appeared back in May/June, 2000.

Presumably, some of you already know what I’m about to tell you. But I believe it bears repeating.

Okay then.—

Since the May/June 2000 issue, O Magazine has published a total of 66 different issues (i.e., through the December, 2005 issue, which is just on the newstands now).

Of these 66 issues of O Magazine, Oprah Winfrey placed herself on the cover of all 66 of them!

Yes. You’ve read me right. The image of Oprah Winfrey has appeared on no less than 100 percent of the issues of O Magazine ever to have been published. (Or 66 covers out of the 66 issues of O Magazine to have been published to date.)

Here. See for yourselves:

O Magazine: 2000
O Magazine: 2001
O Magazine: 2002
O Magazine: 2003
O Magazine: 2004
O Magazine: 2005

Now. I’ve often joked with friends about where else in human history we might turn to find a comparable case of (self-) idolatry and totalitarian (self-) promotion of the Deity.

For example, did Caligula or Nero publish a monthly magazine named in their honor?

Genghis Khan? Ivan The Terrible? Louis the XIV? Josef Stalin?

Perhaps some other potentate?

Still. You catch my drift, I think.

These Americans! What world-historical disgraces!

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