Blair Wasn't An Exception
revelations that a New York Times reporter
invented quotes, fabricated facts and flat-out lied in dozens
– if not hundreds – of his stories hardly come as a surprise
to a jaded Balkans observer. Lying journalists, fallacious
newspapers and severely biased TV coverage are all old news
in Belgrade, Sarajevo and Zagreb, even if Washington and New
York claim to be shocked.
hard to pinpoint when exactly the supposedly objective reporting
became crass propaganda. Perhaps a milestone could be the
coming-out of "advocacy journalism" during the Bosnian
war. It amounts to nothing more than lying for a cause, a
dream come true for social-engineering
types and governments. It used to be that people believed
the press existed to keep the government in check. Those times
are long gone. The media today are at best an ineffectual
foil for governments or, more often, their faithful servant.
the role of the media in Balkan conflicts has been mentioned
here before, a second look shows that nothing has changed
since. From ignoring the important news in Serbia to trumpeting
nonsense in Bosnia, from avoiding the truth in Kosovo to misreporting
the Milosevic trial, most reports about the Balkans are hardly
better than lies Jayson Blair told. Had the fabrication-prone
Times reporter covered this corner of the world, he
not only would not have been fired, but would most likely
have won a Pulitzer and a pseudo-government
Scandals, and Theirs
so long ago, Western press was abuzz over the scandalous
allegations that Serbian and Bosnian Serb companies sold weapons
and repaired engines for the Iraqi military. The exact extent
of the alleged trade remained dubious, and after the political
purges the scandal was intended
to justify were accomplished, the scandal faded into oblivion.
A far more real affair has surfaced
just recently, implicating the new Serbian government
in a vast sugar-smuggling scheme that abused EU agricultural
subsidies. Western media attention? Zero.
government subsidies is just bad form in the Brave New World.
Besides, the Serbian regime is now obedient and politically
correct, so any wrongdoing on its part must be suppressed.
End of story.
would think the media would at least care about themselves,
condemning the targeting
of journalists and restrictions of free speech, but no
such luck. It is easy to justify the bombing of Hotel Palestine
after one's endorsed the destruction of Serbian television,
simply because it dared question the Official Truth of the
Empire. So what if the new, Empire-friendly Serbian government
a newspaper and forcibly closed its publishing house?
As long as the Powers that Be approve of their cause, just
about anything goes. The paper is dismissed as a "tabloid"
that suffered from "poor journalism," as if that
excuses a ban on thought of a certain kind.
there it is, a triumph of envy over solidarity, expediency
over principles, and most of all, ignorance over truth. And
it's a pattern seen across the board.
In The Key Of 'D'Oh!'
similar practice of ignoring the obvious is at work in Bosnia,
this time compounded with the fact that it is probably one
of the most misconstrued and misrepresented parts of the Balkans.
Getting a straight story from a reporter on anything related
to Bosnia, from its origins to the present situation, is almost
impossible, even when they don't commit acts of sheer stupidity.
example, on May 10 AFP broke a story that a "top official"
of the Bosnian Serb Republic accused
the police and the military of that entity of sheltering and
aiding suspected war criminals. Just so no one misses the
significance, this was the "first top government official"
to make such an accusation. Breaking news, indeed.
it wasn't. The official in question was a Muslim, holder of
a token office created by the Imperial viceroy last
year in an effort to enforce political correctness through
ethnic quotas. He is a member of the ruling Muslim party,
and was just following its policy of denouncing the Serb Republic
at every opportunity. AFP reporters and editors should have
been aware of this, if they've been paying attention to events
in Bosnia since last March. But they only saw the title of
"Vice President" and the instant credibility of
a government official.
desire to lend credence to politically correct accusations,
Agence France-Presse trumpeted something so utterly yawn-worthy
as a Bosnian Muslim denouncing Bosnian Serbs. D'oh!
it comes to media reports, Bosnia may be the reigning champion
of confusion, but Kosovo beats it for sheer deliberate ignorance.
The occupied Serbian province still has Serbs in it? Who knew!
the past four years, during NATO's occupation, over
100 churches were destroyed by Albanian militants. None were
ever caught, or tried, or punished. And if they were, the
media sure didn't mention it. Most churches were destroyed
without any media coverage. When there is a report, the headline
usually says "Church blown up," as if it happened
spontaneously, and never even suggesting the well-known identity
of the perpetrators. Why, the press practically had to be
dragged into reporting that Kosovo's viceroy declared the
latest KLA manifestation a "terrorist
organization." Just as an example, the Washington
Post buried the news in a footnote on Page
17, when it was announced in April.
just can't have Albanians going around being terrorists, not
when their "salvation" from The Evil Serbs needs
to be invoked
by Imperial officials as a justification for wars of conquest.
over the US Institute of Peace rewarding a NGO for peace efforts
in "Rahovec." In truth, the surviving Serbs of Orahovac
are in a virtual
concentration camp, tormented by both their Albanian neighbors
and the occupying NATO troops. The situation has been so bad,
even a prominent Serb supporter of the Empire felt compelled
to say that NATO's actions effectively "pardoned
any crime against members of ethnic minorities."
But according to Reuters, USIP and the rewarded NGO, everything's
because the supposed guardians of decency are either silent
or lying, Kosovo's viceroy Michael Steiner can get away with
that he's making Kosovo into a "beacon for the rule of
law," and other such nonsense. Were it not for a handful
clerics and stubborn remaining Serbs, the truth about
Kosovo would have been completely extinguished long ago.
Evidence… of Precisely Nothing
it comes to fabricating or misreporting news, covering Slobodan
Milosevic's show trial at The Hague Inquisition is an old
favorite. Just this past weekend, the London Observer
the Inquisition had "direct" and "firm"
evidence of Milosevic's responsibility for atrocities in Croatia
and Bosnia. What was this stunning new evidence? The Observer
didn't say, mentioning only that it was contained in the
testimonies of the late warlord Arkan's former secretary,
and the owner of a casino where Milosevic and his officials
had drinks once. Then it goes on to cite exuberant statements
of former Head Inquisitor Richard Goldstone.
as always, is more complicated. What little of her testimony
appeared in the press indicates that Arkan's secretary heard
of events between 1990 and 1994 from her colleagues. And
her claim that Arkan's men never took any prisoners was a
personal interpretation. The casino owner mentioned in
his testimony that Mile Isakov, currently deputy Prime Minister
of Serbia, was an agent of the Serbian State Security, prompting
Isakov to challenge his credibility.
will demand that the Tribunal remove the protection measures
for Witness C-48, so we could judicially establish who recommended
him for such a performance and instructed him to utter the
fabrications he pronounced there," Isakov told Serbian
papers on Tuesday.
Richard Goldstone was a leading apologist for NATO, first
as the leading
ICTY prosecutor, then as co-chair of an "independent"
suggesting the independence of Kosovo. It is obviously in
Goldstone's best interest to advocate a certain outcome of
the Milosevic trial, which makes his selection as the Observer's
chosen authority on war crimes indicative of the story's purpose.
there – a set of unsubstantiated assertions, a false claim
of firm evidence, and more than half the story comprised of
gloating statements by a NATO apologist posing as a dispassionate
observer. But it gets worse, as the story was then cribbed
(without acknowledgment!) by a London-based "independent"
journalist, Gwynne Dyer. He even quotes the same Goldstone
statement, and commits several factual errors, in a piece
aimed at glorifying
the "martyrdom" of slain Serbian PM Zoran Djindjic.
Orgy of Lying
are certainly other examples of media shenanigans than the
widespread Blairage they've practiced in the Balkans. The
reporting from Iraq comes to mind. Libertarian commentator
Ilana Mercer has a word for those gleeful shills for government
Balkans tabloid publishers know something when they put graphic
nudes on their covers.
of all, this orgy of lying is pretty much voluntary. It is
a choice. Why else has there not been a single challenge in
the mainstream press to the patently offensive lies and fabrications
those very same papers and TV stations have peddled about
the Balkans conflicts? Oh sure, a snippet of reality escapes
now and then through the storm of lies, semi-lies and half-truths
we're constantly pelted with, but those exceptions only reaffirm
the rule. Is the reverence for Official Truth so strong, that
people believe their own lies?
at the behest of governments and policymakers, or simply driven
by "advocacy journalists" and fame-hunters devoid
of integrity and honor, the fact remains that the media have
created a perception of Balkans conflicts that has prevented
both their understanding and resolution.
this is "history's
first draft," we badly need a rewrite.
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