It's getting harder and harder to turn back to CBC/ABC/NBC/CBS, CNN, or even BBC after watching the English version of Al Jazeera for a few weeks.
It's not so much the news casts at the top of each hour, although they are a breath of fresh air too. It's the in-depth follow-through documentaries that run from the bottom of each hour that remind us of what journalism used to be like when the news could be bad, yet the reports reassuring in their honesty. Fault Lines, Witness, The Vault, Inside Story, Empire, People and Power, The Rageh Omaar Report, 101 East, Riz Khan's One-on-One.
The only program I can't bear to watch is "Inside Iraq". The host is irritating, obnoxious and shrill to the point of blocking out any meaningful content from the invited guests. (Note: the female anchor of the last two weeks seems an improvement, perhaps even an over correction. She's a little too bland. Not sure whether she is permanent or merely convering for an absence.)
Either way, a week's exposure to AJE will leave you in a state of shock on discovering all the stuff our broadcasters leave out. It's as if a veil were lifted (pardon the horrible pun) to reveal the lies and misinformation we are routinely fed.
I could illustrate the point with examples from each of the above programs covering issues from Iran to East Timor, from Myanmar to Afghanistan, climate, energy, finance, food and pharmaceuticals, from Beijing to Mumbai, then London and finally back to Washington again. Like a fish who remains oblivious to water until it lands on the angler's hook, you would feel like you'd been pulled out into air and then released back into the water again, wondering, "What the hell was that?!"
The most revealing of all is AJE's coverage of the press itself. That is my passion. That is what, in our western media, keeps me burning inside.
It isn't any one incident. It isn't the embroidery. It isn't just the suface assertions we get from our own broadcasters. The shock of a week waching AJE is the devastating contrast between it and the all pervasive fabric of lies about the rest of the world that our own northern media sell us on behalf of their political and commercial sponsors.
How much time have you spent over the last week listening to accounts of Shirley Sherrod being fired? Endless streams about what the NAACP said, what the USDA said, what Barrack Obama is imagined to have said.
None, I repeat, none examined in detail what Ms. Sherrod had actually said or compared it to what the neocon attack dogs said she had said. Not a single mainstream press outlet in all of North America transcribed the two versions, mounted them side by side on the same page, added bright clear highlighting to show the differences, and demonstrated exactly where the liars had altered Ms. Sherrod's speech.
Instead, the very programs that are supposed to critique the media and hold them to a higher standard proceeded to commit the same treason of ommision themselves. With insufferably self-exculpatory tones of tut-tut and oh-my-gosh, they castigated the USDA, the NAACP and the White House for not going to the source, for not exposing the deceivers.
In other words, these mainstream media critics did exactly the same thing themselves!
Neither Howard Kurtz with his clique of like-minded word merchants on CNN's 'Reliable Sources' nor Noel Sheppard billing himself as a 'News Buster' in his 'Media Research Center' bothered to detail the actual crime. Not even the usually reliable Huffington Post. They were too preoccupied with reposting ad nauseam the likes of Naim Saban's vitriol against Oliver Stone.
No, Euro-America's vaunted media critics did nothing but repeat the sin of ommission they decried in everyone else.They diverted our attention onto derivative incidents, onto circus performers and talking heads, and completely avoided the root cause. The details of what Shirley Sherrod had actually said and the treasonous agenda of the GOP and neocon warriors who edited her into saying something else, were neither emphasized nor explicitly examined.
And in that omission, you have the sine qua non of No We Can't, Never Under Obama, and Siempre Nada, the dreary anthems of the GOP armies and their barely arms length Rush-to-the-Tea-Party-Limbaugh logic vandals.
And why, you might ask, would all these media dilittentes so determinedly avoid covering this root cause?
Because it is the very basis of the entire Euro-American and northern hemispheric media cabal that they do it every day on behalf of their stakeholding business sponsors and they are terrified that we, the great unwashed electorate and consuming public might wake up to how deeply we have been betrayed.
Pick your topic of choice. Any one will do. Public option health insurance, the role of nuclear technology in electricity production, our disappearing aquifers (water tables), the looming water-related violence coming soon to a city near you and, above all, compound interest gathering on debt that is keeping the world's working and middle class people in a state of perpetual employment anxiety in order to perpetuate macro-economic deception.
The mainstream democratic public square in which we are supposed to be able to talk to each other honestly is now broken at its core, poisoned with the bias of its criminally self-centered corporate stakeholders. Howard Kurtz and his carefully chosen little clique of pretend analysts are only rhetorical whores hired to divert our attention away from the underlying deceit into the circus of talking heads and soap suds.
There was a time when I might have expected more of Frank Sesno.
Now I can only recommend AJE's "The Listening Post", hosted by Richard Gizbert, as a partial antidote and urge you to supplement your reading with social media rooted in alternate points of view.
AJE is available in North America over the Internet through Livestation. You can safely download the free Livestation Desktop Player as there is zero garbage attached. Then simply add AJE to your carousel of available channels. There is also a free Wifi App on the Apple iPod and iPad. Finally, if you are lucky, AJE might be available through your cable TV provider, such as Ch 516 on Bell Expressvu in Canada.
If you have any residual doubts about the legitimacy of AJE or wonder about the integrity of those who try to dissuade you from it, I strongly recommend listening to this discussion with its Managing Editor, Tony Burman.