I’m reminded by Hogarth, writing in today’s South African Sunday Times that in the 1970s, when the CIA wanted to spread propaganda, they’d plant a story in the foreign press. The U.S. media would then pick it up, et voila! News. It worked well with the (as far as we know, utterly baseless) story that Cuban soldiers were raping women in Angola, which was picked up by the Guardian, New York Times and Washington Post.
So here’s something to file under ‘second time as farce’. The British press, including The Grauniad, is up in arms. So is the Middle and Far Eastern media. There’s a bit of a storm about the contents of a leaked memo in which Tony Blair talks Bush out of bombing Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar. Google news collects the coverage. But here’s a thing. There’s not a sniff of this story in the U.S. media.
Far from being appalled that their colleagues would be executed by their commander in chief, the U.S. news seems almost patriotically mute. Nothing in the New York Times, Washington Post or Los Angeles Times. MSNBC carries a Financial Times version of the story, and CNN.com nods towards it too. And there’s an “Unconfirmed Sources (Satire)” link that, in broadening the story to the bombing of NPR, CBS and CNN, is neither as dark nor as comic as the triangulations of the Ministry of Defence and Pentagon.
But for Al-Jazeera’s journalists, solidarity from their U.S. colleagues looks like it’ll have to wait.
Which reminds me. If you’ve not yet seen Control Room, do. Buy the DVD for the out-takes. They’re harrowing, and many of them really ought to have made it into the final cut.