The Mind of James Donahue

A Reality Check

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How Controlled Is Our News?
by James Donahue
Ferreting truth from the news we hear and read is getting nearly impossible. The stories, if told at all, are often twisted and censored for mostly political reasons.
Case in point: I wrote a story last spring about 14 graduating high school students that defied a school principal's ruling that they would not wear honor colors with their caps and gowns at graduation. One of the students was the class valedictorian and was called upon to make a traditional graduation speech. He spoke of choices in life. At the conclusion of his talk, he said his choice was to wear his colors. He then reached in his pocket and pulled out the golden cloth. At the same moment, the 13 other graduating FFA members got up from their chairs and did the same thing. With at least half the residents of the town of about 2000 watching, these young men and women embarrased school authority, got their way and graduated without taking punishment.
In the interest of fair and honest journalism I called the school principal for his side of the story. He refused to speak and referred me to the school superintendent. The superintendent spewed a few remarks about youth that "got its way this time." He also spoke of a special meeting of the board of education to set rules and make sure it never happened again.
A few minutes after talking to him, I overheard that superintendent speaking on a voice phone with my publisher. He spoke my name, and demanded that, in the interest of education, the story be killed. My publisher and the superintendent lived in the same town and were social acquaintances, if not personal friends. The story was trashed and I was never given a reasonable explaination.
That's local politics. Think how much more twisted it gets on higher levels.
During the recent power blackout that swept the northeast, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick publicly praised his people for staying calm and not looting the stores. The next day, however, one local television newswoman was in the streets, talking to downtown merchants who complained that they were, indeed, looted. The woman said the looting and vandalism was so massive she couldn't begin to get the whole story. That was the last we ever heard of that issue. It was politically expedient for Mayor Kilpatrick that Detroit remained under control. Thus on the official record, it was.
With these examples of manipulated news to guide you, now follow me into Iraq, where there is little going on that makes common sense and strange stories trickle down via the Internet almost regularly.
Remember Mazen Dana, the award-winning Reuters cameraman that was "accidentally" gunned down by U. S. troops? His brother said Dana was deliberately murdered because he discovered something the military did not want anybody to see.
Nazmi Dana said: "Mazen told me by phone few days before his death that he discovered a mass grave dug by U.S. troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow comrades killed in Iraqi resistance attacks.
"He also told me that he found U.S. troops covered in plastic bags in remote desert areas and he filmed them for a TV program. We are pretty sure that the American forces had killed Mazen knowingly to prevent him from airing his finding," Nazmi said.
Is this true? Then there are many more U.S. casualties in that war than we are led to believe. But how long can the military keep such a black secret?
Now here is the granddaddy of all the strange stories filtering out of that conflict:
Independent filmmaker Patrick Dillon says that he photographed an interview with a high Iraqi official who was at Baghdad Airport just before Baghdad fell. He said he watched as Saddam Hussein and members of his inner circle were evacuated on U. S. Air Force cargo planes.
Would this explain why our military can't officially find Hussein in the rubble of Iraq? But who was in the dictator's inner circle? Certainly it wasn't his sons, or his top military leadership. They are all dead or captured. Aren't they? That is what we are told.
I once projected a theory that Hussein and Osama bin Laden, who both remain uncaptured and at large, are really CIA operatives in the Middle East, and that their mission has always been to stir up trouble when it is convenient for U. S. leadership. Little wars in these countries have generally been easy for our presidents to manage and control. If done right, they assure national unity at home and get presidents re-elected.
A Orwellian 1984 scenario no less.
That sometimes works. But then there is Iraq, as George Bush the senior painfully discovered. His son is getting the message a decade later.
So what do we believe from all of this hodgepodge? You choose. I am staying out of it.

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