Fear of Reading: Blowhard versus ‘Bullhorn’

John V. Walsh, August 16, 2014

In the wake of the U.S.-engineered coup in Ukraine, the Western Press warns us solemnly and relentlessly that Vladimir Putin is Beelzebub himself, the leader of a vicious and backward Russia. Such deceit is reckless in the extreme since it puts the U.S. at odds with a nuclear power, one that is far from the weak nation that a condescending and insulting Obama sought to depict in his recent interview with The Economist, debunked here. Of course such lies are not new. In our own lifetimes they have been generated to justify US interventions in Korea, Iran, Guatamala, Cuba, Vietnam, Brazil, Chile, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and the list goes on.

What are we to do in the face of this avalanche of lies? Such deception becomes most intense when directed at the three paramount and enduring enemies in the eyes of the US imperial elite – China, Russia and Iran.

But all is not lost. We now have a plan to combat these falsehoods, thanks to Secretary of State John Kerry whom we in Massachusetts know all too well as a blundering, blustering, bellicose blowhard –and, lest we forget, a nauseating narcissist. The Blowhard recently warned us not to read the Russian outlet RT.com, which he decried as a "bullhorn" for Russian propaganda. I have often heard truth coming over bullhorns on street corner rallies, but I have yet to hear an iota of it from a blowhard – most especially this one.

This leads us to a modest proposal for one’s daily regimen, as bracing as an early morning run. Each day quickly peruse RT.com from Russia, China Daily from China and PressTV from Iran. Or at least look at the headlines – and see whether you want to read more.

As an example, let’s look at the main headlines on RT.com on a random day:

That did not take long even if you did not link to them. And any of those is quite interesting to a peace minded Western reader. Are they true? Read, compare to Western accounts and judge, dear reader. Read and judge – for yourself.

These outlets are an attempt to reach Westerners, especially Americans, and to provide facts we may not know of and interpretations not available to us. You may say, why should we substitute one set of lies for another? But, dear reader, does that not assume that the "other" is always deceiving us? And is that not in turn a subtle form of American "exceptionalism"? That is, the US may be no better than the "other" but it can never, ever be worse. The "other" is always as bad or worse. (This view is often found on the ultra-left, where it is disguised as a quest for "real, true democracy" or world socialism or world communism, etc. If the US is imperialist, then China must also be imperialist, for example; China cannot be better than the West.)

And if a major war breaks out because we did not lend an ear to these voices asking for out attention, would that not be a tragedy of enormous proportions?

Unfortunately not only is the Western intelligentsia reluctant to turn to other voices; but when they do, they keep it secret. They rarely quote those sources. Rather they will hunt high and low to find similar reports from Western media if they can be found. But there is a drawback to that strategy. Inevitably in these reports from the West, for example the BBC, Reuters etc, the news is embedded firmly in the matrix of the Western narrative, which among other things treats Western flaws as isolated instances which might need fixing but flaws elsewhere as evidence of a profoundly systemic disorder.

Western radicals, Left and Right, also fear for their credibility should they quote "the other." But if there is merit in what the outlets from the other side say, then part of the job of education is to bestow on these other outlets the respect and credibility they deserve. Failure to cite when citation is merited is a kind of lie in and of itself. It is a very subtle way of saying that the truth can only appear in Western media. In short it is a trap, a sure way to shut out elements of the truth, a dead end.

Let me tell you what this reader has found out about China Daily, RT.com and PressTV over the years.

China Daily. China Daily takes on a dual task. It seeks to provide a look at what daily life is like in China – so there is a lot of coverage of Pandas, scenery and Chinese beauties. But the paper also gives the facts on international issues, commercial and political, and the Chinese take on them, most especially those that involve both the US and China. You will also find discussions of the battle against corruption, pollution and inequality in China, principal concerns of the Chinese people. So it is a "warts and all" sort of presentation. And do not worry if a wart is missed; it will be reported in considerable detail in the NYT and NPR. In fact warts will even be concocted in those outlets where there are none, as for example "the massacre in Tiananmen Square of thousands or even tens of thousands, a fiction rebutted in detail here. I have found the news reporting in China Daily to be quite accurate over the years. One has to scroll down farther to get into opinion pieces, which give a good idea of China policy – "win-win," "peaceful rising" and the rest. (If you prefer to get to them more quickly and in concentrated form, then Peoples Daily might be your cup of tea.)

RT.com. RT.com adopts a different approach. It turns over more often than once a day and is focused on countering anti-Russian reporting coming from the West. Its news is quite accurate and it is quick to combat misinformation that comes out of the Pentagon or State Department. (Hence John Kerry’s peevishness over it.) It is much more combative, although in a defensive way, than China Daily. On the Ukraine no sooner does the US government put out its latest lie, than the Russian government rebuts it; and the rebuttal is presented in detail, clearly and with some dry wit in RT.com. (The weakness of RT.com is that it does not seek to depict daily life in Russia. That is important because part of demonization is to depict the official enemies as different from normal human beings. So in my opinion RT is only doing part of its job.)

PressTV. On to PressTV.com, the Iranian outlet, also reliable for the most part in its news coverage and often insightful about the struggle of the Palestinians against Israeli Apartheid. Here again some devotion to coverage of daily life in Iran would be welcome. This is crucial since the Iranians have the dual burden of being the paramount enemy of the US and also being Muslim.

The comments above take into account only the news reporting. On the opinion articles, China Daily is far and away the best, with high quality pieces coming from China or from China Daily reporters in the US RT.com has some good opinion pieces but also some weak ones. They can do better. The same for PressTV.

But do not take my word for it. Log on, look in and compare to the NYT, NPR, BBC etc. Then decide for yourself. What could possibly be more independent of mind, what more contrary to the herd instinct? And you can also have the satisfaction of defying that blustering blowhard, John Kerry, his boss and his minions.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com . He writes for Antiwar.com, Unz Review, CounterPunch.com and DissidentVoice.org.




14 Responses to “Fear of Reading: Blowhard versus ‘Bullhorn’”

  1. The cause of "deep political crisis" in Ukraine actually began with interference by Western countries. Victoria Nuland admitted the US administration spent $5 billion to force a regime change in Ukraine. The radical ultra-nationalist neo Nazi's have become a tool in the implementation of the anti-constitutional coup.

    The militia's that go to murder the ethnic Russians in the east are not regular Ukraine army, they are Right Sector militia's. These militia's are attempting to cleanse the east of ethnic Russians, hence Right Sector and Svoboda party members being in charge.

    Svoboda and Right Sector are fascist neo Nazi right wing organisations. This is where the US $5 billion went to, to fuel the orange revolution and to force a regime change in Ukraine, US administration are psychopaths.

    It is time for the US administration to start telling the truth. US government has become a tyranny. We have met the enemy and it is US

  2. Good article. With the total capitulation of The Economist to the neocons, it is more necessary than ever to read international reports directly.

  3. Why do we buy into lie after lie after lie? Because we're an aggressive, warlike culture, always looking for an opportunity to attack other nations, the weaker the better. All of the lessons that Obama should have learned from Bush's follies were tossed by the wayside because Obama wants to appear as macho as Bush.

  4. That happened more than 10 years ago though. I remember "A Just And Necessary War" about Afghanistan and "Why War Would Be Justified" about Iraq after titles like "Now Reel Saddam In" and permanent fearmongering about Iran. Course the Putin demonization during the Georgian altercation in 2008 was the last straw.

  5. Whatever verbal excuse one wants to formulate to trumpet Putin's innocence and general saintly beneficence, actions speak infinitely louder – current and former.

    And why does everyone who feels they must formulate such love letters, for either Putin or Obama's puss, immediately presume that any critique of their childish guff is another partisan putting a defence for someone else?

    Why can it not just be someone pointing out the respective ugly home-truths of all sides?

    Are people incapable of taking a neutral position and observing?

    Why are we constantly encouraged, or rather being bullied or argues and slanted as 'pressure' to take a single side or view, and then adopt or develop a dismal hardline rhetorical BS pile, to hold the party-line against all observations and actions, and eternally excuse anything at all?

    This is not maturity, it is not adult, it is not intelligent, it is not informed and it is not sane.

    I reserve the right to reject all sides and to adjust my view as I see fit and to use only my own thinking at all times and to resist any and all authoritarian voices, bullying or pressure tactics, and pay attention and to events, and not jump to conclusions, in fact, to not make any conclusions at all, for conclusions are entirely unnecessary when you don't close your mind.

    So, how are you going to make me group-think a particular 'sides' vies now?

    Or regard one to be more Holy, or right, than another side? Why would I excuse or praise any side? How is your enervating stupid propaganda going to get a grip on my being, to use my mind like so much abused and hate-filled toilet paper screaming to kill the other side?

    I can just laugh at you, I can parody you, I can point out you silliness, but best of all I can completely ignore everything you claim or seek to poison civil discussion with

    Partisans are losers, they will always be losers, they cause everyone who goes along with them to lose as well.

    Whatever trick you want to slide past everyone to stampede your captured minds into war I'm not having any of it.

    I cordially invite you to get stuffed.

  6. What makes the Economist neocon orientation even worst is that it it is used to indoctrinate future foreign service officers for the U.S. Department of State. It is on the list of suggested sources for studying for the foreign service exam. This test is the first step in becoming a foreign service office. I tried to to read the Economist, but I can't stand the neocon crap, and the comment section is even worst. I find the the knowledge of the Economist magazine to be very shallow. I never met a conflict that it didn't want the U.S to get involved in. Also they never apologize for being wrong on Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The moment I realized this about the Economist was in 2007 when I red an Article in that magazine about how great the democracy in the Iraqi parliament in Iraq was. Since I have a background in the middle east, I knew things were actually very bad in Iraq. The people didn't have basic necessities and the violence. The Iraqi parliament was and still is very disfunctional, and actually did very little for the Iraqi people, so it was galling to read a puff piece on it.

    I apologize for the rant, but the Economist sticks in my craw.

  7. Yes, for those of us who read it 25 years ago, the loss of even the pretense of evenhandedness is maddening.

  8. I think Putin is better than Obama. I don't think he is good. Just better. Why is it so hard for you to admit that the US is evil. That other countries seen as backwards have something more to offer than the US does. You seem to take great offense that some people would dare declare that some other country than the US has some value to it.

  9. the problem is not who is good and who is bad.
    but one of these leaders has consistently made statements that align very well with the facts,
    while the other's seem to be based wholly upon fantasy.

  10. What. Element. Said.

    Or as Mercutio, in Romeo and Juliet, said more pithily:

    "A plague on both your houses!"

  11. Of course the USA is evil.

    It's composed of humans, isn't it?

  12. I guess you didn't get the bit where I said Partisans are losers.

  13. Capital is Sauron, and Uncle Sam the Lord of the Nazgul, but unlike in Tolkien's mythos, there are no good guys. The global adversaries of Capital are so many Sarumans (Sarumen?). They are not nice people, either. They just insist on being evil for their own benefits, rather than working as glorified flunkies for the Big Bad Boss.

  14. The corporate controlled MSM has become so dysfunctional that it is a fantasy to believe that we still have a free press. Anyone who can actually think for themselves should be able to see through the transparent lies that it mindlessly vomits out. All reporters working for it, save a few, should be ashamed to call themselves journalists.

    On my TV selection, the only world news worth watching is Al Jazeera. CSPAN, at least on rare occasions, does cover some more controversial topics. FSTV's Democracy Now is OK, but it is far too left wing for my taste. Other than that, I can't think of any other news worth watching. For any readers who haven't watched it on YouTube, RT's "Cross Talk" is the best news analysis show I've seen, even if it is a little biased. Without the internet, the US police state would be complete.