In the wake of the government's multi-billion-dollar bailout of the airline industry, Public Citizen has compiled a report showing how airlines used aggressive lobbying and campaign contributions to turn the Federal Aviation Administration into its accomplice as it fought for years to stall, scale back and ignore specific security recommendations made by a 1996 presidential commission.
Propagandist Osama bin Laden has robbed Americans of one of their most cherished liberties -- media freedom. It might be termed blank-check journalism -- the main news media of the United States sign away their right to make judgment calls because of vaguely hinted national security concerns. At the same time that the five major TV news organizations in the United States have agreed to self-censorship, the leaders of 21 journalism groups in the U.S.
According to PR counselor James Lukaszewki, whose clients include major corporations and the U.S. military, "media coverage and terrorism are soul mates--virtually inseparable--they feed off each other... they together create a dance of death." Although the media and terrorists may deplore each other, Lukaszewski observes, both parties provide something the other needs. Terrorists seek publicity, and therefore seek to commit an "act of sufficient magnitude to gain audience attention ...
"The five major television news organizations reached a joint agreement yesterday to follow the suggestion of the White House and abridge any future videotaped statements from Osama bin Laden or his followers to remove language the government considers inflammatory," reports the New York Times.
"Ad after ad and public relations pitch after pitch has tumbled forth in the past month, using moral rectitude and chin-up perseverance to sell everything from cars to fashion to personal services to social outings to home products," writes Ann Gerhart.
"Messrs Bush and Blair may tell the world they are going to win the 'war against terrorism' but in the Middle East, where Osama bin Laden is acquiring almost mythic status among Arabs, they have already lost," writes Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk.
The Onion, a satirical publication which likes to call itself "America's finest news source," has published a clever parody of the current political environment in the United States: "We live in a land governed by plurality of opinion in an open electorate, but we are now under siege by adherents of a fundamentalist, totalitarian belief system that tolerates no dissent," a government official is quoted as saying. "Our most basic American values are threatened by an enemy opposed to everything for which our flag stands.
"Bin Laden is winning the propaganda war," says the Guardian of London. "Of all the time pressures facing Washington and its allies, the daily, upward advancement of Bin Laden towards folk-hero status in the Muslim world is perhaps the most alarming. In political terms, his video disingenuously linking his evil cause with that of Palestine was as potentially devastating as the high-explosive bombs that accompanied its skilfully timed release.
The UK Independent reports, "A senior government 'spin-doctor' was under pressure to resign after seeking to take advantage of the terrorist atrocities in America to 'bury' embarrassing stories." An adviser to the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions sent a memo to senior colleagues saying, "It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors' expenses?" The memo was sent within an hour of the second hijacked plane hitting the World Trade Center. On September 12, a proposal on new expenses for local councillors was released.
University professors across the country have found their freedom to speak about the issues surrounding September 11 hemmed in by incensed students, alumni, and university officials. Academics have been shouted down by critics who say that now isn't the time to say anything that might offend others. At California State University at Chico, a professor who criticized U.S. foreign policy was heckled by students and received an e-mail barrage of hate messages from around the United States.