News censorship exposed again

Censored 2006: The Top 25 Censored Stories By Peter Phillips and Project Censored Seven Stories Press, 2005 Softcover, 432 pp., $18.95

Corporate concentration in the news media continues to take a toll. Trivialization of news that blurs the distinction between news and entertainment and under-reporting of serious issues are the trends.

“Censored 2006: The Top 25 Censored Stories” is Project Censored’s examination of the crucial stories that the corporate-owned media ignored or downplayed in 2004-2005.

The stories, coming from a variety of publications, from the British Guardian to Harper’s magazine, address a wide range of issues.

One shocking story dealt with is the Republican Party’s organized fraud in the 2004 presidential elections that the media has not investigated. According BBC’s Greg Palast, 1 million African American votes in 2004 were not counted. The BBC obtained confidential “caging lists” from Republican Party headquarters of thousands of minority voters targeted to prevent them from voting on Election Day.

William Clark suggests that the U.S. has targeted Iran because of its plans to set up its own oil exchange and sell oil for euros by 2006 instead of U.S. dollars. Clark says that Iran’s plans threaten to undermine the U.S. dollar and ultimately its role as a world economic leader.

Mother Jones and several online news publications contend that U.S. security firms in Iraq employ former death squad members from Latin America. Several corporations, including Titan Security, participated in the abuse of prisoners, “including assault and possibly rape” at Abu Ghraib prison.

Two People’s Weekly World stories, one by Dan Margolis outlining U.S. plans to fund opposition groups in North Korea, and another by Phil E. Benjamin reporting plans to privatize health care for military personnel and their families, made the list of Censored 2006 runner-ups.

Censored 2006 also offers original, well researched articles and commentary. Building on Palast’s work, Dennis Loo concludes that “widespread and historic levels of fraud were committed in the 2004 U.S. presidential elections.” He cites as proof exit polls that favored Kerry, tampered paperless electronic voting machines and widespread disenfranchisement of former Black prisoners that distorted elections results.

Another chapter looks at information that the media never followed up on in regards to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and discusses new information that casts doubt on the Bush administration’s version of events. For instance, Pakistan’s military intelligence wired $100,000 to the head of the terrorist cell that destroyed the World Trade Center towers six months before the attack. There is a chapter devoted to the writings of independent Baghdad-based U.S. journalist Dahr Jamail that shows the brutality of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. In one article, Jamail interviews civilians who say U.S. soldiers gunned down fleeing civilians during the U.S. siege of Fallujah and used chemical weapons against combatants.

“Censored 2006” is a well-put-together, informative book that every news junkie should check out. It reinforces the urgency for the left to build a large and diverse alternative media network as a counterforce to the right-wing media empire that prevails in the U.S. and Canada.