"Into the Buzzsaw. Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press" The
Revised and Expanded Edition
Do we have a "free press" or just the illusion of one?
After reading the much awaited revised and expanded "Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press," you'll have all the information you need -- from journalists themselves -- that theoretically we have the ability to have a free press. The problem, however, is that the most powerful sectors of the media -- television, radio and newspapers -- act more like the old Soviet self-censoring press than a media that reports on the truth necessary to engage in the public discourse necessary to a democracy.
The phrase "into the buzzsaw" is a journalistic expression for how stories eventually become censored or altered to the point that they reflect an official viewpoint, rather than the facts or investigative findings that expose possible deceptions in the "official viewpoint." After a time, only the most intrepid journalist will take on the powers that be, because they know that their careers (and high salaries) will suffer the wrath of General Electric (owner of NBC), Viacom (owner of CBS), Disney (owner of ABC), Time Warner (owner of CNN), Rupert Murdoch (owner of FOX NEWS), etc., etc. Not to mention news writers for papers like the Washington Post and New York Times, who have yet to do one serious long-term investigative piece on the chronic lying and misdeeds of the Bush Administration between them. Whatever their editorial policies, they hold their news writers on a very short leash, only allowing the occasional revelation of Bush deception or misdeeds, without continued follow-up and a sustained effort at providing news context.
Basically, nearly the entire American mainstream media has gone into the buzzsaw. And in this book, the likes of Dan Rather, Ashleigh Banfield, Greg Palast and media reform advocate Robert McChesney are among the many who have spoken out about the demise of journalism as a medium seeking the truth behind the official governmental version of the news.
Kristina Borjesson, editor of this courageous, book was an award winning producer at CNN, CBS, and PBS, before she ran into the buzzsaw with her investigative reporting on the mysterious "disintegration" of TWA Flight 800 while flying off of Long Island. She got canned for providing potential proof of a "conspiracy theory," the term used to dismiss theories at odds with official government policies or "findings." Are some conspiracy theories whacko? Sure. But many government findings are conspiracy theories or deceptions, just wrapped in official documents. Isn't it the role of the press to look at alternative evidence to government pronouncements? Apparently not.
Among the many fine essays, the harrowing experience of Gary Webb in reporting on the reaction to his three-part series for the San Jose Mercury News, suggesting that the CIA, Nicaraguan (Contra) agents, and LA gangs were intertwined in bringing crack cocaine to South Central Los Angeles during the Reagan administration. Despite the fact that the Mercury News had initially shown the courage to run the stories in 1996 (which is eons ago since the transformation of journalism into a tacit arm of the Republican Party), a few months later they "apologized" for the series. Two years later the CIA and Justice Department, according to Webb, printed an official report that, in essence, stipulated to Webb's factual charges, but just interpreted them differently.
Webb's journalistic career fell apart after he left the Mercury News to protest their "apology."
In December of this year (2004), Gary Webb committed suicide.
Webb closes his chapter in "Into the Buzzsaw" with the following quotation: "Back in 1938, when fascism was sweeping Europe, legendary investigative reporter George Seldes observed in his book, 'The Lords of the Press,' that 'it is possible to fool all the people all the time -- when government and press cooperate.' Unfortunately, we have reached that point.'"
Gary Webb ran into the buzzsaw.
God be with him.