By Keith Johnson
What little credibility the mainstream media may have had left is slowly beginning to disintegrate as more journalists step forward to expose the widespread corruption and government collusion that exists within every major news outlet in the United States.
In a very telling article that appeared in the July 15 edition of The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters readily admits that most news organizations have become little more than propagandists for the political elite, even going so far as to grant government officials and candidates “veto power” over statements and quotes attributed to them on the printed page.
“It was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly,” writes Peters. “Organizations like Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all consented to interviews under such terms.”
In July, veteran news reporter Andrea Seabrook left National Public Radio (NPR) after 14 frustrating years working under similar conditions that exist within the realm of broadcast journalism. During a recent interview with Politico, Seabrook stated: “…I feel like I am, as a reporter in the Capitol, lied to every day, all day. There is so little genuine discussion going on with the reporters. … To me, as a reporter, everything is spin.”
Media self-censorship throughout Washington D.C., and on the campaign trail, is just the tip of the iceberg. In a powerful new expose appearing in The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald reveals how one powerful news outlet manipulated the public’s perceptions about a major world event in order to pacify their political allies and protect their own corporate interests.
The subject of Greenwald’s story is Amber Lyon, a three-time Emmy award-winning journalist who challenged the rampant self-censorship she witnessed while working as a foreign news correspondent for CNN.
AMERICAN FREE PRESS recently caught up with Lyon to discuss the Greenwald piece and the high price she’s paid for taking on a media giant.
“It’s a really big deal when someone from my profession comes out against these media companies,” says Lyon. “So I had to wait for the right time.”
For Lyon, that time came shortly after she returned from Bahrain, where CNN had sent her in March of 2011 to help produce a documentary on the Arab Spring. Although she was originally assigned to investigate the various Internet technologies used by pro-democracy activists, the conscience-driven Lyon soon felt compelled to focus her reporting on the violent oppression she witnessed at the hands of the brutal U.S.-backed regime.
“The tipping point for me was watching things deteriorate in Bahrain, and knowing that the situation there is highly influenced and dependent on the ability of the U.S. press to report accurately on that story,” says Lyon.
Over the course of the next several days, Lyon and her crew proceeded to document the regime’s atrocities. She interviewed alleged torture victims, family members whose loved ones have gone missing, and government officials attempting to justify their violent response to peaceful activists. In addition, Lyon also captured provocative video footage of government forces making mass arrests and firing on unarmed civilians.
On June 19, 2011, CNN aired the documentary, entitled “iRevolution,” exclusively to a U.S. audience. However, despite critical acclaim and calls for a wider release, CNN has refused to air a repeat or broadcast the program overseas through its CNN international (CNNi) outlet.
That’s when Lyon joined with other supporters in pressuring CNN to come clean, a decision that ultimately led to a falling out with her superiors.
When asked what motivation CNN might have in suppressing her documentary, Lyon points to Glenn Greenwald’s latest piece in The Guardian, entitled “CNN and the business of state-sponsored television.” According to Lyon, “[Greenwald] found out that the Bahraini Economic Development Board was actually advertising on CNN and paying for [state-] sponsored programming. So basically, viewers are led to believe they’re watching something produced by the most trusted name in news, when all they’re really getting is an infomercial for some third-world dictator.”
Although Lyon is one of the few journalists to step forward, she insists that her story is not unique. “There are many journalists out there complaining, but few are taking action,” she says.
Aside from the obvious fear of losing their jobs, Lyon goes on to say that most mainstream journalists remain silent because they have allowed themselves to be intimidated by the government.
“The Obama administration is criminalizing journalism and tightening the leash around the necks of investigative reporters all across the country,” Lyon explains. “I felt that at CNN. I was constantly hearing from our legal department on how the Obama administration has gone after more journalists than any other president in history. We had stories that I wanted to do but couldn’t because they were considered to be too high of a risk.”
In March of 2012, Lyon was laid off by CNN and will likely find it hard to land a job with the mainstream media. “When you take on CNN, you’re taking on Time Warner,” says Lyon “which effectively eliminates the possibility of working for Time Magazine, HBO or any one of their many affiliates.”
But Lyon has no regrets. “As the saying goes, ‘I’d rather die with the truth than live a lie.’”
Keith Johnson in an investigative journalist and creator of the Revolt of the Plebs.