In a stunning departure from mainstream media orthodoxy, Matt Taibbi wrote an article for Rolling Stone about Trump’s announced pullout from Syria that rebuked the never-ending and bipartisan clamor for war. Instead of going along with the establishment punditry and echoing the talking points of arm chair generals, Taibbi methodically took apart the case for our continued presence in Syria. In a display of courage that is sorely lacking in our supposed “free-press”, he detailed the appalling costs of war—the human toll and the financial waste—which have been deftly hidden by industries that profit from the proliferation of bombs and bullets.
Too many Americans have been shielded from the horrors that are unleashed by the military-financial complex. The bloody reality of riddled bodies and shattered lives has been sanitized by propagandists who put on the guise of reporters—human suffering hidden by euphemisms, technology and distance. Taibbi made it his intention to speak against these distortions that are purveyed by professional dissimulators who commit journalistic malpractice on a regular basis. From the outset, Taibbi brings to light the lunacy of the perpetual “War on Terror” that has done everything to perpetuate terror while making us less safe.
“What’s the War on Terror death count by now, a half-million? How much have we spent, $5 trillion? Five-and-a-half? For that cost, we’ve destabilized the region to the point of abject chaos, inspired millions of Muslims to hate us, and torn up the Geneva Convention and half the Constitution in pursuit of policies like torture, kidnapping, assassination-by-robot and warrantless detention.”
One thing that is rarely debated among the manufactured drama between Democrats and Republicans is the wisdom of spending trillions of dollars on blowing up people overseas and assuming that we can kill our way to peace on earth. There is a convergence between both parties in their obsequiousness to the industries of death; this fact was made evident this week when politicians and pundits set their hair on fire the minute Trump announced his attention to pull out of Syria.
What was truly refreshing about Taibbi’s article is that he did not revert to demographic driven narratives that have become mainstays of corporate journalism. CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and their peers in mainstream media report “news” through the filter of market segmentation; they identify their “core audience” and then cater to that base. It’s more business than journalism, speaking truth to power has taken a back seat to revenue growth and maximizing profit. Taibbi (@mtaibbi) disregarded the convention of fabricated conflict and instead laid bare the hidden agendas that are at the intersection of big government, big business and big media. Click To Tweet
More importantly, Tiabi masterfully exposed the abject hypocrisy that is at the epicenter of the “war by all means” caucus. Using a mix of irony and harsh truths, he eviscerated the rational for permanent combat that has been pushed by politicos and pundits across the ideological spectrum. I’m referring to the war vultures who insist on being therapists after they finish being the abusers. Where duplicity is found in abundance, one must dispense with decorum. Taibbi does not bite his tongue, he lashes into feckless war hawks who have no problem sending others to their early graves while they lead cheers and tweet from behind.
“The departure of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — a standard-issue Pentagon toady who’s never met an unending failure of a military engagement he didn’t like and whose resignation letter is now being celebrated as inspirational literature on the order of the Gettysburg Address or a lost epic by Auden or Eliot — sounded an emergency bell for all these clowns.”
As I noted earlier, all too often, mainstream media journalists make it their practice to report “news” to specific audiences. As such, they play into the “us versus them” divides that have ruptured our government, disfigured the “fourth estate” and splintered society into a wasteland of political cliques. Taibbi’s article was a breath of fresh air for this reason, he chose to speak truth to all powers instead of uttering mealy-mouth half-truths. He gave credit to Trump where he deserved it while rightly calling out his unhinged incoherence, he also wrote about Russia without reverting to the “red scare” hysteria that is being pressed by some on the left.
“If there’s any country in the world that equals us in its ability to botch an occupation and get run out on a bloody rail after squandering piles of treasure, it’s Russia. They may even be better at it than us. We can ask the Afghans about that on our way out of there.”
For far too long, we have been treated to a one-sided debate about the wisdom of war and the need for continued bloodshed in the name of security. Even when voices have risen who professed to diverge from the dogma of death, they eventually proved to be chimeras who just knew how to sell false hopes and change. Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump; the faces in DC transform but the policies of warfare stays the same. What is true of political leaders is equally true of mainstream journalists, too many are vested in the status quo and are loath to risk their access by questioning the establishment.
I have been a frequent critic of mainstream media over the years as I witness the erosion of an institution that is truly the last line of defense between freedom and tyranny. It has been disheartening to witness one “journalist “after another casting their lot with the very powers they are supposed to keep in check. Taibbi is one of the few media voices who have attained mass appeal while maintained his journalistic integrity. During the lead up to the Great Height of 2008—which was marketed as the Great Recession as if last decade’s financial meltdown happened by happenstance—Taibbi was out front warning about the oncoming disaster. While many were lauding Obama for “saving the economy”, Taibbi doggedly asked why Wall Street executives were receiving bailouts instead of receiving bail bonds and jail sentences.
We can continue to bemoan the state of mainstream media while concurrently feeding into their lies or we can do something about it. Although we are almost powerless when it comes to shaping the narratives that drive public conversations, we do have power when it comes to the choices that we make and who we choose to listen to. There are some who defy group think and stand apart from the herd of corporate-state mouthpieces within and without mainstream media, let us seek them out instead of heeding the advice of shills who get paid from the very same industries that are the sources of human suffering around the planet.
“Political power in this country is not divided between right and left, and not even between rich and poor. The real line is between a war party, and everyone else.” ~ Matt Taibbi
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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