New Progressive Journalism in the Spirit of I.F. Stone

(Scene from All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone )

By Tench Phillips, Naro Cinema

 

Who could have foreseen the way that political ideology in this country has been turned on its head? Since the disruptive campaign of Donald Trump, partisan issues once relegated on the right have been adopted by the left – and vice-versa.

Nowadays it’s the Democrats and old guard Republicans who accuse those nefarious Russians of influencing our election and obstructing American hegemony. The Democrats now fawn over the CIA and the demonizing of those damn Ruskies who they say hacked John Podesta’s emails. Their bellicose rhetoric is a dangerous macho game of chicken between two world powers who each have thousands of nuclear weapons.

Never mind that America has our own dark history of manipulating foreign elections and supporting violent coups in dozens of countries throughout the world. U.S. media ignores our own illegal actions and worldwide surveillance. It would be most indiscreet for the media to sabotage its function as the megaphone for American empire and to acknowledge our own meddling into the internal affairs of foreign governments.

Trumpism has also realigned the allegiances of conservative politicians and media pundits. Many Republicans have abandoned their long-running campaigns against Russia and have instead embraced Putin and called for improved diplomacy. In turn, Trump has derailed the longtime Republican love affair with the CIA and NSA.

Meanwhile Trump’s pro-Israel rhetoric has won over many Zionists in both America and Israel. At first skeptical, many Jews now support Trump and his Breitbart marketing guru Stephen Bannon. But it’s an awkward relationship at best. Their one uniting principle is the pursuit of more territory in the West Bank for Israel and less for indigenous Arab peoples.

Netanyahu praises Trump while he lashes out at Obama, John Kerry, and all those liberals who proclaim the rights of Palestinians and agree with the U.N. about sanctions against Israel’s construction of West Bank settlements. But Bibi’s tantrums don’t appear to jeopardize the continued handouts in billions of dollars of military arms provided by U.S. taxpayers. Israel remains armed to the teeth while still enjoying high living standards and universal healthcare. And in return for our support, the U.S. leadership once again gets humiliated.

We’ve never seen anything quite like all these ramped up media campaigns by the government, politicians, and corporations. One reason is that technology and the new media has disrupted tried and proven ways that the mainstream has used for years to manipulate the beliefs of Americans. It is a new era composed of twitter, the internet, social networking, and blogs. Anything goes on the web. In a desperate effort by the establishment to gain back their psychological control of the masses, much of establishment journalism has reverted to the propaganda of group-think and fear mongering.

Of course Americans are accustomed to the lies and cons of our cynical media culture. Everyone is trying to sell us something that we probably shouldn’t buy. And now Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, owns the company that publishes the Washington Post. He may be an innovative, smart billionaire but he is also an uncritical marketer and ‘free market’ libertarian. Editorial content at the Post has already been influenced by Bezos. It’s a far cry from the paper that broke the Watergate Story in the early seventies.

A recent article in the Post is an example of the paper’s new agenda. ‘Russian Propaganda Effort Helped Spread Fake News’ cites a report by an anonymous group calling itself PropOrNot. The website claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian “misinformation campaign.” The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets in America includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as progressive websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute.

The Post and their reporter have been roundly criticized for not providing any real substantive evidence to back up their allegations. They subsequently have had to issue a retraction online. But the damage to the reputations of alternative news sites had already been done. This is just one of several instances by WaPo where it was later shown that they had manufactured news stories to inflate the threat posed by Russia and raise fear levels of Americans.

So who is it that’s really guilty of fabricating ‘fake news’? Journalist Glen Greenwald calls the anti-Russian hysteria being whipped up by The Post and the establishment press as a new kind of McCarthyism. Much like Senator Joe McCarthy brought Russian sympathizers before anti-American tribunals during the fifties, establishment players are trying to tarnish the names of American ‘operatives’ on both the left and the right who don’t comply with the centrist ideology of the corporately funded two party duopoly but instead are critical of Western governments, their spy networks, and organizations like NATO.

A potent independent media that confronts the power of the establishment is more important today than it was in the McCarthy era during the cold war. A new documentary called ‘All Governments Lie’ showing on Wednesday, Feb 15 explores the history of activist journalism since WWII through the life and work of I.F. Stone. Born of Jewish immigrants from Russia in Philadelphia in 1907, ‘Izzy’ Stone took on the fascist forces in America during the mid-century in his writings in The New York Post and The Nation.

After Stone was blacklisted for his socialist views and was no longer able to get work, he founded his own publication, I.F. Stone’s Weekly. It was a bold move that paid off. His newsletter was read by the prominent academics, politicians, and journalists of the day. Stone could now continue reporting on McCarthyism, racism, and militarism without fear of editorial muzzling. His scholarship and muckraking continued to have an impact on the public during the Vietnam War and the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and all the way until Ronald Reagan.

In All Governments Lie, filmmaker Fred Peabody pays tribute to Stone’s work and looks at those who carry on his legacy today. As respected as they are, progressive journalists are seldom invited to appear on mainstream media like MSNBC or on NPR. They are deemed to be too uncompromising in their critiques of corporatism, militarism, and empire. Censorship and blacklisting by the media is alive and well in America. Below are noted journalists who appear in the film.

Tom Engelhardt is a longtime journalist and the creative force behind tomdispatch.com, the online blog written by seasoned journalists in partnership with The Nation Institute’s.

Amy Goodman founded the independent news network Democracy Now! in 1996 and has just celebrated 20 years as host and program director. The acclaimed news organization frequently breaks stories like the recent Dakotas indigenous pipeline protests against the DAPL. Mainstream media is forced to play catch-up. Amy asserts “We don’t have state media in the U.S. but if we had it, how would it be different?” She has spoken at the Naro on two different occasions.

Matt Taibbi has been writing acerbic columns for Rolling Stone that include in-depth investigations of Goldman Sachs and the Wall Street criminals who unleashed the 2008 financial crisis.

Jeremy Scahill is an investigative reporter and author of Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield and Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He spoke at the Naro  a few years ago by invitation of Norfolk Catholic Worker.

Cenk Uygur is the host and founder of The Young Turks, an online progressive news show considered the most viewed in the world.

Sharif Abdel Kouddous is an independent investigative journalist who covered the Egyptian Spring pursuing and produces for Democracy Now!

Glen Greenwald is a journalist, lawyer, and author of four best-selling books. He is a founding editor behind The Intercept. He was the journalist who broke the story of Edward Snowden to the world. He was one of the founders of the website The Intercept.

Laura Poitras filmed Edward Snowden when he first fled to Hong Kong after leaking NSA files to the press. Her documentary Citizenfour won an Oscar.

Chris Hedges served as a war correspondent for The New York Times and as their Middle East bureau chief where he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage. He is a columnist, political activist, and a minister.

David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones and best-selling author.

Michael Moore is the world’s most successful documentary filmmaker – as well as an activist, writer, and provocateur.

Nermeen Shaikh is a journalist, author, and co-host of Democracy Now!

And there are of course many more worthy journalists who don’t appear in the film but who are working hard for democracy with far too little recognition or income. Journalists like Noam Chomsky, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Ralph Nader, Robert Scheer, David Swanson, Ta-Nehesi Coates, Juan Gonzalez, Al Markowitz, and Henry Giroux. They all deserve our support and promotion of their work through our social networks.

 

Upcoming Film Events at Naro Cinema

 SEASONS 

After traveling the world alongside migrating birds (Winged Migration), Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud return to more familiar ground: the lush green forests and megafauna that emerged across Europe following the last Ice Age. The ice retreated, the landscape metamorphosed, the cycle of seasons was established, and the magnificent beasts occupied their new kingdom. It was only much later that man arrived to share and then dominate this habitat. Shows Wed, Feb 1. Presented with Wildlife Response.

 

2017 OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORTS

This is a rare opportunity to see all five Academy Award nominees in each of the categories of Best Animated Short, Best Live-Action Shorts, and Best Documentary Shorts. Shows Tues, Feb 7 & Tues, Feb 14.

 

FlickIt! Presents THELMA AND LOUISE

Meek housewife Thelma (Geena Davis) joins her friend Louise (Susan Sarandon), an independent waitress, on what they think will be a short fishing trip. With Brad Pitt and Harvey Keitel. Shows Monday, Feb 13. Happy Galentine`s Day!

 

‘Naro-Minded Films’ Presents BLADE RUNNER: The Final Cut

Los Angeles is a dark and depressing megalopolis in the future year of 2019. A cult sci-fi favorite penned by Philip K. Dick directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford. Shows Friday, Feb 10.

 

ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone 

Political columnist, and journalist I.F. Stone famously said “All governments lie”. Mainstream media is willingly complicit in this deception. But there are plenty of good journalists who are working hard to get to underlying truths about world issues. Journalists like Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Matt Taibbi are changing the face of news and analysis, providing investigative stories to counter the mainstream narratives. The film follows these intrepid souls as they expose government and corporate corruption – just as the ground-breaking journalist I.F. Stone did decades ago. Shows Wed, Feb 15 with speakers Tom Robotham & Al Markowitz and discussion.

 

SHADOW WORLD

The Obama administration brokered more arms deals than any other presidency since the second world war. Based upon the book by Andrew Feinstein, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, this British produced film reveals the corruption, lies, and greed within the arms industry, the military, and Congress. The common goal is to perpetuate war so as to generate more profit, no matter what the human costs might be. Playdate to be announced.

 

FIRE AT SEA

Conveying the immensity of the ongoing migrant crisis, which is costing thousands of lives each year as it puts European unity and values sorely to the test, has proven far too great a task for news reporting. Where journalism leaves off, Fire at Sea begins. It takes a unique documentary filmmaker like Gianfranco Rosi to capture the drama through the periscope of his camera focused on the small Sicilian island of Lampedusa. For years, it has been the destination of refugees trying to make the crossing from Africa in boats that are far too small and decrepit.” – Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter. Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary. English and subtitles. Playdate to be announced.

 

 

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