Internet : Pilger : A News Revolution Has Begun


Richard Moore


 A News Revolution Has Begun 
By John Pilger 
t r u t h o u t | Perspective 

Friday 25 November 2005 

The Indian writer Vandana Shiva has called for an
"insurrection of subjugated knowledge." The insurrection
is well under way. In trying to make sense of a dangerous
world, millions of people are turning away from the
traditional sources of news and information and toward the
world wide web, convinced that mainstream journalism is
the voice of rampant power. The great scandal of Iraq has
accelerated this. In the United States, several senior
broadcasters have confessed that had they challenged and
exposed the lies told about Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction, instead of amplifying and justifying them,
the invasion might not have happened.

Such honesty has yet to cross the Atlantic. Since it was
founded in 1922, the BBC has served to protect every
British establishment during war and civil unrest. "We"
never traduce and never commit great crimes. So the
omission of shocking events in Iraq - the destruction of
cities, the slaughter of innocent people and the farce of
a puppet government - is routinely applied. A study by the
Cardiff School of Journalism found that 90 per cent of the
BBC's references to Saddam Hussein's WMDs suggested he
possessed them and that "spin from the British and US
governments was successful in framing the coverage." The
same "spin" has ensured, until now, that the use of banned
weapons by the Americans and British in Iraq has been
suppressed as news.

An admission by the US State Department on 10 November
that its forces had used white phosphorus in Fallujah
followed "rumours on the internet," according to the BBC's
Newsnight. There were no rumours. There was first-class
investigative work that ought to shame well-paid
journalists. Mark Kraft of found
the evidence in the March-April 2005 issue of Field
Artillery magazine and other sources. He was supported by
the work of film-maker Gabriele Zamparini, founder of the
excellent site,

Last May, David Edwards and David Cromwell of posted a revealing correspondence with Helen
Boaden, the BBC's director of news. They had asked her why
the BBC had remained silent on known atrocities committed
by the Americans in Fallujah. She replied, "Our
correspondent in Fallujah at the time [of the US attack],
Paul Wood, did not report any of these things because he
did not see any of these things." It is a statement to
savour. Wood was "embedded" with the Americans. He
interviewed none of the victims of American atrocities nor
un-embedded journalists. He not only missed the Americans'
use of white phosphorus, which they now admit, he reported
nothing of the use of another banned weapon, napalm. Thus,
BBC viewers were unaware of the fine words of Colonel
James Alles, commander of the US Marine Air Group II. "We
napalmed both those bridge approaches," he said.
"Unfortunately, there were people there ... you could see
them in the cockpit video ... It's no great way to die.
The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological

Once the unacknowledged work of Mark Kraft and Gabriele
Zamparini had appeared in the Guardian and Independent and
forced the Americans to come clean about white
phosphorous, Wood was on Newsnight describing their
admission as "a public relations disaster for the US."
This echoed Menzies Campbell of the Liberal-Democrats,
perhaps the most quoted politician since Gladstone, who
said, "The use of this weapon may technically have been
legal, but its effects are such that it will hand a
propaganda victory to the insurgency."

The BBC and most of the British political and media
establishment invariably cast such a horror as a public
relations problem while minimizing the crushing of a city
the size of Leeds, the killing and maiming of countless
men, women and children, the expulsion of thousands and
the denial of medical supplies, food and water - a major
war crime.

The evidence is voluminous, provided by refugees, doctors,
human rights groups and a few courageous foreigners whose
work appears only on the internet. In April last year, Jo
Wilding, a young British law student, filed a series of
extraordinary eye-witness reports from inside the city. So
fine are they that I have included one of her pieces in an
anthology of the best investigative journalism.* Her film,
"A Letter to the Prime Minister," made inside Fallujah
with Julia Guest, has not been shown on British
television. In addition, Dahr Jamail, an independent
Lebanese-American journalist who has produced some of the
best frontline reporting I have read, described all the
"things" the BBC failed to "see." His interviews with
doctors, local officials and families are on the internet,
together with the work of those who have exposed the
widespread use of uranium-tipped shells, another banned
weapon, and cluster bombs, which Campbell would say are
"technically legal." Try these web sites:,,,,,,, There are many more.

"Each word," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, "has an echo. So does
each silence."

Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its
Triumphs, edited by John Pilger, is published by Vintage.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Standard.



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