The United States is facing a political crisis
almost unparalleled in our history, a crisis uniquely dangerous because
at its center it is not about a loss of power but about a loss of
principle – and even morality.
Instead of following the guideposts of a democratic
republic, the U.S. government has veered off into delusions of empire.
Instead of promoting international law, it has adopted theories of
“preemptive” war. Instead of standing for human rights, it has become
known for torture techniques, detentions without trial, and secret
Yet, this American crisis is also about the
manipulation of information – and the failure of the U.S. news media to
do its job. Indeed, it is hard to envision that the United States would
be in this fix if reporters had asked the tough questions, if they had
held dishonest political leaders accountable, if reporters had shown
But this failure of the U.S. media wasn’t an
accident or simply a reaction to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11,
2001. Taming the news media has been a longtime goal of the
neoconservative operatives who now dominate George W. Bush’s
For years, these neoconservatives have understood
that before they could transform the United States into their dream of a
uni-polar empire, they had to gain effective control of the information
that flows through Washington – and they had to neutralize the honest
journalists who got in the way.
The neoconservatives knew the power that would come
from controlling how Americans saw the world, a process they called
“perception management.” So, over the past quarter century, the neocons
and their political allies invested heavily in building their own news
media and intimidating the mainstream press.
That is where our Web site, Consortiumnews.com,
A decade ago, after working many years as an
investigative reporter for mainstream news outlets, such as the
Associated Press and Newsweek, I felt that a new kind of media
institution was needed, one with the courage to resist the pressures
brought to bear on journalists. (I had experienced that pressure in the
1980s and early 1990s while investigating what became known as the
So, in 1995, on the advice of my oldest son, Sam,
we turned to a new medium, the Internet. I cashed in my Newsweek
retirement account to raise the money to get started and we began
building our Web site as a home for well-researched journalistic stories
that had no place in the sensationalistic, trivialized news media of the
Since then, we have produced hundreds of important
stories that illuminated how our nation drifted into the predicament
it’s in today. Among our investigative projects:
--We traced the origins of Republican contacts with
Iran’s Islamic fundamentalist regime back to secret meetings during
1980 presidential campaign.
--We exposed the hidden history of covert arms
deals between the Reagan-Bush administration and Iraq’s
in the 1980s.
--We showed how international money-launderer
Sun Myung Moon
used his mysterious wealth to corrupt the American conservative movement
and build the Right’s media.
--We laid out the real story behind
the myth of
Colin Powell, a man whose sterling reputation masked a long record
--We explained how
2000 was distorted first by bad reporting, then by inaccurate vote
tallies, and finally by more bad reporting.
--We questioned George W. Bush’s case for
war in Iraq
and his risky military strategy that was based on dangerous wishful
thinking. By contrast, most of the U.S. news media was wrapping itself
in the American flag and doing features on “freedom fries.”
While we’ve accomplished much with our
decade-old Web site, we’ve been hobbled by a chronic shortage of money.
At a crucial juncture in early 2000, I had no choice but to make the Web
site part-time and take a decent-paying job as an editor at Bloomberg
News. (In 2004, I left that job to write
Secrecy & Privilege: Rise
of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and try to rebuild
For our survival, we remain dependent on the
generosity of our readers. (We have appealed to many large funders for
help, but they have not been supportive. They don’t seem to understand
So, if you can, we would deeply appreciate your
You can contribute either by
credit card online
or by sending a check
to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Suite 102-231, 2200
Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. For contributions of $100 or more,
you can get an autographed gift copy of Secrecy & Privilege or
one of my other books. Also, since we are a non-profit 501-c-3
organization, your contribution is tax-deductible.
Thank you -- and best wishes for the New Year.