With regard to the Panama invasion, and other events like it, Jeff Cohen, executive director of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (a New York-based media watch group), summed up the role played by the media like this.

"What the American media does, is ...use jingoistic and chauvinistic methods of explaining the world and then they poll the audience to come back with jingoistic and chauvinistic opinions that get recycled in an endless loop of flag-waving."

Another memorable instance of this technique being used occurred after the U.S. navy had blasted an Iranian passenger jetliner out of the sky with 290 passengers aboard.

News of the event was channeled through official White House and Pentagon news briefings which were repeated over and over, and which drove home to Americans that it was Iran's errors and negligence that were to blame. The two main justifications given for the missile attack were the following:

Then for the next three days, the public was subjected to countless opinion polls, the results of which overwhelmingly exonerated the U.S. navy of any guilt.

The public's opinions were already chiseled in stone when the U.S. changed its story and admitted that the aircraft carrier Vincennes had voluntarily placed itself under an Internationally acknowledged commercial flight corridor. Moreover, the White House eventually admitted that the jet had in fact taken off on schedule, and when shot down, was flying in the International flight corridor at about 12,000 feet, and was either climbing or on level flight.

By that time, the truth held no significance
... the misinformation and opinion polls had already left their indelible impressions!!

All but the naive should recognize that the American public had been purposely, and once again quite successfully, fed lies so that the American elite could indulge in additional psychological warfare and revenge. It should be easy to recall in retrospect at least, that prior to the attack, the American people had already been whipped up by anti-Iranian films depicting the Iranian people as mindless shouting fanatics. Of course the Ayatollah had been depicted even more so.

The media incidentally never voiced any concern that it had served as a tool to dispense factual inaccuracies to the public, nor did it attempt to hold anyone accountable for the lies, ...that time, or any of the other countless times it has done so.

By eventually exposing the truth, however quietly (i.e. buried in a small item on page 38 with an uninteresting byline, or at the tail end of the classified section), the whole media information team could, for posterity, point nevertheless to where the truth had actually been printed. Unfortunately they make use of misinformation regularly.

Even now, it is alleged that some of the film footage for the 1987 CBS documentary "The Battle for Afghanistan" had been staged. In a similar way, it now appears that a film shown by ABC News of July 21, 1989 which shows a briefcase being handed by an American diplomat to a Soviet agent in Paris (the action intimating that the diplomat was a spy), was a "simulation", shot by ABC in Vienna. {B159}

The only reason the truth emerges in some cases, is that witnesses from foreign countries print the real truth in their own newspapers, and then it becomes impossible to keep the truth suppressed.

In any case, the next technique to consider involves word trickery.

Selling Bad Products using "Word Trickery"

A good example of this deceitful technique was used in the Panama invasion as well, by referring to the "aerial assassination attempt" as "Operation Just Cause".

When American soldiers are faced with a "target-rich environment", it probably means they got to fire into a crowd. But the word "rich" has an automatic subconscious appeal.

The term "surgical strike" gets used because the term "surgical" brings with it a positive association with doctors and saving lives. Missiles have been called "Peacekeepers". Obvious connotation.
And of course to justify giving financial and military support to a group of ruthless mercenary killers (usually the unemployed military henchmen of deposed dictators), they are euphemistically referred to as "Freedom Fighters".

Ever since the population of Nicaragua overthrew their American backed oppressive dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, they have been prevented from building their nation by having to divert most of their nation's energy to fighting the Contras, who can only survive from external American funding because they do not have the popular support of the people. Consequently, the Contras have to physically locate themselves outside of Nicaragua in the neighboring country of Honduras, which has been coerced by the American elite into providing a sanctuary. The Contras were from the start CIA funded mercenaries whose numbers rise and fall not as a result of political convictions, but strictly as a result of the availability of American money. Through American Presidential and congressional support, the former members of Somoza's death squads are allowed to continue on with their work, even after it had been publicly exposed that the Contras used the drug trade as a source of additional income.

This "Freedom Fighter" scenario, which involves public and covert assistance from the CIA, congressionally endorsed political and economic support, and a media whitewashing campaign, ...is played out with regularity whenever dictators are toppled.

As a result of continually having to spend the same amount of money to defend themselves as America gives the Contras, second world countries like Nicaragua are kept economically and socially crippled by this type of contrived prolonged war. They are prevented indefinitely from getting on with the task of rebuilding war ravaged economies.

The Western media naturally keeps reporting that the new system is not working; that the people were better off under the former dictator; and that they are becoming demoralized and impatient with the new leaders. Some of this might be true, but it is precisely what the relentless American intervention is supposed to achieve.

News Omissions

As debilitating as the previously described Contra-style guerrilla war is for a 2nd world nation, it is certainly better than the fate suffered by such countries as Cambodia and Vietnam which were almost bombed off the face of the earth. As a direct result of the "keep them dumb or misinformed" tactics employed by media manipulators, the severity of the U.S. destruction of Cambodia went almost unreported, and should stand as another poignant example of news censorship. Few North Americans would be aware that the death toll in Cambodia was as high or higher than in Vietnam.

Incidentally, due to the horrendous quantity of AGENT ORANGE defoliant used in these countries, it will take several generations before vegetation growth returns to normal, and even longer before the number of shameful birth defects subsides.

It will be many more decades before the last child's legs or arms are blown off by the countless anti-personnel mines left by a military force who simply got back in their planes and left their brutal legacy of destruction behind. According to a recent documentary, these buried anti-personnel mines still claim about 1 victim per week,
...ten years after the war supposedly ended!! {B160} Are their lives any less valuable than American hostages?

Or has the value of the lives of the American hostages been purposely inflated by the press for psychological reasons to justify the continuation of atrocious Middle Eastern foreign policy. It should be perfectly obvious that the hostages have much greater value to America as captives than if they were free. Even if they were not valuable in the propaganda war, the lives of the hostages are not as valuable to America as retaining the billions of dollars removed from Iran with the Shah. That's the bottom line. And that leads us to another favorite technique.

Playing Down the Importance of Facts

We should remember that the American government and media branded as terrorists those Iranians who are holding the American hostages. But few Americans either know or remember that the hostages were taken in desperation, as a bargaining tool to get back the billions of dollars that the U.S. helped the Shah to "REMOVE" from Iran when he was thrown out by his own countrymen. Moreover, it should be well remembered that the Shah only came to power in the first place due to the covert activities of the CIA chief Allen Dulles, and his brother John Foster Dulles who was Secretary of State. The CIA covertly funded terrorist street gangs in Iran to carry out operations that purposely led to the overthrow in 1953 of the then ruling premier of Iran, Dr. Mussadegh, who was not pro-American.

What few people readily acknowledge is that America regularly assists departing dictators to literally clean out the foreign country's bank vaults of money and gold.

The news media usually leaks out information like this as quietly as possible, and once it has leaked it once, it may definitely not get mentioned again. Yes, the truth may have been mentioned quietly, but the lack of appropriate emphasis regarding the severity of the consequences to the economy of the country concerned is obviously playing down the relative importance of the facts.

The effects of stealing billions of dollars from the economy of a Second World country is about as serious as bombing the industries in each major city of that country. This type of atrocity is worse than any colonial exploitation with perhaps the exception of the Spanish looting of South and Central America.

{B158} "U.S. jingoism is revealed in striking lack of criticism of Bush's action in Panama" The Toronto Globe and Mail (Dec 22 1989): pA1
{B159} "The case of the briefcase" The Economist (Jul 29 1989): p24