Syria Propaganda – The Death Rattle of the Corporate Media

by Simon Wood, October 3, 2016

The role of the corporate media is to protect, promote and legitimize the destructive and amoral aims of profit-seeking private power. Any journalist or columnist working within that system is actively aiding the corporate media achieve this goal. These gatekeepers, especially those regarded as liberal, are therefore culpable in the illegal wars and rapacious, planet-destroying actions of the worst corporations.” ‘The Gatekeepers’, The 99.99998271%, April 7th 2015 [Source]

I listened to my colleague from Russia — and I sort of felt [we’re] in a parallel universe here” US Secretary of State John Kerry on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov [Source]

As corporate media rhetoric against the current priority targets – Russia and Syria is ramped up to extreme levels, a battle is raging within the only remaining global space for freedom of thought and expression: the Internet social media. Two warring, diametrically opposed realities vie for supremacy over the perceptions of the world’s people. In one reality, the US and its NATO allies are benevolent forces fighting the good fight against an evil regime (that of Syria’s President Assad) and its powerful backer, (the ‘aggressive’ Russia) led by the ‘enigmatic’ Vladimir Putin. In the other, the legitimate government of Syria is fighting a civil war against Western-backed rebels with the aid of its ally, Russia.
This information war is characterised by intractability – a natural state of affairs given that both sides – backed with reams of ‘evidence’ from the sources they trust – are convinced that they are in the right and that the other side has been deceived by propaganda. Disputes between proponents of these opposing views spiral rapidly into mutual contempt, ad hominem attacks and blocking also unsurprising given that the two realities permit no middle ground or compromise.
The NATO-supporting side generally feels it has the moral and intellectual advantage, in that it is backed by traditional media organs that are brand names in themselves names that have been trusted by millions of readers for generations. After all, their view is being challenged – wholly rejected as bogus – by an unknowable band of small independent media sites and unpaid bloggers: amateurs or worse in the minds of those who read only mainstream news. This view is strongly encouraged by many high-profile corporate media journalists – also no surprise, given that they and the narratives they sustain are being challenged directly.
Imagine a friend – or at least someone you basically trusted – lied to you to obtain something they really wanted, something they went on to materially profit from to a huge degree. Imagine that you later discovered that they had lied, and on asking for an explanation were given one that may or may not have been plausible. Imagine then that you discovered that this same friend had lied to others in pursuit of the same goal. Asking once more for an explanation, you were given excuses and even changed criteria from the original lie.
Would you trust them again?
Possibly, if you have a long history with the person in question. But what if they then lied to you again to get something else that they wanted? And what if they lied to others just as before? Surely this repeated lie would be the end of any trust. Indeed, no sane person would ever listen to the liar again…and would probably warn others to keep well away.
What if someone had been killed in the acquisition of the goal? What if several people had? What if over a million completely innocent people had died? Would you trust that person then? The question of trust is reduced to absurdity.

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”
Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002

Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.”
George W. Bush, September 12, 2002

If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.” Ari Fleischer, December 2, 2002

The President of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it.” Ari Fleischer, December 6, 2002

We know for a fact that there are weapons there.” Ari Fleischer, January 9, 2003

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.” George W. Bush January 28, 2003

We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.”
Colin Powell February 5, 2003

For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction [as justification for invading Iraq] because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” Paul Wolfowitz, May 28, 2003

A 2008 study by the (2014) Pulitzer Prize-winning Center for Public Integrity found 935 false statements about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq issued by senior Bush administration officials (including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice and George W Bush himself) that were reported with no (or virtually no) verification by major news outlets. This orchestrated campaign of lies designed to build public support for a military invasion was reported uncritically not only in the US but also around the world.
The editors of the New York Times even issued a public apology for its dereliction in 2014:

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.


On April 21, 2003, as American weapons-hunters followed American troops into Iraq, another front-page article declared, “Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert.” It began this way: “A scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq’s chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began, members of the team said.”
The informant also claimed that Iraq had sent unconventional weapons to Syria and had been cooperating with Al Qaeda — two claims that were then, and remain, highly controversial. But the tone of the article suggested that this Iraqi ”scientist” — who in a later article described himself as an official of military intelligence — had provided the justification the Americans had been seeking for the invasion.
The Times never followed up on the veracity of this source or the attempts to verify his claims.

Do you still believe your vaunted mainstream media sources? Many readers even at this point would accept this apology and take it on faith that it was all an honest mistake, pledging inwardly to keep a close eye on future conduct and/or later revelations…
Like report [re-posted at the Daily Beast] from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (in conjunction with the Sunday Times) [Source (behind paywall)]:

The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda program in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.
Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.
The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking U.S. military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters as the insurgency raged outside.
Bell Pottinger’s former chairman Lord Tim Bell confirmed to the Sunday Times, which has worked with the Bureau on this story, that his firm had worked on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy documents.” Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq, he said.
In the first media interview any Bell Pottinger employee has given about the work for the U.S. military in Iraq, video editor Martin Wells told the Bureau his time in Camp Victory was “shocking, eye-opening, life-changing.”
The firm’s output was signed off by former General David Petraeus – then commander of the coalition forces in Iraq – and on occasion by the White House, he said.
There were three types of media operations commonly used in Iraq at the time, said a military contractor familiar with Bell Pottinger’s work there.
“White is attributed, it says who produced it on the label,” the contractor said. “Grey is unattributed and black is falsely attributed. These types of black ops, used for tracking who is watching a certain thing, were a pretty standard part of the industry toolkit.”
Bell Pottinger’s work in Iraq was a huge media operation which cost over a hundred million dollars a year on average. A document unearthed by the Bureau shows the company was employing almost 300 British and Iraqi staff at one point.
The London-based PR agency was brought into Iraq soon after the U.S. invasion. In March 2004 it was tasked by the country’s temporary administration with the “promotion of democratic elections” — a “high-profile activity” which it trumpeted in its annual report.
It soon became apparent he would be doing much more than just editing news footage.
The work consisted of three types of products. The first was television commercials portraying al Qaeda in a negative light. The second was news items which were made to look as if they had been “created by Arabic TV”, Wells said. Bell Pottinger would send teams out to film low-definition video of al Qaeda bombings and then edit it like a piece of news footage. It would be voiced in Arabic and distributed to TV stations across the region, according to Wells.
The American origins of the news items were sometimes kept hidden. Revelations in 2005 that PR contractor the Lincoln Group had helped the Pentagon place articles in Iraqi newspapers, sometimes presented as unbiased news, led to a Department of Defense investigation.
The third and most sensitive program described by Wells was the production of fake al Qaeda propaganda films. He told the Bureau how the videos were made. He was given precise instructions: “We need to make this style of video and we’ve got to use al Qaeda’s footage,” he was told. “We need it to be 10 minutes long, and it needs to be in this file format, and we need to encode it in this manner.”
Iraq was a lucrative opportunity for many communications firms. The Bureau has discovered that between 2006 and 2008 more than 40 companies were being paid for services such as TV and radio placement, video production, billboards, advertising and opinion polls. These included US companies like Lincoln Group, Leonie Industries and SOS International as well as Iraq-based firms such as Cradle of New Civilization Media, Babylon Media and Iraqi Dream.

[Note: The article is lengthy and only excerpts have been included here (above) with my emphasis in bold]
This is proof in black and white that part of the work paid for by the Pentagon and then disseminated throughout the corporate media to achieve US strategic aims includes the production of fake films intended to deceive you – the trusting, unwitting reader – into further supporting Western military actions, giving you the impression that you are on the right side, destroying an evil, implacable enemy. It also motivates those taken in by these lies to (often viciously) attack anyone questioning the official line.
The obvious question that should arise even to the most rabid supporter of Western military interventions is this: If they’ve deceived you before, what would stop them trying to do it again now with similar fake videos and fake stories, all created to support and sustain a narrative that evokes enormous outrage and keeps public opposition at bay.
The answer is absolutely nothing at all would stop them. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that what happened in Iraq is precisely what has also been occurring with regard to Syria for a decade.
Firstly, it is an established fact that the US and its allies had a plan for regime change in Syria. An internal email dated 7th December 2011 of the Stratfor ‘global intelligence’ company published by WikiLeaks makes it clear that US-aligned forces have long been covertly operating in Syria. It is a remarkable email, in that it clearly demonstrates the intent of the US to intervene in the affairs of Syria, and strongly implies that – among many other things – agents from the US, France, Jordan, Turkey, and the UK were already on the ground carrying out reconnaissance and the training of opposition forces.
Secondly, there is motive – within the Murdoch press at least – publish articles that paint Assad’s government as evil and in need of ‘intervention’ in that Murdoch is on the board of New Jersey-based Genie Energy. Journalist Nafeez Ahmed explains:

A US oil company is preparing to drill for oil in the Golan Heights. Granted the license in February 2013 by Israel, Afek Oil and Gas is a subsidiary of Genie Energy Ltd, whose equity-holding board members include former US Vice President Dick Cheney, controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch and financier Lord Jacob Rothschild.”

[Note: article dated January 28th 2015. Murdoch remains on the board]
Aside from personal financial interest for Murdoch, a post-Assad, US-friendly Syrian government would mean one less major Russia-Iran-axis power in the Middle East to worry about, a turn of events also greatly desired by Israel, while economically Syria would be opened up to all manner of ‘opportunities’ for Western corporations.
Julian Assange, interviewed in the Ecuadorean embassy in London – where he is forced to stay out of fear of US reprisals against him for the secret documents published by WikiLeaks that detail vast webs of criminalit – explains how a book – The WikiLeaks Files – details US Assad overthrow plans from as far back as 2006. And watch here the US Peace Council condemn the whole US Syria narrative as a lie.
Readers of mainstream Western media reporting on Syria will be familiar with oft-cited groups like the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights etc. Journalist Vanessa Beeley travelled to Syria and wrote a detailed report that raises serious questions about the credibility and true motives of these groups:

The use of chemical weapons against civilians in western Aleppo by the terrorist groups, particularly the Nusra Front, is anathema to Western media. Instead, the media picks up spurious reports issued by “activist” groups and “citizen journalists” which claim to be working inside Aleppo. As in the case of a Sept. 7 report from Al-Jazeera on the Syrian Arab Army launching chemical attacks on civilians, this information is disseminated with alarming alacrity by journalists based in Washington, London or elsewhere, who have limited ability to verify this information or assess what’s really happening on the ground prior to publishing. The fact that the Nusra Front took over the only chemical factory in Aleppo in 2012 is swept under the carpet of inconvenient truths. And while the mainstream media doesn’t report it, former U.N. weapons inspectors and MIT rocket scientists have also confirmed that the Nusra Front has powerful chemical weapons capabilities.
Media pundits outside Syria rely on “activist groups” and “citizen journalists,” who are invariably embedded in areas occupied by groups such as the Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, assorted Free Syrian Army brigades, and even Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group known in the West as ISIS or ISIL). Whether they are individual activists or groups like the White Helmets or Aleppo Media Center, it is hard to define them as independent or objective when they are known to receive funding from the United States, NATO member states, and state-funded institutions like USAID–all of which have a vested interest in the “regime change” road map in Syria. The “evidence” these sources produce rarely deviates from the official U.S. narrative and reinforces the propaganda that drives the train of lies that justifies intervention.

Beeley exposes the White Helmets here:

Did I hear a pin drop? The real Syria Civil Defence? Are the west’s iconized ‘White Helmets’ not the only emergency first-responders inside Syria?
For the REAL Syria Civil Defence you call 113 inside Syria. There is no public number for the White Helmets. Why not? Why does this multi-million dollar US & NATO state-funded first responder ‘NGO,’ with state of the art equipment supplied by the US and the EU via Turkey, have no central number for civilians to call when the “bombs fall”?
Before we introduce the real Syria Civil Defence, who are Syria’s real ICDO certified civil fire and rescue organisation, let’s first take a closer look at the imposters; terrorists in white hats, and agents of war – NATO’s pseudo ‘NGO’ construct, embedded exclusively in terrorist-held parts of Syria…
We’re told that the White Helmets routinely scale the walls of collapsed buildings and scrambling over smouldering rubble of bombed out buildings to dig a child out with their bare hands. Of course, never without a sizeable camera crew and mobile phone carrying entourage in tow.

UK media watchdog Media Lens mentioned the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in a 2012 article on the Houla Massacre:

Curiously, the Guardian has published numerous second hand accounts from Syrian ‘opposition activists’ based in the UK. For example, on June 7, the Guardian’s Ian Black reported the al-Qubair massacre under the title, ‘Syria accused of massacring 100’:
‘The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the massacre was carried out at a farm by pro-regime shabiha militiamen armed with guns and knives after regular troops had shelled the area.’
The Guardian has quoted the Syrian Observatory dozens of times. And yet, according to Reuters, the organisation consists of a single individual, Rami Abdulrahman, the owner of a clothes shop, who works from his ‘two bedroom terraced home in Coventry’.

This analysis has established beyond doubt that the corporate media acts as an uncritical echo chamber for information that originates from PR firms and dubious sources that practice deliberate deception. It has established that the US had planned regime change in Syria at least a decade ago, as proved by its own secret communications written by a US ambassador (see the Assange interview). It raises extremely serious questions about the credibility of the sources that the media use habitually and unquestioningly – behaviour that even the NYT publicly apologised for after its last journalistic debacle.
Yet you still believe the MSM narrative?
If this is not enough to persuade, consider the selective outrage expressed in the media about dictators around the world. If the US and its allies along with the corporate media are such warriors for human rights and justice, why did we almost never hear anything about – say – the recently deceased President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov?
Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray gave an interview to the Guardian in 2004:

Murray has plenty of first-hand evidence of the Uzbekistani’s “routine methods”. Sitting in the plush living room of his ambassadorial residence, he tells me: “People come to me very often after being tortured. Normally this includes homosexual and heterosexual rape of close relatives in front of the victim; rape with objects such as broken bottles; asphyxiation; pulling out of fingernails; smashing of limbs with blunt objects; and use of boiling liquids including complete immersion of the body. This is not uncommon. Thousands of people a year suffer from this torture at the hands of the authorities.”
As Murray saw apparently innocent Muslims being sentenced to death after confessions extracted by torture and show trials, he became furious at the “conspiracy of silence” practised by his fellow diplomats. “I tried to find out whether anyone had made a policy decision to [say nothing]”, he says. “But certainly within the British government no minister had ever said such a thing. I was determined to blow the lid on [the conspiracy of silence].”
In October 2002, Murray made a speech to his fellow diplomats and Uzbekistani officials at a human rights conference in Tashkent in which he became the first western official for four years to state publicly that “Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy”, and to highlight the “prevalence of torture in Uzbekistani prisons” in a system where “brutality is inherent”. Highlighting a case in which two men were boiled to death, he added: “All of us know that this is not an isolated incident.”

Uzbekistan, a nation of strategic importance to the US and its allies, somehow escaped the front-page exposes, the live-update feeds, and the outraged hand-wringing from liberal Western journalists demanding that something be done. Meanwhile, in a series of incredible coincidences, the nations targeted by the West (as stated by US General Wesley Clark) all got the blanket “evil dictator” treatment prior to their ‘intervention’ (devastation).
Indoctrinated Western journalists, unwilling to risk their status and privilege (and paychecks) are willfully blind to this deception – an unforgivable failing for a professional journalist. Given that this failure to even attempt to expose this deception – and in fact, in most cases, vocally support it – has resulted in the deaths of countless innocent people, not to mention the worst refugee crisis since WWII, these newspaper and cable-news employees can more accurately be described as collaborators with an imperial power that is operating illegally in Syria: funding, training and supplying openly terrorist groups in order to achieve their strategic goals (as this US arms shopping list for ‘rebels’ demonstrates).
The corporate media, exposed here as an active tool of disinformation and misinformation, must be boycotted completely, starved of the funding and clicks for ad revenue needed for survival. Why – after all – would anyone spend time or money reading analyses proven to be intentionally misleading? Look instead and open your mind to credible non-corporate organizations that deal in source material like WikiLeaks, and to independent writers and analysts that have proved their credibility, accuracy and honesty through their work over time, not from riding the now-dead reputation of the brand of their employer. Treat them with the same skepticism as any mainstream source.
The purveyors of lies are trying to pull the same scam they did with Iraq, Libya and anywhere else one cares to name going back through history. They do it because it works – time and time again – and that’s because we let them. For the sake of the refugees and innocent victims of this criminal empire and its paid media sycophants, stand up, draw the line and refuse to be led around by the nose like cattle ever again.

Twitter: @simonwood11


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Oct 19, 2016 4:58 PM

Louis Proyect and other left-wing apologists for the American imperialist intervention would probably tell you that believing what’s written about Syria by un-traditional media sources like Counterpunch, WSWS and the dreaded RT.com is equivalent to being a wacko conspiracy theorist, because these sites lack accountability or something of that nature, don’t have an editorial board, or… well, maybe I’ll let one of them come along and explain exactly why they object to their reporting. The problem with that argument, of course, is that since the beginning of the Syrian conflict the mainstream media has been getting its information from a guy in an apartment in England with a cellphone who has had an axe to grind against Assad since before the war began. As off-g has documented, reporters for mainstream media that have actually gone to Syria have corroborated what’s been said all along by alternative media. The mainstream media… Read more »

Oct 19, 2016 7:06 PM
Reply to  Alessandro

The latest twaddle from the Psy-ops boiler room has been the Syrian Banksy and the Syrian Anne Frank. All sucked up by moronville MSM. Same MSM who tell us now….wow…they lied to us over Iraq!
As for Louis Proyect, he deals in dirt.

Oct 19, 2016 12:25 PM

The glib apologies over Iraq coverage are for no more than retaining an audience to feed more lies. The verification of source is worse than then.

Oct 19, 2016 9:33 AM

Reblogged this on EU: Ramshackle Empire.

Oct 19, 2016 3:37 AM

What a comprehensive indictment.

Oct 19, 2016 12:27 AM

you know… whilst the western media pumps out it’s inverted version of reality about Syria and the US and NATO do their utmost to stretch out and perpetuate the misery in the region, these jihadi nut jobs haven’t been idle, it would appear that Western intelligence services did assist ISIS types in gaining a chemical weapon capability to be able to stage the events that the US wanted to use as a crossing of a red line to escalate their intervention, then a while back I picked up on a story that some teenage ISIS ‘cubs’ had been brought to an Iraqi medical facility with what appeared to be exposure to chemical weapons, chlorine gas or something, the article suspected that it was an accident at an amateur chemical weapons factory/workshop, I’ve also seen mentions of ‘rebels’ in Syria and Iraq using improvised chemical agents in attacks, this piece today… Read more »

Brian Harry, Australia
Brian Harry, Australia
Oct 18, 2016 11:48 PM

“We, the people” are held in contempt by our elected leaders, who feel safe behind the cover they receive daily from, the Mainstream Media.
“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will, without them knowing it”………Edward Bernays(Nephew of Sigmund Freud, I believe)Author of “Propaganda”…….

Oct 20, 2016 12:45 PM

Yes you are right Edward Bernays was a nephew of Sigmund Freud. A more recent relative is Freud’s great-grandson Matthew Freud who is a big fish in the small pond that is the British advertising industry.

Oct 18, 2016 10:27 PM

I think that the phenomenon of supplication to, and exultation of naked power is the great pathology of our age. Power, and power for its own sake has become the summum bonum of western culture. This is not a novel process. A great American intellectual identified this Trahison des Clercs, or as Christopher Hedges called in the Death of the Liberal Class, way ahead of his time in the1950s, He wrote: ‘’Where is the intelligentsia that is carrying on the big discourse of the western world and whose work as intellectuals is influential among parties and publics and relevant to the great decisions of our time? Where are the mass media open to such men? Where are those who are in charge of the two-party state and its ferocious military machine are alert to what goes on in the world of knowledge and reason and sensibility? Why is the free… Read more »

Oct 18, 2016 10:24 PM

Rupert Murdoch — the man who decides what the rest of us should not hear. In Nov 2015 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Barack Obama for the first time in 13 months. The object: to discuss the possibility of dismembering Syria. According to Israeli officials, Netanyahu suggested that the US should give its blessing to Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria during the 1967 war. Quite coincidentally mind you, just a month earlier an Israeli subsidiary of US oil company Genie Energy announced that it had found massive oil reserves under the Golan Heights. Genie Energy Board members include: Dick Cheney, James Woolsey (former CIA director), Larry Summers (former head of the US Treasury), Jacob Rothschild and — wait for it — Rupert Murdoch. Rupert will turn his ink army against Russian land grabs anytime but is perfectly ok with US and Israeli land… Read more »

Oct 18, 2016 10:16 PM

In 1995, Gen. Hussein Kamel, son-in-law of Hussein and Iraq’s Minister of Military Industry, defected to Jordan and turned informer to the West. In testimony to the CIA and UN inspectors, he gave an extensive accounting of the chemical, biological, nuclear and missile research programs he managed, including a catalogue of the weapons actually produced by the Iraqi government. During the build-up to the 2003 invasion, Kamel’s words were invoked repeatedly by the Bush Administration to describe Hussein’s capacity to threaten others with WMDs: In an Oct 2002, speech, Bush noted the “30,000 liters of anthrax” on Kamel’s list, lamenting, “this massive stockpile of biological agents…have never been accounted for.” Colin Powell’s Feb 2003 address to the UN Security Council repeated Kamel’s allegation that he had overseen the manufacture of “four tons of the deadly nerve agent VX,” warning, “A single drop of [this] on the skin will kill in… Read more »

Le Ruscino (@LeRuscino)
Le Ruscino (@LeRuscino)
Oct 18, 2016 7:23 PM

Sadly there are a great many journalist guilty of heinous mass murder by proxy. Amoral politicians in the West feed from their writings.
These murdering fake journalists like Luke Harding, Shaun Walker etc preen their egos smiling like they have done nothing wrong & think they are beyond reproach little knowing that they make sane people vomit.