CNN's war

March 6, 2011 - 0:0

“Do you want him dead?” This was the last query Ze'ev Barak, better known to viewers of cable news broadcaster CNN as Wolf Blitzer, demanded of his guest Muhammed Shalgan, former Libyan Foreign Minister. The deepening coarseness of the reportage one hears from CNN and the rest of the media wolfpack is a measure of how alarmed the Lords of Capital are with the groundswell of rebellion sweeping across the Maghreb. There are revolts all over the Islamic world, but it is upon oil-laden Libya and its embattled “Brother-leader”, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, that the media has compressed the world's attention.

As with Tunisia and Egypt, the anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal ethos of the protests are being camouflaged and the uprisings attributed to the smug indifference and craven corruption of the head of state. What makes this revolution different is the dictator in question is seen as an enemy of the West. The media slant, accordingly, has been merciless from the start.
The rats are abandoning Libya's sinking ship of state to appear in broadcast studios. The very same functionaries who administered Gaddafi's oil fiefdom, like Shalgan, are now renouncing their lucrative sinecures to condemn the man who elevated them to wealth, power, and international prestige. In addition to the usual harangues against Gaddafi -- megalomaniac, authoritarian, sponsor of terror, martinet -- we now hear junkie, freak, senile. Most scandalous of all, we are informed that he consorts with a woman who is (brace yourselves ladies and gentlemen) Ukrainian! A non-white man and a fair-haired, fair-skinned girl from the home continent of the fair-gened? Jim Crow has found a home in the Twenty-first Century, and it is CNN.
In a moment when all pretense to journalistic objectivity and integrity were left behind like a lame camel, and the subinfeudation of media to ruling class interests was laid bare, CNN confided that they had “reports” that Gaddafi was headed to Venezuela. Both nations denied the story and Venezuela, through its state radio, issued unequivocal support for the insurgents. Yet CNN continued to broadcast this absurdity saying that their “sources” were from high inside the Gaddafi government. The attempt to link the maverick statesmen and portray the Bolivarian republic as a haven for state criminals splices most conveniently two veins of imperial censure. The better informed will observe that the premise is also specious as both Gaddafi and Chavez have an all-too-cozy relationship with international finance capital.
Reporters were there to greet the ferry carrying American evacuees from Tripoli as it docked in Valletta, Malta. They tried valiantly to dramatize the event, but the banality of bored, luggage-toting travelers trying to find their way proved too great an obstacle even for CNN's accomplished infotainers. They did manage to bring two young women before their cameras. They did not tell their viewers that Yusra Tekbali, an American of Libyan descent, was a journalist who had written for, among others, CNN. In fact, this bit of essential information was recorded on tape but was edited from the version which aired. The wordsmith-cum-evacuee trained her eyes on the camera as she described a rapidly deteriorating environment: “Libyans have always known what this regime is capable of, now for the first time the world is seeing it.” Ms. Tekbali was followed by Joan Polaschik, Charge d'affaires from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. She testified to “very serious gunfire” and a “fluid and dangerous situation”. “We were lucky to get out” she added.
I leave it to you, dear reader, to divine what, if anything, it suggests that the only two people to get off that ferry and be interviewed on camera were a journalist and a diplomat, a CNN contributor and an employee of the U.S. government, both of whom were quite comfortable in the role. In any case, no American has been injured during the revolution.
In an interview with the Islamphobe Pete Hoekstra, the former ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Wolf Blitzer called for the Libyan leader's murder: “Couldn't we assassinate him with a drone or something like that before he kills thousands of people?” A noble thought perhaps, but the former AIPACer has never issued a fatwa against any Israeli leader despite the countless thousands of Palestinians who have been killed by Zion. It must be confusing being binational. Whatever his motive, it is clear that he has no regard for journalism or justice, nor do his employers who seem undisturbed by their host's dystopian cry for extrajudicial blood.
Between segments detailing Gaddafi's nefarious history, CNN's viewers have been treated to reports suggesting that the revolution in Libya is going to cost Americans a lot of money. Gas may reach $5/gallon if it goes on much longer, we are told. Prices of foodstuffs and other essential commodities are going to skyrocket as the cost of transport will increase with the price of a barrel of oil. And there are mysterious “reports” that Gaddafi plans to set his oil wells ablaze as Saddam Hussein did in Kuwait. The implication is one of dire consequences if a “humanitarian intervention”, as Blitzer termed it, does not occur soon.
In recent years, and perhaps for quite longer, Gaddafi has shamelessly done the bidding of Western imperial interests, enriching himself drinking from their trough in the process. His posturings to the contrary are nothing more than empty words. Capital doesn't want to remove him, not now that he conforms to their wishes, but as in Tunisia and Egypt, the people are interfering with their plans. The efforts of the oligarchy to quell the burgeoning discontent, thus far, have been ineffective. Imagine the fear as control slips from their hands, as the institutions of oppression in which they have straight-jacketed the working people of the world now crumble before their eyes. Their man in Tripoli falters, barely holds on. The old lies are not working anymore, the old admonitions fall on deaf ears. The ploy of fomenting internecine conflict likewise surrenders to the fellowship of shared subjugation, of common cause and conviction. The servants have overcome their ancient prejudices and now focus their anger on their masters. That which enriched the few has galvanized the many. They now choke the streets with their indignation and roil the sweet desert air with their demands.
The palaver of the empire's advocates rings shrill and desperate, and is quickly overwhelmed by the clamor rising from the multitudes. Imagine the anxiety as our overlords look down from their commanding heights, down across the Mediterranean and see the rebel campfires growing in number evening after evening, growing and growing, proliferating across the Maghreb and beyond, until their glow merges with the first rays of a new day.