Syria Red Line Deja Vu, Trump’s Reversal & Youtube Censorship

Robbie Martin and Abby Martin break down the new mainstream media push to oust Assad with military force in Syria, Trump’s reversal on his Syria position and the general acquiescence towards war-drums beating for North Korea. They also talk about how Youtube and other private internet platforms known for alternative media and free speech are starting to censor and demonetize large swaths of independent content creators with no recourse whatsoever.

This podcast is the product of many long hours of hard work and love. If you want to encourage our voice, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Listen to all previous episodes of Media Roots Radio on soundcloud or subscribe on itunes.

@AbbyMartin | @FluorescentGrey

RT vs. MSM Propaganda in the New Cold War

Russia-Today-mapUS government officials are calling to overhaul the state funded media apparatus and focus on counter-propaganda against hostile nations, according to a report seen by Reuters.

The study was written by two former Western state funded news employees, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) governor and Radio France Europe/Radio Liberty vice president, who declared the US is losing the information war to its adversaries. Despite its annual $730 million budget, the BBG is asking Congress for an additional $15 million to combat Russian media specifically.

It’s not just BBG media outlets pumping up anti-Russian rhetoric – the entire Western establishment has resurrected the Cold War hysteria. Corporate media has become a disaster porn factory, terrorizing people with constant fearmongering about ISIS and Russia.

RT was created to put out the Russian perspective to the world, one of many viewpoints necessary to form opinions about global affairs. People watch foreign backed stations because they know the value in another side to the story, and they’re smart enough to navigate around obvious state biases.

What US officials don’t seem to grasp is that Russian media’s success is only due to the abysmal failure of American media to provide citizens with real news.

I joined RT because it gave me the space to critique empire, corporatism and militarism while providing a crucial platform to whistleblowers and activists. People want unfettered, raw truth about issues that most impact their lives, and Breaking the Set helped fill that void.

I never produced a pro-Russian story and stayed true to my moral compass by speaking out against Putin’s policies several times. Yet people still diminish my three years of paradigm challenging content on the network as mere “Russian propaganda”.

When in Berlin, I joined Jasmin Kosubek on RT Deutsch’s Der Fehlende Part to talk about RT vs. MSM media wars.

 

Abby Martin on RT vs MSM Propaganda Wars

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Watch the interview in German here. Check out all full episodes and segment breakdowns of Breaking the Set here.

The media propaganda double standard is being reinforced everywhere. At Colombia Journalism School, there’s a student program called “RT Watch” that’s “keeping an eye” on the Russian backed station. And while the project clearly exists to mock and undermine the network, I was happy that one of the students interviewed me and published it in full on their website.

It’s easy to ride the wave of ridicule, but until the establishment turns a critical eye at its own media cesspool, it will never be able to comprehend why Russia is winning the information war.

Abby Martin | @AbbyMartin

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

 

An “Efficient” Assault: US-Israeli War Crimes in Gaza

gazaflickrJoseMesaThe humanitarian catastrophe resulting from Israel’s latest killing spree in Gaza should weigh heavily on the conscience of US citizens, given that Israel remains the largest recipient of US foreign aid, to the tune of 3 billion dollars a year.

According to Reuters, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has now dropped bombs on over 1,000 targets across what has been deemed the world’s largest open-air prison. Scenes of extreme suffering and loss abound, like that in the town of Khan Younis, where a house filled with civilians was bombed, or the missile that leveled Gaza’s police headquarters, killing 18 members of one family.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) observed “Israeli warplanes launched 39 airstrikes targeting houses, agricultural plots, open areas, a charity and a bank in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis.” Furthermore, “Israeli tanks and gunboats … fired dozens of shells at agricultural and open areas,” killing “9 Palestinian civilians, including 2 women …” PCHR also documents that 149 houses in Gaza have been “targeted and destroyed.”

These outbursts of state terror are so periodic and unceasing, it’s difficult to express the gravity of the situation. Much like the previous large-scale Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2012 called ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’, ‘Operation Protective Edge’ has unleashed horrifying levels of violence against Palestinian civilians. Doctors on the ground are now reporting that Israel is using weapons against Gazans which have been banned under international law, “[causing] major damage to [their] bodies, especially the limbs.” Responding to this gruesome development, Palestinian Health Ministry Undersecretary Youssef Abo al-Rish condemned  “Israel’s use of internationally banned weapons” as “a blatant violation of human rights and international agreements.”

Compounded with the devastating human toll this savagery has spawned is a media narrative that all but ensures it will continue. Both television and print media repeatedly cast Israel as merely “defending itself” or “retaliating” against Hamas rockets. Writing in the Boston Globe, Chairman of the Anti Defamation League Jeff Robbins notes “Those who have been fortunate enough not to have endured rockets aimed at their homes can be counted upon to issue the familiar incantations about Israeli ‘collective punishment,’ dodging as always the question of what, precisely, Israel is supposed to do about attacks against its civilians if not to try to prevent them.”

Ignored in this callous dismissal of Israeli war crimes is the fact that the people of Gaza are under a foreign military occupation in violation of international humanitarian law and multiple UN Security Council Resolutions. That this brutal occupation may be the source of the rocketing is untouched in the corporate press. Instead, American audiences are presented with a de-contextualized narrative of a cycle of violence from both sides, accompanied, almost invariably, by vague and insincere demands for a de-escalation of the conflict.

If the vast disparity in firepower between Hamas and the IDF doesn’t illustrate the specious framing, then the death toll certainly does. Since the beginning of Israel’s assault, 170 Palestinians have been killed and over 1,120 have been injured according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Based on figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “70 percent of Gaza fatalities are civilians,” and of that number, “30 percent are children.” Conversely, zero Israelis have been killed. Nonetheless, the western authors of this mass slaughter are unrestrained in their exuberance, foremost the “leader of the free world.”

In his July 8 Op-Ed in Haaretz, President Obama celebrated the growing “security relationship” between the US and Israel, a bond that is “stronger than ever.” Perhaps the “strength” of this bond can be measured in the overwhelming silence and distortion that has greeted this latest chapter in the Palestinian people’s long record of national humiliation. So when ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer misidentifies Palestinian civilians devastated by IAF airstrikes as Israelis, a simple one minute apology to American viewers (not to the people of Gaza) suffices.

Any deeper investigation into the dominant narratives of Palestinian villainy that have long characterized US media discourse is forbidden. For example, the New York Times will issue no apology for featuring a front page photograph of a masked Palestinian slinging a stone alongside an article about the brutal lynching of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khadeir. Unlike Sawyer’s “mistake”, misrepresentations of this kind are the norm, and therefore merit no apologies. These images are illustrative of Palestinian menace or an ominous “demographic problem” pensively waiting to destroy an Israeli state–an island of civilization in a “tough neighborhood”–“forced to take action to protect its civilians.” Rhetoric of this kind is highly reminiscent of the US genocide against North America’s indigenous population, which was carried out to “protect” the European colonists from the “terror” of “merciless Indian savages,” as Thomas Jefferson described them in one of his lesser known contributions to “enlightenment” philosophy.

Incidentally, the traditional imperial pretext of “protecting civilians” has been stretched to surreal dimensions under the current offensive. Among the “military” targets selected in this campaign to “protect” Israelis are beach-side cafes, mosques, and rehabilitation centers. The New York Times headlined the attack on the beach-side cafe as follows: Missile at Beachside Gaza Cafe Finds Patrons Poised for World Cup (my emphasis). It would be instructive to observe the response within the US if the terrorist attack against innocent civilians at the Boston Marathon was headlined Exploding Pressure Cooker Finds Athletes Poised for Boston Marathon. Needless to say, more than a simple “correction” would be demanded.

Underlying these socially sanctioned exhibitions of dehumanization is a doctrine of state violence which was articulated most powerfully by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. In a shockingly unambiguous entry in his Independence War Diary he noted “Blowing up a house is not enough. What is necessary is cruel and strong reactions. We need precision in time, place and casualties. If we know the family–[we must] strike mercilessly, women and children included. Otherwise the reaction is inefficient. At the place of action there is no need to distinguish between the guilty and the innocent.” Under ‘Operation Protective Edge’, the Israeli military has adhered to this pernicious doctrine with a frightening degree of discipline.

Overshadowing this record of atrocities is the inescapable fact that the United States is complicit in the killing of every innocent Palestinian under Israeli occupation, a reality systematically omitted from conventional narratives. A particularly dramatic illustration of this norm could be perceived in a recent State Dept. press conference. After establishing the dogma that Palestinians had no “right to defend themselves”, State Dept. spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked what Washington would do to pressure Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “rein in” Hamas.

Since Hamas and the PA formed a “unity government”, the journalist protested, Abbas certainly shared “responsibility” for the Hamas rocketing into Israel. Another question could have easily been asked, namely what was the Obama administration going to do to “rein in” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Critical inquiry of this kind is inconceivable in US establishment journalistic circles. Consequently, the leader of the “only democracy in the Middle East” (typical language in imperial societies that lack self-reflection, the US being a dramatic example) can launch missiles at unprotected civilian structures–murdering the elderly, women, and children–and the best headline Human Rights Watch can produce to capture the tragedy is Palestine/Israel: Indiscriminate Palestinian Rocket Attacks. On the IAF airstrikes on houses? They “appear to be” collective punishment.

At a recent Palestine solidarity rally, author and activist Max Blumenthal proclaimed “This is not a conflict. It is a conquest. It is an illegal conquest.” Beyond the highly misleading, and often racist, commentary that prevails in the establishment press, this is arguably the most succinct description of Israel’s ongoing war against Palestinians. Much like the global conquerors in Washington, the regional conquerors in the Israeli government interpret any expression of autonomy by those over whom they rule as not only threatening but criminal. It is through this perverse logic that the systematic subjugation of an entire people is made to look virtuous or, to borrow Benjamin Netanyahu’s words in reference to its threats against Iran, “those in the international community … don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” Throughout history, all oppressive states have imbibed this psychotic worldview, some in more lethal doses than others. One shudders at the thought of future servants of empire retelling this chronology of suffering and the monstrosities they will inevitably conceal in the name of “freedom”.

Written by Xavier Best @Xav711

Photo by flickr user Jose Mesa

Source: Chomsky, Noam. The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. Boston, MA: South End, 1983. Print.

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Media Distorts Truth About Israel’s Campaign of Brutality Against Gaza

gazabyflickrJordiBernabeuFarrusToday Israel carried out aerial strikes in Gaza targeting a mosque it claims was hosting rockets, a disabled care center and a geriatric urgent care hospital, where international volunteers have since rushed to shield patients.

In the deadliest strike yet, the city’s police headquarters and the home of Gaza’s police chief was bombed, killing 18 members of his family.

Israel has used white phosphorus on Palestinians before, and now it’s being reported by many officials that banned DIME weapons are being used against civilians in Gaza, a controversial munition that emits superheated micro-shrapnel.

According to Gaza’s Undersecretary of Health, “Medical teams have found wounds on the bodies of those killed and injured that are caused by the banned DIME weapons.” He added, “Gaza hospitals are bursting at the seams with dead and wounded. Children and women make up around 62 percent of those injured in the attacks.”

These horrors are just the latest examples of the death and destruction being wreaked amidst Israel’s five day bombing campaign dubbed ‘Operation Protective Edge’.

Since the beginning of the offensive, at least 174 Palestinians have been killed and over 1,090 injured, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. A handful of Israelis have been injured but none have died from a Hamas launched rocket.

Yet despite the disproportionality of the brutality, the establishment media continues to distort the truth by painting Hamas as the sole aggressor.

From FOX‘s ‘Gaza Rockets Aimed at Israel: What Would you Do with Just 15 Seconds?’ to liberal alt-news site VOX‘s ‘The Tragedy Never Ends, Palestinian Rockets Force Israeli Peace Conference to Evacuate’ to even Human Rights Watch, a human rights organization that is supposed to be unbiased in its criticism of atrocities, which leads with ‘Indiscriminate Palestinian Rocket Attacks’.

But perhaps most disturbing is the initial headline crafted by The New York Times describing an Israeli missile bombing a cafe in Gaza packed with Palestinians watching the World Cup:

 

While misleading headlines framing the violence as one-sided is dangerous enough, nothing compares to the blatant misdirection displayed by ABC’s Dianne Sawyer, who portrayed Palestinians in Gaza City as Israelis.

 

ABC Distorts Truth to Fit Pro-Israel Bias

As journalist Rania Khalek explains in an article dissecting the egregious error:

“Sawyers bald misreporting reflects either a deliberate lie by ABC news or willful ignorance so severe that Palestinian death and misery is invisible even when it’s staring ABC producers right in the face.”

The Western media routinely devalues Palestinian lives, and the dead bodies that stack up every time Israel goes on the offense remain an inconvenient truth for its narrative.

Another common misconception thanks to the media’s false depiction of Palestine is that Hamas is a rogue terrorist group, when in reality it is the democratically elected leadership of Gaza. When the IDF claims it only targets Hamas, it could mean any building affiliated with the government or social services provided to Palestinians.

As Noam Chomsky said, this isn’t war, it’s murder:

“When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing.”

According to the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is acting ‘responsible’ in his defense of the rockets. Yet the collective punishment of over a million people living in an open-air prison is far from such.

I made a statement addressing Israel’s ‘irresponsible’ barbarism:

Why Doesn’t the Media Care About Dead Palestinians?

Since posting this video, I have been overwhelmed at the feedback and support from thousands of Palestinians around the world. It has been featured on one of Turkey’s most popular news websites En Son Haber, Indonesian newspaper Liputan, translated in French on DailyMotion, posted on popular Arabic websites Al ArabiyaAlwatan Voice and has gone viral on Palestinian TV station Raya FM.

I strongly denounce deadly force on both sides, but it’s important to not frame this as a cycle of violence. One is the colonizer oppressor, the other the colonized oppressed. As IDF General’s son Miko Peled said, Palestinians living in occupied territories have two choices: to completely surrender, or resist – and resistance is what we’re seeing now.

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Don’t miss Max Blumenthal talking about how the Israeli government hid information on the three murdered teens’ in order to incite violence, racial tension and justify a military rampage.

Why Gaza is Burning: What the Corporate Media Isn’t Telling You

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IDF General’s son Miko Peled talks about the latest siege on Gaza and why Israel should decolonize Palestine if it wants to end the rockets.

IDF General’s Son: If Israel Doesn’t Like Rockets, Decolonize Palestine

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Earlier this year, Secretary of State John Kerry came under fire for saying that Israel could turn into an apartheid state if reforms aren’t made. I outline five reason why it already is one.

5 Reasons Why Israel is an Apartheid State

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When Israel launched its 2012 military offensive dubbed ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’, the IDF knowingly bombed a journalist tower in Gaza that housed RT among other foreign news networks. I responded to the war crime on Breaking the Set.

Many Americans think the clock starts with Hamas rockets every time Israel carries out a military operation, without realizing the roots of the conflict and history of the occupation. Here’s a brief breakdown.

Written by Abby Martin @abbymartin

Photo by flickr user Jordi Bernabeu Farrus

Abby Martin on NPR, Off the Grid & Buzzsaw about Media Bias and the New Cold War

AbbyObamaUkraineFollowing my on air statement opposing the editorial line of my network, I was inundated with mainstream media interview requests. But I only chose a few select outlets to say my piece.

First, I went on CNN with Piers Morgan and took the opportunity to call out the corporate media for its incessant warmongering and establishment bias.

As Firedoglake’s Kevin Gosztola wrote in the article ‘What the US Media’s Celebration of Protesting RT Anchors Conveniently Ignores':

“There is this view in US establishment media that they are immune to advancing nationalistic narratives in the same way that the Kremlin-backed news organization RT does. However, the coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War was such a moment where independent journalism was forsaken for state-identified journalism that amplified a case for war that rested upon neoconservative propaganda.”

National Public Radio (NPR)

I also got the chance to remind On the Media’s Bob Garfield that NPR receives sponsorship from oil companies after he continuously undermined RT as “explicit propaganda”.

NPR – Abby Martin, an anchor for the Kremlin-funded news channel Russia Today, launched herself into the headlines this week by sternly denouncing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Given that RT is widely regarded as a 24-hour propaganda machine engineered to polish Russia’s image abroad, Martin shocked many with her outburst. Bob talks with Martin about why she wasn’t afraid to speak out.

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Tellingly, both Garfield and Morgan denied ever dealing with self-censorship. But their proclaimed ignorance about the issue only signifies how well they must toe the line.

Another point I brought up was questioning why I have to work for RT in order to hold corporations and government accountable for their actions. Virtually no network exists with the same reach as RT that would allow the calling out of war criminals and regular attacks on corporations like BP, Monsanto and Nestle.

Off the Grid with Jesse Ventura 

On Jesse Ventura’s show Off the Grid I discussed the West’s hypocritical posturing towards Russia, considering how many nations the US has militarily intervened in over the last several decades.

OFF THE GRID – The Governor turns the tables on Abby Martin, the outspoken host of RT’s “Breaking The Set.” The two discuss America’s response to Martin’s headline-making turn condemning military intervention in Crimea & why we need to think outside the two-party system.

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After my former colleague Liz Wahl resigned live on air, neocon stuntman and Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) senior fellow, James Kirchick, managed her publicity tour. Both Kirchick and Wahl marginalized my dissent while feeding into the anti-Russian fervor being peddled across the establishment press. This counter narrative is significant because the FPI’s stated mission is to pivot US foreign policy to deal with “rising and resurgent powers, including China and Russia”, and Kirchick used Wahl to help rally the public against Russia.

An in-depth Truthdig report by Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek called ‘How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Stage Managed RT Anchor Liz Wahl’s Resignation’ explores this issue more in-depth.

Buzzsaw with Sean Stone

On Buzzsaw, I talked to Sean Stone about how neoconservatives hijacked my anti-war message to promote war with Russia, and the need for US, NATO and Russia to de-escalate military aggression in the region.

BUZZSAW – Russia, Ukraine, the Crimea crisis and criticizing Vladimir Putin on RT is discussed with Breaking the Set host, Abby Martin. The new Cold War, and need to use diplomacy to prevent World War III is looked at with Martin in this Buzzsaw interview hosted by Sean Stone.

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Given the longstanding respect I have had for Rap News, it was especially awesome to collaborate with Robert Foster and Giordano Nanni. Check out my terrible rap skills in this fantastic episode about media coverage of Ukraine.

RAP NEWS CRIMEA MEDIA WAR GAMES – Welcome to the paramilitary games in the Crimean Peninsula. The battle lines are drawn: it’s East versus West in a good old fashioned media cold-shoulder war, with each side firing 24 hour news cycle broadsides at each other with alacrity. It’s Mutually Assured Mass-Media Destruction: Crimedia Wars – and the stakes are high – who will win the War of Perception?

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Lastly, my brother Robbie and I candidly discussed the craziness on Media Roots Radio and I ranted about it with David Seaman on his podcast.

Abby Martin | @abbymartin

Photo by Buzzsaw