One of the fascinating aspects of the crisis in Ukraine is the response of the mainstream media in both Russia and the United States. The response is precisely the same, with the press in each country offering unconditional support to the official line of its own government. The U.S. mainstream press pokes fun at the Russian mainstream press for parroting the official line put out by President Putin and the Russian national-security state while failing to recognize that it is doing precisely what it accuses the Russian mainstream press of doing — parroting the official line put out by President Obama and the U.S. national security state.
Why has the mainstream press in both countries automatically rallied to its respective government?
The reasons are similar.
One similarity is the mindset of deference to authority drilled into owners and operators of the mainstream press, both in Russia and the United States, from the time they were six years of age. That’s the purpose of public (i.e., government) schooling in both Russia and the United States — to inculcate in the children of the country a mindset of conformity, obedience, and deference to authority — a mindset that encourages the child to not challenge the authorities on fundamental issues.
By the time a person graduates high school, that mindset is so deeply ingrained that it remains with the person through adulthood, oftentimes through his entire life. That’s one of the things, of course, that distinguish libertarians from statists. Libertarians have broken free of the indoctrination. We’re able to analyze crises such as these in a critical way, which enables us to see things differently from those in the mainstream who are still the victims of the indoctrination they received in their public (i.e., government) schools.
Unlike statists, we libertarians are able to see when our government is in the wrong with respect to a particular crisis. The statist is unable to do that. In a crisis involving a foreign country, all that he is able to do is immediately rally to the side of his own government, be it Russian, American, or whatever, and not even consider the possibility that his own government is on the wrong side of the crisis. The statist mindset is one of “My government, right or wrong,” or, even better, “My government, never wrong.”
Consider the crisis in Ukraine. The U.S. mainstream press is filled with denunciations of Putin and Russia, parroting the official U.S. national-security state line that the crisis has been caused by Russian expansionism, aggression, militarism, empire, and assertiveness and that the peaceful United States, reluctantly, has been sucked into a new Cold War.
The mainstreamers will fail to point out the critical role that the U.S. national-security state and NATO have played to instigate the crisis. You won’t read now the U.S. national-security state refused to dismantle NATO at the end of the Cold War. Or about how NATO has, in violation of U.S. promises to Russia at the end of the Cold War, expanded its membership to include the Eastern European and Baltic countries that once formed part of the Warsaw Pact. Or the NATO wish to have Ukraine to become a member of NATO, which would have meant that NATO would then have jurisdiction over Russia’s longtime military bases in Crimea.
For that type of critical analysis, you have to turn to the Internet, mostly by libertarians but also by a few principled progressives who are unafraid to criticize a Democrat president.
Another reason for the unconditional support offered by the U.S. mainstream press for its national-security state is that owners and publishers of mainstream U.S. newspapers know that if they fail to toe the official line, the U.S. government is likely to do bad things to them or fail to do good things for them.
In his latest volume on Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power, Robert Caro described how the process works. Prior to the Kennedy assassination, the mainstream press was investigating criminal activity involving political corruption by Johnson. Most every historian today agrees that if the investigations had gone forward, Johnson would have been impeached, criminally prosecuted, or both.
Immediately after he became president, Johnson telephoned one Texas newspaper where a reporter was digging into his corruption. Johnson suggested that if the reporter was permitted to continue with the investigation, Johnson would sic the IRS on the newspaper principals. The investigation was shut down.
At another mainstream Texas newspaper, a reporter was undertaking the same type of investigation. Johnson learned that the paper’s principals were trying to get some sort of corporate merger through. Johnson let it be known that if the investigation were to go forward, the principals could kiss any chance of official approval of the merger goodbye. The newspaper shut down the investigation and the merger was permitted to go through.
When Johnson was vice-president, every newspaper person in the country knew about the investigations into his political corruption by both the press and Congress. Yet, the minute he became president, those investigations and even questions into his political corruption came to a screeching halt.
Two reasons: Fear and deference to the authority of the president.
That’s the same thing that guides the mainstream press in Russia.
Finally, we shouldn’t discount the possibility of the Russian national-security state’s and U.S. national-security state’s having “assets” within the ranks of owners and publishers of the mainstream press in their respective countries. Don’t forget Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s secret program to influence the media here in the United States. There is no reason to believe that the Russia government doesn’t do the same thing with the mainstream press in Russia.
Let’s face it: If you want to get the standard official line of either the U.S. government or the Russian government about the Ukraine crisis, just read the mainstream press in either country. They’re the ones who will parrot the official line. If you want to get critical analysis on the crisis, go to the Internet and especially to the libertarian sites.