He holds a master degree in journalism from Harvard and is a co-writer of The Iraq Quagmire: The Price of Imperial Arrogance.
Kourosh Ziabari conducted an interview with Mr. Lendman for the Tehran Times in which he discusses Western media outlets’ anti-Iranian and pro-Israeli bias and the corporate media’s one-sided coverage of the Zionist regime’s merciless attack on Gaza. Following is an excerpt of the interview:
Q: In your view, what is the reason for the Unites States’ double standards toward the Iranian nuclear program?
A: America’s relationship with Iran is long and disturbing going back to the 1953 CIA coup against Mohammad Mossadegh. It was the agency’s first one ever, followed by decades of more, assassinating foreign leaders, and all the rest. A true rogue operation that reins terror against America’s enemies, generally posing no threat whatever to us or anyone else.
As for relations today, I see no change whatever under Obama. Talk about negotiating or conciliation is meaningless. Washington doesn’t negotiate. It demands and unless it gets compliance will stop at nothing to get its way. So against Iran there have been repeated rounds of sanctions and threats of war. Over what? Iran is remaining out of America’s orbit of influence and it’s commercial nuclear program is perfectly legal. Iran signed the NPT and as far as it’s known, is in compliance. Yet it’s an enemy. In contrast, Israel, India, and Pakistan signed nothing, have nuclear weapons, and are nuclear outlaws. No problem with Washington or the West because they’re valued allies.
Q: It is said that public opinion in the West is manufactured by the media, to such an extent that most people believe whatever is presented to them. What do you think?
A: I absolutely agree for the most part, but growing numbers of Americans are getting fed up with what our dominant media call news and information. Yet, too many still rely on them and their morning newspapers and major magazines like Time and Newsweek, BBC, and National Public Radio here as well, that are seen as acceptable alternatives, when they’re just as corrupted as the others.
Another factor here is important. People are largely apathetic, too preoccupied in their daily lives; their work, families, and various distractions and interests; sports, films, shopping, and so forth. Even when they’re angry about things, it’s just talk, no action. So for a time we got anti-war protests, including in Chicago where I live, but to no avail; an hour or two of sounding off, then going home to business as usual. Without follow-through, it’s futile. Iraq and Afghanistan are still occupied, and no one even talks about them anymore.
Public anger over Israel’s Gaza war is encouraging. It’s greater than anything previously I remember. But to have effect, it’s vital to keep the resonance, momentum going, day after day, and have it grow to a global mass effort to demand governments act to stop this business, not keep supporting it. A huge job, like for me climbing Mt. Everest. But it has to be done, and I’m hopeful about that. The problem is too few others will join me.
Q: Mr. Lendman, what do you make of the Western media’s coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza?
A: Very sadly and disturbingly, the major media in America and the West disdain truth and provide undisguised support for Israel, whatever its governments do. So slaughtering Gazans is “self-defense” because “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Imagine the absurdity. Israel has the world’s fourth most powerful military. At best, Palestinians are lightly armed. They respond only when attacked, never as an aggressor or terrorist, yet the media portray them that way, and, in the 1990s, the U.S. State Department listed Hamas as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” even though it’s nothing of the sort. Today, it’s the most democratically elected government in the Middle East. In contrast, Israel is nothing of the sort. It’s a racist apartheid state in which Arab citizens have no rights.
Q: How do Western media outlets justify the fact that they have been either deafeningly silent on the Gaza massacre or significantly downplayed it?
A: Indeed so, on how the dominant media cover everything related to Israel, whatever its actions, regardless of how egregious. Israel can do no wrong. Poor Israel, surrounded by hordes of hostile Arabs and Iranians just waiting for a chance to pounce. It’s laughable, but people believe it, and the idea gets repeated day in and out. Also the notion of Islamic “terrorists”. It’s not new. I remember it back when I was a boy and saw Arabs portrayed that way in films -- in the 1940s before Israel became a state. Now it’s a tsunami against Islam, independent Middle Eastern states, a democratically elected government like Hamas, and anyone that Washington or Israel calls an enemy, a threat or whatever.
It’s very sad and why America and Israel get away with murder repeatedly. We call naked aggression against defenseless opponents “self-defense” and protecting “national security”. Amazing how propaganda gets people to believe this and shows how fundamentally ignorant and indifferent the public is. The challenge is how to change this. I work at it every day but need millions more involved.
Q: How can we counter the hegemony of the Western media?
A: There most certainly are ways to combat the dominant media. The Internet overall and important web sites like Global Research play a vital role. Also, online radio programs like The Global Research News Hour and organizations like Project Censored that promotes vital news stories that get suppressed in the mainstream; your country’s Press TV as well. We have nothing like it reaching a mass audience.
These and much more are antidotes to the poisonous influence of CNN, Fox, The New York Times, BBC, our National Public Radio, and all the others. It’s an uphill battle. They reach mass audiences. We attract small numbers but hopefully in time more people will rely on us, not them. I like to say that the way to defeat the dominant media is to ignore them. Against that, they’re defenseless.