A state of anticipation and anxiety is sweeping the entire world due to the escalation of tension between NATO and Russia, especially after Putin’s recognition of the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Despite this, the coverage of the events in Ukraine by the American media, which is desperately seeking to escalate and ignite the situation more than it is — some even have described it as American hysteria — is the most prominent event so far.
Despite the complexity of the situation, almost everything Putin is doing is very clear. Russia is already seeking diplomatic solutions and negotiations, but it wants to be in a strong position and to have the necessary pressure papers to obtain the security guarantees it wants from the beginning.
However, on the other hand, the US media deliberately hides many facts, the most important of which is the provocation of the US and NATO forces against the Russian side, focusing only on the reactions of the Russian side.
More importantly, many news channels have deliberately overlooked their primary function and have begun to suggest pre-emptive military deterrence as a solution to the current crisis, claiming that it is Putin who wants war.
It is clear that what American media channels have presented and are still presenting to the present moment are nothing but targeted disinformation campaigns in which intelligence services play a key role behind the scenes to legitimise the deployment of more American forces in Eastern Europe and impose more sanctions on Russia, luring Putin into a preventive war. The same scenario of pre-emptive wars that the US is famous for, and the media plays a major role in it.
In fact, disinformation is not synonymous with false or fake news that is sometimes circulated by some media outlets, assuming that it is true and not for misinformation. On the other hand, the purpose of media disinformation is to manage public opinion. Therefore, disinformation includes true news, but it has been exaggerated or extensively presented to lead to the purpose that the campaign seeks.
In the Middle east, we have experienced these misleading campaigns directed by the US media in many events, such as the invasion of Iraq, where the American media confirmed at the time the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and began to exaggerate matters blatantly until Iraq was invaded and destroyed, and these alleged weapons never appeared.
We also witnessed this in Syria through the ferocious media campaigns launched by the US against the Russian presence and its intentions. We also see this misleading media role when the round tables and talk shows in the American news channels completely turn a blind eye to the relations that have become evident between the American intelligence services and the terrorist organisation ISIS in Afghanistan.
Therefore, for us in the Middle East, we certainly know very well that US media, including newspapers and television channels, is nothing but a tool in the hands of American intelligence services. Despite claims of freedom of the press and the media, it seems that these freedoms apply to all matters except those that concern the interests of the US.
Much recent research on American media indicates that since the end of World War II, the CIA has been a major force in American and foreign media, exerting significant influence on what the public sees, hears, and reads regularly. Although CIA propagandists have always asserted that they have few relations with journalists and media professionals, many historical facts and confessions of media professionals and journalists themselves emphatically confirm the opposite.
The CIA’s ‘Operation MOCKINGBIRD’ is a long-recognised cornerstone among researchers who underscore the agency’s apparent interest in and connection with major US media outlets. Mockingbird was an intelligence operation designed to infiltrate and covertly control the media. The operation began in the 1950s under the command of the Director of the General Intelligence Agency, Alan Dulles.
The files about this operation, which were kept secret until recently, as only a small part of the total documents were released, revealed how the CIA infiltrated mainstream media and how information that was included in television, newspapers, magazines, and everywhere as “news” was nothing more than a game of lies and propaganda aimed at influencing public opinion. This intelligence operation was a big scandal in 1957.
Also, in 1977, famous journalist Carl Bernstein, along with his colleague Bob Wood, exposed the Watergate scandal that forced US President Richard Nixon to resign, publishing details of the hidden relationship between the American media and intelligence in a famous article in Rolling Stone magazine titled ‘The CIA and the media.’
Bernstein emphasised that since the early 1950s, the CIA had funded many foreign press services and periodicals. Moreover, he asserted in his article that the two most important American magazines, Time and Newsweek, maintained close ties with the CIA as the agency’s files contains written agreements with former foreign correspondents for weekly news magazines.
He said that “Allen Dulles often interceded with his good friend, the late Henry Luce, founder of Time and Life magazines, to allow certain members of his staff to work for the agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials to other CIA agents who lacked journalistic experience.”
In fact, the situation has not changed much today. Some of the journalists were brave enough to talk about this relationship between the intelligence services and the media.
Richard Salant, the former head of CBS News, for example, once said: “Our job is not to give people what they want, we are the ones to decide what should or should not be given.”
Also, veteran German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, author of the 2014 book ‘Gekaufte Journalisten’ (‘Purchased Journalists’), revealed how he was routinely forced to publish articles written by intelligence agents under threat of dismissal.
“I ended up publishing articles in my name written by agents from the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German intelligence service,” Ulfkotte explained in a recent interview with Russia Today.
In the same vein, Robert David Steele, a former CIA officer, stated in a 2014 interview that the CIA’s manipulation of the media was “worse” in the 2000s than in the late 1970s, when Bernstein wrote the CIA and the Media.”
He said: “The sad thing is that the CIA is very capable of manipulating [the media] and has financial arrangements with the media and Congress and all the others. But the other half of that coin is that the media is lazy.”
To a large extent, the exaggerated escalation of the Ukrainian crisis by the US media demonstrated the media’s dependence on intelligence services and their manoeuvres to demonise the Russian side and legitimise Western endeavours to expand to the east.
The question that arises now is why Putin resorts to waging a war of unknown results as long as he is able all the time to dismantle and drown Ukraine as we have seen.
Marwa El- Shinawy Assistant Professor at International American University for Specialised Studies (IAUS)