Saturday, April 15, 2006

It's not the kind of thing to report.
Transcript of Chomsky Interview Clip 1
Tom Murphy Interviews Noam Chomsky December 2005

TOM MURPHY: Unfortunately, the effective political forum we have is held by the commercial sector, mostly television, not only debates but just when discussions happen. I'll give you one quick example, this is a continuing pattern but Mike Wallace, who was from 60 Minutes, was on the Tim Russert show and he was mentioning that several years ago he did a story about Israel or Jews in Syria and things like that. And he said that, "the Jewish community and the Jewish lobby came after me." And he said that the story he covered, National Geographic was going to cover it - they had to kill it. Tim Russert sits there, nothing. Now the premise is we have an open society. You know, Dershowitz said, "why, why would the press act like this?" When here it is, we can see it, Tim Russert being quiet.

NOAM CHOMSKY: I mean I - he said it after I gave an example of it. He didn't like the example so he claimed it didn't happen. But anybody - it's been in print for years, including the sources. Anybody who wants can check 'em up. It happened. And this was a striking case where in the Intifada, you know, the Palestinian uprising, in the territories in October 2000. The first few days, Israel was using U.S. helicopters, which they don't make, to attack civilian complexes like apartment houses, killing and wounding dozens of people - that was reported. Next day, Clinton made the biggest deal in a decade to send military helicopters to Israel. Not controversial, you can read it in the Israeli press, you can read it in the leading international military journals, Jane's Defence Weekly. Amnesty International had a report. I had a friend do a database search in the United States - this is really important information. You know, here is a country that's using U.S. helicopters to murder civilians and we react by sending more helicopters. Big story. I had a friend do a database search, zilch. One letter in a newspaper in North Carolina. It wasn't that the editors missed the story. In fact, in some cases, which in fact I know about personally, the story was - there were meetings with editors to ask them to cover it. Of course they didn't miss it. I mean, they read the same press wires we all read. It was just "it's not the kind of thing to report."

TOM MURPHY: Right. If someone wants ...

NOAM CHOMSKY: And there are thousands of cases like this. I mean, take one right now. Did you read the report, the polls taken by the British Defense Ministry in Iraq?

TOM MURPHY: I think I heard it from you.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, maybe you heard it from me but did you read it in the front page of the New York Times? OK, very important. They stopped reporting poll results from Iraq cause the results aren't coming out the way they want. But, you know, we are supposed to be bringing democracy to Iraq. OK, you want to know what Iraqis think? I mean, that would be relevant.


NOAM CHOMSKY: OK, the British Defense Ministry did carry out a poll a couple of months ago. It was secret but it leaked to the press in England and was reported there. Every American journalist and editor knows about it. The report was that 82% of the population want British and American troops out, 1% think that they're improving security and 45% think that attacks against them are legitimate. Is that important information before an election? Yeah. Was it reported here? No. In fact the same thing happened in our election. Right before the 2004 election, the two major most prestigious institutions that study public opinion came out with extensive reports on U.S. public opinion and they showed what I describe: both political parties way to the right of the population on very important issues. It was reported in two local newspapers, a couple of op-eds here and there. What could be more important in a democratic society than knowing what your neighbors think?

TOM MURPHY: Right. You know, one of the premises of what we are doing in Iraq is that we are actually - that U.S. officials are sincere about setting up a democracy but we don't have to wait, do we, to know if they're sincere because they have already violated the rights of the Iraqis with business ...

NOAM CHOMSKY: I mean, look, the belief that they're there to bring democracy can be held only by people who want to act like North Koreans. I mean, we have a record, a public record, its not a secret, it's not ancient history, it's 2003. When they invaded, Bush, Powell, Blair, Jack Straw, Rice, the rest of them, kept stressing over and over that there is a single question, it's their phrase. Single question: Will Iraq give up it's weapons of mass destruction? That was the single question. That's how Bush got authorization from Congress for force. The single question. Well they invaded, a couple of weeks, the single question was answered the wrong way. All of a sudden the story changes, no it wasn't the single question, it was what the press calls "Bush's messianic mission to bring democracy to Iraq." If this were happening in North Korea we'd laugh. What question of sincerity is there? I mean, is there a particle of evidence that they're in favor of democracy? Not one, except for the declarations of leaders. There is an election in Iraq. Why? The U.S. and Britain tried in every way they could think of to prevent an election and they were compelled by mass popular non-violent resistance to allow an election. That's not a secret, you know - perfectly open. And immediately they tried to subvert it, as they're doing right now, by announcing right away:"no table for withdrawal" - it doesn't matter what the Iraqis think.

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