After “Aunt Benazir’s” Assassination, Fatima Bhutto Still Fighting to Reveal the Truth

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

One year ago today on December 27, 2007 I woke up to the BBC World Service on my shortwave radio and heard the news that Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated. It didn’t suprise me at all, given the political situation in Pakistan at the time, her family’s political history, her own political past (holding the office of  Prime Minister twice) and her return to Pakistan from exile.

I wasn’t exactly sure I would write about Benazir Bhutto until I came across an March 2008 interview with Bhutto’s niece, poet and author, Fatima Bhutto.

Fatima Bhutto

Fatima Bhutto

During the interview which was taped for CNN  “Talk Asia” program (hosted by Anjali Rao), Fatima Bhutto discussed her aunt, as a politician and as a relative, as well as her own activism.  Along the way, she had some very interesting comments that ring very true for me today in our current political environment.

In Part 1, a brief history of the Bhutto family recounts how Ms. Bhutto’s grandfather, founder of the Pakistan People’s Party and first democratically-elected leader of the country, was executed by the military and how Ms. Bhutto’s father, Mir Mataza Bhutto  (Benazir’s younger brother and a member of Parliament), was gunned down in 1996 after he split from his sister and became critical of her government’s corruption (more later on this topic).

Here is Part I of the interview:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Bhuto 2“, posted with vodpod

Key observations from Ms. Bhutto about her aunt include how:

“…in power, she caused a lot suffering…unrecognizable.”

“People placed hope with her…(she) spoke to hope and change…in power, she was no different than what had been before” (cited large-scale corruption, human rights issues and her dealings with the Taliban).

The “lack of accountability as she returned…deal with a dictator erased 20 years of corruption and a provision…makes it impossible to file charges against future parliamentarians” (National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

During Part 1 Ms. Bhutto was asked if she had any political aspirations of her own (at the time of the interview some in Pakistan saw her as the person to take over her aunt’s party), but explained that wanted to remain an activist on the local level, without any association with any party. She said there were other ways to be active outside of politics and that shes was not interested in “power politics.”

Asked about fears for her own safety because of her being so outspoken, she said all Pakistanis lived in fear and added:

“Once you begin to self-censor, you’ve done the state’s job…and they can rest quite easily.”

In Part 2 of the interview Ms. Bhutto describes how her father and six others were gunned down in 1996 by the police outside the family home (Fatima was 14 and in the house at the time and heard the shots), just a few of the thousands killed in what was called “state terrorism” in some quarters.  Her father was from the PPP’s left-wing and he broke with his sister who was Prime Minister at the time and accused her government as being corrupt.  Benazir Bhutto was accused of trying to cover-up the role of her husband in the murders.  Among the findings of an investigation by a tribunal was the conclusion that the murders could never have taken place without the “approval from the highest levels of government.”

(See” “Living on the Edge,” The Times (UK), 05/08/2008  (“Six months after her aunt Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, Fatima Bhutto is fighting to reveal the truth surrounding the murder of her father in 1996 — and making some very dangerous enemies.”)

According to Ms. Bhutto, this was a turning point in her life as she became the issues of  justice and violence became central to her life, as did the need for accountability so that political violence in Pakistan could come to an end.

When asked if there would be real change if the PPP took power again, Ms. Bhutto had these words:

“In Pakistan, it seems, that power doesn’t really change hands, it’s the faces that change.  But ultimately, their goal is the same.”

Part 2:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Fatima Bhutto CNN Talk Asia Part2“, posted with vodpod

Who was she talking about in March 2008?  The United States’ “democracy” as it really is today?

If you have time, do watch Parts 1 and 2 of this interview with this brilliant, courageous young woman. You’ll admire her…I know I do!

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(Part 3 of the interview deals with Bhutto’s book about the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.)

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For more on Fatima Bhutto and her books and newspaper columns, see her website.

“Aunt Benazir’s false promises,” by Fatima Bhutto,  Los Angeles Times, 11/14/2007


SHILLING and CHURNING–the State of the Media and the “Mass Production of Ignorance” (A Double Post by kenosha Marge and InsightAnalytical-GRL)

The two pieces in this post are intertwined. First, there is “American Media Shills for Obama” by kenosha Marge.  Then, check out “Flat Earth News–The State of ‘Churnalism'” by InsightAnalytical-GRL, an introduction to the acclaimed journalist Nick Davies and his courageous expose’ about the “news” business.

American Media Shills for Obama

~~By kenosha Marge

Has the time finally come when ordinary citizens stop listening to the drivel coming from the mouths of multi-millionaire pundits? Have we really gotten mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more?

Going back as far as William Randolph Hearst it is easy to see that media moguls were always about money and power, not journalism. It was in fact Hurst’s engaging in a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer‘s New York World which led to the creation of “yellow journalism“–sensationalized stories of dubious veracity.

There was a time between Hearst and the Current Millionaire Media Morons that infest our newspapers and airwaves today when some actual journalism occurred.

Having been raised with the Huntley-Brinkley Report and Walter Cronkite what passes for journalism these days is wretched. Certainly Edward R. Murrow, must be spinning in his grave knowing that a hack like Keith Olbermann, is using his signature line, “Good Night and Good Luck”.

It is interesting that Murrow gave a speech before the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Chicago in which he blasted TV’s emphasis on entertainment and commercialism at the expense of public service. That was on October 15, 1958. I suspect he would be appalled to see how far down that road the media has traveled.

Today’s media gives us such stalwarts as Charlie Gibson of ABC who sneered his way through an interrogation disguised as an interview. Gibson tried to embarrass and demean Governor Sarah Palin. Instead he embarrassed himself and the occupation he represents so poorly. We really aren’t interested in whether you like Governor Palin or not Charlie, we just expect you, as a professional to conduct an interview that allows us to make our own decisions based on what WE perceive to be the truth. Your opinion Charlie is irrelevant.

This election cycle, like many before has shown us a media increasingly less interested in reporting the news than in making it. We expected that the Clinton-hating media would attack her relentlessly without regard for truth, fairness or integrity. We didn’t expect their blatant misogyny and their slobbering preference for Obama. There wasn’t even a pretense of fair coverage.

Now John McCain is being treated in the same way. Must be a surprise for him since he is used to being the media darling. He is learning that media, like jackdaws, are attracted to the newest shiniest object to enter their sphere.

Oprah Winfrey had the honesty to admit being an Obama acolyte. She is just a talk show hostess so her opinion is just that, her opinion. She might better occupy her time recommending Diets or Authors but then she’s missed a few times on those issues too.

Chris Matthews is a silly, sexist, twit. Had Matthews forthrightly admitted to being in the tank for Obama you might at least have respected his honesty. His pretense of being neutral was absurd. The tingle up his leg is probably a sign of poor circulation and not enough blood getting to his brain.

The list of Obama fans in the press is nearly endless. Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, and Chris Cillizza are press agents for the Washington Post. Like many papers its circulation is dropping and will likely continue to drop as readers find themselves faced with fewer journalists and a proliferation of cheerleaders.  Were it not for Dana Priest and Thomas E. Ricks the Post wouldn’t be worth reading.

Frank Rich, and Bob Herbert love them some Obama for the New York Times. The Times should no longer be allowed to proclaim itself a newspaper of record. Professional and unbiased? Were it not for Paul Krugman the current Times would only be useful for the bottom of my parrot cage.

Only on the right is Obama not fawned over like the second coming. Even there he isn’t pummeled with the fervor to which a democrat is typically subjected. If Corporate Left and Corporate Right likes someone, that someone might not be the best choice for all us little peons out here that don’t have media contracts worth millions.

Our media has decided that they want Obama to be president. In pursuit of their wish that such a thing come to pass they are willing to slime anyone, tell any lie, spin a few words into something unrecognizable as from the truth and show us their true, corporate colors. There may be a few, a very few, honest, decent, hardworking journalists around. But real Journalists don’t work on cable “news” programs and they seldom show up on the pages of the top newspapers in the country. Like common sense, integrity and honesty are becoming less common all the time.

MSNBC has become the Obama network. I believe the “M” stands for misogynistic. CNN has become the loving Obama all the time network. CNN was once a respected news channel. Now there is more blather than news and more opinion than fact. Jumped the shark a while back. FOX, to everyone’s surprise has been the most unbiased of the 3 cable “news” network. Whoever would have believed that would come to pass?

Few people respect or believe media. Seven out of 10 voters (69%) are convinced that reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and this year by a nearly five-to-one margin voters believe they are trying to help Obama. What does that say about how voters view the integrity of the media?

As if the misbehavior of the media were not enough they sneer down their exfoliated noses at the rabble for being “low information” voters. They do not do their job to inform us, then insult and demean us for NOT being informed.

Who, what, when, why and where as journalistic ideology? Gone with the snows of yesteryear…

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“Flat Earth News” The State of ‘Churnalism'”

~~by InsightAnalytical-GRL

While listening to the BBC World Service months ago, I heard an interview with author Nick Davies, an acclaimed investigative reporter from Britain (see bio below). Davies, who had written a book entitled “Flat Earth News” (published in February 2008) lambasted the present state of journalism. In the book, Davies “exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.” Check out his website of the same name.

The part of the interview that has stayed with me these many months was his discussion of what Davies calls “churnalism.” If you scan the reaction by the journalists who have commented on the book, you’ll see the frustration of many of them who have experienced the process of taking press releases that have been rehashed and passed off as real news gathering and those who have been forced to rely on “automated news-sifting services” because they are no longer given the time to investigate stories or check their facts. In other words, as one comments, most news “isn’t original anymore.”

A video of a more recent interview with Davies on “churnalism” is available here at the BBC site and is well-worth watching!

Here’s a synopsis of the book from Davies’ site:

“Finally I was forced to admit that I work in a corrupted profession.” When award-winning journalist Nick Davies decided to break Fleet Street’s unwritten rule by investigating his own colleagues, he found that the business of truth had been slowly subverted by the mass production of ignorance.

Working with a network of off-the-record sources, Davies uncovered the story of the prestigious Sunday newspaper which allowed the CIA and MI6 to plant fiction in its columns; the daily newsroom where senior reporters casually refer to ‘nig nogs’ and where executives routinely reject stories about black people; the respected quality paper which was so desperate for scoops that it hired a conman to set up a front company to entrap senior political figures. He found papers supporting law and order while paying cash bribes to bent detectives and hiring private investigators to steal information.

Davies names names and exposes the national news stories which turn out to be pseudo events manufactured by the PR industry and the global news stories which prove to be fiction generated by a new machinery of international propaganda.

He shows the impact of this on a world where media consumers believe a mass of stories which, in truth, are as false as the idea that the Earth is flat – from the millennium bug to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, tainting government policy, perverting popular belief.

He presents a new model for understanding news. With the help of researchers from Cardiff University, who ran a ground-breaking analysis of the contents and sources for our daily news, Davies found most reporters most of the time are not allowed to dig up stories or check their facts – a profession corrupted at the core.

Read All About It. The news will never look the same again.

An extract from the book is here.

Needless to say, this book has raised the hackles of many in the established media.  A paperback edition will be published in early 2009.

Check out Nick Davies’ site for updated posts on recent media distortions and for many links about the book and reactions to it, as well as media-monitoring sites, including:

http://www.flatearthnews.net/links

http://blogs.pressgazette.co.uk/wire/2040

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Nick Davies’ Resume

“Nick Davies has been named Journalist of the Year, Reporter of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year for his investigations into crime, drugs, poverty and other social issues. Hundreds of journalists have attended his masterclass on the techniques of investigative reporting. He has been a journalist since 1976 and is currently a freelance, working regularly as special correspondent for The Guardian. He also makes TV documentaries; he was formerly an on-screen reporter for World In Action. His four books include White Lies (about a racist miscarriage of justice in Texas) and Dark Heart (about poverty in Britain). He was the first winner of the Martha Gellhorn award for investigative reporting for his work on failing schools and recently won the award for European Journalism for his work on drugs policy.”