In Whom Can We Trust?

Trust is a word we hear bandied about today with increasing frequency.

Our government, our corporations, the media, our churches are constantly telling us, "Trust us, we know what we are doing, we know what is best for you!" Sadly the more we are asked to give our trust to such institutions the less reason we have for believing their entreaties.

Likewise, in the process of being constantly told, that for our own good, "we the people" must trust these self-serving institutions to behave in a democratic fashion we are rapidly losing that vital ingredient that insures trust -- accountability.

As people lose their sense of trust and accountability they more likely than not become apathetic, isolate themselves from the body politic, become self-centered in their approach to the communities in which they live and lose all sense of the common good.

The result of that metamorphosis can in large part be seen today -- despite all the flag waving and invoking of the Almighty in our political dialogue -- democracy suffers.

For the corporate state and its political minions such public distrust, apathy and self-centeredness is a heaven sent blessing for as we have seen in recent years fewer and fewer people are taking part in the democratic process, leaving a small cadre of fascist plutocrats to govern and regulate our republic's affairs. No longer do we see national policy dictating politics, but rather egocentric politics dictating national policy.

A large measure of the blame for this condition can be laid at the doorstep of the national media upon which people read, listen to and watch each day. Rather than live up to its responsibility to act as a reliable "fourth branch of government" it has become for the most part simply a messenger boy for the ruling plutocracy. Meanwhile, the public is left in the dark and uninformed of the facts that go toward the formation of a responsible citizenry.

A recent example of such government and media treachery can be seen in the pages of the recently-published book First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America, by Jack Cashill and James Sanders [Wind Books, Nashville, Tenn.].

While one might rightfully question the right-wing political agenda of the publisher and a few of the book's commentators, one will find it difficult to dismiss the page after page of lies, fabrications, and coverups by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board, The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Clinton White House that surrounded the tragic crash of TWA Flight 800 over Long Island Sound on July 17, 1996, in which 230 people were killed.

After the authors show what really happened to Flight 800 was not due to "mechanical failure," as the government would have us believe, they pose a very plausible and surprising scenario in the closing pages of the book, based on credible research, of how the passengers of Flight 800 may have well been the precursors of the World Trade Center occupants on Sept. 11, 2001, hence the book's title, First Strike.

In seeking to refute the government's claim that no physical evidence of an external attack exists, the authors show how the evidence of what actually did happen was "systematically lost, stolen, concealed, erased, deleted, denied, or simply ignored.

"This," they state, "is not a matter of conjecture. This is a matter of fact."

Tragically a willing accomplice to what became one of the government's biggest lies of that era was the nation's mainstream media, led by the newspaper that has traditionally boasted that it publishes "all the news fit to print." Readers of this column, however, should not be surprised that the New York Times often fails in its role of being the nation's paper of record.

Their handling of the ADM price-fixing scandal at about the same time of the TWA Flight 800 investigation and their subsequent blackout of news stories dealing with the plight of their journalistic colleagues Jane Akre and Steve Wilson at the hands of Fox News being two prime examples of such dereliction of journalistic responsibility and accountability

But the Times does not stand alone in this respect as the latter story illustrated. For all its rhetoric about how Fox News is "unfair and unbalanced" in its coverage of the news of the day, how it has become the Bush administration's unofficial cheerleader in the war on Iraq, the often elitist progressive media for all of its trashing of Fox choose to all but ignore probably the most flagrant breach of the fledgling network's so-called "fair and balanced" credo.

The husband and wife investigative team of Akre and Wilson had prepared a WTVT/Fox 13 documentary on how Florida dairymen had been secretly injecting the genetically engineered rBGH into their cows and how Florida supermarkets quietly reneged on promises not to sell milk from treated cows until the hormone gained widespread acceptance by consumers.

In a subsequent law suit the reporters charged in detail that Fox TV, after being strongly pressured by Monsanto, violated the state's whistleblower act by firing the journalists for refusing to broadcast false reports and threatening to report the station's conduct to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

A Florida jury later concluded that Akre was indeed pressured by Fox lawyers and managers to broadcast what the jury agreed was "a false, distorted or slanted story" and was fired for threatening to blow the whistle and awarded her a $425,000 judgement. However, that decision was later reversed by a Florida court of appeals on a legal technicality when the judges agreed with Fox's lawyers that it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.

Akre recalls: "Prior to our dismissal, station manager Dave Boylan, a career salesman without any roots in journalism and seemingly lacking the devotion to serve the public interest that motivates all good investigative reporting, had flaunted the company's wealth in an attempt to make us back down. "We paid $3 billion for these stations," he told us on one occasion. "We'll tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is!"

Currently Akre is appealing the Florida court's decision which, before her and Wilson's trial, three different judges on at least six occasions had rejected the same argument by Fox lawyers.

Later, Akre and Wilson were among eight environmental heroes from around the globe who were awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, the world's largest award for environmental activists. Once again the story received scant notice from all branches of the media -- progressive and main stream -- primarily because to report their award it would have been necessary to detail what they did to receive that award.

It was Abraham Lincoln who once said: " I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

A.V. Krebs is director of the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project, PO Box 2201, Everett, WA 98203. He publishes the email newsletter, The Agribusiness Examiner; email; web site

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