Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org
How can it be that the same news-medium that reported, on 22 April 2015, that the Obama Administration allows countries it signs trade-pacts with to murder their trade-union organizers and insists upon continuing to permit those murders, has now also reported on 24 March 2016, “The Obama Administration Just Took A Huge Step On Worker Safety: It’s known as the silica rule, and it’s a big frigging deal”? This new Obama-Administration ‘rule’ won’t even be enforceable, but that ‘news’ medium failed to notice that this ‘big frigging deal’ is actually only a con by Obama — nothing more than empty words and promises, nothing at all that’s likely to be enforceable (because bigger actions by him, which they had reported earlier, are intended to make any such new rule virtually unenforceable).
On 22 April 2015, Michael McAuliff, Huffington Post’s Senior Congressional Reporter and one of the best journalists covering that beat, headlined, “AFL-CIO’s Trumka: USTR Told Us Murder Isn’t A Violation Under U.S. Trade Deals,” and reported that Obama’s U.S. Trade Representative, Obama’s own longtime friend Michael Froman, refused to treat the murder of trade-union organizers in foreign countries as being unfair to American workers who in America’s ‘trade’ pacts are wage-competing against third-world workers whose trade-union organizers are freely murdered — as hundreds of these labor-organizers have, in fact, been.
The AFL-CIO documented that, under CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2005, there have been several murders of trade-union organizers in Guatemala during the Obama Administration, and Obama’s Trade Representative said that this isn’t relevant to compliance with any U.S. trade agreement with any country, not CAFTA, not NAFTA, and wouldn’t be under TPP, TTIP, TISA, or any other. He said it’s not relevant to any ‘Free Trade Agreement’. McAuliff reported, in his article: “Thea Lee, the AFL-CIO deputy chief of staff, told HuffPost that USTR officials said in at least two meetings where she was present that killing and brutalizing organizers would not be considered interfering with labor rights under the terms of the trade measures. One instance involved talks last year about killings in Guatemala, where the AFL-CIO has been seeking redress for labor violations for six years. Another came just a few months ago in talks about a three-year-old case involving Honduras, Lee said. ‘To substantiate our case we documented five or six murders of Guatemalan trade unionists that the government had failed to effectively investigate or prosecute,’ Lee said. ‘The USTR told us that the murders of trade unionists or violence against trade unionists was not a violation of the labor chapter because it was a rule of law problem.’”
Similarly, on 24 September 2013, HuffPo’s Kate Sheppard, a Senior Reporter on environmental matters, bannered, “Michael Froman, Top U.S. Trade Official, Sides With Tar Sands Advocates In EU Negotiations,” and she reported that, “Refiners in the U.S. have expressed concern that [the EU’s] assigning higher [CO2-processing] values to tar sands oil [than to regular oil] would limit their ability to export the product to the EU. While most tar sands oil comes from Canada, much of it is processed in U.S. refineries,” and Froman was pressing the EU to weaken their anti-global-warming rules so that in TTIP, the EU wouldn’t be permitted to ‘discriminate’ against higher-CO2-producing tar-sands-derived oil. Of course, under 2016-election-year pressure, Obama ultimately disallowed construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline for bringing tar-sands-oil from Canada to the Texas coast for shipment to Europe; but, actually, he really wanted to allow the XL to be built, and he was pressuring Europe to accept the oil into their market — the world’s largest energy-market. On that issue, too, he was working behind-the-scenes (via his Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and his Trade Representative Froman) to produce faked Environmental Impact Statements favoring XL, and also to force Europe to accept tar-sands oil which would be carried by that Pipeline, even while he was publicly mouthing anti-global-warming statements.
So: Huffington Post, which reported the truth that Obama wants American workers to be wage-competing against third-world labor where union organizers are routinely murdered in order to keep wages down, and which also reported the truth that Obama’s mouthings against global warming are purely pretense from him, nonetheless allows sucker-reporters on its staff to advertise for Obama such propaganda, as, from Dave Jamieson, their Labor Reporter: “The Obama Administration Just Took A Huge Step On Worker Safety: It’s known as the silica rule, and it’s a big frigging deal”.
Under TPP and TTIP — these two mega ‘trade’ deals that are intended by Obama to be his biggest legacy achievements if he can get them into law — a prosecution of any foreign corporation (that’s based in another of the signatory countries) for violating this ‘rule’, can spark from that corporation a lawsuit against the U.S. for ‘infringing on the corporation’s right to profit.’ A panel of three private ‘arbitrators’ will hear the case and issue a ruling, which won’t be able to be appealed in any nation’s courts — it will be final, and the laws of no nation can be appealed to to reverse it. U.S. taxpayers would then be forced to reimburse the corporation for any ‘losses’ that allegedly result from America’s having enforced this new rule. How likely is it that a rule which is stiffer than existed when the trade-agreement was written, will then be enforced?
Obama’s push to strengthen the grip of international corporations and to make supreme stockholders’ ‘rights,’ above and beyond the merely national rights of mere voters and citizens and taxpayers of any signatory country, is tragically real; his mere rhetoric and even ‘regulations’ against such things, is tragically fake.
Are American news-media suckers for allowing such deception to be reported without simultaneously reporting the ugly reality — without demanding every reporter always to make note of the fakery, and never merely to report the fake ’news’ without noting that it’s a fake — so that readers can get an understanding of the reality, not merely of the surface?
After all: a President who is so determined to give international corporations what they want as to treat the murder of union-organizers in a ‘free-trade-area’ country as being irrelevant to that country’s ‘free trade’ with the U.S., and to try to force Europe to lower its anti-global-warming standards so as to promote the sale of the world’s dirtiest oil — and at the same time to mouth his own opposition to those very same things — shouldn’t ever be allowed to present his mere lies and deceptions, without in the same report, indicating also the ugly reality that they’re contradicting. (Instead of reporting that ugly reality, this PR-piece simply ignores it and the contradiction — makes no mention of it.)
Honest news-reporting in the U.S. shouldn’t depend only upon the mere quirk that a few of a news-medium’s reporters (such as McAuliff and Sheppard) are competent; what’s required is management-level competence, which entails demanding of each and every news-report, and every news-reporter on their staff, to report reality, and never only to report the mere surface of what’s actually fakery.
The problems in American journalism are at the very top. And this is a major reason why so many American voters are so deceived, and so confused. They get too much mere propaganda, and thus they really have no reason to trust any ‘news’ report (except perhaps the few news-reports that — like the present one — provide links to the evidence behind all key allegations and so invite any skeptical reader to check out its sources, the deeper level of that report).
On 28 September 2015, Gallup headlined, “Americans’ Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low,” and the problem there isn’t the distrust; it’s that the distrust is warranted.
And the real rot in America’s ‘news’media is at the top. That’s where this distrust has its source. It can’t reasonably be blamed on sloppy or gullible reporters. After all: they didn’t hire themselves. (And, sometimes, the best reporters get fired for being too good. To be a good journalist in America — as in most countries — requires courage: it’s dangerous to a reporter’s career.)
With such rot at the top, voters make their electoral decisions more on the basis of misinformation and outright propaganda, than on the basis of authentic and honestly reported news. Whether that type of press produces a democraciy is doubtful: the evidence says that it doesn’t.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.