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“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader

6. RONALD REAGAN: AMERICA’S CHIEF CENSOR

Late in 1982, David Burnham, New York Times journalist, sounded a warning to the press and America that deserved far much more than a two column head.

Burnham charged “In its first 21 months in office, the Reagan administration has taken several actions that reduce the information available to the public about the operation of the Government, the economy, the environment, and public health.

“The actions have included increasing the authority of Govern­ment officials to classify data, cutting back on the collection of statistics, eliminating hundreds of Government publications and reducing the staff of the National Archives.”

Administration officials deny the charges, Larry Speakes, deputy White House press secretary said there is no central directive to cut back on the availability of information.

Jonathon Rose, an Assistant Attorney General involved in the Administration’s effort to reduce the scope of the Freedom of Information Act, also said there was no united effort and added:

“I believe, however, that there is an effort to balance the value of collecting and disseminating information against other values we think are important. Freedom of information is not cost free, it is not an absolute good.”

Columbia Journalism Review editors noted recently in a commentary that presidents traditionally have regarded the FOI act with discomfit since it was enacted but that President Reagan “has tried everything from amputation to lobotomy,”

The editors said “For two years the Reagan administration has tried to weaken the federal Freedom of Information Act. It has tried frontal assault — a rewrite sponsored by the Justice Department and submitted, unsuccessfully, to Congress, It has tried flank attack — an executive order designed to keep more records secret and thus out of reach of the act. And it has tried covert action -­- quietly making it harder to obtain the waiver of fees that the act specifies for information ‘considered as primarily benefiting the general public’.”

The question about the value or “good” of freedom of information, raised by Rose above, was answered in part in an article which appeared in Organizing Notes last year.

It noted how journalists, scholars, consumer advocates, environmentalists, labor unions, civil rights activists, and count­less other citizens regularly use the Freedom of Information act.  It suggested that disclosures under the FOIA have benefited the lives of nearly all Americans and cited just six of more than 500 case studies it has compiled on successful use of FOIA to benefit the general public:

“A series of requests to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed the extent of the FBI’s Counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) to harass and disrupt civil rights and anti-war organizations;

“Information released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documented the presence of defects in Firestone 500 tires and ultimately led to the recall of the unsafe tires;

“Documents obtained from the Food and Drug Administration revealed that more than 600 prescriptions drugs have been proven ineffective. As a result, Congress banned Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for purchase of the drugs;

“Records released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed the Nixon administration’s attempts to use IRS tax audits to harass political opponents;

Files obtained from the Small Business Administration revealed that more than $60 million in government insured surety bonds had been granted to firms owned by a Chicago organized crime figure, resulting in a grand jury investigation into the firms’ activities;

“Records released by the Food and Drug Administration revealed an increased cancer risk among pregnant women using the hormone DES. As a result of the disclosure, the Surgeon General advised physicians to monitor DES patients for signs of cancer.”

Nonetheless, the Reagan administration seems determined to restrict the flow of information to the public. As this synopsis was being prepared, we note that the Justice Department has labeled three Canadian films (which happen to deal with acid rain and nuclear war) as propaganda and subject to government review; and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced it will have to issue subpoenas to obtain documents withheld by the White House and Federal agencies and noted that its work has been impeded by this action.

However, the most dangerous and overt challenge to the public’s right to know may have occurred on Friday, March 11, of this year, when President Reagan issued an executive order to “stem the flow of leaks of classified government information.”

As Anthony Lewis, of the New York Times, noted, this is “the most dangerous executive order in many years: dangerous to the American system of democratic control over public policy. It is also, so far, dangerously misunderstood.”

“When the White House issued the order — on Friday afternoon, to minimize public notice — some of the press focused on a colorful but relatively unimportant provision. It tells government employees that they must agree to take lie detector tests when leaks are being investigated, or face ‘adverse consequences’.

“The main point of the Reagan order is far more sweeping, more revolutionary. It extends to hundreds of thousands of men and women throughout government a system of prior censorship used until now only by the CIA and other super-secret intelligence services.

“Anyone who has seen sensitive information will be covered by the censorship system even after he leaves government service -­for the rest of his life. He will have to get official approval before writing or saying anything about subjects he dealt with in government … have to submit everything, however innocuous, and let government censors decide what can be said or published. And experience has shown that the censors spend most of their time trying to suppress embarrassing facts, not true secrets.”

Ironically, this Executive Order was issued in 1983. This year also happens to mark the 30th anniversary of the publication of The People’s Right to Know, the landmark work in the freedom of information movement, by Harold L. Cross.

If the press does not start to provide strong, continuous, and understandable coverage of Reagan’s attacks on the public’s right to know, we may not be enjoying that right much longer.

SOURCES:

Organizing Notes, May 1982, “Government Secrecy,” by Maureen Weaver; New York Times, 11/14/82, “Government Restricting Flow of Information to the Public,” by David Burnham; San Francisco Chronicle, 3/10/83, “Curb on ‘Acid Rain’ Films Challenged;” 3/21/83, “U.S. Rights Panel Plans Subpoenas;” Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 1983, “Keeping Government Honest;” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/18/83, “The White House Attack on Public Information,” by Anthony Lewis, New York Times Service.

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