In a curious turn of events during the past week, the Western media has suddenly become the most reliable source for information about the war on terror. Beginning with a Reuters (UK) report that the US is refusing to leave Shamsi airbase, media groups have begun once again pointing to American media as the paragon of truth, when these same media groups at other times term the American media as untrustworthy propaganda.
An article from the American Miami Herald newspaper claims that CIA is still launching drone strikes from Shamsi airbase. This article was dutifully quoted by Pakistani newspapers as proof of “the desire to please the US which is causing ministers of the same government making apparently contradictory statements”.
But this same Pakistani newspaper regularly publishes articles which claim that “the American media has always supported the political establishment” and publishes misinformation.
The historical precedents of White House “lies” in the chronicles of US military aggressions against nations all over the world are incredibly numerous and documented. The American media has always supported the political establishment. Indeed, we must not forget that there has never been credible evidence of Afghan or bin Laden’s involvement in New York’s 9/11 attack. For all practical analysis, 9/11 seems to be an inside job, a Bush administration’s pretext for the Iraqi and Afghan invasion – the American determined global policy doctrine to extend its capitalist corporate interests all over the world.
This is not unusual. Western media is regularly termed by anchors and journalists as propaganda, mouthpiece for American hegemony, and unreliable when it carries reports that are critical of Pakistan or do not fit a particular narrative of US aggression. But when the reports support this narrative, suddenly the Western media becomes the most trusted source.
A new report in American media quotes a ‘prominent former militant commander’ who says that the Pakistani military is supporting militant groups. As usual, this source only spoke “on condition that his name, location and other personal details not be revealed”. Will the media groups that accept anonymous claims in Western media about Shamsi airbase accept anonymous claims in Western media about military complicity with militants also?
In both cases, the Western media reports are based on anonymous sources that are contradicted by other sources who are willing to speak openly. Also, in both cases there are reasons to be skeptical of the claims of these anonymous sources – would a militant commander not want to sow doubt between US and Pakistani militaries as a strategy to ‘divide and conquer’? Somehow the American journalist did not seem to think of this obvious problem.
Both claims could be true, and both claims could be false. We do not have any proof at this point with which to judge the claims of these unknown sources other than their own word. But now knowing who these sources are, how can we accept their word only? We simply cannot know if one source or the other is telling the truth or playing a propaganda game with the media. That does not mean that we should accept the ones that fit our pre-determined beliefs while dismissing the other because it is inconvenient.