Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Media: Chris Hedges and Dennis Kucinich -- two responsible for their own failures

 "Radio Ga Ga" as Queen once sang -- it's all we got from the media last week.  They told us what to think -- or tried to anyway.  And as we watched so much go down, we had to wonder does the truth matter?

It matters to us.

But we're aware that lies can matter as well.

Lies mattered in 2002 and they started the US-led war on Iraq, for example. 

There's a new lie that started on Friday.  We could stay silent.  The lie actually could be helpful to a movement for justice.  And maybe that's what a lot of people being silent are thinking -- that they're being helpful?

Chris Hedges and THE REAL NEWS NETWORK parted company and Chris announced it on Friday.

Here's the full Tweet in case it disappears:

I was just informed by Max Alvarez, the Editor-in-Chief at The Real News, that they will no longer run my show. The reason for the cancellation, he said, is that my critiques of Biden, especially for the genocide in Gaza, jeopardizes his nonprofit status. My last show with Dennis Kucinich, who is running as an independent for Congress in Ohio, was removed from the site. - Chris Hedges

On Friday, we caught THE VANGUARD and realized it was forever useless and also that it is the YOUTUBE equivalent of TALK SOUP or HULU's THE MORNING AFTER.  

Both of those were, like THE VANGUARD, cheap and useless product that pretends to inform but never actually does.  Time fillers, that's all they are.

Friday, Zac and Cody -- er, Gavin -- wanted to talk about Chris Hedges' firing and it was amusing to watch.  Zac has some sort of a relationship with Max Alvarez.  So he wanted to defend Max.  But he also wanted to run with the claim that Chris was being punished for speaking out about the assault on Gaza.  And even the fact that Max Blumenthal's embarrassing attack Tweets -- attacking Max Alvarez and THE REAL NEWS NETWORK -- set Zac's Spidey-sense tingling was enough to make Zac come to his senses.

They constantly stated -- Zac and Gavin -- that they didn't know anything.

But they spent over 13 minutes doing their gossip and conjecture, two young men queening like they were Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons reincarnated.

We wrote about the firing for POLLY'S BREW and also noted that we didn't know any details other than what was in Chris' Tweet.  But what we did know was Chris Hedges' actual record -- something that Zac and Gavin have purposely blinded themselves to.  They aren't the only ones.




That's BLACK AGENDA REPORT's Margaret Kimberley from two years ago.

What do you say?  What can you say that's kind?

Maybe she's a secret fan of Beck and was trying to follow his advice to "get crazy with the Cheese Whiz"? 

Chris didn't get fired for not going "along with their pro-Iraq war stance."  He probably wishes he did -- especially since his stature's been inflated by so many lying that he was fired for that reason.

The selling of the Iraq War began in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.  Remember that because we will circle back to that point.  The US-led invasion was in March of 2003.  

So Chris spoke out then?


Saturday, May 17, 2003, as a fill-in commencement speaker at Rockford College in Illinois  for then-governor Rod Blagojevich, Chris spoke and was booed. Bill Vann (WSWS) reported:

He began his commencement address at the Rockford College graduation by announcing that he intended to speak about “war and empire,” and warned his audience that, while the major fighting was over in Iraq, “blood will continue to spill—theirs and ours.”

He continued: “For we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power, and security. But this will come later as our empire expands and in all this we become pariahs, tyrants to others weaker than ourselves. Isolation always impairs judgment and we are very isolated now.”

He barely was able to say more when sections of the audience responded with boos and catcalls. Some tried to shout him down, yelling, “God bless America,” “Go Home,” and “Send him to France.”

As he continued his remarks, a few individuals rushed the stage and twice disconnected his microphone, forcing him to halt the speech. Others climbed onto the platform. Afterwards, Hedges described the situation as threatening.


The war had already started.  Chris got a write-up from his employer THE NEW YORK TIMES for his speech.  Because it was anti-war?  No.  Because he gave an opinion speech about war when he was a reporter -- not a columnist -- for the paper.  The paper's argument was that his remarks put to question that they could be impartial.  He was written up and he resigned.


He was not fired.


But let's circle back to his 'bravery' with regards to the Iraq War.  In 2006, Jack Fairweather (MOTHER JONES) reported:


EIGHT WEEKS after September 11, a pair of Americans entered the gleaming marble lobby of Beirut’s Intercontinental Hotel La Vendome, where they were greeted by a group of Iraqi expatriates. The Americans were reporters—New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges, who’d just been put on the Al Qaeda beat, and Christopher Buchanan, an associate producer of PBS’s Frontline—there to meet a mysterious Iraqi defector with information about Saddam Hussein’s secret weapons program. Hedges and Buchanan were ushered to an elegant suite overlooking the Mediterranean, where they interviewed Jamal al-Ghurairy, an Iraqi lieutenant general who had fled Iraq. Ghurairy claimed to have witnessed foreign Islamic militants training to hijack airplanes at an Iraqi terrorist training camp.

Buchanan had been given the assignment just a few days earlier and knew very little about the interview’s subject. “It was all very hush-hush,” he says. “His life might be in danger. I didn’t know much else.” Buchanan recalls the general as thickset, “fierce looking,” and having a military bearing. “He looked the part,” he says. Hedges adds that the general “was definitely Iraqi and struck me as having spent a lot of time in the military.” The general’s entourage—including Nabeel Musawi, the political liaison of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), which had arranged the interview—“were all wearing leather coats. They were slick and well organized,” says Buchanan. “Very well organized, very well set up,” Hedges concurs.

The general hadn’t been told he’d be filmed, and it took Musawi almost an hour to persuade him to go on camera. The general himself then spent several minutes making sure his face would be blacked out when the tape rolled. The resulting television interview, for which Musawi acted as translator, was stilted and brief. It would become only a small segment of the Frontline piece, which also featured an interview with another INC-provided defector, Sabah Khodada, a former Iraqi captain whose identity was not concealed. Buchanan recalls that “as soon as the lights and camera were switched off, the general began to talk.” He says the general then spent more than an hour with Hedges in an adjoining room of the suite while he left the hotel to transmit the tape via satellite uplink. When Buchanan eventually returned to the empty suite, he found coffee cups and saucers filled with cigarette butts that he felt indicated an intense conversation. Hedges says that after the interview was completed, he “spoke to the U.S. embassy in Turkey”—where the general had fled after leaving Iraq—“and asked if the general was credible. They confirmed he had recently been debriefed.”

Two days later the story that spun out on the front page of the New York Times was as shocking as it was convincing. Ghurairy claimed that as a senior intelligence official, he had witnessed foreign Arab fighters training to hijack airplanes at the Salman Pak military facility south of Baghdad. About 40 foreign nationals, Ghurairy said, were based there at any given time. “We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States. The Gulf War never ended for Saddam Hussein. He is at war with the United States,” the Times quoted Ghurairy as saying. Ghurairy also claimed a German scientist was working in a section of the base that produced biological agents. The report noted the role the INC had in setting up the interview, but no serious questions were raised about the general’s provenance. 

The impact of the article and the concurrent Frontline show, “Gunning for Saddam,” was immediate: Op-eds ran in major papers, and the story was taken to a wider audience through cable-TV talk shows. When Condoleezza Rice, then George W. Bush’s national security adviser, was asked about the story at a press briefing, she said, “I think it surprises no one that Saddam Hussein is engaged in all kinds of activities that are destabilizing.” Vanity Fair and the London Observer elaborated on Ghurairy’s claims; another version of the story appeared in the Washington Post courtesy of defector Khodada. The White House included the story of Salman Pak in its “Decade of Deception and Defiance” background paper prepared for President Bush’s September 12, 2002, speech to the United Nations General Assembly. Along with the tale of Mohammed Atta meeting Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague—another INC-hyped story—Ghurairy’s account helped establish the connection between Saddam and the 9/11 hijackers, making Iraq, like Afghanistan, a legitimate target for Bush’s war on terror.

Unfortunately, the story was an elaborate scam. The purported general had indeed met with American intelligence agents in Turkey, but unbeknownst to Hedges the agents had dismissed his claims out of hand. What the reporters also didn’t know, and what has never before been reported, is that it now appears that the man himself was a fake. According to an ex-INC official, the Ghurairy who met with the Times and PBS was actually a former Iraqi sergeant, then living in Turkey and known by the code name Abu Zainab. The real Lt. General Ghurairy, it seems, had never left Iraq.



So, just to recap, so we're all on the same page, anti-war Chris Hedges wasn't fired from THE NEW YORK TIMES, he resigned.  Also anti-war Chris Hedges is the first NYT reporter to get the false link between 9/11 and Iraq on the front page of THE NEW YORK TIMES.


Remember that before you decide Chris Hedges is the hill you (or worse, your reputation) wants to die on.


You might also want to check out Christopher Ketcham's "The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges: Pulitzer winner. Lefty hero. Plagiarist" before deciding to die on that hill.  

Unlike Zac and Gavin, we were able to write about what might have happened because we knew Chris Hedges problem areas.

For example, we spent 2023 covering how Cornel West became a presidential candidate.

Chris did too.  At SCHEERPOST and other outlets, he offered . . . creative writing.

He did an interview with Cornel, for example, where he 'found out' why Cornel decided to run for president.  We covered reality -- the thing Chris left out when he wrote about Cornel's run or went on various YOUTUBE programs and talked about it.

Here's what happened -- and our apologies to loyal readers who have to hear this yet again. 

Chris wanted to run for president but couldn't.  His wife might go along with vice president.  So Chris proposed himself and Cornel as a ticket to Nick Brana and others with the People's Party.  They were on board so Chris convinced Cornel.  Just as they were to be named as the 2024 presidential ticket for the People's Party, Chris' wife said "no."  She couldn't go along with it.

So Cornel ended up on the ticket alone.  

And Chris failed every basic disclosure requirement


Friday, he left yet another outlet.  He's left NYT, RT, TRUTH DIG and now THE REAL NEWS NETWORK all since 2003.  At some point, people might stop pretending that the problem is elsewhere and instead grasp that the problem is Chris.


Sunday, we finally got calls from friends.  We'd left messages asking anyone if they knew what had gone down.


What we've been told by four people is that Chris was accused of not just advocating for Dennis Kucinich's campaign and bringing Dennis on as a guest, he was also accused of being involved in the Kucinich campaign -- similar to his involvement with Cornel West's campaign -- involvement he hid from TRRN, from SCHEERPOST readers, from everyone in the public.


Is he innocent this time?  Could be.  


But his behavior with regards to covering Cornel's campaign was unethical and it was a bunch of lies.  And apparently it's bit in the butt now -- whether he's telling the truth or not regarding not being involved in Dennis Kucinich's campaign. 


Does Chris have nothing to say?  He's got a lot worth saying.  Which is why his history of plagiarism  and his constant lying in his 'reporting' is so depressing.  


The only thing sadder is how so many circle the wagons and pimp out lies to protect him from accountability.


And from reality.  His final interview on TRNN was pimping 77-year-old failure Dennis Kucinich for Congress.  We have way too many elderly members of Congress but there was Chris pimping wimp and liar Dennis Kucinich.  Dennis sold out the anti-war movement in 2004 at the DNC convention in Boston.  He sold out healthcare advocates when, after insisting he would not vote for ObamaCare, he took a plane ride with Barack and emerged from the flight insisting he would be voting for ObamaCare


A puff piece, fluff interview was not conducted by Chris who could have pointed out the sell-out on healthcare or the sell-out on the Iraq War.  It was an embarrassment -- an elderly embarrassment which is the other issue.  Chris turns 68 this year.  Can't we get him a watch already and clear his tired ass off the stage?


Whiners on Twitter want you to know Chris is a great reporter and did great reporting on his program.  Chris was a talk show host.  If you don't know the difference between a reporter and a talk show host, no wonder you're so confused.


And a hell of a lot of people are confused.


There's been a lot of whining, for instance, that reports and coverage of student protesters in the US robbed coverage of the Palestinians in Gaza.  Whining that this or that didn't happen instead.  We saw whining when the seven World Central Kitchen aid workers were killed by the Israeli government as well.


The murders of aid workers is news.  When the Israeli government murders aid workers, it's news.

And, if you support ending the assault on Gaza, you applaud the coverage.

But some people are too damn stupid to see a gift when it's presented to them.

Israel murdered seven aid workers.  That's a War Crime.  

For months prior, too many Americans set on the fence.  They did so because the media spent decades teaching the American people that Israel should get a pass.  They did so because reporting was (and remains) skewed.  Palestinians were treated as less-than-full-persons.  

When the Israeli government murders seven aid workers -- from all over the world including Gaza -- this is a teachable moment, this is a moment that can be used to address the actual facts of the occupation.

The same with the students. 

Reality: Without that and other events, Gaza wouldn't be in the news.  The assault is entering its seven month and the US press can't be bothered with paying attention.  They left Iraq, after all.

Some are too stupid to remember that.  US outlets announced their departure from Iraq after Barack Obama was elected US president in November 2008.  ABC NEWS, for example, infamously announced in December 2008, that if anything happened in Iraq, they'd just rely on BBC reporting.  US troops remained on the ground in Iraq (they're still there today, in fact) but the US media bailed on the story.  That is what they do.  Throw a ball across the room and, like a well trained puppy, they'll forget everything else and go running after it. 

One of us spent years writing every day about Iraq.  And she would hector various mainstream journalists and 'independent' journalists for their refusal to cover various topics in the Iraq War. With mainstream media, it was a case of them not thinking it was a story.  With independent media, it was a case of 'journalists' being ignorant (Lila Garrett was asked repeatedly to cover the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in Iraq and refused saying she hadn't hear anything about it and then a friend went on her show and she was aghast as he outlined what was taking place).  But with the mainstream it was an attitude of "We've covered it before.  It's the same story" and blah blah blah.

So without the murders of the World Kitchen aid workers or the student activists, Gaza would have already fallen off the radar.  If you were paying attention, you saw the media run from it when they thought a war on Iran was possible.  They presented that as "Gaza coverage."  They ignored the daily death toll in Gaza, they ignored pretty much all the stories out of Gaza.

To those of you who have attempted to play more-Palestinian-than-thou by dismissing the students (who have ignited a global movement, by the way) or the murders of the World Central Kitchen workers, you really need to sit your tired asses down.  You are deeply, deeply ignorant.  In both cases, Americans were seeing realities that they had ignored in the past and been sheltered from.  

That's why there is no going back to ignoring Gaza by Americans.  

And that's a good thing.  

But instead of celebrating that we're supposed to all be pretending that Chris Hedges is a reporter and that his firing was wrong and and he's a martyr for Gaza.  That lie could galvanize people and maybe that's why they're supporting it or maybe they just don't want to end the circle jerk. 

After his firing, Chris climbed the cross to write a SUBSTACK column which included:

I did not endorse Dennis Kucinich in the last show I did on The Real News, but he is running for Congress in Ohio as an independent, and is critical of the two ruling parties. I did not violate guidelines for nonprofits. Nevertheless, the episode with Kucinich was removed from the site, and immediately afterwards my program was terminated.

Did he endorse him?  We watched the interview today and ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT does harder hitting interviews.  Chris never challenged or corrected Dennis once -- not even when Dennis mangled Shelley or called A.J. Liebling "H.A. Liebling."  It wasn't an interview, it was an infomercial.  And it was an infomercial for a man who has worked for FOX "NEWS" as a pundit off-and-on since 2013 -- pausing only when running for public office.  It was an infomercial for a man who said in the 'interview' that he'd be working with whomever was elected -- Joe Biden or Donald Trump.  The two are not the same.  Vote for whomever you want but do not mistake Donald Trump for anyone the left needs to be working with.  Chris Hedges and Dennis Kucinich used THE REAL NEWS NETWORK to normalize Donald Trump and that's only a shocker if you're unaware how many FOX "NEWS" hours Dennis has spent praising and defending Donald.


There was no reason for Dennis to be on -- other than Chris doing a favor for his friend.  He's not a news maker and his comments and examples?  The same one Dennis has been making since 2008.  If he wants to talk about TV media consolidation, he could have used last week's NEXSTAR 'report' that 'journalists' around the country added their voice to and pretended was their own reporting -- the one that put two Columbia students on air -- two Columbia students applauding the police attack on students and insisting that the protests were disruptive.  Not noted on air was the reality that both students were attacking the protesters not just on Twitter but in 'reporting' that they were doing for fright-wing monster Bari Weiss' outlet.  That's who NEXSTAR put on the air -- on their stations, their 197 stations that they own around the country.  But, hey, who needs up to date examples of media consolidation and how it misinforms, right?

Chris got fired.  Once again, he's out at another outlet and he got fired for just cause.  That wasn't an interview, it was a commercial for Dennis Kucinich's latest political campaign.  Chris set himself up for speculation that he was actually part of Dennis' campaign by lying and refusing to disclose his role in Cornel West's presidential campaign as a People's Party candidate and his involvement in Cornel's campaign for the Green Party's presidential nomination. 


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