"The Lies Are Brilliantly Crafted"
Greg Palast with Marc Ash
t r u t h o u t | Exclusive Interview
Sunday 11 May 2003
TO.ma: Greg welcome back to TO.
Your book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy is currently number 5 on The New York Times Best Seller list. Why?
GP: The USA is home to the largest, longest, deepest river of burbling bullshit known to man - home of the brave and of double-talk, nonsense, half-truths, Tom Brokaw, disinformation, baloney, CNN, white lies, black lies and Katie Curic - laughably called 'US media.' "And here, the President is waving to us from his helicopter!" ... And we're fed up TO HERE with it. So someone had to write a book with the facts that dare not speak their name in America: how the Bush clan fixed the election in Florida, spiked the investigation of the bin Ladins, peddled America like a cheap tart to every corporate John with campaign loot, let the World Bank eat Argentina for breakfast and encouraged Pat Robertson to commit unnatural acts with our Bill of Rights.
Those few citizens not yet Fox'd to death were ready for this book. And Michael Moore helped. By bringing over my stories through his talks and 'Stupid White Men,' he cracked the Propaganda Berlin Wall, opening the space for my investigative reports to rush through.
Plus, the new paperback has these cool illustrations by Winston Smith with 40% new material. Damn, what a bargain - who could resist?
TO.ma: Some would argue that commercial journalism has so completely abdicated objectivity that it is no longer news, but rather public relations. Is the independent media the last bastion of the free press?
GP: "Independent'' media in America is better called "starvation'' media: journalists that want to do real reporting don't survive long - Bob Parry, who uncovered the Iran-Contra scandal, lost his job at the AP, Seymour Hersh was pushed off the New York Times - and I'm in exile. Investigative reporting is a quick career path to disemployment. The 'dependent' media is killing us with poisoned lies.
And some of the lies are brilliantly crafted. Let me give you an example: The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle and god knows how many others ran a photo in June 2001 under the screamer, "100,000 MARCH AGAINST VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT.'' Hugo Chavez. It had to be true: there was the photo. And I was there, in Caracas, so I know it was true. But what the Times and Chronicle DIDN'T show you was the demonstration, nearly twice as large, of Venezuelans marching IN SUPPORT of their President. So the Dependent Media effectively Stalinized the photos.
That left the independent media - Truthout and other dot-commies, plus the Pacifica Network and Spanish-language press - to set the record straight, to give the whole picture, literally.
TO.ma: You have labored long and hard to document the perils of unregulated multi-national corporate activity. To the average American who voted for George W. Bush what would say about the dangers of "Globalization?"
GP: Look at the documents I've seen and you'll get ill. Example: Pfizer Corporation, which makes Viagra, used to make a heart valve designed by a doctor named Viking Bjork - who found out the company's save-a-buck method of manufacturing them caused the valves to snap apart inside patients. Literally hundreds of hearts exploded, one ugly way to die. Dr. Bjork thought he should issue a public warning, but kept his mouth shut when a Pfizer exec telexed, "ATTN PROF BJORK: WE WOULD PREFER THAT YOU DID NOT PUBLISH THE DATA RELATIVE TO STRUT FRACTURE.'' The reason to withold the warning your heart valve could fail? "WE EXPECT A FEW MORE.'' Nice guys.
Pfizer continued to sell these heart-breakers worldwide.
And now the Bush Administration is using the World Trade Organization to prevent dead patients' families from suing Pfizer and other makers of bogus 'medical devices.'
TO.ma: The degree of corporate influence inside the White House is, in a very real sense, mind-boggling. Has there ever been a moment in American history where private interests have held this kind of influence at the highest levels of our government?
GP: Hey, don't panic. We've been here before. We survived Nixon. We survived Joe McCarthy. We survived the robber barons of the 1890s. Throughout US history, monied jackals have invaded the White House and Congress. Time after time they use some threat of external danger - the Commies, the Viet Cong, the Anarchists, the Terrorists, whomever - to keep Americans hypnotized by The Threat Out There. They empty the Treasury, bust unions, and impoverish the average Joe and Josephine. In the McCarthy era, General Electric used the Red Scare to hunt down and eliminate United Electrical Workers activists. Today, Al-Quida is used as the excuse to seal the EPA files on the real threat of contamination from Exxon-Mobil petrochemical plants.
But despair not: Every time, every single time, after we've been kicked in the head, Americans blink and think - and rise up angry in mass movements: one hundred years ago it was the Populist uprising, in the Sixties, in the Seventies, we had the Environmental and Consumer Movements - and don't forget the Labor, Union and Civil Rights Movements, to say "enough already!''
So I have hope. But in the meantime, I'm taking action. Martin Luther King III, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (his daddy's old job) and I are gathering signatures on a petition to stop the theft of the election in 2004. Two years ago, Congress passed a fraudulently named "Help America Vote Act'' - it will actually help disenfranchise voters - mainly African-Americans. Anyway, read about it on my site, linked here.
Greg Palast is author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and his investigation of computer purges of black voters appeared in Harper's Magazine.
Greg Palast's completely updated US. edition of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, now in its tenth week on the NYT bestseller list, is available from Penguin Plume at booksellers and via http://www.gregpalast.com.