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by James Aronson

Book by Aronson, James
Download Press and Cold War epub
ISBN: 0853458065
ISBN13: 978-0853458067
Category: Reference
Subcategory: Writing Research & Publishing Guides
Author: James Aronson
Language: English
Publisher: Monthly Review Press; Expanded edition (January 1, 1970)
Pages: 342 pages
ePUB size: 1160 kb
FB2 size: 1332 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 940
Other Formats: mobi lit txt azw

I have a hardcover edition from 1970 of The Press and the Cold War by James Aronson. It describes a journalistic wilderness in which the public are coddled with a journalism of absurdity to make people think that some opinions are being considered responsible and reasonable. I looked up Bernard Fall in the index to determine that experts on the situation were known to people in the press, but Fall was killed in Vietnam in February, 1967, more than a year before I was drafted. Aronson has some surprises up his sleeve:

The truly amazing phenomenon was that
so many Americans did find their way
out of the journalistic wilderness
to the plains of truth. When they did,
they almost invariably joined the active
opposition to the war in Vietnam. (p. 239).

Chapter 11 on The Bay of Pigs reveals how much The Nation was trying to get Americans to learn about the invasion months before it became news by being reported in The New York Times shortly before the invasion of Cuba in April, 1961. The 52 years which have allowed people to grow up since America was afraid of godless Commies taking over by subversion when we were strong enough to oppose military forces with military tactics but did not want to admit that American forces or hirelings were engaging in open warfare. Public opinion is the worst kind of mythology when societies that are being wiped out by the wealthy lack any incentive to talk about how subversive any spying on the government has become for the poor people who get displaced into an official hellfire like Saint Paul, Minnesota.
This is a curiously dispassionate book, at least in tone. Given the author's connection to radical causes over the years and his persecution during the Mc Carthy period, he apparently harbors few grudges. It would seem that his regard for press freedom is stronger than any commitment to radical doctrine, there being precious little of that anywhere in the book. This, of course, is contrary to usual stereotype of the radical journalist as propagated in the popular media. Still, I'm not sure whether his detached style helps or hinders the book's message; nevertheless, it contrasts unexpectedly with the more impassioned and ironical style of Chomsky and Herman, two academics who cover much of the same ground.
Most of the text retraces familiar material concerning Cold War journalism. Perhaps the best chapter is the one characterizing the liberal mentality that reported from Vietnam, paticularly during the early years. Skeptical of official versions and wary of top military brass, reporters such as David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan were raised to near heroic dimensions by liberal critics of the war. And while their skepticism toward Pentagon duplicity and a corrupt client government in Saigon never wavered, not once did these fabled journalists question the basic moral correctness of America's involvement. In short, when push came to shove, they refused to follow the logic of their own facts to the appropriate conclusion. No doubt consistency in this regard would have cost them their jobs and maybe careers. Even so, Aronson's account makes clear just how opaque the enemy and their cause was to these quondam rebels and how wedded Halbertam and company were to official illusion. Far from being heroes, their real function, as Aronson emphasizes, was to project the illusions of nation-building into yet further spheres of foreign intervention. A second point of interest comes at the book's conclusion. According to pollsters, reporters and media generally are held in low popular esteem; the reason, Aronson observes, is not because of the supposed power of the media, as the political right-wing prefers. Rather it's because the public senses, correctly, that this power is not being exercised in their behalf. Indeed. Marred only by an occasionally flat style, Aronson's is a revealing book by a journalist who demands no less of others in his profession than he does of himself.
I was most interested in the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam chapters of the book. People who need to work are obsessed with not being so radical that they have a conflict of interest with the institutional thinking that determines the ego boundaries that keep organizations functioning for a common purpose. I always hated adults for thinking that something larger than themselves was likely to cause trouble for me when I was having an emotional outburst about the kind of crap which people accept as a matter of administrative routine. No dog or hyena has ever had such a pismire empire as the electronic communication which is now at the fingertips of every sloppy drunk juice clown who could get beat up in a bar if the bouncer was insulted by having stupidity fill the air. I look at books like this to see why no intelligent civilization has ever had one nation under God go to its head like we have.