Listening to Noam Chomsky and Julian Assange

W.J. Astore

I’ve caught a couple of videos featuring Noam Chomsky and Julian Assange and want to share insights I gleaned from them.

Let’s start with Julian Assange, currently being punished for being a journalist who actually challenges powerful people by telling uncomfortable truths. When asked what the number one enemy is, Assange replies that it’s ignorance. People are ignorant because the vast majority of the media are “awful,” relying on deliberate distortion and lies to advance narratives that reinforce the already powerful. As Assange notes, nearly every war is the result of lies facilitated by the mainstream media. This is unsurprising, since the media has been coopted by the military-industrial complex. Generally, people don’t like wars (surprise!), but it’s relatively easy to lie and manipulate most people into supporting them.

You can see why Assange had to be locked up in a maximum security prison and effectively gagged.

Awful media coverage is not just about lying; it’s also about eliding the truth. Consider blanket coverage of the Russia-Ukraine War and contrast that with the dearth of coverage of an ongoing genocide in Yemen, of slave markets in Libya, of starvation in Afghanistan, of U.S. occupation of oil fields in Syria. How can you speak out against the latter when there’s a relentless and all-consuming focus on Ukraine as the good guy and Russia and Putin as pure evil?

Chomsky’s insights into the media complement those of Assange. Media talking heads, Chomsky notes, are screened and selected for their obedience and conformity: their willingness to be subordinate, to go along to get along. They are boot-licking careerists, essentially, who learn quickly that there are certain things you just don’t say. And if you should stray and start to color outside the lines, you are slapped back into line, and if that doesn’t take, your crayons are confiscated and you’re demoted, fired, or otherwise silenced. Think again of the Iraq War in 2003 and how Phil Donahue was fired, Jesse Ventura was hired then put on ice because NBC belatedly discovered he was antiwar, Ashleigh Banfield was demoted for speaking out against the one-sided, pro-America coverage that almost entirely ignored Iraqi casualties and suffering, and so on.

Jesse Ventura, paid millions of dollars not to have a show because he was critical of the Iraq War

Along with these insights, I have an anecdote of my own. I know a skilled journalist who actually courts controversy by challenging prevailing narratives. He told me how he visited a journalism school and spoke to a class of would-be journalists. Did these student-journalists want to be the next Assange, or even Woodward or Bernstein of Watergate fame? Of course not! They aspire to be well-paid anchors or opinion-mongers on cable news, or so my friend told me. They’re in it for the money, for access to power, for fame. They’re not in it to call the powerful to account; they want to be among the powerful, and profiting from the same.

And that’s the way it is, as Walter Cronkite might have said.

27 thoughts on “Listening to Noam Chomsky and Julian Assange

  1. Well, there’s ignorance and willful ignorance, and there are people who want careers and those who have a calling … I’m sorry, I can’t be more profound than that at the moment. It’s late – or very early – here in northern Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your profundity is quite satisfactory. The willlful ignorance of so much of the mass media is not.


  2. Actually liked Unc. Walt back in the day showed real feeling after JFK was murdered, and turned against the Vietnam Nam War after Tet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Exactly Lt.Col………..Generally, people don’t like wars (surprise!), but it’s relatively easy to lie and manipulate most people into supporting them.

    “Naturally, the common people don’t want war – but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”- Hermann Goring


        1. thank you, yet again den, for sharing this most recent elucubrating video w/ us. i appreciate your vigilance and dedication to keeping those of us who are nescient about alternative media sites au-courant and informed. rob johnson’s interview w/ norman solomon was a first for me.


  4. Will Russia collide with NATO?
    Elijah J Magnier

    There is a genuine concern among several European countries that Russia may have expansionist goals on the old continent, as the US successfully justified to the world the flow of weapons to Ukraine rather than promote a peaceful solution. Along with its European partners, it is spending tens of billions on arms supplies rather than on food and reconstruction plans.
    Indeed, the US did everything to drag Russia into a war with its neighbour to divide the European-Russian formerly solid commercial and trade bond.
    The mainstream media also demonised President Vladimir Putin in an unsuccessful attempt to isolate him domestically. US senator Lindsey Graham even called for a “coup where Putin could be assassinated”.
    The aim is to invite a Russian reaction and show that Putin’s choices are devastating for the Russian economy.

    However, Moscow managed to remain in one piece against the western campaign and sanctions- which are having a severe boomerang effect, in fact, on the world and the European economy in particular, which has caught itself in a trap. Russia is exporting 30 per cent less of its fossil fuel to the EU, but its revenue has doubled due to the increase in prices……………………………………………..


  5. I’m glad Noam is coming back around to his dissenting ways.

    I scrolled the website for DemocracyNow! today [regular viewer from 2008 until theOrangeMenace claimed the throne] and was disappointed by the headlines, so I continued to pass.

    RobertScheer was driven from Truthdig and now runs ScheerPost.

    Alternet is unrecognizable.

    Someone from Vox was on BreakingPoints today or yesterday concerning gain-of-function research, which was a bit surprising from what I remember of Vox years back before theDonald caused a soul hemorrhage and perceptual collapse.

    I haven’t looked at Utne for so long I don’t know if it’s still publishing, at least online.

    I liked when CenkUnger left MSNBC over editorial control, IIRC, but TYT is a millennial capture device funded by Katzenberg & Clinton.

    Every now and again I listen to my favorite song off SherylCrow’s first album because what else are we supposed to do other than what we can while we have the chance, especially for someone else?

    These sisters caught me with this one last year, exactly when I needed it, and it still brings a smile.

    The only ask/play/move worth making is for someone else, and whatever happens with Julian, he’s smart enough to know that going in, and if he doesn’t come out, he’ll be canonized for we believers and we’ll push a little better and a little farther on the next run, regardless of the institutional corrections on the horizon. We’re all going into the grinder and there’s no greater gift than to keep one other person out of it for a little while, ideally in ways that evade the egotism that’s damaging the institutions Liberalism is built on, including the 4thEstate.

    Julian moved the world-there’s no doubt in that truth.


  6. [… speaking of Assange…]


    NC-based Security Firm To Begin anti-Coalition Operations In and Around Baghdad’s “Green Zone” On or About October 31

    The international terrorist organization al-Qaeda today announced that it has outbid the U.S. and Iraqi governments for the services of international anti-terrorist organization BLACKWATER, Inc., for Fiscal Year 2008, beginning October 1, 2007.

    An al-Qaeda media liaison reported that the contract with BLACKWATER would be effective at one minute after midnite, Baghdad time, on October 1st, and that the international security and anti-terrorism firm would begin tactical operations against Coalition military and Iraqi government and civilian targets “sometime around Halloween.”

    “BLACKWATER wanted time to get its people, vehicles and equipment, offices and billeting and recreational places and spaces, and so forth, out of the ‘Green Zone’ before initiating action against the Infidel Crusaders and their Lackeys,” explained the fetchingly-masked, noticeably (and notably) un-burkhaed, and only lightly-armed spokeswoman, on a video message posted to an unusually very reliable Islamicist Jihadist website.

    “Plus, it’s the only fair and sportsmanlike thing to do: to give those guys in the Coalition leadership and them numb-nuts in the Iraqi government time to try to find a replacement for us,” added BLACKWATER corporate spokesman, retired Brigadier General Larry Bryan, who spoke on conditions of strictest anonymity and non-attribution.

    “Our current arrangement with the U.S. Departments of Defense and State, and the CIA (‘which expires at 2359 Baghdad time on September 30,’ he added, parenthetically) has a thirty day grace period. So technically, we are still under contract with these guys until the 30th or 31st of October, or so,” Bryan continued.

    Declaring “Allah Provides!!!,” the al-Qaeda spokeslady called the surprise deal the best of all possible worlds for all parties involved. “We get a top-notch private, special and black ops unit, the best that money can buy, literally and figuratively,” she enthused. “Plus, The Crusaders get to wash their hands of a major public relations disaster; what with the Rush-Hour Massacre, and all. And,” she concluded quite confidently, “BLACKWATER gets to redeem itself in the eyes of potential clients all over the world by using its anti-terror technologies, techniques, and demonstrated skills against some of the biggest terrorists on the planet.”

    When asked how the vacationing President Bush reacted to BLACKWATER’s switching sides in the War On Terror, a Crawford White House spokesperson quoted the President as saying, “Bring ‘em on.” Mr Bush was further, if cryptically, quoted as reflecting, “What the hell…, if al-Qaeda can switch sides, why can’t BLACKWATER? Huhhh?”

    A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, whose nametag was smeared, would say only that “we will miss the guys from BLACKWATER, but, I am authorized by the Ambassador to say that it looks like we have succeeded in convincing al-Qaeda that we are serious about negotiating with them to get them to at least consider sub-contracting at least some of BLACKWATER’s assets back to us so that we can continue to get at least some of their world-class security and anti-terrorism know-how, experience, and expertise.”

    Confirming that this would mean that BLACKWATER would be working for both al-Qaeda and the Coalition, the spokeswoman looked at the reporter who asked the question, “Wasn’t this a “conflict of interest?,” as if he, the reporter, had lost his mind, then hissed “I do not understand your question…,” and stalked off the podium.

    “Well,” counseled General Bryan from corporate headquarters in Moyock, NC, “‘conflict of interest’ might be a little strongly worded to properly describe the situation. Hells Bells, son, there’s a war going on. A very, Very expensive and very, Very lucrative war. And the ultimate purpose of this war, hell, the ultimate, bottom-line function of any and every war, is to make money. Lots and lots of money. For the right people, of course.”

    He continued: “Now, al-Qaeda offered us what’s called a ‘Cost-Plus, Plus, Plus’ contract. They’ll pay all our expenses plus triple a certain percentage amount of those expenses, with the bonus being tied to the Fed’s Prime Rate. And, they’ll pay us in whatever currency we choose, with another three and a half points thrown in if we decide to take payment in Dollars, Euros, Yen, or Shekels. There’s no way the U.S. or them (expletive deleted) Iraqians (sic) could match that, even in this tax-deductible, if not tax-free war by credit card.”

    “But you’re fricking Americans, for chrissake‼! You’re gonna kill other Americans because you have a contract with the highest bidder?!?,” frothed the reporter, barely able to restrain himself from throwing his laptop, iPad, and smart phone at the videoconference monitor filled with the General’s bland and congenially (if not congenitally), affably grandfatherly image.

    “Now don’t get all excited, son,” General Bryan counseled, with a paternally patient shrug and wave of his hand. “It’s just a business deal. No big thing. Happens all the time.

    “Look,” he continued, ever more patiently, if not paternally. “It’s a business. Our business. Our business happens to be war; and business is, how’d that movie put it, ‘good.’ Especially since that whatcha call it? … that ‘New Pearl Harbor’ thing, September 11. Whatta God-send, eh? Or Allah-send, I guess you could also say.”

    “B-b-but we’re at war. Doesn’t that…. that m..mean anything to you? America is at w-ww-WAR!!!,” sputtered the scribe.

    “America’s not at war, son,” shrugged the General. “The Marines are at war. The Army and Navy and Air Force are at war. Even the Coast Guard’s at war. But, America’s not at war….

    “America’s at the mall. Or at the ball park. Or on the golf course. Or in a fast-food joint. Or at the gym workin’ it all off. Or in a traffic jam on the expressway tryin to get there. Or in therapy. Or couched-out with their HDTV. Or on the computer, textfone, and/or video game. Doing exactly what it does best: doing exactly what it’s been told to do.

    “That was one of the proudest moments of my life as an American,” General Bryan, settling back, waxed eloquently on. “When our President told the American people what they could best do to help win the War On Terrorism, back a couple days after 9-11: ‘Americans need to start shopping again,’ he’d said. And by God, he was right. And, by Allah, Americans started shopping again, and haven’t stopped since. That’s why they hate us, you know: our malls, ball parks, and golf courses; our big Macs, exerspas, and traffic jams; our mental health system, media, and coffee bars with free Wi-Fi.”

    “We could sure use another one of them things, I tell ya,” the General confided, looking warmly over his shoulder at the poster-size photograph behind his desk, taken from by the Brooklyn Bridge, of the infamous fireball billowing from the South Tower of the World Trade Center the instant after it had been struck by the second plane (labeled in bold, proud, glittery, glittzy gold: WHY WE FIGHT).
    (intercept: o/a04424242Z12sep07)



  7. The Assange Story

    RT Documentary – 20 April 2022

    Julian Assange has spent over a decade in the spotlight, pursued and loathed by the US government for revealing its darkest secrets. Through his brainchild, WikiLeaks, Assange has published millions of leaked classified documents and correspondence on America’s wars, politicians, military and corporations.

    Months after his dramatic removal from Ecuador’s London embassy, Assange is set to begin his battle for freedom by contesting the attempt extradite him. Washington wants to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act, one of its most draconian laws. If extradited and convicted, the transparency advocate could face up to 175 years in a US prison.

    Assange’s anti-secrecy activities have recently been under the microscope, and his allegedly quirky personality became the subject of relentless media scrutiny. Assange is a divisive figure: a free-speech champion to some and a dangerous maverick to others.

    However, little is known about Assange’s personal life. For a broader perspective on Julian Assange, his inner thoughts and motivation, RTD correspondent Konstantin Rozhkov travelled the globe to meet his closest friends, father and former colleagues.

    John Shipton, his father, offers his take on Julian’s formative years as a programming prodigy in Australia. British journalist, Vaughn Smith talks about hosting the WikiLeaks headquarters at his country mansion. A one-time Ecuadorian consul in London, Fidel Narvaez recalls the time he spent inside the embassy with the WikiLeaks founder and staffers. The filmmaker, Johannes Wahlstrom, talks about working with Assange on the Cablegate files.

    The Assange Story pieces together their accounts for an intimate portrait of the man behind the world’s biggest anti-secrecy organization.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. House Passes Bill for $40 Billion in New Ukraine Aid
    by Dave DeCamp May 10, 2022 Anti-war dot com

    On Tuesday night, the House passed a nearly $40 billion bill for new Ukraine aid as Washington continues to escalate its role in supporting Kyiv in its war against Moscow.

    The measure passed in a vote of 368-57, with only Republicans voting against the bill. The legislation now moves to the Senate, which could hold a vote this week.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said the Senate will “move swiftly,” although some Republicans in the chamber have complained that the massive aid package is not large enough.

    President Biden asked Congress for $33 billion for the new Ukraine aid package, but congressional Democrats ramped it up to $39.8 billion. The package includes $11 billion in presidential drawdown authority, which allows President Biden to send Ukraine military equipment from US stockpiles.

    The aid also includes $6 billion in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding, which enables the US government to buy weapons from arms makers and send them to Ukraine. The Pentagon will receive $8.7 billion to replenish weapons stockpiles that have been to Ukraine, and $3.9 billion to pay for troop deployments in Eastern Europe.

    In March, $13.6 billion for Ukraine aid was included in a spending bill signed by President Biden. The new $39.8 billion plan will bring total US aid for Ukraine in 2022 alone to over $53 billion. To put the enormous figure into perspective, Russia’s entire military budget for 2021 was estimated to be about $65.9 billion.


    1. …and more will die. guaranteed. more MIC machinations transmogrify into more deaths, not peace. a simple equation, eh? tnx to D-USA [dis-united states of america] and its unrelenting global ‘interventions’ [a euphemistic equivoque], the russians and the ukrainians are fucked… soon to be followed by their deleteriously impacted neighbours.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s always ‘interesting’. (ie; depressing) how quickly & relatively un-controversially Congress & the POTUS can move most military spending bills through, especially when we’re up against ‘the next Hitler’ . But when it comes to peace treaties or withdrawals, then it can take months or years. (I still recall the US stalling the Vietnam peace-talks in Paris [I believe?] because of the shape of the table, which of course was just a dilatory tactic to ‘kick the can down the road’)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Eddie, do you remember how long it took to get OBAMACARE through? It seems like Congress stalled and fiddled with on that for an eternity! (And of coarse the single payer option never made it through the first weeks debate.) And of course the recent infrastructure spending Bill took months of debate.


  9. Another fantastic post from this web site.
    The YouTube site is called “A New Economic Thinking”.
    This site is a must for all anti-war supporters to bookmark as a favourite.


    1. once again, another arresting repetend, from the ever-accommodating and informative dennis merwood, who has tirelessly led us to inspiring youtube videos. thank you, den, for the NEW ECONOMIC THINKING site of rob johnson’s enlightening interview of patrick lawrence and his alerting us to jane jacobs’ 2004 publication, DARK AGE AHEAD.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Perhaps it’s a profession that’s become motivated more by a buck and a byline—i.e. a regular company paycheque and a frequently published name with stories—than a genuine strive to challenge the powers-that-be in order to truly comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable in an increasingly unjust global existence.

    Also, journalism’s traditional function may have been quietly changed. The adage-description of journalism’s fundamental function can remain the same, but revision of terminological representation is definitely in order. While it remains “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” there has been a notable mainstream-news-media alteration as to what/who constitutes an “afflicted” and “the comfortable”.

    For example, an “afflicted” of our contemporary news-media times needing comforting may be an owner of a multi-million-dollar home that’s worth too much, thus taxed higher, and he/she therefore desires tax respite. Or, the new “afflicted” requiring news-media comforting is an already very profitable fossil-fuel-producing corporation that needs more taxpayer-funded subsidies along with our convenient complacency in its multiplying many-fold its diluted bitumen export thus accompanying eco-threats for the sake of even greater profit. …

    Still, for me, the most compromised news-media are those that also feign balanced coverage and objectivity — unlike openly boisterous slanted outlets, such as Canada’s Sun newspapers (excluding The Vancouver Sun) — but upon closer examination their manipulations can be pinpointed; anything from terminology, placement of information attributes or lack thereof, and the story angle (including parameterization). Whether or not it’s intentional, a muddying of waters in effect it indeed is.

    Other concerned people would’ve worded it more brazenly: “I would argue that what little ethical and moral foundation the country has is deeply threatened by the crumbling discipline of a fossil fuel based economy and the politics it spawns. Nothing requires government supervision in so many areas (and nothing has anything like the influence on government) as this industry. It follows that no other industry remotely requires the amount and kind of honest, wary media surveillance this one does,” the late Rafe Mair aptly wrote in his newly released book Politically Incorrect, in which he forensically dissects democracy’s decline in Canada and suggests how it may be helped.

    “What has the media, especially but hardly exclusively the print media, done in response to this immense challenge? It’s joined fortunes with the petroleum industry. And a very large part of it has done so in print and in public. The facts are that the rest of the media have not raised a peep of protest at this unholiest of alliances and that governments contentedly and smugly pretend all that favourable coverage they get proves their efficiency—not that the fix is in and they’re part of that fix. Let me just comment that the difference from 1972 to 2017 in the media’s dealing with governments and politics takes the breath away!” …

    Maybe there’s an informal/unspoken agreement amongst the largest mainstream news-media: ‘Don’t dump on me, and I won’t dump on you.’


    1. Yes, the mainstream news is largely the corporate news and becomes PR for the owners and managers. Reporters who work for the MSM say and do what they’re told for a paycheck and benefits as well as access to power; if they don’t, they are demoted or fired.

      To speak out freely, you have to free yourself from this system.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. condign to your noteworthy elenchus, FGSJR2015, our beleaguered son, dr. mennzie mceachern, was recently promoted to asst deputy minister of mineral and petroleum resources for the NWT govt [canada’s western arctic territory]. this promotion shoves him into an uncomfortable, if not untenable position, given that he is a life-long environmentalist and his doctoral dissertation was on ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RESOURCES RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, when. on the contrary, canada’s NWT has relied on mineral and petroleum resource development enterprises for decades to ensure its economic ‘salubrity’. whether this promotion signals a transformation in the NWT’s economic and political trajectory, or a deleterious professional trajectory for our son remains to be seen.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Assuming I read you correctly: a good example of this is Canadian media conglomerate Postmedia, which is on record allying itself with Canada’s fossil fuel industry — including the mass extraction and export of bitumen, the dirtiest and most polluting crude oil.
        [“Mair on Media’s ‘Unholiest of Alliances’ With Energy Industry”, Nov.14 2017,]

        A few years ago, Postmedia had also acquired a lobbying firm with close ties to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in order to participate in his government’s $30 million PR “war room” in promoting the industry’s interests. Furthermore, last May, Postmedia refused to run paid ads by Leadnow, a social and environmental justice organization, that exposed the Royal Bank of Canada as the largest financer of the nation’s fossil fuel extraction.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. yes, you read me correctly, fgsjr2015, and it will present menz w/ a gordian knot he will be unlikely to untie. you are exquisitely well-informed re. canadian govt/media/oilsands machinations.

          Liked by 1 person

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