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​‘US not in a hurry to protect journalists not echoing party line’

Published time: May 21, 2014 02:54
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

Washington's stance on Russian journalists detained in Ukraine is a human rights abuse, media analyst Danny Schechter told RT, adding, the US propaganda approach of 'perception management' allows the State Department to spin the facts on the ground.

RT: The US State Department is saying that these two detained journalists are terrorists. But why are they being so vague when it comes to the evidence they have actually got?

Danny Schechter: Because the whole notion of 'perception management' which is what US officials are trained in, the art of 'perception management'. They do not deal with facts, they deal with impressions and imperceptions.

So if someone can be considered a 'terrorist' that immediately would discredit anything they've done and their legitimacy as a professional covering a war. In every war, the biggest danger, truth is the first casualty of every war. All sides have their own have their own narratives that they want respected.

However in this case with Kiev and Washington basically purporting to be there as emissaries of freedom somehow, it is particularly discouraging that they are not allowing access to crews from other countries or journalists whose points of view that they don’t like or don’t want to see or get access to the facts of what is going on there. That is troubling and that is also in my opinion a human rights abuse.

RT: How about if the US finds out that the pair are actual journalists - do you think Washington will join international efforts to get them released?

DS: I think they might join those efforts, but with not all deliberate speed. They are not in a hurry to assure the rights of crews and journalists who they don’t believe are actually echoing whatever their party line is. Isn’t that funny? For years we in America were taught that all the information coming from the other side is propaganda. Now what we are seeing is that a lot of what is coming from our side is propaganda and thinly disguised propaganda. Of course, the minute you say ‘what about these journalists and are you looking into what is happening to them?’ they’ll start talking about the other set of journalists. Change the subject is one of the strategies that is widely used to make sure that the media and the audience focuses on the issues they want them to focus on.

Graham Phillips (Image from grahamwphillips.com)

RT:RT contributor Graham Phillips was detained Tuesday morning. How do you think the UK government will react now that a British national is being held in a foreign country?

DS: Well again the UK government has already taken a side in this conflict. They are not neutrals. They are anti-Russian, pro-Kiev, whatever they think Kiev is – a center of democracy in their view. And this is somebody they are not particularly happy with. There have been many instances during the Iraq war particularly where journalists and media organizations that were critical of the war had a hard time getting access, had a hard time getting heard, of getting interviews, or getting footage of other material that other journalists would get. It is a very politicized process and it is also a very propagandistic process. So I would not hold my breath in waiting for the British government to speak out for freedom of the press.

RT: These arrests have many questioning the Kiev government’s commitment to free speech. What do you think they'll have to say about these journalist arrests?

DS: We want to know what the facts are. If they are carrying weapons or allying with one side, that is one thing. It has to be proven not just asserted. Obviously it is highly unlikely that journalists for a live TV channel are also secretly combatants and carrying weapons with them. I would think that, it sounds almost preposterous on its face. But there needs to be some sort of analysis into all of this. Press freedom groups should get in into the act here and try to verify these accusations but also try to exonerate the journalists who have been falsely accused in the name of the supposedly freedom of the press but really in the name of a political agenda.

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