Manufacturing Consent: Made in Canada

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Manufacturing Consent: Made in Canada

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media was first published in 1968. Written by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, its thesis, in part, was how the media reported the news in a way that best served its masters, the corporate and political elite of the time. The authors compared the press coverage given to Vietnam and East Timor in the New York Times newspaper, tabulating the column-inches in the paper for each subject. Similar political events were happening in each region at the time, but there were American business interests in Vietnam and virtually nothing of the sort in East Timor.

The Vietnam war was first presented by the media and government in 1964 as an ideological conflict. Framed as a nation's effort to defend a noble cause, there was almost no opposition to this war when it began. By 1968, cracks were appearing in this facade as stories began to emerge of secret carpet bombing raids in North Vietnam and atrocities against civilians. The facade crumbled completely in 1971 when newspapers across the country began publishing excerpts from the top secret Pentagon Papers. An excerpt from the wikipedia page:

The most damaging revelation was that the US deliberately expanded its war with carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks - which had all gone unreported in the US.

This Is Not An Issue of Free Speech


Last month the people of Canada were subjected to the same kind of pernicious news modeling that Chomsky & Herman had identified over 40 years ago. On March 20 the story broke that George Galloway, a distinguished British Member of Parliament, was ruled inadmissable for entry to Canada.

He was scheduled begin a North American tour of about a dozen cities, speaking to various groups and organizations best described as anti-war or peace protestors. His talk, entitled "Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar" was sponsored by groups like the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War and the Canadian Peace Alliance.

viva_banner2 (3K)

Only 10 days earlier Mr. Galloway had completed a humanitarian aid mission to Gaza. With the help of over 300 volunteers and the generosity of countless others, he was able to deliver a firetruck, 24 ambulances, and over 80 other donated trucks and vehicles of all descriptions filled with medical supplies, food, and clothing.

This highly unusual ruling from the Government of Canada appeared in newspapers in England and Canada before Mr. Galloway was officially informed. Galloway became aware of the ruling was when he heard of a news article (reprinted below) that appeared in The Sun, the crown jewel of Rupert Murdoch's tabloids.

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Galloway is barred by Canada

Published: 20 Mar 2009

Border security chiefs have declared the Respect MP “inadmissable” because of his views on Afghanistan and the presence of Canadian troops there.

Mr Galloway is due to make a speech in Toronto on March 30, following a US lecture tour, but will be turned away if he tries to enter Canada.

The Canadian High Commission in London was last night contacting the MP’s office to inform him of the decision.

Canadian rules say he will be allowed in only if he has a special permit from immigration minister Jason Kenney.

But Mr Kenney's spokesman said: “George Galloway is not getting a permit - end of story.

He defends the very terrorists trying to kill Canadian forces in Afghanistan.”

© 2009 News Group Newspapers Ltd.


This is about OUR laws…


Since this line of reasoning does not sound all that reasonable, the official reason quickly changed to Galloway's recent material and financial support for Hamas, a banned terrorist organization. This was followed by an elaborate but shabby set of legal and moral arguments by the government and the mainstream media in support of this view.

Help me out here Google News Canada!

I live in the Netherlands now I rely on Google News Canada (GNC) to supply me the news headlines from Canada. The Canadian edition of Google News includes links to online editions of newspapers from across Canada. My favorite Canadian newspapers were the Globe & Mail and The National Post. Fortunately, GNC also delivers links to many online newpapers from around the world.

A feature of internet searches is that a search for a word, name or phrase gives a results number along with the top-rated links. This results number varies considerably from one search engine to the next, but in the context of a single search engine, this number is quite useful to measuring relative coverage of an event or person. Chomsky & Herman tabulated column-inches devoted to Vietnam and East Timor in the New York Times. GNC results provide an equally useful metric.

Here are some my observations on GNC search results for the period between March 20 and April 7.

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The Truth Is Out There

There were many Galloway stories after the first surfaced. It became a top story on GNC. Once a story appears, it stays near the top of the list as long as stories about the subject are published. By March 30, the results number from GNC for a George-Galloway search was over 1,500.

Soon I was requesting search results sorted by date because I wanted the only the latest news headlines, having read everything else the day before (sometimes just hours before).

A story published by the Ottawa Citizen mentioned a Facebook group that had started an online petition.[1]

Galloway supporters have created a Facebook group to rally opposition to the ban. By late afternoon Saturday, more than 2,700 people had joined. More than 1,800 people had signed an online petition calling on the government to allow Galloway into Canada.

Subsequent searches on GNC for George-Galloway Facebook (showing all duplicates) yielded only the Ottawa Citizen article - it seems it was the only Canwest newspaper to report on the Facebook support group for George Galloway. There was no follow-up story.

This is a bit odd because the Ottawa Citizen publishes a lot of articles about Facebook. A recent search on the Citizen website revealed 41 results over 34 days following the Galloway Facebook story; yet none of them mentions Galloway. One can only assume that editorial selection is at work.

I joined the group and eventually signed the petition on March 29th. By then membership was over 10,000. The online petition was up to almost 6,000 names.

wienstein1 (17K)

It was on this Facebook group that I first learned about a March 20 ITV Channel 4 interview between George Galloway and Meir Weinstein. ITV is a major television network in England. ITV arranged a face-to-face interview between Galloway and Meir Weinstein on the day the story broke into the news. Weinstein is a Director of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in Canada.

Weinstein comes off looking like a thug and goon when he boasts about his role in having Galloway banned and threatens to "monitor" anyone who has anything to do with Galloway. His remarks are memorable for their outrageous posturing.

What is more amazing is that this interview was conducted from the CBC studios in Toronto but none of Weinstein's remarks from this interview were ever quoted in Canada's mainstream media. As soon as I saw this interview on the ITV website and learned a little more about Weinstein on Wikipedia, I was eager to see when this jackal would be exposed.

So I added Meir-Weinstein to the list of names I searched for whenever I visited GNC.

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On March 30 a GNC search for George-Galloway produced over 1,500 headline links.

The same search for Meir-Weinstein never produced more than 60 results. Since 60 links is not an ureasonable number to explore when you are obsessed with something. I visited every link that appeared.

Not a single one of the Weinstein articles I read or viewed on the Canadian mainstream media websites ever directly quoted any of the outrageous remarks Weinsten made in the ITV interview.

To the contrary, Weinstein's remarks were paraphrased in the media like he was some kind of official authority. This excerpt appeared on many news radio websites within the Rogers network and in many of the Sun newspapers in Canada.

Meir Weinstein, national director of the Canadian branch of the Jewish Defence League, says stopping Galloway is not a free speech issue and is more about preventing a possible hate crime.

Weinstein says police should be at the speeches, if they go forward, to monitor if any laws are broken.


A needle in the haystack

Heather Mallick

The only reference I found to Weinstein's interview was in a fluffy op-ed piece written by CBC columnist Heather Mallick on March 30 - Let Gorgeous George speak.

"This is not about free speech," spokesman, Meir Weinstein told a British TV interviewer in a riveting YouTube video.

Galloway, Weinstein claims, has been supporting terrorists by attempting to bring humanitarian aid to ravaged Gaza and by donating money to the Palestinian leadership of democratically elected Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization in Canada.

The JDL "lit a fire" in the Jewish community to contact the federal government and begin a campaign against Galloway's visit, Weinstein told reporters. And sure enough, the Scot was banned.

Mallick actually provides a link to the ITV interview except the link is to a YouTube video (the hyperlink on the page is almost invisible from the surronding text because of stupid web page programming at the CBC, but that's another JAB).

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This is journalism in Canada?

Even though the Weinstein interview was a live feed from the CBC studios in Toronto and produced by a major TV network in Britain, Mallick refers to an unattributed video on YouTube as her source of information.

Does this represents the quality of journalism in Canada today? Journalists searching through the automated garbage bin of propoganda and pirated content that YouTube has become for the inside story?

With the This is not about free speech! mantra being repeated ad nauseum by the main stream media and government, it became apparent to many reasonable people that banning George Galloway really was about free speech. Interest and debate grew to the point where Galloway was getting far more publicity than expected.

News Blackout - the backfire strategy

Realizing their stategy of demonizing Galloway had backfired, the Canadian mainstream media then stopped covering Galloway stories altogether (March 30), even though several of his speeches were viewed from the US via video link after that date to a much larger audience than was originally planned. There were virtually no followup stories to find out how many attended the meetings, and no interviews of those who heard him speak. The number of headline links to Galloway stories on GNC in the 10 days after his ban was announced climbed to more than 1,500. After March 30, there was almost nothing.

Still unconvinced about media bias? Try doing a search for George-Galloway humanitarian versus George-Galloway terrorist on GNC or any of the mainstream Canadian media websites and compare the number of results for each. Compare the number of results searching for Hamas elected-government versus Hamas terrorist-organization.


Try to find a single canadian media reference to Viva Palestina, the name given to the 110 vehicle, 300 volunteer effort that drove 8000 km to deliver aid to Gaza. You won't find it.

For a twist, try searching for a newpaper story with Operation Cast Lead, the brutal attack by Israel against the people of Gaza last January - by most measures a terrorist attack in itself. Finding the needle in a haystack is easier.

Or try to find a single news story about Canada voting against a UN Human Right Council resolution deploring the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. This resolution was supported by France, Italy, Germany, the UK, Switzerland and The Netherlands and every other member of this UN council except Canada.

It took me less than 10 minutes to discover some more interesting quotes from Meir Weinstein and some rather interesting history on the Jewish Defense League, including their past links to terrorism. Can you believe what else this guy has said?

wienstein4 (17K)

We also back the right of Arabs to leave Israel and to go to other countries. The government should make incentives.

The land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, not the Arabs

None of these remarks or the dodgy history of the JDL are reported in the Canadian mainstream media either.


Weinstein and Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, are quoted and interviewed far more often than George Galloway in the stories that do appear. The rhetoric, racism, and slander these two "spokesman" spew is far worse than anything George Galloway says in his defence to their claims.

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Images make for lasting impressions

Canadians have been subjected to countless appearances of photos and video clips of Galloway shaking with Saddam Hussein. In this context, they are about as relevent as this picture of US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam back in the days when Iraq was at war with Iran.

Perhaps we should also incude photos of George Bush Sr. or Reagan meeting with Taliban officials at the White House back in the days when the Soviets were attempting to occupy Afghanistan. Has anybody seen the movie Charlie Wilson's War?

The only interviews I saw of Galloway, other that the ITV interview from England, were a couple done by CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos. Watch this interview from March 30, 2009 or this one from 2006 and decide for yourself how much a threat Galloway is to Canada. Think about Canada's role in Afghanistan. Think about our soldiers.

The Canadian mainstream media, and by this I mean all Canwest newspapers, The National Post, The Globe & Mail, and even CTV and CBC, have consistently repeated the story line of Galloway-the-terrorist or Galloway-the-clown. There has been a total absence of any kind of objective or balanced reporting by our media.

Not one of our newspapers or television networks critically examined whether the recent aid delivered to Gaza by Galloway was really supporting terrorism or a simple act of humanity. The same is true of why Canada considers Hamas an illegal terrorist organization or why we are so supportive of Israel after their brutal attack on the people of Gaza.

Instead we keep getting the message that that humanitarian aid is supporting terrorism and that an eloquent and passionate spokesman for the Palestinian homeland is actually an "international financier for terrorism".

If the newspaper industry is mystified over why their business model is failing, perhaps they should ask themselves why people bought and subscribed to newspapers in the first place. We like good reporting and good writing and we are willing to pay for it. But the state and integrity of journalism in Canada has been so compromised that reporting now is simply half assed, half baked or half truths (take your pick).

Maybe our Canadian newspapers will wake up to the fact that they not worth reading even when their content is free. Maybe it's time for a proper reorganization.

What would Noam Chomsky say?

Noam Chomsky, himself of Jewish descent, a long time supporter for a Palestinian homeland; and considered one of the world's leading intellectuals, wrote Manufacturing Consent over 40 years ago.

Undoubtedly Chomsky would have some insights and interesting comments about the reporting of George Galloway in Canada over the last month.

The editors of Canada's mainatream media have assured all he WILL NOT be reached for comment.


[1] Galloway tried to stop visit by far-right French politician By Don Butler, The Ottawa Citizen March 22, 2009