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Objectivity in Independent Media
Part 3: Language and Altered Reality
by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri
March 5, 2005

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* Read Part One
* Read Part Two

There is a glaring contradiction between what Power and Interest News Report (PINR) professes to be in theory, and what it is in practice. This contradiction is not limited to ideological bias and communication of disinformation, but also extends to the choice of terminology with the purpose to spread propaganda and distorted facts.

Again, PINR, which proclaims itself “an analysis-based publication that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader,” is not that at all.

  1. PINR belies the stated “analysis-based” nature of publication when it is not an analysis of factual situations. One can see this clearly when PINR meticulously rehashes positions derived from the Bush administration and the neo-conservative ideology.


  1. Because of this ideological interdependency, PINR actually is selling the views of U.S. imperialism as “objective analyses.”


  1. Such analyses, therefore, could not offer any insight on world conflicts, but serve to indoctrinate and mislead in their conclusions.


  1. To avoid exposing itself as a biased publication catering to special interests, PINR uses a stratagem: it defines its approach to analysis by relying on abstract concepts such as, “powers and interests involved.”  What powers and whose interests does PINR have in mind? How can PINR dispense the views and interests of those involved, if it only reports on the views and interest of one side only?


  1. To evade scrutiny and preempt critical counter-argument, PINR pretends to leave the moral judgment to the reader. There is a problem with this attitude. Because PINR produces rigid and tilted analyses that accept apparent reality but discard non-apparent reality, it blackmails the reader by effectively saying: we made our analyses without emotion, but you can make any judgment you want. Producing morally devoid analyses is in fact that: morally devoid. But PINR’s analyses are also highly indoctrinating in that they predispose an unskeptical reader to strive toward a supposedly balanced view to avoid making a flawed moral judgment. Readers seeking objectivity might, therefore, abstain from critical debate on morality-incorporating views. One wonders whether PINR’s analyses are studies in mathematics where counter-arguments are deemed an exercise in morality!

To demonstrate how PINR juggles terminology to serve its undeclared purpose to disinform and mislead, the present authors give two examples; the first investigated by Petersen, the other by Sabri.  

Petersen’s Example

In an article entitled, The New York Times’ Search for Missing Friends, Petersen critiqued PINR’s use of specific derogatory descriptions of Iraqi cities revolting against the occupation from which we extract the following:   

Even the self-proclaimed “objectivity” of the usually balanced and informative Power and Interest News Report (PINR) adduced elusive. It couldn’t refrain from referring to al-Sadr’s “rabid anti-Americanism,” “fiery anti-American rhetoric,” and his “anti-American tongue lashing.” Such inflammatory language is hardly in keeping with its stated goal of “leaving the moral judgments to the reader.” As for objectivity in this case, one wonders why the occupiers are never described as anti-Iraqi in any PINRs? A Google search comes up with 107 results for “PINR anti-American” and zero results for “PINR anti-Iraqi.


Petersen, however, acknowledged that subsequent to that correspondence, PINR did later amend the partial language in the PINR in question. But this is not the issue. Changing tone is not equivalent to changing substance. Indeed, the principle that guides PINR is a policy that camouflages insipid indoctrination with specious political analysis. The following observations in Sabri’s example support the authors’ contention.  

Sabri’s Example

In analyzing Erich Marquardt’s latest article, “Iraq’s Perilous Election and the Need for Exist Strategies,” Sabri tabulated a limited sampling of terms, phrases, and concepts that are in line with the themes and ideology of imperialism, colonialism, and the Bush Administration. Upon examining that sampling, the only distinct verdict that can be issued here is that PINR is not interested in informed debate nor does it cater to such a concept despite the vastness of subjects and areas it covers. To emphasize imperialist manipulation of meaning, italics are added to the quotations, and the effective meaning is expressed in brackets: 

·   “The lethal insurgent targeting of politicians and government figures;” [i.e., U.S.-appointed personnel]

·   “A suicide car bomber drove…” [i.e., an Iraqi fighter conducting a military attack]

·   “Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi” [i.e., interim prime minister [sic] appointed by the occupation, or quisling prime minister]

·   The Iraqi National Accord…” [i.e., an organization founded, named, and financed by the CIA in 1992]

·   “The Green Zone, the most heavily fortified area of Iraq containing the headquarters of the Iraqi government and the U.S. embassy….” [i.e., the heavily fortified area of Baghdad containing the former presidential palace that has become the American Embassy, CIA offices, Iraq’s U.S. central command, military contingents, U.S. military contractors, and miscellaneous ransacked buildings for an appointed “Iraqi government” that does not govern or have portfolios. “In the midst of these incidents…” [i.e., in the midst of Iraqi resistance attacks]

·    “Without a clear enemy to fight, U.S. forces have been thrust into a situation where they are targeted by unseen enemies who use explosives to strike at U.S. convoys covertly.” [i.e., the Iraqi people are not a clear enough enemy target for the occupation forces. The disinformation here is that the aggressors depicted themselves as if someone forced them into a situation not of their own making. As for unseen enemies, etc., Marquardt keeps repeating the term: enemy. If he were observant of forces and interests, he should have said, “elusive U.S. adversaries”; or when talking about the Iraqis, he could say, “the Iraqis and their invading enemies. To strike at U.S. convoys: i.e., guerrilla attacks against U.S. occupation forces and supply lines]

·   “When these enemies are seen, it is often during a suicide mission where an insurgent drives a car bomb into a U.S. checkpoint.” [i.e., when the Iraqi resistance fighters are visible, it is often during courageous military attacks where an anti-occupation fighter sacrifices his life…]

·  “Insurgency Creates Heightened Level of Instability” [i.e., Marquardt espouses the administration spin that it is the insurgency that heightens the level of instability -- not the occupation!]

·  “Discredit the January 30 general elections.” [i.e., the illegal and illegitimate election the occupation designed so it could continue to exist]

·  Attacks against Shi’a power groups participating in the upcoming elections have been pervasive;” [What intelligence does Marquardt have to “prove” the responsibility of the anti-occupation resistance for those attacks? Did he see these acts and evaluate them in the chaotic context of Iraq and, therefore, he has no doubts on their origin or credibility? Given all the illicit “ends justify the means” actions of the aggressors, why could Mossad or American agents not have instigated the acts since they would stand to benefit the most from a sectarian war, including one more reason to stay and further exploit the situation?]

·   “The motives behind these attacks lie in the interests of the Sunni Arab minority who aim to prevent Iraqi Shi'a from using their majority status in the country to consolidate political power in the upcoming elections.” [First, the rationale for the Iraqi resistance attacks has been insidiously shifted from an anti-occupation struggle to an internecine conflict motivated by religious prejudices. Second, if a confessional majority must rule in countries that the U.S. invades then this principle must apply domestically in the U.S., i.e., the faith that is the most numerous must rule in the U.S. be it Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Gnostic, atheist, etc… then comes the conundrum of which faction of a majority group must rule. Third, why stop at religious denomination? This rationale dangerously extends itself to ethnicity. Fourth, is there any validity for an Iraqi election or Shi’a power, if U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte and his 150,000 soldiers are de facto ruling Iraq?] 

Without having to go through the entire report, we can put forward the following observation. (1) Marquardt’s report is not a coherent analysis of facts, but a mass of pre-conceived information. (2) His phraseology, terminology, and clichés are in line with Washington’s philosophy of the occupation and “war of civilization.” (3) Contrary to stated claim, his reports on powers and interests are biased. 

Categorically, Marquardt wrote a one-sided report, and then he asked readers to believe that what they read is what exists.

In part four, the authors will conclude their review of PINR by discussing Marquardt’s definition of objectivity.

Kim Petersen is a writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: B.J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American antiwar activist. Email:

Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen

* Progressivism and Free Speech for All
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 2
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part One
* The Never Again Mantra
* The Rationale of Suicide Bombing
* Gauging the Worth of US Troops in Neocon Eyes
* A Sporting Revolution: The Parecon Hockey League
* A Stain Upon the Sea: Profit Over Wild Salmon
* Zionist Propaganda in Progressive Wool
* Securing Canadian Political Obeisance: Halifax Greets Bush
* The Footprint of an Out-of-Control Behemoth Leaving a Trail of Bodies in its Wake

* Progressive Efflux
* Bamboozling Morality
* A Pretext for War
* Chomsky and the Hopelessness of Lesser Evilism
* The Importance of Being Careful of What One Wishes For
* The Great Betrayal
* A Desertion of Common Sense
* Putin's Sheath
* Staring into the Journalistic Abyss: Disinformation and Propaganda at the NY Times
* Progressivism and the Corporate Olympics
* The Futility of Revolving Warmonger Regimes
* The Deadly Contradiction of Being John Kerry
* The Path of Evil
* The Importance of Solidarity
* Lessons Not Learned
* A Tale of Two Ethnic Cleansings
* The Freedom Crusade (Part Three): Home of the Not-So-Free
* The Freedom Crusade (Part Two): The Four Freedoms
* The Freedom Crusade (Part One): Bush’s Mission

* The Progressive Paradox: Defining Viability
* The Shame
* The Wrong Direction
* The Pornography of War

* The Fairy Tale of Liberation
* The Lesser-of-Two Evils
* The Etiology of Hate


Other Articles by B. J. Sabri

* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part 2
* Objectivity in Independent Media, Part One

* The Splendid Failure of Occupation, Pt 7
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Pt 6
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 5

* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 4
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 3
* Splendid Failure of Occupation, Part 2
* The Splendid Failure of Occupation: Part 1
* Beyond Empty Triumphalism
* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part One

* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Two
* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Three

* The Hyper-Imperialist Paradigm, Part Four
* Reporting from the Colonialist Side of the Brain
* Thomas Friedman: The Insidious Prophet of Petty Fascism
* Nomen Nudum, Or, Hyper-Imperialists On a Rampage
* Which Prototype is Bush Following: Nero, Holagu, Malthus, Hitler, or Sharon?
* From Guernica to Baghdad Via Dresden and Hiroshima
* Barbaric Era, Year 2003
* When Hercules is Intoxicated, Furious, and Unchained
* War on Iraq and the Pregnant Chads Factor

* Nuclear Blues and the Iraqi Question