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June 8, 1999
Micro-censorship: The news from San Francisco
Earlier today, I reported that Saturday's
peace marches were completely blacked out by
all major US news media outlets. "But what
about local reporting?" some asked. Surely
the local news can't ignore thousands of
people marching in the streets, can it?
Read on for a lesson in US news control...
This report comes from Silvia the San Francisco
woman who runs http://www.keepfaith.com The site
features daily reports from Belgrade filed by her
mother, 74 year old retired journalist Ivanka Besevic.
In this report, Silvia reports on how the local
San Francisco press covered the peace march there. A person
I know who was there and has long experience counting
crowds guessed "at least 5,000" which, given that
so many people had been duped into believing the
bombing was over, was a pretty healthy turnout.
Here's how the local news reported it:
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote there were "over a
thousand" marchers - another fine example of telling
the truth while twisting just a bit. I can say that
Chronicle sells over 100 copies a day, and be right too...
* Channel 7 did after all cover the demonstration, during
the 11pm news, in a short but objective blurb.
* Channel 4 had no mention of it. (Note: The Chronicle owns
* Channel 2 was AMAZING! It had an extensive and what I can
only consider deliberately slanted coverage. Only a couple of
demonstrators were interviewed, all Serb/American, after which
there was mention of the busses that brought people in, creating the
impression that the bus loads of Serbs were brought in to
demonstrate and they were the only ones (the Serb contingent
was a minuscule part).
Then, after a short shot of the demonstration itself,
there was a longer segment interviewing people on the
streets. Out of four or five interviewed, all of them
were strongly pro bombing and the last one held a speech
about the refugees from Kosovo. As I was there and had
talked to people watching, I know for the fact that it
took concerted effort to find only the people who were
pro-aggression on Balkans. Most of the onlookers were
against it, and honked, yelled and waved to show it.
The segment closed with the menacing mention of the
strong police presence, "but no arrests were made".
Were they taping the same demonstration??? This last
one was completely inaccurate - the demonstration of
about a month ago that had only 1,500 people had a
double or triple police presence! As I said earlier,
I suspect that the police didn't expect the impressive
turnout after the signing of the capitulation, and had
only the minimum numbers of police - there were some cops
on the motorcycles, between us and traffic, and only one
police van that I noticed at all. The demonstration of a
month ago had three police vans. An excellent example of
creative editing..." * end of report
(Note: Channel 2 often coordinates closely with the Examiner.
Still owned by the patriotic Hearst family which never
saw an American war they didn't like. Managing editor Sharon
Rosenhause proposed stripping Gary Webb of a local journalism
award given to him for his Contra-Cocaine connection articles.
She coordinated her smear of Webb so closely with her colleagues
at the New York Times that her proposal was page two news the
very day she made it!)
George Seldes wrote a colorful piece on the conduct of
the San Francisco press during the 1934 General Strike.
Even Seldes, who had seen it all, was amazed at the duplicity
of the city's papers.
Seldes' report along with Silvia's should give anyone who
has had the experience of watching the performance of
San Francisco's uniquely dishonest newspapers a
strong sense of deja vu.
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