In the land of the “exceptional” a new, unjustifiable definition of journalism has over-ridden the previously time-honored tenets regarding the obligatory role of the press: that of presenting the whole truth of any story via documented facts. These days, the role of the press is reduced to complicity in pervasive, blatant propaganda. Hence, it is not what the reader is told that truly matters; it is what is deliberately left-out.
So, as Chief US Negotiator at the San Diego Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations fled the scene of her crime – having moments before accused four US senators and one-fourth of the US House of Representatives of being liars – she strangely, it seemed, sought refuge from this reporter at the first of only three Press Conferences to be held during the eight day event. Chief US Negotiator, Barbara Weisel, had been ducking this reporter’s questions throughout the public Stakeholder’s Meeting that was open to just twenty members of the San Diego public. As she disappeared out the double doors of the Hilton’s Conference Hall and across the hall to the room designated for the press it seemed that my quarry was finally trapped, now having to answer real questions from dozens of dedicated journalists who would be salivating to confront Ms. Weisel with the missing questions she had just spent three hours evading. Surely, we had her now.
“Delegates” however, the actual trade negotiators – conspirators really – were sparse in attendance, since few ventured down from the secured fourth floor extravaganza to mill about in any possible spotlight. They need not have worried.
Observing the various clusters of public interaction in different concentrations about the room, one evasive and often-used refrain was routine, almost amusing and seemingly scripted. “There is more than adequate representation here,” echoed one plump, but nicely attired member of the US Chamber of Commerce.” Americans don’t understand how transparent we have been,” he protested. Myopically of course, he failed to notice any lapse in his ethics as a US Chamber representative, since his support of TPP will put his paid American US Chamber members in a subordinate position to a foreign corporate power not of American soil. Similar to a Union rep lying, twenty-plus years ago, about the great necessity of ratifying NAFTA, this US delegate’s treason will not come to roost for some time to come. Like NAFTA, then … it will be too late.
When taken to task on their seemingly rhetorical answers, these Delegates then ducked for cover. “I’m not qualified to answer that. You’ll have to speak with the US trade representative,” said a US delegate regarding a question on TPP usurping US sovereignty. “You’ll have to find someone qualified on this. It’s not my department,” said an equally ranking US delegate. That “someone,” Chief US negotiator, Ms. Weisel, had been working the room at the “Stakeholder Event” for the past three hours deliberately going from one friendly cluster of conspirators to the next, a tactic designed to keep her conveniently busy, and away from prying reporters and their quest for “clarity.” If that did not work, she, like the other trained delegates, merely just began talking to someone else, leaving the offending question hanging limply in the air.
Having again hunted down Ms. Weisel at the Press Conference across the hall and now observing from the last row of the Press Conference, a packed house totaling – by all conservative estimates – six “journalists” were in attendance. Six. One from Associated Press, a seemingly nice couple who publish the Washington Trade Daily, a quiet Asian woman from a D.C. legal journal, and one other guy who was unidentified, but hogged all the questions like a pro. A TV crew from a Japanese station set-up in the back. They did not ask questions. Where was the media? This being one of the most insidious political stories of the post 9/11 era, one would expect a strong rabid media presence ready and waiting. Alas, the American media including, so sadly, the supposedly progressive-activist press were performing their modern duties as vigilant stewards of the First Amendment: they were missing.
Above: At a Packed Press Conference Throngs of Concerned Journalists Ask Chief U.S. Negotiator, Barbara Weisel , (Center) Likeable Questions.
The five other reporters present were all pro-TPP, although the TV crew was not. The questions presented were limited in scope, highlighting their own lack of information, apparently due the their unwillingness to find any. None asked any of the important questions pertaining to issues of TPP’s treason over American and national sovereignty, lack of transparency in the negotiations or access to draft copies of the Treaty being denied to elected US officials. No reporter, despite each cutting-in during any millisecond pause, asked Ms. Weisel about, “The Tribunal.” Yet.
The Tribunal is the corporate TPP trial court that is charged with ruling on disputes between the TPP multi-national corporations and the sovereign rights of the American/National local, state, and federal Government interests and domestic corporations. Made up of three corporate lawyers, US TPP reps such as Ms. Weisel would have us believe that any ruling by this Tribunal would be impartial. Any ruling would, in reality, be binding and supersede the authority of all U.S. state, federal and Supreme Court authority.
Now again prepared for further evasive maneuvers by Ms. Weisel on issues of sovereignty, the reporter who had, minutes before, caught her willfully defaming a significant portion of the US congress, finally slipped in a question.
“Could you explain the authority and make-up of the Tribunal and why it should have the power to circumvent American sovereignty and its courts?” came the first challenging question. Fair and accurate, this question had been routinely avoided by all Delegates at the Stakeholder event… at least until Ms. Weisel succumbed to a nervous bout of foot-in-mouth disease, just minutes before.
“Well, we’ve got to get upstairs!” said Ms. Harmon, her handler, standing-up abruptly and encouraging her charge to do the same, which Ms. Weisel, of course, did in unison. Out the Press Room door they marched toward the escalator and the presumed safety of the exclusive Third floor.
Not to be denied, after a terminally long minute to deliberate in the dust of Ms. Weisel’s most recent escape, the seemingly nice couple from the Trade Daily and the one nosy reporter shuffled-out in pursuit, thus boldly setting foot on the escalator to the promised land above. Well, there, coming into view on the upper landing stood our plucky Chief US Negotiator deep in conversation with our rival from AP. Having now again entered the fray an effort at further questions was attempted. This was again rebuffed. Ms. Weisel and her handler, quickly shaking hands with the AP guy, disappeared through the nearest set of dark-wood, double doors in the charge of two specially hired security guards, who dutifully closed them shut. Tight.
Defeated once again, the three intrepid usurpers went down one station to the next level below.
Chief US Negotiator, Barbara Weisel, barely ever again muttered a public comment at the San Diego negotiations. At the subsequent two press opportunities she instead deferred entirely to the unique oratory skills of a new, not-scene-before, spokeswoman. So introduced was Ms. Carol Guthrie, who – it became immediately obvious – was subbed-in because of her having completely mastered the skill of speaking non-stop, for minutes on end, without ever coming up for air. Thanks to this unique skill, a targeted journalist could not get a follow-up question in between her blather. Ms. Guthrie reminded the throngs of reporters – five today – that everything being said “was for background only.” Leaving nothing to chance she exactly outlined the rules for a “background only” press conference. “Nothing said here is for attribution,” she demanded without pause. “Nothing is for quotation and any comment, or answer, is only to be attributed as coming from the office of the US Trade negotiator,” continued the warning. A further implied sideways warning was of course here directed at one particular attendee, for, during this admonition, Ms. Weisel, from her corner seat next to Ms. Guthrie avoided all eye contact, looking at the floor, doe-eyed, saying nothing. Dunce hat on.
With so few reporters, none having issues of “clarity” in mind, it was time for one interested reporter to again attempt to call BS on this theater of the absurd.
“That’s completely untrue,” hacked-in this exasperated reporter. Ms. Guthrie, who had not inhaled recently had been smoothly assuring one of the Trade reporters that the US Trade Representative’s office was going beyond reason in providing “clarity” in the negotiations. Tossing a letter written just three days before and baring one hundred thirty-two signatures, the reporter demanded, “Why is one quarter of the Congress demanding to see the treaty, yet you say there is adequate transparency?”
Having, now, finally aspirated Ms. Guthrie was prepared to blather on, uninterrupted, using the same scripted answers that had avoided this same question at yesterday’s Stakeholder’s Meeting. On she went, repeating TPP’s evasive mantra: that there is plenty of public representation; that those members of congress don’t understand; TPP is a great benefit to the US economy, etc., etc.
“Then why not just release the draft copies… the same ones every delegate in this building has in their briefcase. What are you hiding and… why?”
“You can’t ask that!” snapped a loud retort to my left including the noise of his chair accidentally hitting the wall as he abruptly stood up. “She’s answered your question. Leave it alone!”
Staring angrily at me, hands flat on the conference table, was the cherubic male half of the couple from the Washington Trade Daily. He was not happy. He had already had his turn, asking softball, pro-business questions so this seemed out of character and certainly out of line. This was after all a Press Conference. And … we had been getting along so well.
“My question. My follow-up,” I replied, eyes growing narrow.”Besides, Ms. Guthrie’s statements are distortions at best. Which you should know.”
What had pricked this guys craw had obviously come down before this Q&A. He had been gathering his papers, but hearing this challenge he snatched them up, looked sideways at his wife and ordered, “We’re leaving.”
Walking behind the offensive reporter to exit the room, he stopped. Composing himself and lowering his voice to a civil tone, he stated clearly in metered words, exactly spaced…
“It’s reporters like you…why do you think you can ask…anything?! We asked good questions.” And here he pointed to all three of his fellow journalists.”You… Mr. Activist… Mr. Journalist. Why do you waste our time? Why?”
With that, and wife in tow, he headed towards the double doors. The publisher of the Washington Trade Daily did not know that in so doing, his abrupt exit had already answered his own most truthful of questions.
At that same exact moment, I knew more than ever what that answer was, too.
Epitaph: What Media?!A lack of media coverage at the TPP negotiations is just one example of the modern role of – or lack thereof – today’s press. Lack of dedication and lowering of standards by media whores shows Mainstream Media as complicit in many other modern parables of corrupt journalism.
From the excuses for the second Iraq war to the midnight signing of the treasonous NDAA earmarks, from the Patriot Act to NSA constitutional violations, or the lies about Iran’s nuclear program and the American domestic drone surveillance/killing program. From NAFTA before, to TPP today, it is what the media deliberately leaves out that is the big lie. The lie that matters. The New York Times has been discredited many times in recent years for fraudulent reporting and has made a mockery of its once vaunted moniker as the nation’s, “newspaper of record.” Rival journalists of a higher standard proved that. Routinely, the breadth of any story of geo-political importance is missing from MSM coverage; or the story is not covered at all. Such is the case here at the TPP negotiations.
To paraphrase (slightly) W.R. Hurst, “it is not the duty of the journalist to speak truth to power… it is their obligation.” Any political reporter who proffers to journal the ongoing globalist chess game that is this modern world, must more than ever mind this obligation. The “journalist” must no longer be part of the problem and, therefore, retake the mantle of adversary and the required role of, “rival.” Here and now, the passion of the activist must intersect with the craft of the writer to re-create the needed rival to scoundrel media. Wielding the simplest of military metaphors, the mindful journalist confronts his quarry at every chance – every story – with the facts deliberately left out by his rivals.
The journalistic interest in TPP, via the three press conferences, fell into three categories: uninformed, disaffected, or missing. Of the paltry attendance, all the other reporters were disinterested due to their affiliation with publications specific to pro-TPP trade and they’re having only interest in specific trade questions. In speaking with them privately, none – except the Japanese TV crew – had any detailed knowledge of TPP regarding American sovereign rights issues, or the Tribunal. All had traveled to San Diego yet none had done any further research outside their narrow routine agendas. When offered, none expressed any interest in hearing about the Orwellian authoritarian democracy that they were currently complicit in seeing come to passage.
The press corps for the last group numbered in the thousands. The missing. The journalist that did not, despite expense accounts, first-class airfare, fat per-diems and comfy hotels, could not be enticed to cover his last terminal descent into corporate, Obama-sponsored, madness. A total of eight journalists covered the TPP negotiations. They did little to affect the winds of change much less expose the whole truth of TPP. They did nothing to help the America of their First Amendment. What they, as journalists, left out is a crime. Like NAFTA, history will look back twenty years hence and wonder; what became, then, of those stewards of democracy.
Cronkite, Murrow, Reasoner, Ellsberg, Greene, Winchell, Thompson and so many more before them thrived on the rivalry of getting the better story, the first story, and the inside scoop; thereby being first to give the middle finger to their news rivals and to the power they challenged. They said loudly that which was not, yet, comfortably uttered. They challenged the concept of established authority at every chance. They risked their press credentials daily. They would not back down. The result was change … based on truth. That change was a revolution and part of that revolution was a return to a high standard for news reporting. These journalists set these standards. Do you hear them howl?
For, here at TPP/San Diego: where the hell is the press?!
– Note: This has been Part Four of a multi-part expose on the 2012 San Diego TPP negotiations. Please see Part One, Part Two or Part Three for much essential information not included in the chapter.
About The Author:
Brett Redmayne-Titley began reporting on-scene in an effort to provide better quality reporting from current events of geo-political, environmental and moral importance. A life-long activist, political commentator and world citizen, he has published over one hundred in-depth articles, many of which have been re-published and translated internationally. He can be reached at: live-on-scene [at] gmx.com