These two stories make a fine illustration of why it is crucial to read broadly, pushing one’s comfort zone and challenging the tendency towards confirmation bias.
This one, by Buzzfeed (an outlet funded, for example, by a $200 million dollar investment from the NBC Universal corporation, a division of Comcast and General Electric), reports on Trump saying the US should shoot down Russian planes when they intercept US spy-planes that have their transponders turned off and are buzzing the Russian border as the US continues to advance its encirclement of Russia with militant bases.
This one, by RT, which is funded by the Russian public (like the BBC is funded by the British public), reports on the same event.
If the reader is a US citizen and only reads the Buzzfeed story, it will be unclear where the plane interception happened. Due to the perspective and suggestions presented in the piece, and depending on how informed the reader is, it would be easy to think the event happened near the US border, rather than the Russian border.
The reader will receive mainly Trump’s quote, which says that Russia is taunting and disrespecting the US and violating the Geneva Convention agreements (by intercepting the US war-ships spy-planes buzzing its border ahead of encroaching US nuclear and militant bases – this part goes unsaid.)
No other side or context is given at all, including that Trump, same as Hillary Clinton, enthusiastically advocates torture, murder, and aggression (as does Sanders for the latter two), actual violations of the Geneva Convention the US commits continually.
No other side is given to ask what the US would do if Russian spy-planes and nuclear military bases were encroaching on the US border. If that were happening, would Trump then suggest that if US planes intercepted Russian planes, then the US would be violating the Geneva convention and should have its planes shot down?
Similarly, if one clicks the Buzzfeed source-link to the CNN corporation website, one will again receive only the US corporate empire’s perspective, with suggestions that the US is doing nothing wrong and Russia is being aggressive (by patrolling its borders in the face of hostile military encroachment – unsaid). No other side. The Russian government did of course issue a response; CNN and Buzzfeed just choose not to include it.
Conversely, if one reads the RT report on this same event, one receives a) Trump’s quote, b) the US Pentagon’s reaction, c) the Russian government’s reaction, d) another US government reaction, and e) additional information left out by the US corporate sources.
First, the reader learns from RT (but not Buzzfeed or CNN) that the event took place “in international space close to the Russian border” and that the US planes buzzing the Russian border were spy planes with their transponders turned off. The reader also learns that this is a repeated pattern of behavior by the US, which includes surrounding Russia with war-ships and military bases.
The reader will then learn that the Pentagon spokesperson, the most relevant US government source on the event, says “I don’t think the Russians are trying to provoke an incident [by intercepting the US spy-plane and performing a ‘barrel-roll’]. I think they’re trying to send a signal. I think it’s pretty clear that they are wanting to let us know that they see that we are up there in the Baltic”, surrounding Russia militarily (and, as the foremost US expert on Russia, Professor Stephen F. Cohen, says, intentionally trying to provoke Russia, like a bully trying to get someone in the street to “take the first shot”).
The reader will learn that the “Russian Defense Ministry routinely dismisses American accusations of acting improperly in international space. Commenting on the Friday incident, it said the US should stop sending spy planes towards Russia’s border with their transponders switched off. If they did, Russia would not have to send warplanes to intercept unidentified aircraft it sees on radar for visual contact…”
Then another US government perspective is given by RT: “US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the US may open fire on Russian planes” on the Russian border, supporting Cohen’s assessment that the US is trying to provoke Russia into war.
The RT report finishes by giving more obviously relevant context from the sides of both the Russian and US governments, noting that the US has just announced it is adding more militants to its encirclement of the Russian border, in conjunction with Britain and Germany. (All three of those countries have invaded Russia previously. The British/US/Euro invasion used chemical weapons against the Russians, and the later German invasion exterminated up to almost a third of the Russian population.)
Additional context not provided by any of the above sources might note that historically, Western Europeans have treated Eastern Europeans just as they have the rest of the world, brutally, and in fact the word ‘slave’ comes from the word Slav (Russians and many Eastern Europeans are Slavs). Blatant dehumanization/propaganda campaigns (of which the two US stories above are part) continue unabated in Western culture to help bolster Western aggression against Eastern Europe and Russia, which the West seeks to reconquer and plunder, as it has tried to do or done on multiple occasions.
All of the above sources should be read. However, if for some reason one were to choose only one of these sources to read on this event, the Russian source gives multiple, competing perspectives and crucial context, while the US corporate sources, trying to protect their imperial aggression, give one, highly dishonest perspective, their own, along with essentially zero context, all of which further supports their aggression and suggests that the clear aggressor is justified in increasing its aggression when the victim responds at all, even non-violently – the quintessential view of the remorseless batterer and thief.
Research illustrates that this is always the position overwhelmingly presented by US ‘media’, going back to the US invasions and illegal annexations of the Native nations of the continent.
As US media experts have pointed out, there is no reason to be mad that corporations do what helps them expand, because obviously they are going to do that. The point here is to expand our perspectives beyond the mindset of the corporate empire so we can continue to build alternatives and ignore it out of existence.
Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published author who focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and also writes professionally for the film industry. Updates on Twitter. Author’s essay ‘The Agility of Tyranny: Historical Roots of Black Lives Matter’.