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Conventional wisdom says the recent Spanish elections prove Europeans are weenies: weak-willed, spineless losers who enjoy cradling terrorists. But scratch the surface and what you really see is a battle between corporate/government interests and independent media, between those accepting the Bush doctrine as gospel and those with the courage to fight back.
Because dissing Spain's election is Freedom Fries all over again. It's criticizing a country with the audacity to stand up to the Bush administration when in fact we should be applauding its clarity of vision.
If the first casualty of war is truth, then the War on Terror has dealt a body blow to those trying to get at the bottom of the story: journalists.
The press watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) has noted a sharp jump in attacks on journalists internationally, and not just in high-profile cases such as the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
In 2002, a full 1,420 journalists were kidnapped, beaten or detained across the globe, and RSF concludes, "The fight against terrorism launched by the United States and its allies after the 11 September attacks damaged freedom of the press. Many governments stepped up and justified their repression of opposition or independent voices using anti-terrorism as an excuse."
Truth hurts, or at least that's the way it seems in today's commercialized news media. With advertisers dictating content, and control concentrated into fewer, more powerful hands, censorship and lies have come to seem normal.
We've come to expect mediocrity from corporate-sponsored news: think Elian Gonzalez, Tonya Harding and the fact that most sources quoted in major newspapers are government officials. It's just easier to fill pages with cheap syndicated material, press releases and sensational 90-second stories than to pay editors and reporters for good solid journalism (which goes a long way in explaining why there are 20,000 more PR agents than journalists in the US today).