Media Beat: THE MEDIA'S DANCE ON CARLO GIULIANI'S GRAVE
by Norman Solomon
American Reporter Correspondent
WASHINGTON -- After a police officer shot Carlo Giuliani in the head, Ti= me magazine published a requiem of sorts -- explaining that the 23-year-old=
Italian protester pretty much got what he deserved. "One man died in Gen= oa; a man, we must presume, who was swayed by the false promise that violen= ce -- not peaceful protest, not participation in the democratic process -- = is the best way to advance a political cause," Time's article concluded. "I= t is not too much to hope that the next time his friends stoop to pick up a= cobblestone, they will remember a lesson learned when plows first broke th= e Mesopotamian earth: You reap what you sow."
The sanctimonious tone, etched with gratification, was not unique to the= largest newsmagazine in the United States. Quite a few commentators seemed= to accept -- or even applaud -- the killing of Giuliani as rough justice.
"Excuse me if I don't mourn for the young man who was shot dead by poli= ce during the economic summit," wrote Houston Chronicle columnist Cr= agg Hines. "It was tragic, but he was asking for it, and he got it."
In G= enoa, assaults by Italian police were systematic and widespread, causing hu= ndreds of serious injuries. But American news accounts tended to be cryptic= .
"Italian police raided a school building housing activists and arrested= all 92 people inside," the Wall Street Journal reported on July 23.= "Afterward, the building was covered with pools of blood and littered with= smashed computers. Several reporters at the school were hurt; one had his = arm broken. Police said 61 of the detainees had been wounded in riots that = preceded the raid, but neighbors described hours of beatings and screaming = coming from the school during the raid."
On July 25, when I called the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Manh= attan-based group had not yet issued a statement. But program director Rich= ard M. Murphy told me: "CPJ is extremely concerned by reports that working = journalists were attacked by both police and protesters while covering stre= et demonstrations at the Genoa summit." The comment was evenhanded to a fau= lt. The vast majority of the reported attacks on journalists were by police= .
Unlike colleagues assaulted while displaying press credentials, reporter= John Elliott was on an undercover assignment among protesters. Watching a = water cannon move through tear gas, "I felt a massive blow to the back of m= y head," he wrote in the Sunday Times of London. "For a second my vi= sion whited out. I had been hit by a police truncheon."
As more police ran toward him, Elliott quickly tried to regain his journ= alistic identity by yelling, "Giornalista inglese!" But the clubbing went o= n. "Two policemen dragged me along the ground, shouted at me in Italian and= then hit me some more. My cycling helmet disintegrated under their blows. = Truncheons whacked my back, arms and shins. They dragged me over railway li= nes towards a signal box where I was ordered to put my head on a steel rail= . I tried to obey, unable to believe this was happening. Gripped by fresh= impulses of violence, they started kicking my head, back and legs. Repeate= dly they pushed me to the ground for a fresh pasting."
News accounts routinely declared that the fatality in Genoa was unpreced= ented. But an essay in the London-based Guardian debunked that media= myth. "The members of the Landless Movement of Brazil (MST) could tell you= that Carlo Giuliani ... is not the first casualty of the movement challeng= ing neoliberal globalization around the world," Katharine Ainger wrote.
"The MST suffer ongoing persecution for their campaign for land reform = in Brazil, their opposition to the World Bank's program of market-led land = reform and to the corporate control of agriculture through patents on seed.= "
Ainger cited other deaths that have gone virtually unreported in mass m= edia: "Recently, three students protesting against World Bank privatization= were shot in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Young men fighting World Bank= -imposed water privatization have been tortured and killed in Cochabamba, B= olivia."
Meanwhile, around the planet, those who perish from lack of food= or drinkable water or health care have little media presence. The several = thousand children who die from easily preventable diseases each morning, an= d afternoon, and evening, remain largely media abstractions. When will news= outlets really scrutinize the profit-driven violence that takes their live= s?
While such institutionalized violence is massive and continuous, suppo= rters of corporate globalizing agendas benefit from the propaganda value of= the street violence by "Black Bloc" participants in Genoa (who, according = to eyewitness accounts, comprised no more than 2 percent of the protesters = there).
It would be surprising if those Black Bloc units were not heavily infil= trated by government-paid provocateurs and the like. Historically, covert p= olice agents have often pushed for -- and helped to implement -- violent ac= tions in isolation from a mass base. In sharp contrast, there is scant reco= rd of police agents trying to foment militant, nonviolent civil disobedienc= e on a large scale.
A global movement with literally millions of participants is continuing = to organize against the colossal daily violence of the world's biggest inst= itutions. Progressive Websites that are genuinely grassroots and internatio= nal -- like www.indymedia.org and www.zmag.org -- reflect vibrant resistanc= e to a corporatized future. Other futures are possible, to the extent that = people are determined to create them.
Norman Solomon's latest book is "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media." = His syndicated column focuses on media and politics.