In this time of “fake news” headlines, here are some excerpts from revealing accounts by award-winning journalists in the book “Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press” published in 2004, which revealed major media corruption. Publishers Weekly: In this illuminating anthology, editor Borjesson succinctly explains the journalist’s predicament: “The buzzsaw is what can rip through you when you try to investigate or expose anything this country’s large institutions be they corporate or government want kept under wraps.”
Jane Akre – Fox News. After our struggle to air an honest report [on hormones in milk], Fox fired the general manager [of our station]. The new GM said that if we didn’t agree to changes that the lawyers were insisting upon, we’d be fired for insubordination in 48 hours. We pleaded with [him] to look at the facts we’d uncovered. His reply: “We paid $3 billion dollars for these stations. We’ll tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is!” [After we refused] Fox’s GM presented us an agreement that would give us a full year of salary, and benefits worth close to $200,000, but with strings attached: no mention of how Fox covered up the story and no opportunity to ever expose the facts. [After declining] we were fired.
Dan Rather – CBS, Multiple Emmy Awards. What’s going on is a belief that you can manipulate communicable trust between the leadership and the led. The way you do that is you don’t let the press in anywhere. Access to war is extremely limited. The fiercer the combat, the more the access is limited, [including] access to information. This is a direct contradiction of the stated policy of maximum access to information consistent with national security. There was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tires around people’s necks if they dissented. In some ways the fear [now in the U.S.] is that you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. That fear keeps journalists from asking the tough questions. I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism.
Monika Jensen-Stevenson – Emmy-winning producer for 60 minutes. Robert R. Garwood – 14 years a prisoner of the Vietnamese – was found guilty in the longest court-martial in US history. At the end of the court-martial, there seemed no question that Garwood was a monstrous traitor. Several years later in 1985, Garwood was speaking publicly about something that had never made the news during his court-martial. He knew of other American prisoners in Vietnam long after the war was over. He was supported by Vietnam veterans whose war records were impeccable. My sources included outstanding experts like former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency General Tighe and returned POWs like Captain McDaniel, who held the Navy’s top award for bravery. With such advocates, it was hard not to consider the possibility that prisoners (some 3,500) had in fact been kept by the Vietnamese as hostages to make sure the US would pay the more than $3 billion in war reparations. [After the war] American POWs had become worthless pawns. The US had not paid the promised monies and had no intention of paying in the future.
Kristina Borjesson – CBS producer, Emmy award winner. Pierre Salinger announced to the world on Nov. 8, 1996, that he’d received documents proving that a US Navy missile had accidentally downed [TWA flight 800]. That same day, FBI’s Jim Kallstrom called a press conference. A man raised his hand and asked why the Navy was involved in the recovery and investigation while a possible suspect. “Remove him!” [Kallstrom] yelled. Two men leapt over to the questioner and grabbed him by the arms. There was a momentary chill in the air after the guy had been dragged out of the room. Kallstrom and entourage acted as if nothing had happened. [Kallstrom was later hired by CBS.]
Greg Palast – BBC. In the months leading up to the November  balloting, Gov. Jeb Bush ordered elections supervisors to purge 58,000 voters on the grounds they were felons not entitled to vote. As it turns out, only a handful of these voters were felons. This extraordinary news ran on page one of the country’s leading paper. Unfortunately, it was the wrong country: Britain. In the USA, it was not covered. The office of the governor [also] illegally ordered the removal of felons from voter rolls – real felons – but with the right to vote under law. As a result, 50,000 of these voters could not vote. The fact that 90% of these were Democrats should have made it news as this alone more than accounted for Bush’s victory.
Michael Levine – 25-year veteran of DEA, writer for New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today. The Chang Mai “factory” that the CIA prevented me from destroying was the source of massive amounts of heroin being smuggled into the US in the bodies and body bags of GIs killed in Vietnam. Case after case was killed by CIA and State Department intervention and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it. … In 1980, CIA-recruited mercenaries and drug traffickers unseated Bolivia’s democratically elected president. Immediately after the coup, cocaine production increased massively. Bolivia [became] the source of virtually 100% of the cocaine entering the US. This was the beginning of the crack “plague.” … The CIA along with State and Justice Departments had to protect their drug-dealing assets by destroying a DEA investigation. How do I know? I was the inside source. … I sat down at my desk in the American embassy and wrote evidence of my charges. I addressed it to Newsweek. Three weeks later DEA’s internal security [called] to notify me that I was under investigation…The highlight of the 60 Minutes piece is when the administrator of the DEA, Federal Judge Robert Bonner, tells Mike Wallace, “There is no other way to put it, Mike, [what the CIA did] is drug smuggling. It’s illegal.”
Robert McChesney – 500 radio & TV appearances. [There has been a] striking consolidation of the media from hundreds of firms to an industry dominated by less than ten enormous transnational conglomerates. The largest ten media firms own all US TV networks, most TV stations, all major film studios, all major music companies, nearly all cable TV channels, much of the book and magazine publishing [industry], and much, much more. Expensive investigative journalism – especially that which goes after national security or powerful corporate interests – is discouraged. … A few weeks after the war began in Afghanistan, CNN president Isaacson authorized CNN to provide two different versions of the war: a more critical one for the global audience and a sugarcoated one for Americans. … It is nearly impossible to conceive of a better world without some changes in the media status quo.
The book’s editor Kathleen Borjesson was subject to attempts at character assassination by her former peers. After she was fired from CBS, she was asked to develop a pilot for a new investigative series to be overseen by director Oliver Stone. She gathered over thirty eyewitnesses who disputed the official government story about the downing of TWA 800, but before production even started, Newsweek called Stone the “latest conspiracy crank to delve into the mysterious crash.” Time Magazine chimed in with an article headlined “The Conspiracy Channel?” The New York Times dismissed Borjesson’s reporting simply because government agencies denied its truth.
Some of the journalists in Buzzsaw has been previously critical of those suggesting media bias. Gary Webb who wrote the San Jose Mercury News series revealing the CIA’s role in the crack epidemic, noted: “You wouldn’t have found a more staunch defender of the newspaper industry than me. I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. So how could I possibly agree with people like Noam Chomsky and Ben Bagdikian, who were claiming the system didn’t work, that it was steered by powerful special interests and corporations, and existed to protect the power elite?”