On UK TV they showed Avatar again at the weekend. It’s a great movie, but who is going to make the connection between the onscreen narrative – and the way that the basic plot is being enacted in real life in the aptly named Standing Rock in North Dakota? Government troops, supporting a profit-driven company, trampling over the rights of indigenous people? Violence upon violence is levelled against these people, whose ability not to respond with violence of their own should be in the spotlight of the world media.
They will offer balanced news:
They will balance the rights of a corporation over against the rights of human beings, as though both should be equally valued.
They will balance the rights of those who desire profit with the rights granted by government treaties, as though both carried equal weight.
They will balance the rights of non-violent water protectors (they refuse the name, protesters) standing on their own land, with the rights of those who have used rubber bullets, gas attacks, water cannons (in icy conditions) to barge through rights, and treaties and personal promises made by Obama.
Indigenous people in the region who have survived sexual abuse, describe this invasion of their land as the same dynamic on a larger scale. Presumably, the rights of the abuser will be balanced with those of the abused. Balance is a stupid category to apply to broadcasting truth. Balance serves only to disguise the underhand actions of reputable news outlets when reporting stories in such a way as not to upset corporate interest.
News reports will no doubt be strong on narrative and weak on analysis. Protestors who have yet remained peaceful will no doubt be presented as violent. The company have already planted an armed pseudo-protestor on site. It’s not difficult to imagine more.
It’s hardly surprising that mainstream media in the UK are not yet reporting this. But here are my predictions for how it will unfold.
This weekend, thousands of US military veterans will show up to support the people whose lands are simply being grabbed by corporate power. At that stage, it will be impossible not to report what is happening at Standing Rock. No doubt, the media will play the objective game of balanced reporting – claiming that this is six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Brace Yourself for Balance
Standing Rock and the Media
It won’t be the only media tactic, of course. There will be some incident at the event that is blown out of all proportion so as to deflect attention from the story that matters. I would imagine that it will be under the guise of caring for the Water Protectors. For instance, if wanted to achieve this, I would cast those visiting to support the Native American cause as naïve lefty do-gooders who ‘just don’t get’ tribal traditions and sensibilities. I would cast the Sioux Tribe’s enemies as those who have turned out to support them rather than those who are thrusting a gigantic oil pipe through their land. Someone will do this. Just shift the balance to distorted or secondary elements of the real story.
Anyone who doesn’t know about all this, has no business claiming that Trump voters are ignorant. Anyone who doesn’t know why Obama supports this, why Hillary remained silent on the matter, why Sanders has been outspoken on it from the start, has little grasp of what is happening in US politics today.
Not in the 50s, not in the 90s, not five years ago, not when you unwittingly learned to recite the political creeds that you can no longer shake, but TODAY.
1st December, 2016