When journalist Andrew Pearson arrived in Saigon in 1963, he brought with him his American perspective. A perspective, fueled by the public rhetoric at home and informed by his personal experience reporting in Europe, that led with loyal patriotism and staunch justification for the Vietnam War.
But once on the ground, what he saw objectively disputed what was coming out of the White House and the anthems of imminent victory proliferating US media. Compelled by these realities, he began reporting exactly what he saw - the depths of casualties, the ongoing military shortfalls and the devastating impact on civilian communities.
This reporting, from Pearson and his colleagues, took real time images of war into American living rooms for the first time. The unfiltered, unbiased images of loss, grief, torture, and desperation questioned the US’s role and further pitted the war against American ideals. What had been dissent based on political affiliation and personal perception shifted into dissent based on objective awareness and humanitarian ideals.
In response, the US government began to limit access to on the ground reporting - requiring correspondents to be accompanied by an approved ”minder” with military updates prepared by public affairs staff.
At the time, Pearson and others represented over 50 companies in American media. Today, as we digest reporting from Gaza, 90% of US media is controlled by just six corporations: AT&T, CBS, Comcast, Disney, Newscorp and Viacom worth a total of over $430 billion.
All of these media sources are large profit-based operations and as such, are beholden to owner's and advertisers financial interests, political prejudices and corporate policy. The appeasement of those entities controls the volume of voice and scope of reach each and every story receives.
As we watch in horror the genocide of the Palestinian people and the holding of Israeli hostages, we must be vigilant in seeking the truth. Where we get our information and what we hear, process and repeat matters. We are responsible to set aside attention grabbing headlines and instead seek understanding of historical context and act with respect for the depth of complexity as we unify to hold our elected officials accountable to our representation.
We stand with the Palestinian people and the Israeli hostages. We stand against the abuse of power exhibited by IDF and Hamas alike. We celebrate in gratitude the brave reporting of those on the ground risking their lives in commitment to freedom, safety, and basic human rights for their brothers and sisters. We believe truth brings awareness, awareness brings action and action brings change.
- Maureen Post
A suggested listen: A History of Hamas from THROUGHLINE on NPR
Photo credit : Reuters