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Taboo subjects in the mainstream media

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The near-deathbed confession of E. Howard Hunt, fingering LBJ in the JFK assassination, is a taboo subject in the mainstream media. Go to Google News, search Hunt's name, and see what you find in any mainstream news publication about Saint John Hunt's tape.

This is the latest instance of a taboo subject, something that the mainstream media cannot touch. Similar subjects come readily to mind from 9/11. The strange, concerted behavior of the entire top level of the U.S. defense establishment during the attacks, a clear indication of guilty knowledge or at a minimum of pure unadulterated and remarkably coincidental incompetence: Bush continuing to listen to a pet goat story, the Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in a meeting on Capitol Hill and not to be disturbed, Rumsfeld listening to a daily CIA briefer as usual, Wolfowitz continuing with a meeting (he can't remember about what) because there didn't appear to be anything to be done (like maybe evacuate an obviously potential target like the Pentagon). The Family Coordinating Committee asked the 9/11 Commission to ask about this behavior, particularly Rumsfeld and Myers who appeared before the commission (Myers twice), but the commission refused to do it. It was taboo to the commission, and remains taboo today in the mainstream media (to which virtually all unanswered questions about 9/11 are taboo). Another taboo 9/11 subject is the NetJet, the private aircraft that was tracking United Flight 93 as admitted by a NetJet executive. No explanation is forthcoming, because the NetJet, specifically who was on board and what they may have seen, is taboo.

Other examples of taboo subjects in the JFK murder are the massive wound in the back of the head described by numerous medical personnel. If any of the many anniversary specials and other programs airing over the years even mention this wound, I would like to know which one. And then there's The Guilty Men, a video that somehow got shown on the History Channel, but because anything about LBJ being behind the assassination is taboo, a team of LBJ supporters went after the History Channel and got the video promptly banned, with an apology from the channel to boot.

I remember watching a C-SPAN program in which Bob Schieffer and other reporters who were in Dallas or otherwise reported on the assassination were discussing 11/22/63. A man in the audience held up a copy of McClellan's then newly released book fingering LBJ and asked about it, and the amiable, gentle Schieffer turned immediately into a demon, savagely attacking the man for mentioning that "totally discredited" book (discredited by whom?). Schieffer acted like he could have shot the man for breeching such a subject.

It would be easy to say that these taboos are the work of Operation Mockingbird. But it's hard to believe that CIA operatives have such blanket coverage in the mainstream media that a new story can be immediately and effectively stamped taboo or added to a seemingly ubiquitous taboo list, i.e. the Hunt confession. Who decides what is taboo? Where does the word come from, so quickly and effectively, that "you will not report this story"? Or is the media simply pervaded by managers with remarkably uniform intuition (based on what?) on what news not to report and what subjects not to discuss?

Perhaps some journalism student should do a dissertation on this. But then we'd never know about it, because the dissertation would be taboo.

Edited by Ron Ecker
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"Or is the media simply pervaded by managers with remarkably uniform intuition (based on what?) on what news not to report and what subjects not to discuss?"

Well, it's easy to make guesses about this. I once had a friend of a friend who's cousin knew someone who supposedly worked for a company where a team were programming computer guided laser steel cutters. On some weekdays we'd er... they'd work back after hours and link a number of computers so they could play games, Wizend I think the game was. Anyway, they had full access to the office, and as an election approached this friend noticed late night teletypes rattling away and was surprised to see that a number of these transmissions were pre-event info for the business leaders of industries regarding presenting a united front around various election issues. This was a level of organisation that I had been oblivious of and certainly no other grouping I was involved with had access to such technology at that time.

News sources tend to prioritise. ie a huge amount of news is simply discarded: "all the news that fits, we print". The proritising would, in a near monopoly environment, be along guide lines. If you want to keep your job then you'd tend to follow your job description.

OZ main input of news is on SBS australia which runs a roughly six hour every morning the daily news from


Chinese News 6.50am

Dutch News 7.25am

Italian News 8am

German News 8.30am

Spanish News 9.20am

French News 9.55am

Russian News 10.30am

Greek News 11.30am

Arabic News 12.05pm

Indonesian News

And then in the early evening a number of US sources like Jim Lehrer. Plus later in the evening a two hour global roundup.

I had a friend who took me through the SBS main studios and showed and explained the process of prioritising. IE much much more news passes through any news bureau than what they transmit. Often the prioritising is done on the run, ie this friend prepared many more stories than were actually in the end transmitted.

One uni here has a complete "bbc news as it arrives" (pre transmission through public news soures) collection of Micro films. Most tedious to plow through. But it again shows that the record of the news exists. It's the portion of it that reaches the general popluation that seems to be guided according to some agenda or other. Yet the good thng is that it exists.

All these prioritise in different ways. For example the Tech Killings filled a large part of Russian News(up to 15 mins indepth). The attacks by the police in LA on the media and men women and children seems to have been almost universally blanked out.

A lot of the Asian News is more graphic. Many, particularly Italy and Japan, censor imagery by 'blocking' individuals. Others are right 'in your face'. A very common brand of OZ commercial news seem devoted to 'man bites dog' type stories, barely touching on global issues at all.

Edited by John Dolva
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One uni here has a complete "bbc news as it arrives" (pre transmission through public news soures) collection of Micro films. Most tedious to plow through. But it again shows that the record of the news exists.

Perhaps you should let the BBC know about this, John, so it can restore its misplaced 9-11 archives :ph34r:

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