‘Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press’, an Award-Winning Collection of Essays is Released by Freelance Journalist Kristina Borjesson

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. The system fights back with official lies, disinformation, and stonewalling. Your phone starts acting funny. Strange people call you at strange hours to give you strange information. The FBI calls you. Your car is broken into and the thief takes your computer and your reporter’s notebook and leaves everything else behind. You feel like you’re being followed everywhere you go.”

Borjesson exposes how executives regularly squelch legitimate stories that will lower their ratings, upset their advertisers or miff their investors. Murrow Award-winning reporter Borjesson edits essays by journalists from the AP to CBS News to the New York Times. Each tells of their difficulties with news higher-ups as they tried to publish or air controversial stories relating to everything from toxic dump sites and civilian casualties to police brutality and dangerous hospitals.

Leading journalists from Fox News, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, newspapers, and other outlets—including Dan Rather, Ashleigh Banfield, Robert McChesney, Greg Palast, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy winners, and more—recount the press censorship they experienced in the wake of 9/11 security concerns. With a foreword by Gore Vidal and edited by former CBS and CNN producer Kristina Borjesson, this highly acclaimed anthology has been described as “fascinating and disturbing,” “uplifting” and “infuriating,” and a “penetrating collection of powerful essays.” The original edition won the National Press Club’s Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the most extraordinary titles of 2002.

The following are excerpts from the fascinating accounts of 18 award-winning journalists in the book INTO THE BUZZSAW, edited by Kristina Borjesson. All of these writers were prevented by corporate media ownership from reporting major, incredibly revealing news! Some were even fired or laid off! These journalists have won numerous awards, including several Emmies and a Pulitzer Award. If we want to make our world a better place, it’s vitally important that we spread this news across the land.

Jane Akrehas — Fox News reporter.

After our struggle to air an honest report, Fox fired the general manager [of our station]. The new GM explained that if we didn’t agree to changes that the lawyers were insisting upon, we’d be fired for insubordination within 48 hours! We pleaded with [him] to look at the facts we’d uncovered. His reply: “We paid $3 billion dollars for these TV stations! We’ll tell you what the news is! The news is what we say it is! ” [After we refused,] Fox’s general manager presented us an agreement that would give us a full year of our salaries, and benefits worth close to $200,000 in “consulting jobs”, 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. P. 43-45, 49

Kristina Borjesson — CBS reporter, 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 arm! 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. P. 110, 111

Philip Weiss — writer for New York Times Magazine.

James Kallstrom, then of the FBI, said vehemently at a press conference that every boat in the area of the [TWA flight 800] crash had been identified. Subsequently, government radar data was released showing that the boat closest to the crash had never been identified and sped away at more than thirty knots an hour. Kallstrom was later hired by CBS! P. 186

April Oliver — CNN reporter.

CNN was a willing accomplice in [the] campaign to crush the [Tailwind] story. CNN management ran at the first sign of heat. The heat included everyone from Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell to Special Forces veterans! My co-producer and I were fired. We were branded journalistic felons! CNN’s goal, in the words of one manager, “kill this thing, drive a stake through its heart and bury it.” P. 217, 218

Greg Palast — Reporter for BBC.

In the months leading up to the November [2000] balloting, Governor 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 felon! This extraordinary news ran on page one of the country’s leading paper. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong country: Britain. In the USA, it was not covered. The office of the governor [also] illegally ordered the removal of felons from the voter rolls — real felons — but with the right to vote under Florida law. As a result, 50,000 of these voters could not vote. The fact that 90% of these voters were Democrats should have made it news because this alone more than accounted for Bush’s victory. P. 65, 66

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. 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 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. P. 225, 226, 233

Michael Levine — 25-year veteran of DEA, writer for New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and 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. Bolivia [was] the source of virtually 100% of the cocaine entering the US.

Immediately after the coup, cocaine production increased massively. 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 embassy and wrote evidence of my charge! 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.” P. 264-268, 271, 289

Gary Webb — San Jose Mercury News writer, Pulitzer Prize winner.

In 1996, I wrote a series of stories that began this way: For the better part of a decade, a Bay Area duug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods gangs of LA and funneled millions in drug profits to a guerilla army run by the CIA.

The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America! The story was developing a momentum all of its own despite a virtual news blackout from the major media.

Ultimately, it was public pressure that forced the national newspapers into the fray. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times published stories, but spent little time exploring the CIA’s activities! Instead, my reporting and I became the focus of their scrutiny. It was remarkable [Mercury News editor] Ceppos wrote, that the four Post reporters assigned to debunk the series “could not find a single significant factual error.” The Mercury News [due to intense CIA pressure eventually] backed away from the story, publishing a long column by Ceppos apologizing for “shortcomings” in the series! The New York Times hailed Ceppos and splashed his apology on their front page, the first time the series had ever been mentioned there. I quit the Mercury News not long after that! Do we have a free press today? Sure. It’s free to report all the sex scandals, all the stock market news, [and] every new health fad that comes down the pike. But when it comes to the real down and dirty stuff — such stories are not even open for discussion. P. 297, 303-310

John Kelly — author, ABC producer.

ABC hired me to help produce a story about an investment firm that was heavily involved with the CIA. Part of the ABC report charged that the CIA had plotted to assassinate an American, Ron Rewald, the president of [the investment firm]. Scott Barnes said on camera that the CIA had asked him to kill Rewald. After the show aired, CIA officials met with ABC executive David Burke, [who] was sufficiently impressed “by the vigor with which they made their case” to order an on-air “clarification.” But that was not enough. [CIA Director] Casey called ABC Chairman Goldenson. [Thus] despite all the documented evidence presented in the program, Peter Jennings reported that ABC could no longer substantiate the charges! That same day, the CIA filed a formal complaint with the FCC charging that ABC had “deliberately distorted” the news! In the complaint, Casey asked that ABC be stripped of its TV and radio licenses! During this time, Capital Cities Communications was maneuvering to buy ABC. [CIA Director] Casey was one of the founders of Cap Cities! Cap Cities bought ABC. Within months, the entire investigative unit was dispersed. P. 326-329

Robert McChesney — 500 radio & TV appearances.

[There has been] 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 powerful corporate interests — is discouraged. Largely irrelevant human interest/tragedy stories get extensive coverage. 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. We have no time to waste. P. 371-373, 380, 381

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