By Jeff Gates
In October 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates coined a generic term to describe the most challenging combatants when waging unconventional warfare. He called them simply “the people in between.” Those people, a dominant force in mainstream American media, comprise a fifth column in support of those skilled at waging war by way of deception.
The term ‘fifth column’ originated in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s to depict forces that clandestinely undermine a populace—from within—to aid an external enemy. The term was later cited as a rationale for interning citizens during WWII, including Germans in the U.K and Japanese in the U.S. Israelis routinely refer to Arab-Israelis as a fifth column residing within what Tel Aviv describes as the Jewish state.
Though misapplied in practice, the term remains an apt depiction of how internal influence can be wielded by a hostile force. In the Information Age, this fifth column focuses on those ‘in between’ domains where modest numbers can wield outsized influence. Television news is optimal as modern-day media operates “in between” a populace and the facts they require for a system of governance reliant on informed consent.
The dominant influence of pro-Israelis in mainstream media is not the focus of this article. Here the focus is Wolf Blitzer at Cable News Network who typifies how “the people in between” manipulate public opinion in plain sight and, to date, with legal impunity.
While working as a Washington correspondent for Jerusalem Post (1973-1990), Blitzer served as an editor of Near East Report, a publication founded by Isaiah Kenen, a registered foreign agent of Israel, who also founded the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC coordinates a network of transnational political operatives known loosely as “the Israel lobby.” Neither AIPAC nor Blitzer has yet registered as a foreign agent in the U.S.
The son of Polish Ashkenazi émigrés, Blitzer first emerged on the media scene in 1989 with the publication of Territory of Lies, an account of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard that The New York Times obligingly included in its list of “Notable Books of the Year.” Reviewer Robert Friedman described Blitzer’s sympathetic treatment of Pollard’s treason (the theft of more than one million classified documents) “a slick piece of damage control that would make his former employers at AIPAC (not to mention Israel’s Defense Ministry) proud.”
As a writer for Hebrew language newspapers in the 1970s, Blitzer wrote under the name Ze’ev Barak—Hebrew for “wolf lightning.” The Blitzer media presence first emerged with his CNN coverage of the Gulf War in 1991 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Initially a military reporter for CNN, he became a fixture on television news as CNN’s Clinton-era White House correspondent until 1999 when he became a high profile CNN anchor.
Since August 2005, CNN (marketed as “the most trusted name in news”) has featured the former AIPAC editor broadcasting from a White House-associative studio set branded as “The Situation Room.” CNN colleague John King deploys a similar credibility enhancing set by broadcasting from “The State of the Union.”
Abuse of the Public Trust
On one key media principle U.S. law is clear: the airwaves belong to the public. The nation’s Founders knew that the preservation of self-governance depends on an informed populace. That’s why modern-day lawmakers enacted legislation to ensure that media outlets are not concentrated in a few hands, enabling a fifth column to shape public opinion around a predetermined agenda.
Little could America’s first lawmakers have known that an ideologically aligned few would concentrate broadcast media in the hands of those who share an undisclosed bias. When Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fell ill in Israel, Blitzer’s broadcast originated from Jerusalem. Likewise when Israel invaded Lebanon in July 2006. Blitzer again relocated to Israel to focus viewer attention on the situation there.
As Tel Aviv sought to expand the war to Iran, several anti-Zionist rabbis appeared in Tehran alongside Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who echoed their wish that Zionism be “erased from the pages of history” (widely reported as a wish to “wipe Israel off the map”). Rather than interview these dissident rabbis, Blitzer featured David Duke, a former head of the Ku Klux Klan. Rather than associate the Iranian president with anti-Zionism, Blitzer used the Situation Room to associate him with racism and anti-Semitism.
Between the U.S populace and the facts they require for informed consent lies an “in between” domain. In that realm is found a network of like-minded fifth column operatives whose pro-Israeli bias works unseen—yet in plain sight—to shape public opinion around a predetermined agenda. That agenda-shaping “news” routinely features commentators from think tanks who share the same bias.
What is the reach of this media-induced corruption of informed consent? According to CNN’s August 2009 advertising in The New York Times, this cable network delivers trusted news to 70.6 million television viewers in the U.S. What’s been the cost in blood and treasure of this undisclosed bias—not just to the U.S. but also worldwide?
The most trusted name in news featured National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in September 2002 when she issued a fact-free warning about Iraqi WMD: “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” From the Pentagon’s perspective, “the people in between” are waging unconventional warfare. From the perspective of this enemy within, the only unconventional aspect of their deception is the fact that a long-deceived public is now learning about it—many of them for the first time.
The displacement of facts with what a populace can be induced to believe is the very threat to personal freedom that the Founders sought to escape. The only modern aspect of this ancient form of warfare is the reach of the media technologies with which such deception can now operate—as with CNN—on a global scale.
Jeff Gates: A widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide, Jeff Gates’ latest book is Guilt By Association—How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War (2008). His previous books include Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Ownership Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century. For two decades, an adviser to policy-makers worldwide. Counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee (1980-87).