Open main menu
John Pilger
Many journalists now are no more than channelers and echoers of what George Orwell called the 'official truth'. They simply cipher and transmit lies.

John Richard Pilger (born 9 October 1939) is an Australian journalist and broadcaster/documentary maker primarily based in Britain.

QuotesEdit

  • It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and the myths that surround it.
    • John Pilger, 'Hidden Agendas', 1998
  • Many journalists now are no more than channelers and echoers of what George Orwell called the 'official truth'. They simply cipher and transmit lies. It really grieves me that so many of my fellow journalists can be so manipulated that they become really what the French describe as 'functionaires', functionaries, not journalists. Many journalists become very defensive when you suggest to them that they are anything but impartial and objective. The problem with those words 'impartiality' and 'objectivity' is that they have lost their dictionary meaning. They've been taken over... [they] now mean the establishment point of view... Journalists don't sit down and think, 'I'm now going to speak for the establishment.' Of course not. But they internalise a whole set of assumptions, and one of the most potent assumptions is that the world should be seen in terms of its usefulness to the West, not humanity.
  • If those who support aggressive war had seen a fraction of what I've seen, if they'd watched children fry to death from Napalm and bleed to death from a cluster bomb, they might not utter the claptrap they do.
  • The impact of the human tragedies I've reported on is that, more often than not, I'll be angry. I want to know why is this child dying? These are not acts of God; they're results of respectable politicians' decisions.
  • When governments and other vested interests attack me personally I usually regard it as a vindication, otherwise they would use facts. That's why I believe in the wonderful Claud Cockburn dictum, 'Never believe anything until it is officially denied.' It has certainly been my experience.
  • I love irony in pictures. There's one photograph from Vietnam by Philip Jones Griffiths that shows a very large GI having his pocket picked by a tiny Vietnamese woman. It told the whole story of the clash of two cultures and how the invader could never win.
  • On Barack Obama: "No one knew what the new brand actually stood for. So accomplished was the advertising (a record $75m was spent on television commercials alone) that many Americans actually believed Obama shared their opposition to Bush’s wars. In fact, he had repeatedly backed Bush’s warmongering and its congressional funding. Many Americans also believed he was the heir to Martin Luther King’s legacy of anti-colonialism. Yet if Obama had a theme at all, apart from the vacuous 'Change you can believe in,' it was the renewal of America as a dominant, avaricious bully. 'We will be the most powerful,' he often declared."


  • We are beckoned to see the world through a one-way mirror, as if we are threatened and innocent and the rest of humanity is threatening, or wretched, or expendable. Our memory is struggling to rescue the truth that human rights were not handed down as privileges from a parliament, or a boardroom, or an institution, but that peace is only possible with justice and with information that gives us the power to act justly.
    • John Pilger, Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech, University of Sydney, 4 November 2009
  • The major western democracies are moving towards corporatism. Democracy has become a business plan, with a bottom line for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope. The main parliamentary parties are now devoted to the same economic policies — socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor — and the same foreign policy of servility to endless war. This is not democracy. It is to politics what McDonalds is to food.
  • We journalists... have to be brave enough to defy those who seek our collusion in selling their latest bloody adventure in someone else's country... That means always challenging the official story, however patriotic that story may appear, however seductive and insidious it is. For propaganda relies on us in the media to aim its deceptions not at a far away country but at you at home... In this age of endless imperial war, the lives of countless men, women and children depend on the truth or their blood is on us... Those whose job it is to keep the record straight ought to be the voice of people, not power.
    • The War You Don't See, ITV1 (UK), Tuesday 14 December 2010
  • WikiLeaks has achieved far more than what The New York Times and The Washington Post in their celebrated incarnations did. No newspaper has come close to matching the secrets and lies of power that Assange and Snowden have disclosed. That both men are fugitives is indicative of the retreat of liberal democracies from principles of freedom and justice. Why is WikiLeaks a landmark in journalism? Because its revelations have told us, with 100 per cent accuracy, how and why much of the world is divided and run.
  • I wasn’t “harsh” towards Obama. It was Obama who was harsh towards much of humanity, contrary to his often absurd media image. Obama was one of the most violent U.S. Presidents. He launched or sustained seven wars and left office with none resolved: a record. In his last year as President, 2016, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, he dropped 26,171 bombs. It’s an interesting statistic; it’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day, on mostly civilians. The bombing technique Obama made his own was assassination by drone. Every Tuesday, reported The New York Times, he selected the names of those who would die in a “programme” of extrajudicial murder. All males of military age in Yemen and the frontiers of Pakistan were considered fair game. He increased America’s special forces operations around the world, notably in Africa. Along with France and Britain, he and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton destroyed Libya as a modern state on the false and familiar pretext that its leader was about to conduct a massacre of “innocents”. This led directly to the growth of the medievalists of ISIS [or Islamic State] and a stampede of immigration from Africa to Europe. He overthrew the democratically elected President of Ukraine and installed an openly fascist-backed regime—as a deliberate provocation to Russia.
  • Journalists can help people by telling the truth, or by as much truth as they can find, and acting not as agents of governments, of power, but of people. That is real journalism. The rest is specious and false.
  • When I began as a journalist, especially as a foreign correspondent, the press in the UK was conservative and owned by powerful establishment forces, as it is now. But the difference compared to today is that there were spaces for independent journalism that dissented from the received 'wisdom' of authority. That space has now all but closed and independent journalists have gone to the internet, or to a metaphoric underground.
  • The single biggest challenge is rescuing journalism from its deferential role as the stenographer of great power. The United States has constitutionally the freest press on earth, yet in practice it has a media obsequious to the formulas and deceptions of power. That is why the US was effectively given media approval to invade Iraq, and Libya, and Syria and dozens of other countries.
  • WikiLeaks is possibly the most exciting development in journalism in my lifetime. As an investigative journalist, I have often had to rely on the courageous, principled acts of whistle-blowers. The truth about the Vietnam War was told when Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers. The truth about Iraq and Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia and many other flashpoints was told when WikiLeaks published the revelations of whistle-blowers.
  • When you consider that 100 percent of WikiLeaks leaks are authentic and accurate, you can understand the impact, as well as the fury generated among secretive powerful forces. Julian Assange is a political refugee in London for one reason only: WikiLeaks told the truth about the greatest crimes of the 21st century. He is not forgiven for that, and he should be supported by journalists and by people everywhere.
  • Since Chavez’s death in 2013, his successor Nicolas Maduro has shed his derisory label in the Western press as a “former bus driver” and become Saddam Hussein incarnate.... As the journalist and film-maker Pablo Navarrete reported this week, Venezuela is not the catastrophe it has been painted. “There is food everywhere,” he wrote. “I have filmed lots of videos of food in markets [all over Caracas] … it’s Friday night and the restaurants are full.”
  • ...In the pages of liberal newspapers in the West, race and class are two words almost never uttered in the mendacious “coverage” of Washington’s latest, most naked attempt to grab the world’s greatest source of oil and reclaim its “backyard”. For all the chavistas’ faults — such as allowing the Venezuelan economy to become hostage to the fortunes of oil and never seriously challenging big capital and corruption — they brought social justice and pride to millions of people and they did it with unprecedented democracy.
  • Should the CIA stooge Guaido and his white supremacists grab power, it will be the 68th overthrow of a sovereign government by the United States, most of them democracies. A fire sale of Venezuela’s utilities and mineral wealth will surely follow, along with the theft of the country’s oil, as outlined by John Bolton. Under the last Washington-controlled government in Caracas, poverty reached historic proportions. There was no healthcare for those could not pay. There was no universal education; Mavis Mendez, and millions like her, could not read or write.
  • Julian [Assange] is a distinguished Australian, who has changed the way many people think about duplicitous governments. For this, he is a political refugee subjected to what the United Nations calls “arbitrary detention”. The UN says he has the right of free passage to freedom, but this is denied. He has the right to medical treatment without fear of arrest, but this is denied. He has the right to compensation, but this is denied. As founder and editor of WikiLeaks, his crime has been to make sense of dark times. WikiLeaks has an impeccable record of accuracy and authenticity which no newspaper, no TV channel, no radio station, no BBC, no New York Times, no Washington Post, no Guardian can equal. Indeed, it shames them. That explains why he is being punished.
  • The persecution of Julian Assange is the conquest of us all: of our independence, our self respect, our intellect, our compassion, our politics, our culture. So stop scrolling. Organise. Occupy. Insist. Persist. Make a noise. Take direct action. Be brave and stay brave. Defy the thought police. War is not peace, freedom is not slavery, ignorance is not strength. If Julian can stand up, so can you: so can all of us.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: