GI Joe pauses for a refreshing Coke after restoring freedom and democracy to the Persian Gulf region in 1990, as depicted in this exceptionally large spread on the front page of Sweden’s leading newspaper. Not visible in this picture is the oil that fuels the tank, which is the ultimate explanation for its presence in the region.

    
The Word from the White House
   
U.S. influence over Swedish news media
   

 

 

 

 

In a series of public meetings in Stockholm during the month of September, 2001, the problem of United States influence over Swedish news media was addressed by several speakers, including former CIA agent Philip Agee, the chief news editor of Swedish public radio, and a professor of media who has studied the issue as it relates to the application of U.S. power in such places as the Persian Gulf and the Balkans. The series was arranged by Nordic News Network (NNN) in co-operation with the Swedish Workers’ Education Society (”ABF”).

For obvious reasons, the issue has become increasingly urgent since the end of the Cold War notes NNN’s co-ordinator, former U.S. citizen Al Burke: ”Journalists are in the habit of stating that their most important task is to act as a check on power, in which case it would be especially appropriate to keep a critical and watchful eye on the world’s sole remaining superpower.

”But all indications suggest the opposite,” he observes. ”With few exceptions, the view of reality conveyed by Sweden’s most influential media corresponds in most essentials with that devised by the United States to justify its global hegemony. This is hardly a pure coincidence, and it has obvious significance for the Swedish people’s understanding of world events, and thereby for the nation’s foreign policy-- which during the time of Olof Palme was widely regarded as among the most enlightened in the world.”

Those issues were addressed at the following public meetings at ABF House in Stockholm:

10 September
On behalf of the United States:
The Case of Vietnam

”In Sweden, there was probably a greater organized popular opposition to the United States’ war than in any other country on earth,” notes Björn Elmbrant, one of Sweden’s pre-eminent journalists. But something has obviously happened since the days of the war, as indicated by Swedish public radio’s news coverage of the 25th anniversary of Vietnam’s reunification: It was almost entirely concerned with the suffering that the war has caused the United States; not a single Vietnamese or war-resister was heard.
      On hand to discuss this approach to the history of the Vietnam War was Staffan Sonning, chief editor of public radio news. Also, Helle Rydstrøm, a Danish social anthropologist who has lived among the country folk of Vietnam and has learned something of their experiences during the war, as well as their strategies for coping with its terrible aftermath. (See Appendix A and Appendix C).

17 September
With eyes and ears directed toward the U.S.
The Swedish mainstream press has increasingly come to function as a cog in the worldwide propaganda apparatus of the United States. This is reflected in the research of Stig Arne Nohrstedt, Professor of Media and Communications at Örebro University, who has studied mainstream news coverage of the Persian Gulf War and the Balkan wars. On September 17th, he presented his research findings on the media image of the Kosovo catastrophe, and commented on news coverage to date of the terrorist attacks against the United States on 11 September.

24 September
The CIA and international terrorism
The events of September 11th provided the backdrop for a talk by former CIA agent Philip Agee, who reviewed the lengthy history of the Agency’s involvement in global terrorism-- including its training and support of the Muslim terrorists held responsible by the U.S. government for the attacks in New York and Washington. Also discussed were the methods used by the CIA to infiltrate and influence the institutions of other countries, not least their mass media. (See Appendix E.)

Notes on the speakers

Staffan Sonning has 25 years’ experience as a journalist with Swedish newspapers, radio and television. He is now chief editor and publisher of the news division of Swedish public radio, for which he has previously served as Asian correspondent with responsibility for reporting on Indonesian politics, etc.

Helle Rydstrøm is Ph.D. and Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at Linköping University in Sweden. She has been conducting research among the country folk of northern Vietnam since 1994.

Stig Arne Nohrstedt is Professor of Media and Communications at Örebro University. His research is primarily concerned with media coverage of major foreign policy issues, as indicated by a selection of titles from his published works: Journalism and the New World Order; From the Persian Gulf to Kosovo-- War Journalism and Propaganda; Enemy Images and Their Impact on the Journalistic Process; The Gulf War with the Media as Hostage; etc.

Philip Agee is the first CIA agent to resign from "The Company" and to disclose its secrets, which he began to do with the book, CIA Diary. That pioneering work on the CIA's methods and their devastating consequences was followed by other books and a long series of articles in such publications as Covert Action Quarterly, of which Agee is a co-founder. To no one's surprise he was then subjected to a systematic campaign of slander and persecution by his former employers, a story told in the book, On the Run.