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John Pilger
Australian-born journalist based in London
(1939- )



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When Sergeant Melvin Murrell and his company of United States Marines drop by helicopter into the village Tuylon, west of Danang, with orders to sell 'the basic liberties as outlined on page 233 of the Pacification Programme Handbook' and at the same time to win the hearts and minds of the people [...] they see no one: not a child or a chicken. The population has watched them come out of the sky, and most of them have retired to the paddies or stand silent in the shadows of their houses.
-- 'The Vietnam War: Winning Hearts and Minds, Tuylon, South Vietnam, 23 August 1967', in:
The Last Day (London, Syndication International, 1975). [Full text of the article here.]

'The truth is out! Mickey Mouse is dead! The good guys are really the bad guys in disguise!' The speaker is William Wyman, from New York City. He is nineteen and has no legs. He sits in a wheelchair on the steps of the United States Congress, in the midst of a crowd of 300,000, the greatest demonstration America has ever seen (...)

All week the veterans have been in Washington. Never before have young soldiers marched in protest against the war they themselves have fought and which is sill going on. They have stopped Mr and Mrs America in the street and told them about the gore and what they did, which they describe as atrocities.
-- 'Veterans' March, Washington DC, 25 April 1971'. in:The Last Day (London, Syndication International, 1975)

I used to see Vietnam as a war rather than a country.
-- Do you remember Vietnam? (1978)

What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot completed.
-- Distant Voices (1992)

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
-- 'Hidden Agendas', 1998

On the September 11 attacks: "In these surreal days, there is one truth. Nothing justified the killing of innocent people in America last week and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere else."
-- 'Blair has made Britain a target', The Guardian, 21 September 2001

It is 10 months since 11 September, and still the great charade plays on. Having appropriated our shocked response to that momentous day, the rulers of the world have since ground our language into a paean of cliches and lies about the 'war on terrorism' - when the most enduring menace, and source of terror, is them. (...)

There is no war on terrorism; it is the great game speeded up. The difference is the rampant nature of the superpower, ensuring infinite dangers for us all.
-- 'The Great Charade', The Guardian, 14 July 2002

The censorship is such on television in the US that films like mine don't stand a chance.
-- 'Must Watch', sprword.com

Many journalists now are no more than channelers and echoers of what 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.
--'Interview with John Pilger' by David Barsamian, The Progressive (progressive.org), November 2002


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 great maverick reporters saw themselves as agents of people, not of authority. Journalism is a great privilege, in which the journalist is allowed into people's lives and trusted to go away and tell their stories.

The scoop of the century was when the Australian Wilfred Burchett became the first reporter to reach Hiroshima after the atomic bombing, and discovered that the deadly after-effects of the bomb were due to radiation. The Daily Express carried his report on its front page, headlined: 'The Atomic Plague: I write this as a warning to the world.' The occupation authorities tried to discredit his story, but he was vindicated.

Burchett is one of my favourite mavericks. On the return journey to Tokyo, armed with a .45 Colt pistol, he single-handedly liberated two PoW camps.

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.
-- 'This much i know', The Observer, 12 November 2005

It is more than 100 days since Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The “Obama brand” has been named “Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008”, easily beating Apple computers. David Fenton of MoveOn.org describes Obama’s election campaign as “an institutionalised mass-level automated technological community organising that has never existed before and is a very, very powerful force”. Deploying the internet and a slogan plagiarised from the Latino union organiser César Chávez – “Sí, se puede!” or “Yes, we can” – the mass-level automated technological community marketed its brand to victory in a country desperate to be rid of George W Bush.

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.
-- 'The Madmen Did Well', New Statesman, 30 April 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.
-- 'Breaking the great Australian silence', Sydney Peace Prize address, Sydney Opera House, 5 November 2009

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), 14 December 2010


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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