“Zero context is given as to why the slave auctions exist in the first place.”
On November 14th, CNN produced an "exclusive" report about the slave trafficking of migrants in Libya. The report detailed the devastating conditions of migrants fleeing from crisis in nations across North and East Africa. Smugglers, as CNN calls them, capture and terrorize migrants before selling them into day labor. Libyan authorities then detain the migrant laborers and repatriate them back to their nation of origin. CNN emphasizes the horror of the slave auctions with the caption "I was sold" underneath a picture of one of the migrants, Victory, whose story is told in the report.
CNN's coverage of the matter is typical of the corporate media. Zero context is given as to why the slave auctions exist in the first place. It is as if the horrors in Libya had just been discovered because of CNN’s investigative journalism. The underlying assumption of the report is that slave markets are a fetter of the past completely foreign to the enlightened audiences in the US and Western countries. Yet we have CNN to thank for the emergence of slave relations in Libya.
It was CNN that took part in the most slanderous of lies in cooperation with the US-NATO war on Libya in 2011. Libya was bombed for over seven months while CNN provided media cover all along the way. CNN produced opinion pieces explaining why the invasion of Libya was a just war. Reports from CNN described Libya as a nation ruled over by crazed dictator Muammar Gaddafi who suddenly found the appetite to murder "his own people." The so-called "impartial" media monopoly spread absurd lies about Libya on behalf of the Pentagon and NATO, including the twisted rumor that Gaddafi supplied his troops with Viagra to rape women and children.
“We have CNN to thank for the emergence of slave relations in Libya.”
Of course, nothing that CNN and its corporate media partners reported about Libya ended up being true. US-NATO countries had in fact been supplying foreign proxies with the necessary military and logistical equipment to foment a crisis in Libya in 2011. Many of these groups, including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) were affiliated with Al Qaeda. Libya's "rebel" militias described as revolutionaries by the likes of CNN have long since been found to have committed heinous crimes against humanity in their quest to overthrow the Libyan government. Email leaks of Hillary Clinton's correspondence with a trusted advisor revealed that the former Secretary of State had full awareness of the crimes the rebels were committing against the Libyan people.
She, and the rest of Washington, supported them anyway. Washington and NATO's band of terrorists would take power in October of 2011 after the ruthless and illegal assassination of Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan state was destroyed. With the destruction of the state also came the eradication of the conditions that protected Black Libyans and other migrants. And rival militia groups have continued to sow chaos in a country that was once the most stable on the African continent.
Yet it took six years for CNN to report on the slave auctions in Libya. Libya, like the rest of Africa, is not worth media coverage unless it is mired in chaos. CNN was nowhere to be found when Libya was developing the most prosperous nation in Africa between 1969-2011. There were no CNN reports detailing Libya's free health coverage, universal subsidized housing, or equal rights for women codified in the constitution. CNN's corporate executives thought little of Libya when the nation announced plans for a continental military and currency just prior to NATO's mission to destroy the African country.
“The so-called ‘impartial’ media monopoly spread absurd lies about Libya on behalf of the Pentagon and NATO, including the twisted rumor that Gaddafi supplied his troops with Viagra to rape women and children.”
The same can be said about all developments on the African continent. Corporate media outlets wasted no time portraying Zimbabwe's recent unrest as a coup even though the same ruling party remains in power after Robert Mugabe's formal resignation. Zimbabwe has made headlines nearly every day now that their leader, who is despised by the imperialists, has stepped down in response to internal conflict. Zimbabwe's achievements in education, healthcare, and land reform are not merely afterthoughts to the corporate press. They are a problem. Hundreds of thousands of formerly unemployed and peasant Black farmers have resettled on formerly white-owned land since the early 21st century. Zimbabwe is one of the most educated countries on the African continent and sports a declining a HIV rate as well.
An African nation that isn’t compliant with imperialist-imposed underdevelopment reaches the airwaves only when in duress. The corporate media has little interest in delving into Africa's positive achievements. Corporate outlets such as CNN are nothing but mouthpieces of the US imperial state which requires endless war to maintain legitimacy. To CNN, Libya's descent into slave relations is an embarrassment to the civilizing mission it helped carry out alongside the US-NATO alliance. Libya's abject condition is the starkest example of the loss of control evident in every aspect of imperialism. War is a prerequisite to imperialism's continued dominance, yet in the present-day war only results in chaos and ruin.
“Corporate outlets such as CNN are nothing but mouthpieces of the US imperial state.”
For many in the military apparatus, chaos and ruin are the goals. Libya's demise set into motion a regional wide crisis that has served as a self-fulfilling justification for military intervention on the continent. AFRICOM's expansion reached a climax with the destruction of Libya. The former Arab socialist republic was one of three nations that refused US military assistance. Arms that were placed into the hands of Al Qaeda affiliated "rebels" in Libya traveled to terrorist groups on both coasts of Northern Africa directly following the demise of Gaddafi. In 2015, it was reported that the US had conducted 674 military operations continent wide, which included a steep increase in drone warfare.
CNN doesn't report the casualties of drone warfare in Africa. It doesn't report on AFRICOM or its attendant military operations, either. CNN is the mouthpiece of regime change. Its parent company Turner Broadcasting is interested in nothing more than a larger profit share for its investors (capitalists). As the media in the US has monopolized into private hands, journalism has become less reflective of public opinion and more of a weapon against the consciousness of the people. Corporate media coverage of US involvement in world affairs is nothing more than a press release for the Pentagon. Many media corporations regularly clear with the Pentagon prior to airing information about US military operations.
“Arms that were placed into the hands of Al Qaeda affiliated "rebels" in Libya traveled to terrorist on both coasts of Northern Africa directly following the demise of Gaddafi.”
That is why the CNN report of Libya's slave market in no way traces the development back to US designs to destroy the independent African nation back in 2011. This type of criminal negligence is pervasive in the corporate media across all topics that relate directly to the poor and oppressed. Few corporate outlets have covered with any urgency the new report that just three billionaires own more wealth than the bottom half of the US population. In fact, the corporate media and their partners in Washington actively wage war on the truth. Russia media outlet RT has been repeatedly attacked by US intelligence for allegedly sowing division in the US through its coverage of fracking and police brutality in the US.
Trust in the corporate media is thus at a low point in the US. The corporate media is now seen as illegitimate by the majority of the population. That's because the corporate media's image as a "legitimate" source of information has been damaged by a long record of blatant lies and half-truths. Corporate media such as CNN are the vehicles of misinformation that the ruling class desperately needs to reproduce the rule of imperialism. At no other time has this been more apparent. So even as CNN reports on Libya's slave auctions, we can thank the corporate media for producing the deplorable conditions that exist in that country and much of the planet in the first place.
Danny Haiphong is a Vietnamese-American activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at [email protected]m