Why Doesn't the Press Ever Talk About the Oil?

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Common Dreams

Why Doesn't the Press Ever Talk About the Oil?

Today, the major American oil companies came back into Iraq by getting... you guessed it... no-bid contracts! In fact, the four major oil companies that were thrown out by Saddam Hussein 36 years ago made their triumphant return to occupied Iraq.

Former chief executive of Exxon, Lee Raymond, explained the history behind it. "There is an enormous amount of oil in Iraq," he said. "We were part of the consortium, the four companies that were there when Saddam Hussein threw us out, and we basically had the whole country."

Well, congratulations, you now have it back! Mission accomplished!

One of the principal problems with American media now is that they have become far too credulous. They take government slogans and propaganda and print it in their papers and repeat it on their networks as if they have some golden touch of credibility. It's not just that they can't see that the government might be lying about its real aims, it's that they view the government as the most legitimate source of news. This turns the point of the press on its head. You're supposed to challenge the government, not help it by printing out its press releases.

There is a reason to challenge the government. It isn't to be unpatriotic. It's to help the country by keeping a check on government power. It doesn't hurt the country to be a watchdog on power, it helps it.

One of the best examples of this new credulous model of journalism is how the motivation for this Iraq War has been shamelessly left unchallenged. Yes, we now see plainly in front of our face that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that there were no links between Iraq and Al Qaeda (although this was evident before the war). But the press couldn't ignore this if they tried. But what they haven't asked is -- if those weren't the real reasons we went into Iraq, then what were?

And one of the verboten topics is oil. Do you notice how it is almost never mentioned in the press as a real reason we went into Iraq. When is the last time you heard any major media outlet talking about it? Was there ever a magazine cover that asked -- Was it About the Oil? Can you imagine Wolf Blitzer asking this question of a government official?

Do Americans realize that the whole rest of the world, including Iraq, is absolutely convinced we went in for the oil? That doesn't mean it's true, but maybe we might want to look into it.

And now Exxon-Mobil is sitting back on top of its perch. Saddam is gone, and they once again control the oil in Iraq. And they got there through no-bid contracts. In case, you're wondering if there was a shortage of companies who wanted to bid on these projects, there were over 40 of the largest oil companies in the world who wanted to bid and were not allowed. Gee, I wonder if we should consider whether this war was about the oil.

This is how the American people have become some of the most naíve and gullible folks in the world. Because their press enables it, almost encourages it, with its undue and sycophantic deference to the government.

Finally, this isn't even about answering questions, it's about asking them. Was oil a factor in making the decision to go into Iraq after 9/11 even though that country had nothing to do with 9/11? Was it the main factor? How would that effect administration decisions? Was it contracts that administration officials one day might get with these companies or had at what one point with them? Is it campaign contributions from these companies? Or was it earnest but misguided desire to have boots on the ground in an oil producing country because administration officials were legitimately concerned about the rising demand and pinched supply of oil?

For the love of God, at least ask these questions. Are we sure that the people in the American press are even aware of these questions? And if they are, is it a matter of courage to ask these obvious and fundamental questions? Or should we be wondering about their motivations as well?

Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur is host of The Young Turks on Current TV as well as the host and co-founder of The Young Turks online which is the largest news show on the Internet. Uygur is the former host of MSNBC Live and has appeared numerous times on CNN, CNN Headline News, E! Entertainment Channel, Al Jazeera, ABC News, Voice of America and NPR.

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