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Friday, April 25 2014 @ 02:07 AM CDT

Interview with Noam Chomsky

Anarchist Opinion

Ask your average political nerd to guess Noam Chomsky’s favourite newspaper and few would tender the Financial Times. But the emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, revered the world over by left-wing intellectuals and social activists, believes the pink ‘un is the only global newspaper “that tells the truth”.

BB interviews…Noam Chomsky

by beyondbrics Feb 15, 2013

By Matt Kennard

Ask your average political nerd to guess Noam Chomsky’s favourite newspaper and few would tender the Financial Times. But the emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, revered the world over by left-wing intellectuals and social activists, believes the pink ‘un is the only global newspaper “that tells the truth”.

“My impression in general is that the business press is more open, more free, often more critical, less constrained by external power and external influences,” he tells beyondbrics. “I guess that’s also true for the reporting in the Wall Street Journal and Businessweek, although the range of opinion that appears is different. So, for example, in the Wall Street Journal – and there are exceptions – but overwhelmingly the coverage is constricted and very reactionary, and the Financial Times has a much broader range, more terse, and I find it more instructive.”

Chomsky says he is a fan particularly of chief columnist Martin Wolf, before adding “the commentators on particular regions, some of them are very good”.

For many with knowledge of Chomsky’s extensive critiques of the Western corporate media, this would seem counter-intuitive. His media analysis, outlined famously in the book Manufacturing Consent, co-authored with Edward S Herman, posits that the corporate media is structurally biased. Although it appears open and democratic, the “filters” which act on what news gets in the papers – including advertising, flak and access to power-brokers – mean that the actions of the West are reflexively sanitised, and those of official (ie, government-designated) enemies are demonised.

He compares power systems – including corporate newspapers – to biological organisms, and remarks that no organism builds itself to self-destruct (for this reason they eject the few journalists who do not conform to their ideological strictures). Chomsky says that corporate journalists working within this framework learn subconsciously and by cultural accretion what they can and can’t write in their articles (which results in most adhering to a very tight ideological spectrum). He is fond of quoting George Orwell’s remark that establishment journalists working in the “free press” know instinctively “what it wouldn’t do to say”. No one is telling them what not to write, Chomsky avers, but the self-censorship is the all the more powerful because it is done automatically, without thought.

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