MEDIA IS THE MIRAGE, by Mumia Abu-Jamal



American mass media is a marvel of technology. It is whiz bang, sparkle glitter, and satellite wizardry. It is a master plan of methods to communicate, and a pauper’s worth of substance. With such technology, how are people so woefully misinformed? The average American neither knows nor cares about the vast world beyond the nation’s border. The average American student knows little math, no history, and very little geography and nor does he or she want to know. Americans have computer in school, dozens of TV stations, and the most aggressive news media on earth, does that mean they’re better informed?



On November 2, 1995, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly–117-3–to condemn the United States for its continuing blockade of Cuba. The international community called the United States blockade “a flagrant act of aggression” and “a blatant violation of international law.” That the U.N. vote was reported at all in the American media is amazing, for such news is more often than not passed over entirely by the American press; But where was information about the blockade itself, the effects suffered by the Cuban people, in-depth comments from the United Nations delegates and leaders from around the world? For a more substantive report, one had to listen to the BBC News World service, for the rest of the world takes note of events the U.S. prefers to ignore.

American media is a business, and it has a mission, not to inform Americans but to entertain them. Every media enterprise in America reports the drivel [of romantic liaisons we have no need to know], but the vote of a global assembly condemning U.S. actions received only scant coverage at best.


The media is a source of titillation more than information. The mission of the media is to please, to comfort, and primarily to sell. When TV was developed it was promised that every American would learn about the world in his living room. When computers were developed, wasn’t it said that they would be invaluable learning tools and that children would learn more, faster? National scholastic tests show otherwise, as kids master computers as toys, and learn splendid hand to eye coordination, but little else.

The media paints false pictures of the nation and the world, pictures designed to serve corporate masters, and to make America look good. This “feel good” media approach serves the American delusion of White supremacy, but it does not inform. When the New York Times echoes the National Star, what can the word “media” mean?

How could media be surprised at Minister Farrakhan’s enormous influence among Blacks unless the media wasn’t doing its job? How could they look at a million and count less than half that number?

The major media, like its racist projections, is to be rejected, not consumed. For your very patronage gives it life.

From Death Row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

This commentary is included on the compact disk All Things Censored, Vol. 1, which can be ordered from the Prison Radio Project, P.O. Box 411074, SF, CA 94141, (415) 648-4505. To find out about local actions to support Abu-Jamal’s fight for a new trial–and for his life–call (415) 821-0459; for national actions and more information go to


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