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T.R. Reid   Washington Post   09-May-1998   60 Minutes gullibility
The program featured dramatic footage of a drug "mule" said to be smuggling several million dollars' worth of heroin to London for Colombia's Cali drug cartel.  The Guardian reported, though, that the "mule" actually carried no drugs, that his trip to London was paid for by the documentary's producers, and that many of the report's dramatic moments were faked.
The instance of 60 Minutes credulity documented in the T.R. Reid Washington Post article below occasions the following reflections, some of which demonstrate the relevance of the article to Ukrainain affairs:

Successful Criminals Do Not Make Public Confessions

The 60 Minutes drug smuggling broadcast whose title I will assume was The Mule shows individuals who cooperate in a documentary exposing their own highly lucrative criminal activities which is an incongruity.  Successful criminals do not make public disclosure of their crimes because this hastens their getting caught.  I have discussed this self-evident principle at length in Impossibilities of a TV documentary whose focus is an ABC television Prime Time documentary titled Girls for Sale featuring this same incongruity of successful criminals disclosing their crimes, in this case the crime of employing Slavic girls as sex slaves in Israel.  One may say, then, that television news sometimes demonstrates almost childlike insensitivity to incongruity, which is the same as saying that it demonstrates almost childlike credulity, and that one incongruity that it appears particularly insensitive to is that of successful criminals making public confession of their crimes.

Television News Overlooks Many Diverse Incongruities

The earlier 60 Minutes broadcast The Ugly Face of Freedom is similar in that it was loaded with palpable incongruities, though not the incongruity of criminals publicly confessing their crimes.  For example, while host Morley Safer is describing a pogrom which was supposed to have taken place in Ukraine in July of 1941, the scene being shown is of bodies lying on the ground in snow.  Multiply this sort of incongruity a hundredfold I do not exaggerate and you create the 60 Minutes broadcast The Ugly Face of Freedom.

The Explanation May be Different Each Time

In each case, some explanation of such incongruities is called for, and in each case the explanation may be different.  In the case of the 60 Minutes story The Mule, the explanation seems to be that a fraudulent story advanced the career of a documentary filmmaker.  In the case of the ABC TV Prime Time story Girls for Sale, my speculation is that the story was true and that it advanced Israeli interests.  And in the case of the 60 Minutes story The Ugly Face of Freedom, it is evident that the story was false, my speculation being again that it advanced Israeli interests.

North American News May be Particularly Susceptible to Corruption

We have three reasons for suspecting this, two of them coming from Reid's Washington Post article below: (i) Reid describes London journalism as "furiously competitive" where "a dozen newspapers and four TV networks regularly investigate and savage one another's reporting" and contrasts this with the United States where "newspapers and TV networks generally don't go on the attack against the other guy's story."  (ii) The British government's Independent Commission requires TV news to demonstrate "a respect for truth," whereas in the United States, the accuracy of news reporting is not subject to any official review.  (iii) We see Israel Shahak repeatedly offering the observation that North American news shows a unique degree of submission to Jewish control, as for example in the following statement:

The bulk of the organized US Jewish community is totalitarian, chauvinistic and militaristic in its views.  This fact remains unnoticed by other Americans due to its control of the media, but is apparent to some Israeli Jews.  As long as organized US Jewry remained united, its control over the media and its political power remained unchallenged.

Israel Shahak, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, Pluto Press, London and Chicago, 1997, p. 139.

CBS News Does Not Investigate Itself

Although an admission from 60 Minutes seems imminent that its story of The Mule was fraudulent, CBS did not discover this fraud, and is not undertaking any investigation of its own.  Rather, there appear to be a "series of investigations," possibly all British, including one by Carlton Television which originally financed and broadcast the documentary, and including a study by the British government.  One may hypothesize, then, that CBS does not place high priority on the acknowledgement and correction of its own errors, and that it will do so only when forced to by public disclosure of these errors by some other agency.  For this reason, the acknowledgement by 60 Minutes that its story The Mule was entirely fraudulent cannot be taken as offering hope that CBS is any closer to acknowledging that its story The Ugly Face of Freedom was entirely fraudulent.

American Competence Gap?

Mention has often been made in the Ukrainian Archive of the existence of competence gaps as these relate to brain drains and gains.  The observation of a startling degree of credulity in the highest levels of the American Press constitutes one such competence gap, although in this case it is not a gap that leads to any brain theft from other nations, as the gap is largely hidden from the American public.  Perhaps the American public has its own competence gap one in which the people watching the news are as blind to incongruities as the people who are broadcasting it.

Below are excerpts only

The complete Washington Post article is purchasable online from the Washington Post by anyone who cares to first set up an account with the Washington Post.


Acclaimed Expose Questioned as Hoax

British Drug Documentary Was Featured on "60 Minutes"

By T.R. Reid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, May 9, 1998; Page A01


LONDON, May 8 That powerful expose on "60 Minutes" last summer about Colombian drug runners was [...] quite possibly, false.

After a lengthy investigation, London's Guardian newspaper has charged that the award-winning documentary "The Connection" [...] was essentially fiction.

The program featured dramatic footage of a drug "mule" said to be smuggling several million dollars' worth of heroin to London for Colombia's Cali drug cartel.  The Guardian reported, though, that the "mule" actually carried no drugs, that his trip to London was paid for by the documentary's producers, and that many of the report's dramatic moments were faked.  [...]

When the report was shown on "60 Minutes," CBS reporter Steve Kroft said that the mule had "no problem" slipping past British customs with the heroin in his stomach.  "Another pound of heroin was on the British streets," the "60 Minutes" report said.

But the Guardian, which says it found the "mule," reports that he actually swallowed Certs mints, not drugs.  It says the flight to London took place six months later, and was paid for by the filmmaker.  And it says the "mule" was actually turned back at Heathrow because he had a counterfeit passport, and thus never entered Britain.  [...]

The documentary included a highly dramatized segment in which reporters under armed guard were taken to a remote location for an interview with a figure described as a high-ranking member of the Cali drug cartel.  "60 Minutes" reported de Beaufort had to travel blindfolded for two days by car to reach the scene of this secret rendezvous.

The Guardian [...] said the secret location was actually the producer's hotel room in Colombia.  [...]

The British government's watchdog group, the Independent Television Commission, has launched a study of its own.  Unlike the United States, where government has no power to police the content of news reporting, there are official regulations here requiring that TV news demonstrate "a respect for truth."

CBS has not undertaken an investigation of its own, but will report to its viewers on the results of the British investigations [...].


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