Vol. 2 No. 2 February 2000

"Spectacular fiasco for the organizers . . . a damning verdict on globalization that ignores its own consequences" was Le Monde's assessment (December 2) of the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle. Dozens of dailies all over the world concurred. But the reporting of this event, its background, and the accompanying protests in the "mainstream" American media provided another depressing example of information management at its most brazenly manipulative.

Even before the conference, as tens of thousands of anti-WTO activists accompanied 130 trade ministers to Seattle, the news coverage anticipating the protests shed little light on the specific charges against the WTO. Typically misleading was a November 1 article in U.S. News & World Report that equated opposition to the WTO with opposition to "trade" in general—but, happily, "the movement against free trade seems to have little traction in the United States . . . All major presidential candidates support free trade and the WTO."

Most pre-summit reports claimed that the WTO sought to "open up" trade around the globe and that its detractors were "anti-trade" eccentrics. ABC's Peter Jennings said that "it seems as though every group with every complaint from every comer of the world is represented in Seattle this week." The Associated Press called protesters' concerns "far-fetched."...

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