What independence?

The Pentagon is organising a “Freedom March” in September. “This year the Department of Defence will initiate an America Supports Your Freedom Walk,” US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. The march would remind people of “the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation”. Let’s make a wild guess that the Bush administration will spuriously connect 9/11 and Iraq. Again.

The Washington Post initially agreed to co-sponsor the event but pulled out after protests from within the paper and by anti-war groups. “As it appears that this event could become politicised, The Post has decided to honour the Washington area victims of 9/11 by making a contribution directly to the Pentagon Memorial Fund,” said Eric Grant, a Post spokesman, at the time of the paper’s pullout. “It is The Post’s practice to avoid activities that might lead readers to question the objectivity of The Post’s news coverage.” The Post’s true colours were revealed, however. Independence between the Bush administration and the media, already far-too-cosy, was shown to be worth less than displaying appropriate patriotism.

The Washington Times has now stepped in. “We offered to help with free advertising,” said Dick Amberg, general manager and vice president of the Times. “It seems like a very reasonable thing to do in terms of public service.”

No conflict of interest there at all.

Perhaps Kerry Packer’s Bulletin could buy rounds of armour-piercing ammunition for the Australian military. Or Rupert Murdoch’s Australian could fund the welcome home parade for troops returning from active duty in Iraq. How about the Sydney Morning Herald agreeing to publish free ads to recruit more cannon fodder for imperial wars?

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