I just came across a new, at least to me, TV network news service that airs here in Mallorca but perhaps not in the USA.  PressTV is broadcast over satellite by the government of Iran.  It is obviously an attempt to counter the other networks that are filled with condemnation of Iran and its embattled client state, Syria. 

As expected PressTV  had lots of news about the ongoing conflict in Syria from the government´s side of the story.  According to PressTV, the conflict is the work of “outsiders, saboteurs, and bandits.”  It also accuses Turkey of supplying surface to air missiles to the Syrian Freedom Army in violation of UN bans on such weapon transfers.  Not to leave out anything, it also accuses Mossad, Israel´s secret service, of working with Al Queda to bring down the Syrian government.  Imagine, the organization sworn to destroying the Jewish state working with that state’s secret service.

Perhaps the most memorable scene was a video PressTV obtain from a French news service who got it via U-Tube.  The video showed in graphic detail a group of Syrian Freedom fighters executing a group of unarmed civilians with machine guns in a courtyard.  The “crime” of the civilians was being good citizens of Syria who supported their government. 

I have no doubt that atrocities are being committed by both sides  in the Syrian conflict.  After all, the business of war is killing.  But I find PressTV´s one sided telling of this moment by moment tragedy as patently biased as the stories I get from CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera.  In sum, there is no unvarnished truth.   As with all such events, one has to watch and listen with the skepticism learned over one´s lifetime. 

Less dramatic, but no less provocative, PressTV ran a piece revealing that 36% of the residents of my home town, Washington DC, are “functionally illiterate,” which they said means lacking enough language skill to take care of daily, routine things such as shopping, getting from point A to point B, and understanding what is going on around you.  It went on to say that 21% of the entire US population suffers from this condition with 42 million unable to read at all and 50 million unable to read more than a few words. 

Now lots of people will be quick to tell you that, if I am an example, then perhaps all DC natives are “functionally illiterate.”   I protest this characterization but do admit that the DC schools, which enjoy the highest teacher pay rates and spending per student in the entire USA, do turn out a very poor product, DC students routinely score near the bottom on all standardized tests.  And it is hard to blame this on discrimination since DC schools have been desegregated since 1954. 

Whatever its message and whoever its viewers, PressTV demonstrates once more that it doesn´t really matter what is being said or shown, but who is doing the talking and showing.