Journalists covering the Greek crisis were briefed at IMF seminars to give the bankers’ view in their reports from Athens.
Panayiotis Roumeliotis, the former Greek delegate to the IMF, made the accusations in evidence to MPs sparking a media scandal of far-reaching proportions.
ESIEA, the Athens journalists’ association, has launched an investigation into the corruption claims against the IMF.
The Panhellenic Federation of Journalists’ Associations (POESY) has backed the Athens union’s move and called on the IMF to explain its full role in the affair.
Testifying before a Greek parliamentary committee, Roumeliotis said the IMF’s director of communications, Gerry Rice, had a list of the names of the journalists who attended the seminars.
He added: “Christine Lagarde (IMF managing director) and other high officials at the IMF contacted me before my testimony before the committee to remind me that members of the IMF are immune from prosecution.”
The daily Ekathimerini said on its front page: “The Greek authorities want to investigate alleged misconduct by a number of journalists who attended seminars organised by the IMF and were allegedly instructed to promote the organisation’s advice to Greece.
“Roumeliotis was cited as saying that he accidentally bumped into Greek journalists during a visit to Washington DC, who told him that they were attending a seminar organised by the IMF.
“The fund held a number of similar events in the US and in Greece with the goal of explaining its operations and apparently spinning its work positively, he said.”
Other Athens reports said the Brussels-based European Commission had also organised special seminars for journalists with the aim of “manipulating Greek public opinion”.
Journos as mouthpieces
Greek MP Leonidas Vatikiotis said the seminars were held in “an opaque manner” to groom journalists as “mouthpieces of the IMF, preachers of austerity, opponents of strikes and public workers”.
One local journalist admitted that some of his colleagues have tried to “convince” Greeks “of the benefits of IMF policy” in privately-owned media outlets.
Media blogger Tyler Durden accused the IMF of training Greek journalists in Washington to spin stories in favour of the Troika, representatives of the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank in charge of forcing Greeks to repay bank loans by driving them into abject poverty.
He quoted Roumeliotis as saying that “many journalists fell victim to the IMF’s information” and several economists and university professors had also been groomed and duped.
The Greek media revelations will come as no surprise to avid followers of the unfolding crisis in Athens. With rare exceptions, Australians have been deluged with propaganda posing as news stories and independent commentary blaming Greeks for the crisis and painting the blood-sucking banks as the injured parties.
If the IMF has such a streamlined operation for massaging the news out of Greece, what sort of expensive propaganda machinery do NATO, the US State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, the City of London, the global mining companies have at their disposal?
Why Greece matters
Visiting Athens in 2012 in the midst of its post-GFC meltdown, I described Greece as the “epicentre of the world economic crisis” and said that it would suck European banks and Wall Street into its dire vortex.
Since then, the unfolding crisis has become a political as well as an economic crisis for Europe and the US. Today Greece is a “black hole”.
Wikipedia describes a black hole as “a mathematically defined region of space-time exhibiting such a strong gravitational pull that no particle or electromagnetic radiation can escape from it”.
How did Greece make the transition from “epicentre” of the world economic crisis to the world’s “black hole”?
Since 2012, the southern Mediterranean, North Africa, Israel, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Turkey and the Balkans have been sucked into war, civil war, uprisings and every form of human savagery imaginable.
Those states that are worst affected – Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq – are now officially designated as failed states, while some of the others are teetering on the brink.
The nightly television news has become a terrifying ordeal: thousands of people risking their lives to escape Libya by boat for the “safe” shores of Italy; thousands of Iraqis and Syrians fleeing to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to escape US, British and Australian bombing raids; Russia and the fascist-supported Ukraine regime arming for all-out war while bombarding each other’s positions; Washington, London and NATO pouring military support into Ukraine whose reactionary regime came to power in a Western-backed coup in 2013-14 against President Viktor Yanukovych; and the Pentagon increasing the presence of nuclear-armed warships and warplanes in the South China Sea with the aim of “containing” China, the world’s new economic powerhouse.
Why should any of this bother Australia? Because Prime Minister Tony Abbott, aka “The Mad Monk”, has placed Australia in the black hole zone.
He has committed soldiers and airmen to Iraq and is pushing for ground warfare in both Iraq and Syria; he is being courted by a stream of reactionary Ukraine MPs to commit to fighting Russia; and he has signed up with the right-wing Tokyo government and the pro-Western Philippines regime to “encircle” China.
In the midst of all this, a self-declared US racist, 21-year-old high school drop-out Dylann Roof, gunned down nine worshippers in a southern church with the purpose of igniting a race war. His juvenile call was ignored … for now.
Equal before the law?
Abbott’s government has presented laws to strip citizenship from dual citizens who fight for a foreign power against Australia.
What about Australian citizens who take out Israeli citizenship and join the Israeli army to commit war crimes against Palestinians?
This week the UN Human Rights Council accused the Israeli army of “serious violations of international humanitarian law” and “may amount to war crimes” during its 2014 blitzkreig of Gaza.
A total of 2,251 Palestinians, mostly children, were killed and 18,000 homes destroyed. Seventy-three Israelis were killed in the 50-day campaign of state terror.
Israel has flatly rejected the UN findings and is preparing celebrations for the first anniversary of its terrifying overkill.
Macca is back
ALP staffer Ian McNamara formerly worked for NSW Labor MP and right-wing faction boss Joe Tripodi, Premier Kristina Keneally and Opposition leader John Robertson as his chief of staff.
In September last year he was called to the Independent Commission Against Corruption to give evidence about Tripodi’s “dirty tricks” campaign to sabotage the parliamentary career of Newcastle MP Jodie McKay. (In March she was elected MP for Strathfield and then dumped as the proposed shadow planning minister).
ICAC cleared him of any involvement.
Now McNamara has become Labor leader Bill Shorten’s staff. His job? Strategy director to “sharpen the leader’s performance”. Oh dear.