Studied silence on Nord Stream report belies freedom of the press in the West

Nearly one month after investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed in a report that the United States planted remotely triggered explosives during a covert operation in June 2022, that subsequently damaged three of the four Nord Stream pipelines in September, there has basically been an eerie silence in the West on the matter, except for a perfunctory dismissal by the White House stating the report was "utterly false and complete fiction".

The collective silence of the United States and its allies, including their media outlets, who have always taken it as their supposed duty to find out "the whole truth, nothing but the truth", is strange given the significance of the attack. Especially after the furor they created in pointing the finger at Russia when the blasts were detected.

The US mainstream media have overwhelmingly ignored Hersh's report, according to a study by Mint-Press News, an independent watchdog journalism organization, which analyzed the 20 most influential publications in the US including The New York Times and The Huffington Post, and found only four mentions of Hersh's in-depth report.

The mainstream Western media have justified their shunning the report by raising doubts about Hersh's source, who has remained anonymous. But it is a no-brainer that no source revealing this sort of information would ever disclose their name unless they were ready to risk decades in prison. A double standard is in full play on this as "they had absolutely nothing to say when random people were saying Russia blew their own pipeline", as writer and media critic Bryce Greene said.

Hersh is not somebody whose reporting can be just brushed aside as clickbait. The veteran Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist has proved his credibility with his revelations in the past, and is known for his ability to attract "whistleblowers because he has a perfect record of protecting their identities and accurately publishing what they reveal after due diligence".

Aside from being an act of terrorism, the sabotaging of the pipelines was also one of the world's worst ecological disasters, constituting the largest single leak of methane in history, two elements that would have easily enabled Hersh's report to dominate the news had he accused Russia or any other party in the West's bad books of being the culprit.

It is thus telling that this bombshell news has been collectively marginalized by the Western media. One only has to look at their inflating of a Chinese weather balloon into a spy-in-the-sky threat to the US to see how the media can blow up something sensational from nothing.

This cannot but prompt people to question whether the Western media, deemed to be the "fourth estate", can still play the role of a watchdog to check on the power of the government.