George Orwell Redux!--- Gene Lyons, nationally-syndicated columnist, from "Fox in the Henhouse" (12-26-10)
Recently, I reread Orwell's "Looking Back at the Spanish War." The 1943 essay summarizes what he learned as a volunteer militiaman fighting for Spain's Socialist government against Franco's fascist-backed rebels - a bitterly disillusioning experience that inspired his three greatest books: "Homage to Catalonia," "1984" and "Animal Farm."
In it, Orwell describes the corrosive effect of politicized mass media. In Spain, he wrote, "I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed...I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened. I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various 'party lines'."