5. The Mobil Oil/Rhodesian Connection
Very simply, the story is: "Single-handedly, America's fifth largest
corporation is keeping alive a regime that has been not only embargoed
but condemned by virtually every nation on earth." The corporation
is Mobil Oil; the nation is Rhodesia. The story was released, with supporting
documentation, at a press conference held by the People's Bicentennial
Commission (PBC) in Washington, D.C., June 21, 1976. Attending the press
conference were more that 40 reporters from America's major papers,
all three networks, the wire services, along with radio and freelance
people. On the same day, the PBC turned the documentation over to the
Treasury Department, the House and Senate Committees on Africa, and
Senator Frank Church's subcommittee on multinationals. The only extensive
coverage occurred six weeks later when the N.Y. Times broke the story,
announcing that the Treasury had begun its investigation of the PBC
charges. But unless you saw that story or a short story subsequently
carried by AP, you would-be unaware of the Mobil Oil/ Rhodesian connection.
None of the networks, not Time and Newsweek, gave coverage to the story.
The story charged that Mobil, by developing a string of dummy companies,
post office addresses, and phony order sheets and invoices was able
to set up a circuitous "paper chase" thereby disguising the
fact that Mobil was selling Rhodesia as much as $ 20 million a year
in oil products, including specialized aviation fuel for Rhodesia's
air force. When asked about the lack of coverage on the story, a reporter
in the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times said: "Look,
Mobil may have been subjected to higher standards than 99 percent of
the news stories we run, but hell, nobody wants to take on Mobil Oil
without fucking good grounds. I'd be a fool not to say that Mobil is
a big national advertiser." The apparent media self-censorship
which occurred with this story qualifies it to be considered for one
of the "ten best censored" stories of 1976.
SOURCE: "Let's Make A Deal" by Richard Parker, editor, Mother
Jones, September/October 1976.
Peoples Business Commission Washington, D.C.