We do our best to try and write something of value here. So it is always distressing when we know about the motives of other journalists is confirmed – over and over again.
It’s finally happened – they’ve got footage of a CNN writer in a bar admitting to writing propaganda, aka “fake news”. As if we did not already know. The difference is catching a CNN writer admitting it on camera.
CNN, as in the CNN effect, is not what it represents—and likely never has been.
“But what’s been exposed at the Cable News Network [CNN] is even worse. An undercover reporter from Project Veritas has captured video footage of CNN directors boasting of manipulating the news to change the world.”
The same is true of most of what we describe as the media, and there is no sign of things improving for the better. One thing that the age of COVID has brought to the forefront is that there are no limits to censorship.
Nonetheless, there are still too many regular mainstream people who will continue to believe propaganda, and pass off warnings as conspiracy theories. You have to catch a writer admitting it before they recognise it as fact instead of theory.
Sooner or later people will wake up; however, by then it will be too late to do anything about it. Many are indeed awake, but unwilling to open their eyes to see in plain sight what is going on.
It is like Mark Twain said, as is so often quoted:
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”
It takes another country to report reality about another country. I am starting to listen to Fox News, as much as I hate their methods. If you want to know Boris Johnson is up to in the UK, the French press is the best bet – and Johnson is no more interesting to the French than other British Prime Ministers, who you could once read meaningful things about in British newspapers.
This begs the question, “what news source in the US is trustworthy?” I know plenty of Fox News haters. They have reason, but if you can only work out what’s going on by comparing untruths and trying to split the difference, who else would you put into the equation?
They say Sky News is related to Fox, the source of the above mentioned news report about the CNN reporter. Therefore it is a Rupert Murdoch news story.
This is the man who blatantly lied for years to generate Brexit, when he isn’t even British. But for a long time his main opposition was Robert Maxwell, one of the most notorious crooks to ever own a paper. Yet even with those two dictating the news agenda, there was more content integrity than now.
I’m not sure it’s possible for trustworthy news to exist in the US if their programming is dictated by advertisers. Plus, the outlets are usually either biased extremely to the left or right.
So one has few options but to watch all sides, taking the opposite position to them, and trying to form an opinion somewhere between. But this assumes you have options before you. This is increasingly less so, now Youtube and social media, Facebook, etc, are also acting as the modern day BIG Brother, seeking to silence opposing voices, however much they adamantly deny it.
It is easy to fall into closing ranks with efforts to censor Alex Jones and his team of Infowars warriors, who are more interested in selling overpriced health pills than getting across the message they claim to be standing up for.
Naturally these victims declare this is media censorship, and what can we say – it is! We must tolerate the extremes, because tomorrow they may be mainstream, and then we won’t be able to avoid adopting them.
In 1983, Hustler magazine ran a liquor advertisement parody suggesting that the outspoken TV preacher Jerry Falwell had lost his virginity to his mother in an outhouse. This outraged many, but (at least under the US Constitution) it was legitimate free speech. If we don’t like it, give us the chance to do so before it becomes the only story we hear, and the any opinion anyone will listen to.
However, it is media outlets themselves which are enthusiastically curtailing their own rights. They are slaves to the concept of pretending moral superiority by outlawing views which are no longer politically acceptable to government and the titans of society.
This media flagship recently claimed that “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and others shouldn’t liken contemporary events to the Holocaust, speaking about mask mandates and vaccine policy, because such comparisons cheapen the horrific magnitude of the genocide of 6 million Jews”. Naturally CNN buttressed its frontal attacks on free speech with the disclaimer that its view is based on what “historians and advocacy groups’ say.
But it is clear from the language used that this is CNN’s own opinion, it is not merely reporting the views of others.
In 2004 English soccer manager Ron Atkinson was forced to resign as a TV pundit for making a racist remark when he thought his microphone was off. In a comment never intended for public broadcast, he stated that Chelsea player Marcel Desailly, whose mistake had cost his team a goal, was “what is known in some quarters as a fucking lazy thick nigger”.
Atkinson did not say it was HIS opinion, but that some others would say such things, a statement which black activists would undoubtedly agree with. But he wasn’t allowed to hide his remarks behind what others say – even though he held the record for picking the most black players in a starting XI whilst Aston Villa manager, and remains rightly proud of that.
I often make comparisons with the Nazis, to drive home a point, even to compare the methods of the MSM, as represented by CNN as its symbol, to the propaganda of Joseph Goebbels—and how he would be impressed by how they have refined his methods in the very country that fought against them. This explains a great deal of why CNN does not like anyone talking about the Nazis.
There is much we should have taken to heart from the court case of Jerry Farwell vs. Larry Flint, which resulted in a book “The First Amendment on Trial”. Over the top views must be tolerated in order for there to be free speech for the rest of us.
As Alex Jones and team try to defend themselves, Apple, Spotify, Facebook and Google/Youtube have all purged Infowars/Alex Jones, and those with differing views on COVID and efficiency of vaccines. Many would agree however that their crime is not spreading disinformation, even if they are, but sharing views that are not keeping with conventional wisdom, as proffered by government and corporate interests.
Yes, some views and programs are over-the-top. But the greater debate is how far will the providers of information go in protecting us — the “naïve and stupid” unwashed masses consumers of information?
If such flagship media outlets as the NYT and the Washington Post are no longer trusted sources in the eyes of much of society, it does create a vacuum in which the worst and loudest interests, which are usually the same thing, come to the fore. Just as politicians who try and address problems are swept away by those promising easy but impossible solutions, so do media outlets get swept aside by those who give people what they want to hear by creating that demand in the first place.
If you get tired of hearing about the EU doing things you don’t like, and never hear about it doing anything you do like, you want it to go away. If you hear about nothing but bogus asylum seekers, not the same immigration whilst built the US and Australia, you want to end immigration to remove this negative image from your news, whilst running to your foreign doctors and nurses for treatment in your foreign car whilst eating your foreign food.
Unfortunately commercial interests and political agendas dictate too much of what we are proffered as truth these days, and even the deciders of which war is worth fighting. Let us not forget how the media, politicians and military all worked in tandem to give us the wars of the last 20 years, or better said, the régime changes and illegal occupations of faraway lands.
Go back to the MSM over Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recent targets such as Iran and Syria. Much of what they claim is anything but truth, as the Chilcot Enquiry into the Iraq war found. But if you repeat the same thing often enough, ad no other voice is heard, those who disagree think no one will ever listen, and give up without bothering to investigate other questions which concern them.
All this is the work of BIG Brother, rewriting history, and is not to be forgotten. It is most definitely not designed to protect people, only to safeguard special interests. Democracy implies the views of the people are sovereign, so the more you control these views, the more sovereignty you gain for yourself.
Much of what is happening before our eyes is known by most of us, at least those who notice that things are not what they once were, and the world is being divided into two camps. One just needs to look to open sources – people speaking from their experience, other friends’ experience, articles they have read and what other friends have referenced.
The world is reverting to Fahrenheit 451 – and I wonder if people, in not so many years, will naively be asking if Google and other social media were once in the business of openly sharing diverse views, controversial opinions—as were firemen once in the business of putting out fire, not starting them. This question compares to the famous line in Fahrenheit 451, “is it true that a long time ago firemen put out fires and not burned books?” Oh what a strange idea!
But still the censorship continues, and more and more are finding it a “strange idea” to even consider that anything is wrong with that. The First Amendment is going the way of the Bill of Rights and other protective rights guaranteed to Americans.
It is ironic that some of the various media platforms that have reported on censorship: “Internet censorship on the up, report says” are the very ones who are most involved in censoring and manipulating the news. But these reports are selective, and point to what is also happening in China, Russia, or Pakistan, as such things just are not part of the Western experience.
According to Freedom House, China has the world’s largest population of Internet users, yet the authorities operate the most sophisticated system of censorship.
Finally, in the bigger picture of things, laws and self-righteous censorship protect only special interests. As for censorship, the worse censorship of all is self-censorship, when we are fearful to share our opinions or like or dislike the opinions of others.
Enjoy freedom of speech while you still have it, and the access it gives you to alternative views and sources of information, as such unlimited access will not last long. Soon they will be back to burning books, if not people.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.