The media have a responsibility and that responsibility is to inform us of what’s going on. If a nuclear power plant is at risk of spreading nuclear death two miles from our town, it is the responsibility of the media to let us know that the danger exists and why it exists. To a certain extent, we put our trust in them. It is a social contract. They are there to informs us, to warn us, to let us know what's going on. Who, what, where, when, and why; all the information we need regarding the forces that impact us in our daily lives is delivered on our doorsteps, it comes in through the cable. We sleep well knowing that no midnight asteroid is about to send us back to the stone age.
But can we? At this point, trusting mainstream media is not a rational or intelligent choice to make. You may have noticed. They are not always honest. They have lied by saying things that are not true, by not saying things that are true, and very often through spinning bullshit, which is slightly different than lying. Sometimes bullshit is worse than lies. It’s not that they have done so several times, or even often. It’s that they do it all the time and they do it consistently.
Economists have been lying and continue to lie through a critical time as the world economy becomes increasingly volatile and we become vulnerable to financial devastation. At this point in time the media and countless so-called economists have lulled faithful believers with a pack of lies. They have done it in 2008 and 2009 and they continue with the same lies and backward analysis in 2010. The same economists, experts, and corporate shills that have led us to the doors of the economic slaughterhouse are portrayed as gurus that have the holy grail of economic wisdom and direction. They are the same shysters, criminals, and corporate shills that have orchestrated the biggest sell out in history.
When Wall street falters, they get excited. When Main Street slides into the Third World, they barely notice. While America shivers over burning barrels, Obama fiddles in blissful ignorance; he seems a sort of 'let them eat cake' monarch. A reporter recently asked Obama about his efforts to curb poverty in America. Obama's reply could have come from the mouth of any imbecile or stooge that just walked out of any neo-liberal seminar. Obama said, " the most important anti-poverty effort is growing the economy… It’s more important than any program we could set up. It’s more important than any transfer payment we could have.” Which is code for saying that the ruling class is the filter through which all spending must pass through. And it is implied, in all this, that wealth emanates from the ruling class to the working classes and not the other way around. Will mainstream media even mention this or anything close? The short answer is 'no'.
They are defining and will increasingly define poverty as 'the New Normal'. And as America swirls down the toilet of depression, mainstream media bubbles along with cautious optimism that the stock market will continue to score enormous profits for the ruling class. Not once will they notice that what is good for Wall Street is bad for Main Street. To mention this class dichotomy is incorrect, politically.
Even the most serious proponent of the substance and integrity of mainstream media would have to admit, when it comes to war, that the Pentagon, the President of the United States, and mainstream media make Orwell's 1948 imagination seem prophetic. In 2010, doublespeak is expected and as you will read below, the infrastructure for constant surveillance is under construction. War is peace. What's good is bad and what's bad is good. The Iraq war ended but today, alternative media are reporting that American and Iraqi troops killed at least eight civilians in Fallujah, Iraq. American has no intention of leaving. It is just one more pack of lies. There is no end to the examples of doublespeak and outright lies that fill today's media.
If you maintain a watch with war news stories collectors, like Anti War.com, you will see that atrocities happen in Afghanistan with sickening regularity. Civilians are killed by unmanned robots (drones) or NATO forces but mainstream media doesn't report it or, if they do, they present it as just one more 'whoops' moment. American gangsters are running loose in uniform in Afghanistan and kill with impunity. A band of GI Joes has recently been found to have been cutting body parts off Afghan civilians they had killed for sport and had been keeping them for trophies. It was barely mentioned in mainstream media but you'd have to look for it. Imagine, for a moment, how the story would play if this was done by Cubans or Iranians. Do you think they'd notice?
The Americans have been bombing civilian populations in Pakistan with increasing regularity. In the past two days, according to Jason Ditz reporting for Anti-war.com, American drones have killed 37 people, one of which may belong to the Haqqani Network, yet another group on that long list of enemies. The other victims are reported to be civilians or, people that have not conclusively been linked to the group.
In another very disturbing development, the American state is carrying out the extrajudicial execution of an American named Anwar al Awlaki who they allege is a terrorist. The individual case itself is alarming enough. The fact that it re-defines the scope of power of the American state however, is the real issue. Have mainstream media noticed? Currently, for mainstream media, the issue is about how to fight the legal battle against this bizarre development in American law. If they can kill their own citizens above the rule of law, we have entered a horrific new reality.
Then there is the sheer danger consequential to slaughtering, terrorizing and destroying whole nations. Media have the responsibility to let us know how badly the USA, the UK, Canada and all the other NATO participants have destroyed the cultures, livelihoods, and lives of the people they so routinely and mindlessly murder and maim. It is the same as the nuclear plant analogy. There will be consequences for us all. There will be future 9 11s and worse. And it will happen because of what we are doing now. If our tax dollars are in the service of whipping up hate around the world against us, we should know.
The media have been portraying the ongoing atrocities as an aberration; maybe it was rogue soldiers, maybe it was poor communication, maybe the victims were human shields. Victims are dismissed as 'collateral damage'. What will not be discussed is the ugly and likely possibility that these victims are victims of collective punishment.
A dark and sinister reality had emerged within the American dream. Mainstream media isn't reporting it; they are the maestros. The only objective views of this 'new normal/World Order' will be here in alternative media and if you indulge in reading or watching what you are reading at the moment (MWC News), chances are you have not swallowed the kool aid.
Mainstream media is not just a simple money pig. It is much more than that. With the marriage of the corporation and the state fully consummated, it is natural for the corporate media to mouth the interests of both. Mainstream media has become a tool employed by those that want to tell you that the Western world needs to, more than anything else, shore up its security. In a similar vein to Hitler’s fire in the Reichstag, the billionaires that run the White House want us to be terrified. They want a to funnel billions of tax dollars into their own pockets through the sale of weapons systems. As a result we have seen nine years of talking heads discuss, in very serious tones, the need for security. We are in a new age, we are told. We are threatened by Muslim extremists. If you can remember the 60s, 70s or even well before then, you will know that terrorism or guerrilla warfare has been around a long, long time and there is nothing new or more sinister today than there was in 1970. Terrorism is another word for guerrilla warfare which is naturally adopted by those with little or no power.
This thrust is more threatening to freedom than we may notice at first. In a free society, the threat of danger is always present. It's part of the social contract. Criminals run free until they have actually committed the crime; that's the price of living in a free society.
Hyping ubiquitous threats has muted opposition to the construction of a massive, although unseen, state apparatus in the United States that would shame the USSR in its heyday. The Washington Post, to its credit, has recently reported vague parameters on the growing American state apparatus. In an article entitled "Top Secret America" Dana Priest and William Arkin report that the American government has created a massive underworld that "has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work."
Here is an excerpt from the article: "These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
The investigation's other findings include:
* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space."
Kudos to the Washington Post. Given the magnitude of the story however, it is almost hidden from view. Where are the talking heads? The hyped up concern about a Soviet style neighbour watching neighbour reality emerging in the USA?
The common narrative is not aimed to challenge this kind of ominous development. Instead, it is to continue to cry for the need for more security and less freedom. The story line shouts the need for an iron state apparatus.
Corporate media is becoming synonymous with state media, much like Pravda of the old USSR. Corporate media don't just make money and parrot the wishes and plans of the ruling class. They also strive to indoctrinate and shape the rabble into a uniform and docile mass of petty chauvinism.
Ruling Class Media
The term, 'ruling class' has not been in common usage except for that band of serious Marxists selling papers at the university. However, there is no better description for the class that run government. They rule and they rule because they belong to those that are wealthy enough to tell politicians what to do. They are, properly, the ruling class.
They have their own specific interests and those interests happen to be against the interests of the rest of us. These interests include selling weapons, controlling resources, and dominating each and every corner of the world. Those munitions/oil billionaires that set the tone, the content, and the agenda for the media they also own and control. A small-town newspaper does not have the resources to hire investigative journalists and they pick up the main stories from the newswire. Those newswire stories are fed through the filters of the corporate media. Here, Noam Chomsky explains who sets the content and the agenda for the mainstream:
“The New York Times and CBS, for example. Well, first of all, they are major, very profitable, corporations. Furthermore, most of them are either linked to, or outright owned by, much bigger corporations, like General Electric, Westinghouse, and so on. They are way up at the top of the power structure of the private economy which is a very tyrannical structure. Corporations are basically tyrannies, hierarchic, controlled from above. If you don't like what they are doing you get out. The major media are just part of that system.”
Chomsky also makes the point that the media has a specific motive and that motive is the audience itself. That is why news stories are very short and their patterns are quite simplistic. Short attention grabbing sound bites or pleasing optics are important. Content is also important but not in the way it should be. The main thrust of the business is not to inform, the business is about grabbing an audience and people are the product. Chomsky continues:
"Take the New York Times. It’s a corporation and sells a product. The product is audiences. They don’t make money when you buy the newspaper. They are happy to put it on the worldwide web for free. They actually lose money when you buy the newspaper. But the audience is the product. The product is privileged people, just like the people who are writing the newspapers, you know, top-level decision-making people in society. You have to sell a product to a market, and the market is, of course, advertisers (that is, other businesses). Whether it is television or newspapers, or whatever, they are selling audiences. Corporations sell audiences to other corporations. In the case of the elite media, it’s big businesses."
(Lifted from: http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/articles/z9710-mainstream-media.html)
But there is more to this than selling audiences. You will notice that the media will make certain issues relevant and important. They will spin them out in a seamless drum beat to the corporate party line and with each other, sometimes word for word. For example, in the 90s the ruling class wanted to cut social programs in the USA and in Canada. The deficit was the 'terrorist threat' of the time. Right wing think tanks and bond rating agencies like Moody’s of New York suddenly had a lot to say about how societies are governed and how tax money is spent. You may argue; but the deficit was a real problem at the time and it has returned. Notice however that when tax dollars are spent on weapons systems, the media does not make an issue of the deficit. It is rarely mentioned, if at all. That is because those that control the media are the same people that profit from building weapons systems.
According to Peter Phillips, “The eleven largest or most influential media corporations in the United States are General Electric Company (NBC), Viacom Inc. (cable), The Walt Disney Company (ABC), Time Warner Inc.(CNN), Westinghouse Electric Corporation (CBS), The News Corporation Ltd. (Fox), Gannett Co. Inc., Knight-Ridder Inc., New York Times Co., Washington Post Co., and the Times Mirror Co. These eleven major broadcast and print media corporations now represent a major portion of the news information systems in the United states. For many people their entire source of news and information comes from these eleven corporations."
General Electric is in the business of making battlefield computer systems. Their director, former senator Sam Nunn (who also directs Chevron/Texaco) isn’t likely to promote journalists that research his connections or to report any stories that work against the interests of NBC. He is not likely to be happy about his reporters making anti war statements either.
Steve Mizrach points out, “Opinion in our society must be carefully shaped and molded within certain careful boundaries: those who transgress those boundaries are libel to wind up "extremists," "ideologues," "fanatics," or "agitators. Now that dissidents in the U.S. can no longer be labelled 'fellow travellers' of the Moscow-run Commie conspiracy, the task has become more urgent. And how is it that consent, that most valuable of social products, is manufactured?”
Mizrach points out that the following tactics are employed by what we may regard, realistically, as the enemy; that is, mainstream media. They mould opinion particularly on Sunday talk shows by parading the opinions of sycophants that are the mouthpieces that have been schooled within the hallowed halls of the university of corporate indoctrination.
These are bolstered by spin doctors, or, PR devils. “PR managers, known as "spin doctors" when working in government, are able to carefully craft speeches and advertisements which evoke powerful images in the American psyche, frequently using "power words" such as freedom, fairness, liberty, justice, and peacekeeping for policies which dominate, discriminate, imprison, exploit, and terrorize much of the rest of the world.” (Mizrach)
Mizrach also points out the real purpose of public opinion polls is not so much to measure public opinion as it is to shape it. They also employ academics and think tanks to shape and mould public opinion.
Together, these tools are used against us. They are more threatening an enemy to the citizens of Western nations than an army of bin Ladens. They are used not only to shape public opinion. They are used to lie to us and to indoctrinate the impressionable and the young.
Non Americans look upon our American brothers and sisters and what they have served up on a daily basis under a disguise called 'news'. We watched in incredulity as the American health care debate raged. The word socialist, we discovered, is a dirty word in America. Ignorant to a fault, the politicians and the media spun lies and distortions with wide eyed enthusiasm as if the rest of the world wasn't watching. It looked like a Jerry Springer show, a pitiful crowd of beaten down as angry victims proudly showing their own ignorance to the world, utterly oblivious. But that is not America, it is a fraction of America and we find the same backward and angry lumpen attitudes everywhere. The difference is, in the USA, it is cultivated.
It should be obvious by now that we are on the losing side of a very aggressive class war. The ruling elites have the clear advantage. They are waging war on the rest of us and we, as a collective, are only dimly aware that its happening. CNN, Fox, and CTV are not telling. A large part of that ignorance is a result of their slick packaging and their endless supply of Presidents, Prime Ministers, and sexy stories. They are very good at slick visuals and clever sound bites. Their whole focus is on the packaging, the face. They have their reputation and influence. They have paid reporters that are on the scene. They have very little in terms of substance. For that, you turn to us; to alternative media.
It is hard for us to actually recognize them as our enemy. They have such pretty smiles and they tell such human and touching stories. But don't ever forget; these useful idiots are aiming to impoverish you, to strip away your rights. It's happening. They callously disregard the suffering of 'collaterals'. They tell you that they are ensuring that you are 'secure' by whipping up hate all over the planet. The stunned mouthpieces don't even know they are doing it. Some of the worst war crimes in living memory are enabled by these treacherous talking heads. They are taking part in the ultimate economic betrayal of America and the rest of the post-industrial world. They protect the ruling class and work for the benefit of that class against you and me. They are certainly our enemy. What is vital is that you and I recognize this. We can't fight back as long as we allow ourselves to be lulled by the likes of Jerry Springer and CNN.
For our part, we have MWC News, Counterpunch, Democracy Now, and a large choice of alternative media outlets to seek out pertinent news, honest opinions, and insightful analysis. The internet is a genie let out of a bottle. This fluid and democratic flow of information is the blessing of this uncontrolled machine that sits before you. The corporations do not own or control this. They certainly have an advantage but on this front, our fight has just begun. We need to expand, to develop better tools and a wider audience. We need to fight back. Together we stand on the front lines. Recognize it.