Who Will Tell the Truth About the So-Called ‘Free Press’?­

10.12.2019

s Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky convincingly argue in their book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the major media in the US fulfill a propaganda function by systematically misinforming the public in order to engineer consent for various government policies. Debate about important issues is limited to a narrow range of allowable opinion. Perspectives challenging fundamental assumptions of the mainstream discourse are marginalized. Alternative voices are relentlessly attacked and demonized rather than their legitimate criticisms substantively addressed.

An enlightening example of how propaganda works is the media’s use of the term “fake news”. A New York Times editorial last week titled “Who Will Tell the Truth About the Free Press?” pointed out that oppressive regimes have been using the term to dismiss criticisms over human rights violations. When the Times reported last month that the government of China has been placing Uighurs, Kazaks, and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region in mass detention camps, the regime responded by dubbing it “fake news”.

The Times editors are certainly right to express concern over the use of euphemistic language to justify government oppression. As they note, “Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came up with the slogan ‘Lügenpresse’—translated as ‘lying press’—in order to discredit independent journalism.”

They proceed to blame the present trend of dismissing independent journalism as “fake news” on Donald Trump:

Now the tactic has been laundered through an American president, Donald Trump, who adopted the term ‘fake news’ as a candidate and has used it hundreds of times in office.

That is how, barely a generation after the murder of millions of Jews in Nazi death camps, the term “fake news” has come to be deployed so brazenly by another repressive regime to act against another minority, to cover up the existence of prison camps for hundreds of thousands of Muslims. . . .

When an American president attacks the independent press, despots rush to imitate his example. Dozens of officials around the world—including leaders of other democracies—have used the term since Mr. Trump legitimized it. . . .

The rise of the epithet of “fake news” as a weapon is occurring at an already perilous moment for the supply of information about the world as it truly is. The financial foundations of an independent press are eroding under the influence of the internet, which has simultaneously become a global conduit for malicious falsehoods. It’s harder and harder for anyone to know what stories to believe.

The Times editors go on to suggest that internet companies—such as Facebook and Google—should be pressed “to accept responsibility for the roles they have already assumed as the world’s leading information publishers. The press has to do its part as well, by committing itself to a forthright accounting of any mistakes, an unending struggle against bias in news and an uncompromising pursuit of truth.”

Unfortunately, the New York Times with this very editorial is not pursuing truth but issuing propaganda for the purpose of advocating a dangerous political agenda. While lecturing others on how to behave, the Times editors are being the opposite of forthright and objective. It’s not that the editors are wrong about Trump’s influence on leaders in other countries. They’re just blatantly lying about how the term “fake news” came to be “legitimized” as a weapon to attack independent journalism.

This is because the Times has itself been among the chorus of mainstream voices attacking online independent journalism that threatens both the business model of the major corporate media and the political agendas these corporations have aligned themselves with.

In this case, the Times editors’ political agenda is to manufacture consent for the government pressuring internet companies to censor information from alternative media sources. This obviously helps mainstream sources like the Times maintain their dominance in influencing the mainstream discourse about important issues. It also enables the statist Times to push various other political agendas by confining public discourse to a narrow range of allowable opinion through the a priori dismissal of inconvenient truths as “misinformation”.

The True Origin of the “Fake News” Euphemism

A screenshot of the interactive feature accompanying the New York Times editorial

A screenshot of the interactive feature accompanying the New York Times editorial

At the top of the editorial on the Times website, there’s an interactive feature identifying Trump’s first use of the term “fake news” on Twitter. In that instance, on December 10, 2016, the President-elect responded to a CNN report claiming that he had determined to remain an executive producer of his NBC show “Celebrity Apprentice” even after taking office.

 

Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue - FAKE NEWS!

 
 

 

As you scroll down the article page, the map fills with tweets from other state leaders similarly using the term to criticize the media. But what the Times editors are choosing to conveniently forget is that it wasn’t Trump who originated or popularized such use of the term “fake news”. In truth, the tactic was laundered first through mainstream corporate media themselves, which, barely a generation after the Holocaust, brazenly deployed it as a weapon to attack independent journalism.

When Donald Trump started using the term, he was just imitating the mainstream media’s example. He was mocking the media for leveling the accusation of “fake news” at others while themselves purveying misinformation.

On November 19, 2016, three weeks before Trump first used the term on Twitter (by the Times’ own account), the Times editors themselves had utilized the term “fake news” to accuse “internet companies like Facebook and Google” of facilitating the spread of misinformation, including “hoaxes” that were “bouncing around among like-minded conspiracy theorists”.

Companies like Facebook and Google use complex algorithms that are constantly being adapted toward the goal of better enabling users to find the types of informational content that they want. In other words, they are responding to a market demand by continually trying to improve their services.

This threatens the business model of the mainstream media because if people can gain the knowledge they’re seeking for free just by checking their Facebook feed or doing a quick Google search and reading content that’s not behind a paywall, then they have no need to subscribe to major newspapers like the New York Times.

As the Pew Research Center notes, “Newspapers are a critical part of the American news landscape, but they have been hit hard as more and more Americans consume news digitally.” Print circulation has long been on the decline, and the industry has struggled over the years to find ways to sustain or increase profitability. That is why the Times in 2011 “experimented” with its business model by switching from a read-for-free to a subscription model for its website. The Times’ success with this model paved the way for other major media companies to adopt it, too.

As a corporation prone to institutionalized biases, the Times also adopts various political agendas—including the agenda to silence the large number of small competitors whose collective voice frequently challenge mainstream propaganda narratives on important issues. Alternative online publications and truly independent journalists regularly force alternative perspectives into the mainstream discourse despite the corporate media’s best efforts to either marginalize them or pretend they don’t exist.

This is not to say that there isn’t a lot of misinformation floating around the internet that originated from alternative media sources. There is. Without having investigated them, I presume that the November 2016 Times editorial presented one or more legitimate examples of misinformation also being spread on social media like Facebook and Twitter. But then, without having investigated the matter, Trump, too, may have been tweeting a legitimate example of CNN likewise spreading misinformation.

This is the point. The Times wants to remain among an elite few who dictate to the rest of us what constitutes “misinformation”. The problem is that terms like “fake news” and “misinformation” are being used euphemistically to mean any information, no matter how factual, that challenges whatever political agendas are being pushed during any given news cycle.

The Times, in other words, wishes for the corporate media to preserve their oligopoly in determining what information the public should and should not be made aware of. The Times editors wish to preserve their leadership in determining for us what we should think about any given issue and to determine for us which issues we should regard as important.

“Fake News” and the Russiagate Saga

I am personally a subscriber to the New York Times. On one hand, it pains me to think that I’m supporting their brand and business model. But I have an altruistic reason for it, which is so I can keep up with the mainstream propaganda narratives in order to be able to produce objective journalism that systematically dissects the lies and deceptions in order to empower my readers with the knowledge they need to better understand the world around them and in turn to make choices to better their own lives and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

This brings us back to the Times editorial of November 19, 2016, in which the term “fake news” was used ten times, including in the headline, “Facebook and the Digital Virus Called Fake News”. That wasn’t the only time the newspaper used the term prior to Trump’s first use of it on Twitter. An exact-match search on the Times website for the term “fake news” during the month of November 2016 turns up 83 results.

A predominant theme running through these articles is the presumed need for internet companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to prevent the public from being made aware of information the thought-controllers euphemistically dub “misinformation”.

For example, a Times article from November 14, 2016, titled “Google and Facebook Take Aim at Fake News Sites” discussed how these companies had updated their advertising policies under pressure from “the growing outcry over their power in distributing information to the American electorate”. The Times characterized the measures as a positive step forward on the presumption that the policies would help combat “fake news”, such as information that “may have influenced the presidential election’s outcome.”

The Times was of course referring to the allegation that the government of Russia waged a highly successful propaganda campaign against the American people to deceive them through misinformation into voting for Trump. An associated allegation leveled by Democratic politicians and the major media is that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government toward that end. This episode has widely become known as “Russiagate”.

In addition to pressuring internet companies to engage in censorship, the Times was serving to advance the shared political agenda of the Democratic Party establishment and the military/intelligence establishment, the latter of which some political analysts refer to as the “Deep State” for its shadowy actions and influence on government policies. (This is another term the media have mocked Trump for adopting, but about which there is considerable literature by serious scholars such as Peter Dale Scott, who cited some of my own journalism on the drug trade in Afghanistan in his book American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan.)

The underlying context for Russiagate is that WikiLeaks, the independent media organization founded by Julian Assange, had published documents showing how officials within the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had tried to marginalize the campaign of Bernie Sanders to ensure that Hillary Clinton would become the Democratic Party nominee for the presidency. This, along with insights into the character of Hillary Clinton—such having told a group of bankers that she was their representative on matters affecting their interests—naturally embarrassed the Democratic establishment and harmed the public image she was trying to engender to win the election.

Trump had also talked during his campaign about drawing down military interventionism abroad and establishing friendlier relations with Russia, including cooperating more closely in Syria, where US policy had been aligned in an adversarial position.

Russia had intervened in Syria to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad in its war against the extremist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as other opposition groups. The US, on the other hand, had intervened first in Iraq to overthrow its government and then in Syria to support the opposition groups against the Assad regime, including by funneling arms that mostly wound up in the hands of extremists (according to the New York Times), thus helping to fuel the rise of ISIS in the first place.

Because of the WikiLeaks document dump, the Democratic establishment aligned itself with the military/intelligence establishment to deflect attention away from the revelations about Clinton and the DNC and how it was working to undermine democracy. This red herring device was executed by concocting an opposing narrative to take over the headlines: how the Trump campaign had collaborated with the regime of Vladimir Putin in Russia to effectively steal the election from Clinton.

Statist media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post also naturally aligned themselves with the political agendas of the Democratic Party and the Deep State.

To that end, on November 24, 2016, the Washington Post published a story titled “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say”. The thrust of the article was that alternative news sites had served to advance the political agenda shared by Trump and Putin of spreading “fake news” to influence the election. As evidence, the Post cited a list it had obtained of websites compiled by a shadowy group called PropOrNot.

PropOrNot published its list of “Sites the Reliably Echo Russian Propaganda” on November 30, 2016. My own publication Foreign Policy Journal was included among those accused of “spreading Russian disinformation”. The presumable reason for this is that I was publishing articles observing how there was a major propaganda campaign underway to manufacture consent for maintaining existing US policy by making it politically infeasible for Trump to act contrary to the conflicting agenda of the Washington establishment. Such articles were neither pro-Trump nor pro-Russia but simply anti-war and anti-propaganda.

 

Foreign Policy Journal listed along with numerous other sites spuriously accused of spreading “Russian propaganda” by the shadowy group PropOrNot.

Foreign Policy Journal listed along with numerous other sites spuriously accused of spreading “Russian propaganda” by the shadowy group PropOrNot.

For example, on November 4, 2016, I republished an article by David Swanson titled “The Purpose of Demonizing Putin”, which was excerpted from his book War Is A Lie and discusses how the perpetuation of the US war machine requires propaganda to convince the public of the existence of some external enemy, thereby manufacturing consent for US foreign policy and the increasing amount of taxpayer dollars diverted from productive uses toward the destructive purposes of the military/intelligence complex.

In addition to Mr. Swanson’s insightful writings, I was publishing articles by Paul Craig Roberts, a former Wall Street Journal editor and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under the Ronald Reagan administration. Mr. Robert’s writings were continually critical of how the media was refusing to address real issues and instead manufacturing controversies serving the political agenda of the Washington establishment. Consequently, his own website, PaulCraigRoberts.org, was also included on PropOrNot’s list.

As another illustrative example, on November 28, 2016, I republished Mr. Roberts’ article “The Western War On Truth”, in which he pointed out how the media had a long history of propagating lies intended to manufacture consent for war and violence and criticized how US government officials commit war crimes with impunity.

The same day, I published another article by Mr. Swanson in which he mocked the Washington Post’s disgraceful reporting under the headline “How I Produce Fake News for Russia”. As he noted, his non-partisan writings—which are critical of US foreign policy across administrations and predominantly center around the goal of ending war—had been published in at least eighteen of the “Russian propaganda” outlets named by PropOrNot. (Mr. Swanson is a widely respected antiwar activist and is on the Board of Directors of the organization World BEYOND War.)

I also published another of Mr. Roberts’ articles that day in which he similarly mocked the Post for its hypocrisy under the title “Dear President Putin, Now That the WaPo Has Blown My Cover…

I have since continued to publish articles at Foreign Policy Journal exposing how the major corporate media propagate misinformation, such as my own articles “New York Times Propagates Russia Hacking Conspiracy Theory” (September 6, 2017) and “New York Times Persists in Russia Election Hacking Conspiracy Theory” (August 9, 2019), both of which document how America’s “newspaper of record” has alleged that the Russian government hacked into state electoral systems not only without producing any credible evidence but despite the preponderance of evidence indicating that it’s just another lie originating from within the US government.

The Washington Post’s reliance on the PropOrNot list to support its characterization of sites like my own Foreign Policy Journal as spreading “Russian propaganda” drew well-deserved criticism. Consequently, the Post appended the article with an editorial note acknowledging that a number of the named websites “have objected to being included on PropOrNot’s list, and some of the sites, as well as others not on the list, have publicly challenged the group’s methodology and conclusions.”

One prominent criticism appeared on December 1, 2016, in The New Yorker. That article, appropriately titled “The Propaganda about Russian Propaganda”, was written by Adrian Chen, who observed how the Post’s story had topped its “most-read” list “and was shared widely by prominent journalists and politicians on Twitter.” Investigating PropOrNot’s criteria for determining whether a website disseminates Russian propaganda, Chen contacted the group to inquire why, for instance, the Drudge Report was on the list. The response Chen received was that the Drudge Report refers readers “to sort of Russian stuff”. When Chen asked for the raw data used by the group to render their judgments, he was told that it couldn’t be released because doing so would require too much work for “an all-volunteer crew.” Chen was advised instead to just visit the Drudge Report website to see for himself.

“PropOrNot’s findings”, Chen observed, “rest largely on innuendo and conspiracy thinking. Another major issue with PropOrNot is that its members insists on anonymity. If one aims to cut through a disinformation campaign, transparency is paramount.”

In conclusion, Chen incisively opined that, while reports of Russian intelligence interfering in the US election might be alarming, “the prospect of legitimate dissenting voices being labelled fake news or Russian propaganda by mysterious groups of ex-government employees, with the help of a national newspaper, is even scarier.”

Indeed.

The Persecution of Julian Assange

Julian Assange at a press conference on August 18, 2014 (Cancillería del Ecuador/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Julian Assange at a press conference on August 18, 2014 (Cancillería del Ecuador/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept similarly observed how major media outlets were themselves spreading misinformation to discredit WikiLeaks for its document dump. “A Clinton Fan Manufactured Fake News That MSNBC Personalities Spread to Discredit WikiLeaks Docs”, read the headline of one of his informative articles, published on December 9, 2016. (Which was one day before Trump shot the “fake news” epithet back at the media for the first time on Twitter, once again illustrating the Times editors’ willful amnesia of how the media were the ones responsible for doing exactly what they now accuse Trump of doing. George Orwell’s “memory hole” from his dystopian novel 1984 is an apt allegory.)

“The most important fact to realize about this new term”, Greenwald rightly observed, was that those “who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.” To demonstrate his point, he cited the Post’s “Russian propaganda” article, which was itself “centrally based on Fake News.” Greenwald also noted how the Post editors had since appended a note in which they “absurdly claimed that they did not mean to ‘vouch for the validity’ of the blacklist even though the article’s key claims were based on doing exactly that”.

Greenwald provided another related example:

Back in October, when WikiLeaks was releasing emails from the John Podesta archive, Clinton campaign officials and their media spokespeople adopted a strategy of outright lying to the public, claiming—with no basis whatsoever—that the emails were doctored or fabricated and thus should be ignored. That lie—and that is what it was: a claim made with knowledge of its falsity or reckless disregard for its truth—was most aggressively amplified by MSNBC personalities such as Joy Ann Reid and Malcolm NanceThe Atlantic’s David Frum, and Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald.

That the emails in the Wikileaks archive were doctored or faked—and thus should be disregarded—was classic Fake News, spread not by Macedonian teenagers or Kremlin operatives but by established news outlets such as MSNBC, The Atlantic, and Newsweek.

As Greenwald rightly concluded,

If you have prominent journalists telling the public to trust an anonymous group with a false McCarthyite blacklist, or telling it to ignore informative documents on the grounds that they are fake when there is zero reason to believe that they are fake, that is a direct threat to democracy. In the case of the Podesta emails, these lies were perpetrated by the very factions that have taken to most loudly victimizing themselves over the spread of Fake News.

But the problem here goes way beyond mere hypocrisy. Complaints about Fake News are typically accompanied by calls for “solutions” that involve censorship and suppression, either by the government or tech giants such as Facebook. But until there is a clear definition of “Fake News,” and until it’s recognized that Fake News is being aggressively spread by the very people most loudly complaining about it, the dangers posed by these solutions will be at least as great as the problem itself.

Greenwald documented yet another example in an Intercept article titled “The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False”, published on December 29, 2016. As Greenwald pointed out, the Guardian “recklessly attributed to Assange comments that he did not make” and otherwise leveled accusations at Assange that were “demonstrably false”.

As Greenwald again astutely remarked, it was “those who most flamboyantly denounce Fake News, and want Facebook and other tech giants to suppress content in the name of combating it, are often the most aggressive and self-serving perpetrators of it.”

(As I’m writing this, incidentally, The Guardian website is asking me to “Offset fake news this Giving Tuesday” by making a donation. This reminds me of how I’ve been prompted many times this past year by the New York Times to support their “independent journalism”. To borrow a classic line from the character of Inigo Montoya in the film The Princess Bride, while the Times keeps using that term to describe what it does, I do not think it means what the Times thinks it means.)

The US government, of course, has been going after Assange for many years now for leaking documents and videos exposing Washington’s lawlessness, including war crimes, such as a video published under the title “Collateral Murder” that showed a US air crew indiscriminately massacring Iraqi civiliansincluding two Reuters news staff.

Rather than standing in defense of Assange for WikiLeaks’ courageous journalism, the mainstream media have joined the government in demonizing him and his organization and thereby serving the agenda of silencing or marginalizing truly independent media—a truly dangerous trend indeed.

Paul Craig Roberts concisely summarized the relevance in his article “When the Journalists Ganged Up on Assange They Ganged Up on Themselves”, which I republished at Foreign Policy Journal on June 7, 2019. As Mr. Roberts remarked,

Journalists did not appreciate the implications for themselves of the contrived and false indictment of Julian Assange by a corrupt US government.  It was obvious to a few of us that the indictment by the US government, a government constrained by the First Amendment, of a foreign national for publishing leaked material, an action never before regarded as espionage or a crime, was the beginning of the end of any Western government ever again being held accountable by a free press.

The implications of the persecution of Julian Assange for doing the corporate media’s job for them, with respect for the principles of free speech and freedom of the press, are staggeringly frightful. It is something we must not tolerate if we wish for humankind to ever become civilized.

The Mainstream Media’s Habit of Spreading Fake News and the Present Danger of Censorship

The mainstream corporate media have a long and continuous history of propagating fake news to manufacture consent for government policies and the agendas of the politically and financially elite.

We can remember, for example, how the New York Times and other major media propagated false pretexts for the illegal war of aggression launched by the US against Iraq in March of 2003. Then, after even the CIA had to acknowledge that Iraq had destroyed its remaining stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 1991 and 1992 (which weapons the US had no problem with Hussein acquiring while it was supporting him throughout the 1980s), the Times and other major media self-servingly propagated the myth of an “intelligence failure”—the truth being that there was a deliberate campaign of deception designed to manufacture consent for the regime change agenda of influential neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

We can also remember how the major media during both the Bush and Barack Obama administrations banged the drums for war against Iran on the basis of claims either for which there was no evidence or that were demonstrably false.

One of the main focuses of my own journalism over the years has been documenting how the New York Times and other mainstream media serve to manufacture consent for the US government’s policy of supporting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians by systematically misinforming the American public about the nature of the conflict. I demonstrate this incontrovertibly in my meticulously documented book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

In more recent years, since having become a father, I have increasingly shifted my focus toward another critically important issue: public vaccine policy. On this issue, too, the major media have chosen to advocate existing government policies rather than doing journalism. And on this issue, too, the major media have been at the forefront in calling for pressure to be brought on internet companies to censor information that doesn’t conform to the agenda.

Disturbingly, the vaccine issue is being used to advance a particularly dangerous global statist agenda, which is to manufacture consent for the systematic violation by the state of individuals’ right to informed consent. Under this paradigm, children are effectively treated as property of the state, with governments claiming authority to dictate to the public what risk-carrying pharmaceutical products they must use or face punishment for non-compliance.

We are being told that government bureaucrats and technocrats know better than the parents what’s in the child’s best interests, despite officials in Washington or state capitals having none of the specialized knowledge about the child possessed by the parents working in consultation with their child’s doctor—knowledge that is absolutely required to be able to conduct a meaningful risk-benefit analysis for each individual.

The media’s habit of dismissing truthful information as “fake news” pertinently extends to the vaccine issue. The propaganda about Russian propaganda has now been merged with the propaganda about vaccine propaganda. A CNN headline on August 24, 2018, purported to explain “Why Russian trolls stoked US vaccine debates”. That article reported about a study concluding that Russian trolls and Twitter bots were “eroding public consensus on vaccination” through “antivaccine messages” intended to promote discord and “to legitimize the vaccine debate.”

What’s most remarkable about that conclusion is the authors’ ludicrous underlying assumption that there is nothing to debate when it comes to the practice of vaccinations—as though vaccines aren’t the subject of endless debate and controversy within the peer-reviewed medical literature. (Also remarkable is the implication that there would be any less controversy about the issue if it wasn’t for Russian trolls and bots on Twitter.)

As I have extensively documented in my writings on the subject, the greatest purveyors of misinformation about vaccines are the government and mainstream media, who systematically lie to the public about what science tells us about the risks and benefits of these pharmaceutical products.

As a pertinent illustration, in February 2019, US Congressman Adam Schiff sent letters to the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Amazon encouraging them to take steps to prevent their users from seeing what he described as vaccine “misinformation”. But Schiff’s letter itself was comprised of misinformation about vaccines, including the blatant lie that there is “no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause life-threatening or disabling diseases”. (Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post, which perpetually and deliberately lies to its readers about vaccines.)

Schiff’s false statement is all the more astonishing in light of the fact that the US government administers what’s called the “Vaccine Injury Compensation Program” (VICP), under which the government acknowledges a list of “injuries, disabilities, illnesses, conditions, and deaths” that are known to be caused by vaccines recommended for routine use in children by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This program was created under a 1986 law that granted broad legal immunity to the manufacturers against vaccine injury lawsuits. The purpose and effect of the program is to shift the financial burden for vaccine injuries way from the pharmaceutical industry and onto the taxpaying consumers.

Schiff was also using the term “misinformation” euphemistically to mean any information, no matter how well grounded in science, that might lead parents to conclude that strictly complying with the CDC’s ever-expanding routine childhood vaccine schedule might not be in the best interests of their child. His stated criterion for determining whether content is “misinformation” that parents should be prevented from seeing was whether it “casts doubt on the safety or efficacy of vaccines” and thus “could cause them to disregard the advice of their children’s physicians and public health experts and decline to follow the recommended vaccination schedule.”

Under pressure from both the Congress and the corporate media to do more to combat “fake news”, and perhaps also in part due to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s investments into vaccine development, Facebook subsequently updated its policies to adopt that very criterion.

To illustrate, one Facebook “Fact-Checker” article purports to combat the “misinformation” that vaccines can cause encephalopathy, which refers to any disease of the brain, including encephalitis, or brain inflammation. But by claiming vaccines can’t cause encephalopathy, it is Facebook itself that is misinforming users about vaccines—and blatantly so.

In fact, encephalopathy is listed by the US government among the adverse events that are known to be caused by vaccines. The pharmaceutical giant Merck, which manufactures the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) combination vaccine used in the US, lists encephalopathy on its package insert among the adverse events that have been reported to occur after MMR vaccination. These warnings are included on inserts because federal regulation requires the manufacturers to list “only those adverse events for which there is some basis to believe there is a causal relationship between the drug and the occurrence of the adverse event.” The company’s bestselling medical textbook The Merck Manual states explicitly that “Encephalitis can occur as a secondary immunologic complication of certain viral infections or vaccinations.” (Emphasis added.)

One famous VICP case was that of Hannah Poling, who developmentally regressed into diagnosed autism after receiving nine vaccine doses at once at nineteen months of age. The government conceded that the vaccinations she received “significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder, which predisposed her to deficits in cellular energy metabolism, and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder.”

In addition to calling for internet companies like Facebook to censor information in service to the government and pharmaceutical industry (which is a significant source of advertising revenue for them), the media corporations also serve to confine the mainstream discourse about vaccines to an extremely narrow range of allowable opinion. One of the ways they do this is through a tactic described by Herman and Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent as “flak”, but which is more commonly known simply as “attacking the messenger”.

To provide a very recent illustration of how the mainstream media spread fake news to manufacture consent for public vaccine policy, the Washington Post and other major media outlets last month reported about a newly published study in the prestigious medical journal Vaccine that accused Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s organization Children’s Health Defense (formerly World Mercury Project) of spreading “misinformation” about vaccines through Facebook ads.

The Post and other major media falsely claimed that the study showed that Mr. Kennedy’s organization—for which I happen to be a contributing writer—was responsible for spreading “misinformation” on Facebook. In fact, the authors of the study failed to provide any evidence to support that accusation. They did not identify even a single example of a Facebook ad from Children’s Health Defense that contained—or linked to content containing—even a single piece of misinformation.

Once again, this case illustrates how terms like “fake news” and “misinformation” are being used euphemistically to advance various political agendas. Indeed, the study authors scarcely concealed their underlying motive for leveling the libelous accusation against Mr. Kennedy and his organization. They openly advocated for censorship by Facebook of any information that doesn’t serve to manufacture consent for public vaccine policy.

In furtherance of that agenda, and in lieu of presenting any evidence to support their case, the study authors borrowed from Adam Schiff’s playbook by simply defining any information that might lead parents not to strictly comply with the CDC’s routine childhood vaccine schedule as “anti-vaccine”. Then, they simply treated the term “anti-vaccine” as synonymous with the term “misinformation”.

Hence, if an ad simply observed the fact that there are risks associated with vaccines or asserted the logical truism that the parental right to informed consent extends to the practice of vaccination, it would ridiculously be dubbed “misinformation”. (Yes, there are professional propagandists who masquerade as “scientists” just as there are those who masquerade as “journalists”.)

The media dutifully performed its usual function by maliciously broadcasting the study’s accusation against Mr. Kennedy’s organization as though a proven fact rather than a defamatory claim in support of which neither the study’s authors nor the media provided even the slightest shred of evidence.

What You Can Do to Help Combat Fake News

Facts don’t matter to the mainstream corporate media any more than they matter to US government officials. True, facts are reported whenever the information suits—or at least isn’t contrary to—the adopted political agenda. But when the facts aren’t compatible with the agenda, they are entirely ignored.

In instances when independent alternative sources bring the facts to the public’s attention such that the truth can no longer be ignored, the mainstream media, in dutiful service to the state, dismiss the information as “fake news”, “misinformation”, “conspiracy theory”, “Russian propaganda”, or whatever other euphemism intended to delude the masses in to believing that truth is fiction and fiction truth.

It’s true that it can be challenging to determine what’s true and what’s not. There’s no end to the conflicting information that can be found online, in print, and on television news programs. That’s why I strive with my journalism not just to provide information but to train news consumers in how to analyze information and evaluate sources so as not to be fooled by political propaganda.

Instead of telling people what to think and indoctrinating them, the media ought to be teaching news consumers how to think for themselves and freeing their minds from the chains of mass delusion. Unfortunately, the corporate news media have not just failed us but are themselves an enormous part of the problem. All too frequently, they choose to do policy advocacy rather than journalism.

This is an institutionalized systemic problem. The solution is a revolution in journalism that you can help bring about.

The need for the citizens of the world to have accurate and complete information about important issues is imperative. If we are going to make the world a better place for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity, we must combat the dangerous propaganda issued incessantly by the government and mainstream media with their vast resources.

That is why so important that you, dear reader, help support journalism that is truly independent.

There has never been a greater opportunity than the one that exists today to truly revolutionize journalism. You and I may not have millions of dollars to spend on broadcasting our voice to the masses, but independent voices can and do make a hugely positive impact. With the tools that are available to us today, we can challenge the media corporations and have already shaken them right down to their very business model. News consumers can be empowered with the paradigm-shifting knowledge that ushers in real positive change once a critical mass of awareness is reached.

But news consumers have a responsibility in that regard, too. There are numerous ways that you as a news consumer can take on a positive active role in this information war.

Citizen journalism is critical, and perhaps you might find a role for yourself there. But one thing I’ve come to learn as editor of Foreign Policy Journal is that many indie writers have important things to say, but they don’t communicate their ideas well and aren’t savvy in skills required today to get their messages out to others. (For example, most journalists are not skilled in the practice of search engine optimization, or SEO. For an example of how this skill can be effectively utilized, Google the popular search term “US shootdown of Iranian airliner” and see how well my Foreign Policy Journal article on that topic from 2017 ranks against major players like Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica.)

The alternative online media are doing a lot of great work, but we could be doing a lot better. That’s why I’ve developed a coaching program to help indie journalists quickly gain skills that I’ve acquired over the years and can teach. (Though my limited time and resources are currently an obstacle, I also intend to develop an online series of courses to help give indie journalists the skills they need to take on the corporate media establishment.) The goal of my program is to help truth seekers who have important messages for the world to communicate their ideas effectively and make their voices heard. If you are or would like to be active in the area of research, analysis, and writing, click here to learn more about my coaching program.

If you’re not interested in doing independent journalism but would like to support it, one of the most important ways you can do so is by simply sharing the knowledge with your friends, family, and social media followers. Alternative online news sites absolutely depend on readers like you to help broadcast important messages to a wider audience. (And it is possible to get the message out despite the censoring algorithms.)

Another crucial way to help create positive change, for those of you who have the means, is to financially support independent media. If there are journalists or publications whose work in which you find particularly great value, help empower them with the resources required to empower you with the knowledge you need. Together, we can and will change the world by revolutionizing journalism. We must.

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