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The Assault on the Alternative Media

The current assault on the alternative media caused me to reflect on the timing of this assault. It’s best exemplified by The Washington Post’s release of a story naming over 200 websites as “fake news.” This once proud & respected “paper of record,” offered no substantiating evidence & nothing but unnamed “sources.” Some of you old farts like me may recall one of the Post’s more honorable days;

On June 18, 1972, a Washington Post front page story reported on the previous day’s break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s office in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. Five men were arrested while attempting to photograph documents and place bugging devices in the offices. Two of the reporters who worked on the story, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, spent the following days and months virtually alone among the nation’s media in their efforts to uncover the full extent of what the White House dismissed as a “third-rate burglary,” and others jokingly referred to as “the Watergate caper.”  http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/web/woodstein/post/ 

Now fast-forward to modern times and the fact that Rupert   Murdoch, the original sleaze-meister who started off in Australia with his tabloid that featured scantily-clad, young beauties and then moved on to Great Britain. And after gaining even more wealth & power, he became the proud father of FOX “News,” and then more recently, the owner of The Washington Post. By the way, the fact that FOX “News” has gotten away with being seriously considered a news organization is scandalous in itself and it’s now been over 20 years that this American version of Russia’s infamous Pravda, propaganda organ has existed. Today, the owner of The Washington Post is none other than Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon who played his role dutifully when the U.S. government went after Wikileaks;  

“So with this context, I’ve been watching the Wikileaks attack with great interest. It has been suffering a pretty big network attack (Wikileaks claims about 10Gbps, which is big enough to take down all but a couple dozen or less ISPs in the world; arbor claims about 2-4 Gbps, which is still big enough to cause the vast majority of ISPs in the world major disruption). The attack successfully took its site offline at its main hosting ISP. Wikileak’s textbook response was to move to Amazon’s web services, one of those core Internet services capable of defending against big network attacks.

The move seemed to work for a couple of days, but then Amazon exercised its control, shutting the site down. Joe Lieberman claimed responsibility for Amazon’s decision to take the site down. But Amazon responded with a message claiming that it made the decision to take the site down based purely on its own decision based on its terms of service. The core of their argument is that Wikileaks was hosting content that it did not own and that it was putting human rights workers at risk:”  http://blogs.harvard.edu/hroberts/2010/12/03/amazons-wikileaks-takedown/

I have also come across reports of horrible & somewhat tyrannical working conditions at various Amazon warehouses by their employees. The Washington Post is definitely not alone in its selling out to the powers that be, no, the other paper of record & supposed “bastion of liberal thought in America,” The New York Times is equally, if not more culpable in beating the war drums before America’s invasion & occupation of Iraq that brought so much horror to the Middle East & the death of thousands of American soldiers & perhaps as much as a million dead Iraqis. See Judith Miller & The New York Times’ role in the U.S. invasion of Iraq;  

“Here’s what the Times left out of its Chalabi story today and here’s what the newspaper continues to grapple with eleven years after President Bush ordered the costly invasion of Iraq: Chalabi was reportedly the main source of bogus information that former Times reporter Judith Miller used in her thoroughly discredited work about Iraq’s supposedly brimming stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. It was Chalabi who wove Saddam Hussein fiction and it was Miller, then a widely respected Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who gave it the Timesstamp approval as the paper did its part to lead the nation to war. (Miller is now a Fox News contributor.)”  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/07/01/how-the-iraq-war-still-haunts-new-york-times/199946

To return to the illustrious Washington Post’s fall from grace & journalistic integrity, here’s a bit more substantial evidence on its role as stenographer to the corporate cockroaches;

In “Buying the War” on PBS, Bill Moyers noted 27 editorials supporting George W. Bush’s ambitions to invade Iraq. National security correspondent Walter Pincus reported that he had been ordered to cease his reports that were critical of Republican administrations.[75] According to author and journalist Greg Mitchell, “By the Post’s own admission, in the months before the war, it ran more than 140 stories on its front page promoting the war, while contrary information “got lost,” as one Post staffer told Kurtz.”[76]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Washington_Post#Controversy

Okay, I feel that I’ve substantiated the extent to which The Washington Post and The New York Times has abandoned & betrayed their duty as members of the Fourth Estate, to serve the public but since we are living in what Gore Vidal so aptly termed, “The United States of Amnesia,” perhaps I should remind you of that original duty of the media?

“The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, says that “Congress shall make no law….abridging (limiting) the freedom of speech, or of the press…” Freedom of speech is the liberty to speak openly without fear of government restraint. It is closely linked to freedom of the press because this freedom includes both the right to speak and the right to be heard. In the United States, both the freedom of speech and freedom of press are commonly called freedom of expression.”  http://www.lincoln.edu/criminaljustice/hr/Speech.htm

Yet here we are, a couple of days away from the swearing in of Donald Trump who feels that none of our laws, our traditions, or civility apply to him? A megalomaniac (mental disorder producing delusions of grandeur) who has praised Mussolini, Hitler, & Putin? If you’re not alarmed by this terrifying state of affairs, you might want to check your pulse to make sure that you’re still alive? Trump has lain down the gauntlet & proclaimed that he’ll only acknowledge those reporters & news organizations that show fealty to him.

Is this mere coincidence or could it perhaps be an agenda of effectively silencing all critics of the status quo? Who knows? But it sure as Hell is a mighty interesting “coincidence” at least. Why were they—the media establishment—never concerned about the decades long practices of misinformation, disinformation, & outright lies committed by the mainstream media aka the corporate media? Here’s a brief, refresher course of sorts, for you who aren’t students of history.

The Pentagon has retreated somewhat from its recent campaign to rewrite the Vietnam War history to push the discredited theory that the military strategy was sound, just undercut by disloyal war reporters and a misled public, a modest victory for truth, as war correspondent Don North describes.

By Don North

Wars are fought twice, once on the battlefield and later in the remembering. In that way, the Vietnam War though it ended on the battlefield four decades ago continues as a battle of memory, history and truth. And the stakes are still high. Honest narratives about important past events can shape our destinies, helping to determine whether there will be more wars or maybe peace.”  https://consortiumnews.com/2015/05/05/the-war-over-the-vietnam-war/

John Paul Vann for whom the book “A Bright Shining Lie” was written.

For the record, the Vietnam War is a subject that hits home in a deep & personal way with me. I graduated high school in 1971 and the “lottery” was in effect then i.e. you were given a number according to your birth date. My number was so low that I knew they’d draft me within a couple of months so I joined the army because it had the least amount of time you had to serve—two years. I wasn’t politically aware back then but thankfully, I listened to my gut instinct and when they told me, while I was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas that half of us were going to Vietnam & half of us were going to Germany, I decided it was time to start going AWOL so they couldn’t send me to Vietnam. Here is a bit of history from one of the most decorated war heroes of this tragically unnecessary wars of American corporate business interests;  

John Paul Vann, the book “A Bright Shining Lie,” was his story of waking up to the lies re: Vietnam War

John Paul Vann became an adviser to the Saigon regime in the early 1960s. He was an ardent critic of how the war was fought, both on the part of the Saigon regime, which he viewed as corrupt and incompetent, and, as time went by, increasingly, on the part of the U.S. military. In particular, he was critical of the U.S. military command, especially under William Westmoreland, and their inability to adapt to the fact that they were facing a popular guerrilla movement while backing a corrupt regime. He argued that many of the tactics employed (for example thestrategic hamlet relocation) further alienated the population and thus were counterproductive to U.S. objectives. Often he was unable to influence the military command but used the Saigon press corps including Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam andMalcolm Browne to disseminate his views.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bright_Shining_Lie

Perhaps it was just a matter of my coming of age or more precisely, coming of military draft age during this dark time of U.S. history but my first-hand experience of the lies, waste, & destruction wreaked by our military is probably what set me on my course of dissent against the powers that be? And gradually as the years passed by & I watched movies like “The Killing Fields,” which was basically the story of Sydney Schanberg & the amazing feat of courage that he & his colleague, Dith Pran, who saved his life several times, portrayed, I gradually began to feel less guilty for not having participated in the Vietnam War.   

The movies like “The Killing Fields,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Coming Home,” “Platoon,” etc. slowly came to reveal a more honest account of what we, the U.S., had done. And as I slowly began to feel somewhat vindicated in my seemingly “cowardly” act of going AWOL, my confidence in my initial gut instincts gave way to my slowly speaking out against what I now call the corporate cockroaches. These movies, some more clearly than others, revealed that our press was more often than not, compliant in their reporting of the facts as the Pentagon desired them to show. One particularly courageous & defiant reporter during the Vietnam war was Seymour Hersh & his reporting of the My Lai Massacre shocked the world.    

Fast forward if you will to the Persian Gulf War and our boasting of how great a “success’ it was because we’d defeated Iraq in something like 20 days. Well, as I recall, this was about the time when an entirely new concept came along i.e. “embedded journalists.” You see my friends, the taming of the U.S. media has been a long, slow, somewhat subtle assault. Many, if not most, of the warmongers proclaimed that the primary reasons we “lost” the Vietnam War—remember, Congress never officially declared war because they were as usual, cowards— was because of the media coverage i.e. the body bags displayed on the nightly news, and the student protests or the anti-war movement. So today, we live in a completely “sanitized war” i.e. the American public is not exposed to the charred, burning bodies of dead children, etc. And we’re constantly reassured of how efficient our “smart bombs” are, etc. In other words, “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” In my opinion, to hide the coffins of our returning dead soldiers who are usually brought in to Dover Airfield is not only extremely disrespect to those who sacrificed the most one can for their country in the belief that they were fighting for that same country but is to also lie, hide, deceive the American public.

“Pentagon Ban on Pictures of Dead Troops Is Broken
By Bill Carter
The New York Times

    April 23, 2004

    The Pentagon’s ban on making images of dead soldiers’ homecomings at military bases public was briefly relaxed yesterday, as hundreds of photographs of flag-draped coffins at Dover Air Force Base were released on the Internet by a Web site dedicated to combating government secrecy.

    The Web site, the Memory Hole, had filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year, seeking any pictures of coffins arriving from Iraq at the Dover base in Delaware, the destination for most of the bodies. The Pentagon yesterday labeled the Air Force Air Mobility Command’s decision to grant the request a mistake, but news organizations quickly used a selection of the 361 images taken by Defense Department photographers.”  http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/47801:pentagon-ban-on-pictures-of-dead-troops-is-broken

By the way, truth-out.org is one of those websites declared “fake news” by the Washington Post.

In conclusion, I feel that it’s now time to hopefully “connect the dots?” Again, some of you who may remember the old term of derision “Muckrakers,” may also recall the assault on them, not unlike the assault on the “alternative media” of today which by the way, wasn’t a term that even existed back then.

“The term muckraker was used in the Progressive Era to characterize reform-minded American journalists who attacked established institutions and leaders as corrupt. They typically had large audiences in some popular magazines. In the USA, the modern term is investigative journalism — it has different and more pejorative connotations in British English — and investigative journalists in the USA today are often informally called ‘muckrakers’. Muckraking magazines—notably McClure’s of publisher S. S. McClure—took on corporate monopolies and political machines while trying to raise public awareness and anger at urban poverty, unsafe working conditions, prostitution, and child labor.[1]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muckraker

In my not so humble opinion, three of the preeminent “muckrakers” of the 20th century were George Seldes, I.F. Stone, & Edward R. Murrow. These men took on the power of the U.S. government & the vested corporate interests because they truly believed that the public had a right to be informed so it could reflect, debate, & vote on the issues that affected their lives.    

Today, the Internet gives us the ability to pursue the facts and the truth of what is being done. And today, the corporate cockroaches are doing everything within their power to curtail our ability to do so. Therefore it falls to us as individuals and collectively as Americans, the supposed “most powerful nation on earth,” to do our duty and stop the oppression of not only Americans but also of all our brothers & sisters around the globe.

—Rob DeLoss, Florence, Oregon, Jan. 18, 2017

Addendum

Sorry, as so often happens, I get side-tracked. My key point is that this “concern” about “fake news,” may just be a smoke-screen to distract us from the fact that the “mainstream media” is dying and they want to destroy the “alternative media” in their desperate attempt to hold onto a semblance of “credibility?”  Sorry, this is the next day and I thought of some more things that I want to include. George Seldes in my opinion could be considered the grandfather of investigative journalism and talk about a guy who saw it all, he reported on WWI, and interviewed everyone from Lenin to Mussolini. Relevant to this essay is; “

  • Seldes, George (1942). The Facts Are: A Guide to Falsehood and Propaganda in the Press and Radio. New York: In Fact, Inc. Retrieved August 31, 2011.” I.F. Stone was considered “the conscience of Washington D.C.” because like Noam Chomsky, he’d read through the congressional record, dozens of the world’s major newspapers & journals, etc. daily & find the kernels of truth & fact buried within. When he started his own little weekly paper that he & his wife ran completely, three of his first subscribers were Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, & Eleanor Roosevelt. He modeled his weekly after George Seldes’ weekly which had only stopped publication three years earlier. Hopefully I don’t have to remind you of Edward R. Murrow’s legacy as a champion for the truth & his taking on of Joseph McCarthy or the fact that he reported from London throughout the entire bombing campaign the Nazis waged on London. 
  • By the way, before I.F. Stone died, he said that Robert Scheer, editor at Truth Out.org was the best journalist in America.
  • this assault on the alternative media is truly the Theatre of the Absurd
  • the “mainstream media” or the corporate media is dying & it’s mostly due to their corruption i.e. selling out by being soft on reporting the crimes of the corporate cockroaches & most people have stopped buying newspapers & rely on the Internet for their news
  • Trump has now declared war on all journalists & media organizations that don’t kiss his ass even though they basically gave him a free pass throughout his campaign & he got something like $5 billion in free advertising while Bernie got a tiny fraction of media coverage by the corporate media
  • Trump exemplifies the rise of the National Enquirer type of “reporting” and for him to lash out at “fake news” would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad because he’s been nothing but one fake news story after another his entire career
  • they’re (the powers that be) are going after the relative handful of true journalists left like Truth Out, Truth Dig, Alternet, Democracy Now, etc. in a final push to silence their critics not unlike any typical dictatorship
  • I was almost religious in my watching of 60 Minutes for over 25 yrs. but when Don Hewitt left, they have slowly lost their integrity and mostly do fluff pieces nowadays & rarely show the backbone they used to have
  • Donald’s appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education may well be the final nail in the coffin of public education, she’s basically an American version of the Taliban except she’s pushing her perverted idea of “Christianity” instead of Islam
  • This is truly a frightening situation i.e. our educational system & our media are clearly in serious danger, so where or how will the general public become informed?
  • This assault on the alternative media is a naked and brazen attempt to return America to the days of McCarthyism and to silence us all. God help us all!

The courageous duo, Bernstein & Woodward

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