9 December, 2016
he current controversy is different. Many people in Washington are irate over Wikileaks — not because the email were untrue but because they proved what many had long suspected . . . that Washington is a highly corrupt place full of truly despicable people. For people who make their living on controlling media and information, it was akin to the barbarians breaching the walls of Rome. So the answer is to call for government regulation to combat what will be declared “fake” news or propaganda. It is only the latest effort to convince people to surrender their rights and actually embrace censorship.
– From Jonathan Turley’s: Washington Post Issues Correction To “Fake News” Story
Watching Hillary Clinton attack “fake news” and calling for legislative action against free speech she doesn’t like got me thinking. Why is she doing this? Yes, it’s obviously related to her notorious personality trait of never taking responsibility for anything and attaching herself to an invented controversy in order to deflect blame for her monumentally embarrassing loss to Donald Trump. But there’s more going on here. A lot more.
To set the stage, we need to examine the types of people who are most jumping on the “fake news” meme. What you’ll find is that it’s a who’s who of the most contemptible and corrupt people in America. As Glenn Greenwald so accurately noted in his piece published earlier today:
Those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.
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.Just in case you think the above is an exaggeration, is there an individual in America more distrusted and more widely viewed as a compulsive liar than Hillary Clinton? The list of her outright lies is nearly endless (see: Video of the Day – Watch Hillary Clinton Lie for 13 Minutes Straight). Not only that, but Hillary Clinton was more than happy to promote obvious fake news stories one week before the election. Here’s the most egregious example:
This was fake news, but somehow I doubt Hillary will be looking for Congress to take her to task for legitimizing and spreading it.
Then there’s the downright comical example of Brian Williams. You know, the NBC anchor who literally lost his job for promoting fake news about himself (see: NBC’s Brian Williams is Forced to Admit His Tale of Being on a Downed Helicopter in Iraq Was Pure Fantasy). Now he is one of the “esteemed pundits” railing against the terror of fake news. You can’t make this stuff up.
The Hill reports:
MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, who lost his job with NBC’s nightly news for exaggerating details of his time reporting in Iraq, slammed President-elect Donald Trump and members of his transition team for spreading fake news throughout the election.Pure comedy, but let’s get serious. At this point, I want to direct your attention to what is perhaps the most astute commentary on the fabricated “fake news” push to date. The following was the concluding paragraph to Jonathan Turley’s, Washington Post Issues Correction To “Fake News” Story:
The current controversy is different. Many people in Washington are irate over Wikileaks — not because the email were untrue but because they proved what many had long suspected . . . that Washington is a highly corrupt place full of truly despicable people. For people who make their living on controlling media and information, it was akin to the barbarians breaching the walls of Rome. So the answer is to call for government regulation to combat what will be declared “fake” news or propaganda. It is only the latest effort to convince people to surrender their rights and actually embrace censorship.This perfectly describes what is going on at the most macro level, and reminded me exactly of what Wall Street did in the aftermath of its destruction of the U.S. economy during the financial crisis. Faced with a potential loss of their fortunes, jobs and reputations, Wall Street invented a meme that the industry needed to be bailed out without consequences in order to “save Main Street.” This was one of the most brazen, yet successful examples of propaganda I have witnessed in my entire life.
Wall Street got exactly what it wanted and then some. It proceeded to pay out record bonuses the very next year (2010) and not a single executive was held accountable or went to jail. Free market capitalism was completely suspended in order to save some of the wealthiest and most privileged people in America. They used the levers of the state to save themselves and preserve this key segment of status quo power.
Fast forward eight years, and we witness yet another spectacular status quo failure. Due to its clownish and completely inaccurate coverage of the 2016 election, the mainstream media and the pundit class generally completely torched its reputation. As a result, alternative, independent media is eating their lunch. Rather than accept the consequences of this historic failure, legacy media has decided to take a page from the Wall Street playbook. They are asking for a government bailout. However, this bailout is far more dangerous than the one which preceded it.
While the Wall Street bailout consisted of showering financial criminals with infinite sums of money until they were once again masters of the universe, the media is asking for a bailout via censorship. Yes, that’s right. Hillary Clinton and other status quo fake news peddlers are actively asking for Congressional action in order to silence their competition. This isn’t just about protecting the status quo narrative for the sake of maintaining a transparently false manufactured reality. It’s equally about preserving the status, wealth, reputation and careers of individuals whose failures should have landed them on the street, unemployed for their almost incomprehensible and well documented incompetence. Just like we continue to suffer from incompetent criminal elites on Wall Street, the media now wants to build a similar government-sponsored wall around itself. Such an outcome would be an unmitigated disaster for this nation.
Yet it is telling that after the election, the people who were most wrong during the campaign are still producing voluminous commentary. No outlet that wanted to regain trust and build audiences would be keeping such people on its staff. But “pundit tenure” is powerful. Thus is also likely that the quest for credible media will necessitate the creation of new media. CNN and The Washington Post have never shown a particularly encouraging capacity for introspection and self-improvement, and it’s unlikely that they’re contemplating major internal overhauls in their mission and accountability practices. Their institutional imperatives consist, after all, largely of seeking views and clicks. For them, the 2016 election was a success rather than a failure. A lot of people, after all, tuned in. Why should they do things any differently? Thus it would be useful to have fresh, truly independent outlets, ones that disclose their biases, are transparent in their methods, and are constantly trying to improve themselves rather than simply pursuing the same useless sensationalism and empty horse-race punditry.The last thing this country needs is another bailout of establishment crooks.
For related articles, see:
‘Then We Will Fight in the Shade’ – A Guide to Winning the Media Wars
Obama Enters the Media Wars – Why His Recent Attack on Free Speech is So Dangerous and Radical
Hillary Clinton Enters the Media Wars
The Death of Mainstream Media
Additional Thoughts on “Fake News,” The Washington Post, and the Absence of Real Journalism
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