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Gray, Sirota, Sanders and US: Operatives Working for Politicians and Cultivating Sycophants

At the end of the Constitutional Convention, an elderly lady supposedly approached Benjamin Franklin and asked “what have you given us”. To which Franklin responded, “a Republic, if you can keep it”. I wish psychics could actually communicate with the dead; if so I would hire one so that she could raise Franklin and let him know that the Republic is no more.

The tragic irony, our military-financial complex laden government can’t get enough of spreading democracy around the world at the tip of howitzers and tomahawk missiles even though we have none of it here in America. We are a republic in name only; our supposed representative democracy perished a long time ago and what we have left is a festering kleptocracy in the District of Caligula that is owned by multinational corporations and managed by two political corporations.

Citizens United might have been the last nail in the coffin of our Republic, but it damn sure wasn’t the lethal blow. The grand experiment in self-governance ended the minute the Supreme Court gave corporations personhood in 1886–nine robed Justices executed the Republic of the United States with that ruling. Since then, a number of perpetrators have taken a machete to our “democracy” that was euthanized by SCOTUS.  At the top of the list of subversives who ave undermined self-governance are oligarchs and their corporate holdings who have weaponized their wealth to buy up every politician, pundit and media personality in sight.

However, the list of conspirators extend beyond just the billionaire and millionaire club. Right there next to the greed of the neo-aristocracy is the boundless avarice and ego of politicians who run to DC pretending to serve their constituents when in reality they are servicing their naked ambitions. Aiding and abetting these self-serving politicians are supposed “journalists” who practice journalistic malpractice on a daily basis for the sake of access, status and wealth.

The days of the muckrakers in mainstream media are long gone, that job is being filled by independent journalists and non-aligned reporters. What we have instead are a new school of media personalities who speak harsh truths against their political foes and swallow their tongues when it comes to exposing the malfeasance of their favored candidates. For these “journalists”, facts are malleable and morality is situational.

I write this article in light of David Sirota and Briahna Joy Gray’s decision to join the Bernie Sanders campaign and effectively show their hands–they were nothing but political operatives all along. They are going to succeed widely as political consultants since both are masters of spinning stories and shaping media narratives. To this end, Sirota made a show of noting that he is exiting journalism to make it seem like he is honorably departing the field of reporting to become Bernie’s spokesperson.

This is some triangulation that Bill Clinton would be proud of. The truth is that Sirota was a political capo the whole time. Why do I say this? Because Sirota has been leveraging his title of a “reporter” to crank out one piece after another targeting Bernie Sander’s opponents. This is not to insinuate that Sirota’s reporting was not factual, to the contrary, he did a fabulous job exposing Beto O’Rourke’s obsequiousness to Big Oil and his penchant of embracing the Republican agenda. Sirota also eviscerated Kirsten Gillibrand and her chummy relationship with Wall Street. Sirota was not reporting the facts as it needed to be told, he was playing right tackle and clearing a path to the White House for his soon to be boss.

On the duplicity front, Gray was no different than Sirota even if she did not reach his same level of visibility. I have been observing Briahna’s tweets and articles for the past year; not only did she never criticize Bernie Sanders, she went out of her way to make Bernie acceptable to “black” voters. That was her shtick, on a regular basis, she ran to his defense and ran interference for Sanders as if she could single-handedly deliver South Carolina to him. After all, that is why Bernie craves “black” voters so much, he lost to Hillary in 2016 in large part because “African-Americans” rejected him. Right as the presidential campaigns heat up, she gets hired by Bernie. Mark my words, Gray will make a b-line to the Palmetto state and make it her singular purpose to sell Bernie to “black” voters.

“Half-truth is often a great lie.”

Benjamin Franklin spoke those words; it seems Ben was a psychic as well as an inventor, his wisdom was warning Americans of what was to come. We live in the age of half-truth tellers who commit lies by omission on a regular basis. Sirota, and Gray for that matter, spent the past couple of years lambasting Republicans and parts of the Democrat field only to pivot and join the very power they are supposed to be checking. True enough we all have biases, but when one becomes a journalist, we are to check our bias at the door and follow facts wherever it might lead us. Sirota, Gray and the corporate media cabal have been following facts right up until it leads them to their preferred candidate, at which point they swerved and morph into mimes.

Sirota and Gray were never journalists, they were political operatives pretending to be truth-tellers. I say this even though I have followed their work for a while and quoted their tweets and words in my articles in the past. However, I stopped taking them seriously when I realized that their reporting was always one sided and that neither one of them dared to criticize Bernie Sanders. Now I see why, one does not speak ill of his/her future master. They are now going to spend this upcoming campaign season managing Bernie’s talking points and influencing the electorate.

I don’t write this article because I have some ax to grind with Bernie Sanders nor is my aim to unfairly smear Sirota and Gray. However, if you are going to call out one side of the aisle for their unseemly behaviors, then you must remain morally consistent when the side you cheer for commit the same sins. Our nation is headed down a very dangerous path; led by a government that is one part dysfunction and an equal part corruption, leadership is nowhere to be found. Instead of checking authorities and defending our common interests, “news” professionals are busy having an incestuous relationship with the very officials they are charged with keeping honest. There is a thin line between journalist and a propagandist; Sirota and Gray jumped that line quicker than you can say feel the Bern.

Where is proof of their loyalty to Sanders? When you find one hint of criticism about their new boss from these two supposed “journalists”, let me know and I’ll publicly apologize. What is not spoken echos louder than what is yelled from the rooftops.

There is a part of me that wants to excuse the active malpractice of journalists who make intentional decisions to take part in this inverted corporate-totalitarian state we live in. As much as we rant and rage about the excesses of the media-politico complex, we are creating the demand for their acts of treachery. However, as Matt Taibbi reminded me, journalists have to be held to a higher standard because a truly free-press is the only thing that stands between freedom and tyranny.

For fans of Sirota, Gray or Sanders who are reading this and getting livid at me in the process, I ask you this one question. If the situation was flipped and Joy Reid or Rachel Maddow quit their jobs to become a spokesperson for Beto O’Rourke or Kamala Harris, would you honestly be OK with that? If Sean Hannity quit his pretense of being a news anchor and jumped to the White House to become Trump’s communications director, would you not see that as morally repugnant? If you answer in the affirmative, then I ask why the double standard?

Which takes me back to the point that Benjamin Franklin made to the elderly lady. There are many reasons our republic was lost, but as much as I want to blame corporations, a mainstream media that has turned yellower than Donald Trump and the soulless politicians who keep feeding us to the hyenas on Wall Street, the truth is that we, the people, are the number one culprits. Too many of us participate in politics like it’s a team sport; we cheer for labels and hold tight to ideologies that don’t pay our rent only for this two-party hustle to sink the bottom 90%.

This article, by the way, was inspired by a litany of responses I’ve been receiving over the past 24 hours. Ever since I dared to criticize Sirota for joining Bernie Sander’s campaign, my Twitter mentions have been flooded with one negative comment or another of people angry that I dared to criticize their political idols. What I am writing next will sound jarring but it must be said. Stop being sycophants of the media-politico complex. These personalities you see on TV and read about in print are humans just like us; why risk losing friends and family over people you will never meet and who will never know your name? #FeelTheTurn Click To Tweet

Our republic has turned into a cadaver for a lot of reasons, if we are to rejuvenate our democracy and replace this rotting body politic in DC, that change will only come if we stop this cult of personality we have become as a nation and demand a government that works for us. My aim is not to be judgmental here, it was not too long ago that I was the biggest sycophant of them all as I traveled to more than 16 states working to get the First Bank President elected. Boy did I get the change Obama promised, it came by way of nickels and dimes in my pockets.

I only woke up to the lies of the establishment and this two-party shakedown after enduring a two year stretch of hardship and indigence. Here is to hoping that people who are addicted to the reality show of our politics will shake out of their cognitive dissonance by choosing an easier path to independence than the path of tribulation I traveled. Sadly, I know the only way we will wake up for this collective coma is through mutual hardship–the boil cometh.

“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.” ~ Baltasar Gracian

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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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Lij Teodrose Fikremariam

Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the co-founder and former editor of the Ghion Journal. He is currently the chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
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