A free press is the public’s last line of defense. Journalists and reporters are the bulwark that stand astride freedom and despotism. Institutions vested with authority are always susceptible to corruption and graft; people in government are especially vulnerable to overreach as a mix of hubris and group think lead even the most well-meaning officials into the wastelands of autocracy. This is the reason why the right of a free press was codified in the Bill of Rights; the founders of America were especially leery of the new found republic reverting back to the authoritarianism of King George.
The fears of the founders have become our reality. We are now witnessing, in real time, our republic disintegrating at the seams as the pace of fascism quickens from a trot to a sprint. Corporatism has commandeered our government and elected politicians in DC. This hostile takeover of our nation extends throughout every sector that wields agency over our lives; the uber rich have weaponized their bank accounts to extort public servants and private influencers alike. Mainstream media is not exempt from this power grab; corporations, and the plutocrats who own them, have unleashed their wealth to buy up every publication, station and portal of note.
The notion of a free press in America is laughable; six companies own more than 90% of the media content and information we consume as a public—a power that Joseph Stalin could only covet in his dreams. The First Amendment has been euthanized by the affluence of the neo-aristocracy. Media owners like Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch, as well as oligarchs ranging from Warren Buffett to Bill Gates and beyond, are able to dictate news and stifle opposition using their money as both carrots and sticks to keep politicians, pundits and opinion leaders in line.
We were taught in civic classes that Congress had the power of the purse. Teachers need to stop passing this lie to our children because the true power of the purse belongs to corporations who own, manufacture and lease the purse to Senators, Congressmen and hubs of influence throughout the land. Nowhere is the pernicious effect of concentrated wealth and corporate coercion felt more than in realm of mainstream media. Reporters and news personnel who entered the profession of journalism to speak truth to power have been turned into enforcers of the status quo.
There are endless cases that can be cited to highlight how reporters and journalists, on the dole of corporations, have made a decision to become recorders of the people they are supposed to be keeping in check. Volumes of books can be written on this very topic as corporate journalists and media personalities have effectively been turned into the propaganda arm of the corporate state. For the sake of brevity, I’ll narrow the scope and cite three instances where corporate reporters have committed acts of journalistic malpractice in furthering outrageous and unsubstantiated narratives.
Kenneth Vogel of the New York Times as a Stenographer of Robert Mueller
The leading article article last evening at the New York Times was an piece written by Kenneth Vogel where he details how the Donald Trump campaign was infiltrated by Russian operatives. According to Mr. Vogel, a campaign staffer at Trump’s Florida field office was duped by a Facebook user who pretended to be a supporter when all along the user profile was a persona created by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company linked to an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Nowhere in the article does Mr. Vogel cite where he independently verified the assertions that were made by the Mueller indictment last month. To the contrary, Mr. Vogel notes that the indictments are alleged because Robert Mueller has yet to prove his case before a judge. This is a vital distinction that needs to be made; every mainstream media reporter and journalist who is currently running around with their hair on fire warning of Russian interference is doing so based on allegations. Instead of conducting investigative research before they pass on assertions, reporters like Mr. Vogel are taking government officials at their word and peddling propaganda as facts. Click To Tweet
By the by, if the name Kenneth Vogel does not sound familiar to you, he should forever be seared in your mind as the epitaph of mainstream media and corporate news. Mr. Vogel was exposed by Wikileaks as an operative of the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. He entered into a secret agreement with Hillary and the DNC whereby he would give them advance copies of his articles for their input and consent. Mr. Vogel, a supposed “journalist” was in effect giving veto power to the same person he pretended to be keeping in check. The fourth estate is really the estate of the rich and famous, common folks like you and I need not apply.
Ishaan Tharoor of the Washington Post and Slurs as Intimidation
One of today’s leading articles at the Washington Post is one written by Ishaan Tharoor where he highlights Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The article starts off as if it is a straight reporting of facts only to devolve into the gutters of outlandish accusations and character assassination of anyone who dares to question globalism. Mr. Tharoor has picked up on the newest way to silence non-compliant voices—use the pains of oppressed people to tar and feather free-thinkers as extremists.
Let me be clear here, I am no fan of Donald Trump. His petulance and megalomania knows no bounds; it’s jarring to witness a septuagenarian lead our nation with the temperament of a seven year old. Yet, there is something very nefarious about the way mainstream media voices use the narrative of Trump to defend the status quo and to gash people who refuse to toe the corporate line. They are using proximity to slander people who won’t salute and parrot talking points by lumping in skeptics with the clown in the White House. Mr. Tharoor chose to endeavor in this type of witch hunt by using guilt by association to discredit people who stand against trade policies the likes of NAFTA and TPP.
According to Mr. Tharoor, people who say they are anti-globalist are anti-Semites. Donald Trump has become the strawman for the establishment; they can lump all the ills of the world on one man and then use Trump to bludgeon people who dissent. Racism, antisemitism and sexism are cudgels that are liberally deployed by media personalities to bash anyone who diverges from mainstream narratives and kneecap people who dare to question government claims. Dismissing people as conspiracy theorist is no longer enough, too many people are beginning to understand what truth tellers have been saying for decades. The new way to silence heretics is to accuse them of being bigots, xenophobes and misogynists—this is McCarthyism on steroids.
The Bloomberg News published an article by Ari Natter and Alan Bjerga last week that is still boggling my mind eight days later. In what could only be described as corporate disinformation, Messrs. Natter and Bjerga do their level best to revive Joseph Goebbels and his nefarious practice of creating bogeymen in order to delegitimize non-conformists. I really want you to focus on this article because this is a prime example of how a crisis is manufactured in order to nullify free speech.
In breathtaking fashion, Natter and Bjerga latch on to the Russian narrative to paint people who refused to endorse establishment doctrines as subversive foreign agents intent on destroying America. This is a practice that has been deployed by mainstream media as a whole, apparently refusing to vote for Democrats and Republicans makes one a Russian troll now. Yet, by the standards of mainstream media smear tactics, the article published by Bloomberg News takes the cake.
“Articles discussing biotech seeds sold by Monsanto Co., Syngenta AG and others published in RT and Sputnik, two state-funded Russian news outlets, were almost uniformly negative compared to a spectrum of U.S. sources ranging from Huffington Post to Breitbart News, according to an article published on SocArXiv, an open-source academic research site, on Feb. 27.”
The article uses the Russia narrative to disparage people who speak against Monsanto, the Dakota Access Pipeline and fracking as a whole as either willful Russian provocateurs or unwitting dupes who are being used by Moscow to sow discord. The #FakeNews kerfuffle has to be viewed through this prism; mainstream media and establishment opinion leaders are using the Russian story line and fear tactics to marginalize people who refuse to sanction “acceptable” news. Using subterfuge and disinformation, corporate media and politicos in DC are treading in areas once reserved for tin pot dictators. Pundits, politicians and media personalities alike are playing the public for patsies only to pivot and use Stasi tactics to censor free speech.
For the record, I do not doubt that Russia tried to influence our elections in 2016. Breaking news! Every nation tries to influence the internal affairs of other nations—it’s called geopolitics for a reason. The United States actively tries to influence the affairs of every nation throughout the world (see also the Voice of America). Moreover, most of the accusations surrounding Russia are centered on the criminal actions of Hillary Clinton and the lawless nature of both the Democrat and Republican parties. If my enemy is telling people that I’m not really a vegan, perhaps I should stop eating Big Macs instead of being outraged that my foe is shedding light on my hypocrisy.
Far from speaking truth to hypocrites, mainstream media reporters like Vogel, Tharoor, Natter and Bjerga have morphed from keepers of the public interest to enforcers of the establishment. Goodbye muckrakers; hello smut peddlers and corporate propaganda capos. There is no truth to be found in mainstream media; the interests of corporate news is to maximize profits first and last. In this paradigm, the overriding concern of corporate publications from the New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg News and beyond is money over ethics. They pay lip service to the principles of journalism as they sell their souls to the highest bidder. We are in an time that would astonish George Orwell—mainstream media is nothing short of a conclave of Goebbelists. #GoebbelistsMedia
Despotism is birthed by an excessive government, midwifed by a complicit press and breastfed by a compliant public::
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Check out the latest Ghion Cast where I discuss this how free press that has been hijacked by corporatism and the imperative behind empowering independent journalism and building up our communities.
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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.
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