The Main-Stream Media

As can be gleaned from the short thumbnail sketches and anecdotes in the previous post, the notable journalists in our history have been universally human, with all the frailties that we enjoy. Sometimes partisan, sometimes ideological, sometimes illogical, they have all made important contributions at one time or another to the free press we need to recover. Many fell victim to the excesses of power and influence and in those times, did not advance the cause of truth very much.

But, most of those who practices journalism before the television age also believed in their independence from the power structures, the vital importance of timely and useful information to our republican form of government and in the necessity for their unique view of the issue at hand. They dedicated themselves to their work of informing America of the facts and of their opinion on the politics of the day for the purpose of helping their beloved America to succeed and the last thing any of them would ever be is a member of a cabal whose purpose is to, in effect, tear America down through misinformation for personal and political gain – they had too much patriotism and pride to get into bed with any politician. And, since their shortcomings were so publicly displayed, they should have been instructive to the next generation. Unfortunately, they weren’t.

Then came the creations of the media, when journalists destroyed the wall of separation between themselves and those they reported on for any number of reasons – social status, celebrity, access, reflected glory, etc. With the wall went trust and now, in the age of the Internet, people are more likely to believe anonymous blowhards online than working journalists. We all pay the price in ignorance.

Walter Cronkite, was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–81). During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as “the most trusted man in America” after being so named in a public-opinion poll.

Cronkite had been one of eight journalists selected by the U.S. Army Air Corps to fly on bombing raids over Germany in a B-17 Flying Fortress as part of group called the Writing 69th, and during one mission fired a machine gun at a German fighter plane. He also landed in a glider with the 101st Airborne Division in Operation Market-Garden and covered the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, he covered the Nuremberg War-Crimes trials of captured Nazis and served as the United Press main reporter in Moscow from 1946 to 1948. In 1998, he supported President Bill Clintonduring Clinton’s impeachment trial for lying under oath in an investigation of his White House dalliances. He was also a proponent of limited world government on the American federalist model, writing fund-raising letters for the World Federalist Association (now Citizens for Global Solutions). In accepting the 1999 Norman Cousins Global Governance Award at the ceremony at the United Nations, Cronkite said:

“It seems to many of us that if we are to avoid the eventual catastrophic world conflict we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government patterned after our own government with a legislature, executive and judiciary, and police to enforce its international laws and keep the peace. To do that, of course, we Americans will have to yield up some of our sovereignty. That would be a bitter pill. It would take a lot of courage, a lot of faith in the new order. But the American colonies did it once [but not to foreign powers and the People only loaned power to the federal government] and brought forth one of the most nearly perfect unions the world has ever seen.”

Cronkite contrasted his support for an accountable global government with the opposition to it by politically active Christian fundamentalists in the United States:

“Even as with the American rejection of the League of Nations, our failure to live up to our obligations to the United Nations is led by a handful of willful Senators who choose to pursue their narrow, selfish political objectives at the cost of our nation’s conscience. [The U.S. pays the lion’s share of the UN budget every year – $3 billion in 2015 – more than 176 other countries combined.]  They pander to and are supported by the Christian Coalition and the rest of the religious right wing. Their leader, Pat Robertson, has written that we should have a world government but only when the messiah arrives. Any attempt to achieve world order before that time must be the work of the Devil! Well join me… I’m glad to sit here at the right hand of Satan.”

In 2003, Cronkite, who owned property on Martha’s Vineyard, became involved in a long-running debate over his [hypocritical] opposition to the construction of a wind-farm in that area [because it would ruin his ocean view.]. In his column, he repeatedly condemned President George W. Bush and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Cronkite appeared in the 2004 Robert Greenwald film Outfoxed, where he offered commentary on what he said were unethical and overtly political practices at the Fox News Channel. Cronkite remarked that when Fox News was founded by Rupert Murdoch, “it was intended to be a conservative organization – beyond that; a far-right-wing organization”.

In January 2006, during a press conference to promote the PBS documentary about his career, Cronkite said that he felt the same way about America’s presence in Iraq as he had about their presence in Vietnam in 1968 and that he felt America should recall its troops.

Cronkite spoke out against the War on Drugs in support of the Drug Policy Alliance [which champions the decriminalization of “responsible” drug use including the facilitation of intravenous drug use – though it never addresses how a drug-addled mind can accept any responsibility], writing a fundraising letter and appearing in advertisements on behalf of the DPA. In the letter, Cronkite wrote in 2006:

“Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens. I am speaking of the war on drugs. And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara  admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure.” [Of course, over the next decade we found out why. The PLDC influenced federal bureaucracy wasn’t enforcing the anti-drug laws!]

How the “most trusted man in America” could lose his philosophical way so completely and so hypocritically, when it came to the realities of the world he had experienced so closely, and to the essence of what America is and who Americans are – is stupefying.

That he should endorse a concept that would negate the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of America’s finest, by giving away the sovereignty that they defended so valiantly, to advocate abandoning the defense of freedom and self-determination for all people and then condemn, with such vitriol, anyone who dared to disagree with him – is profound perversion.

Whether these truly un-American viewpoints crept into his reporting over the years and influenced any of his viewers is, at least, problematic. Terrifyingly, his views inform the heart of the progressive/ liberal/Democrat cabal.

Dan Rather, who replaced Cronkite in the exalted seat at CBS News, became embroiled in several controversies where the truth of his reports was challenged and his journalistic dishonesty was exposed.

The first was about a disputed news report involving President George W. Bush’s Vietnam-era service in the National Guard. On June 2, 1988, Rather hosted a CBS News special, The Wall Within. In it, he interviewed six former servicemen, each of whom said he had witnessed horrible acts in Vietnam. Two of the men said that they had killed civilians, and two others said that they had seen friends die. Each talked about the effects the war had upon their lives – including depression,  unemployment, drug use and homelessness.

In their self-published book Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its Heroes and its History, authors B. G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley said they had obtained the service records of all six men, documenting where each was stationed during the Vietnam War. According to the records, the authors said, only one of the men was actually in Vietnam; he claimed to have been a 16-year-old Navy SEAL but, said Burkett and Whitley, the records listed him as an equipment repairer.” Rather never issued a retraction.

“On September 8, 2004, in a blatant attempt to damage President George W. Bush’s election chances against Vietnam War veteran and discredited antiwar critic, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Rather reported on 60 Minutes Wednesday that a series of memos critical of President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service record had been “discovered” in the personal files of Lt. Bush’s former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. 

Once copies of the documents were made available on the Internet, their authenticity was quickly called into question. Much of this was based on the forensic evidence that the documents were proportionally-printed and displayed other modern typographic conventions unavailable on military typewriters of the 1970s – in fact, they were created in Microsoft’s WORD word-processing system! This led to the [certifiable] truth that the memos were forgeries. 

The accusations then spread over the following days into mainstream media outlets. Rather and CBS initially defended the story, insisting that the documents had been authenticated by experts.  CBS was contradicted by some of the experts it originally cited, and later reported that its source for the documents – former Texas Army National Guard officer, Lt. Col. Bill Burkett – had misled the network about how he had obtained them.

On September 20, CBS retracted the story. Rather stated, ‘If I knew then what I know now, I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.’ Of course, without the forged documents, there would have been no story. The controversy has been referred to by some as “Memogate” and “Rathergate.”

Following an investigation commissioned by CBS, CBS fired story producer Mary Mapes and asked three other producers connected with the story to resign. Many believe Rather’s retirement was hastened by this incident. The nation’s “newspaper of record”, The New York Times labeled the documents ‘fake but accurate’” [let’s repeat that – say it with me – ‘fake but accurate’! How would The Times know?]

In 2007, a delusional Rather was interviewed on Larry King Live, commenting ‘Nobody has proved that they were fraudulent, much less a forgery. … The truth of this story stands up to this day.’ In fact, these documents and Rather’s story have been thoroughly discredited.

In a 2010 issue of TV Guide, Rather’s report was ranked #3 on a list of TV’s ten biggest ‘blunders.’” To this day, Dan Rather defends his despicable – and classically subversive – actions. 

Helen Thomas was the dean of White House reporters for many years. Thomas was the seventh of the nine children of immigrants from Tripoli in what was, at the time, part of the Ottoman Empire [later, the area became Lebanon]. When asked for comments on Israel in 2010, she replied: ‘Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.’ And, of Palestinians; ‘Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland…’ When asked where Israeli Jews should go, she replied they could ‘go home’ to Poland or Germany or ‘America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries?’ She also casually mentioned she was of ‘Arab background.’” She was forced to retire shortly thereafter.

Today there are few newspapers and thus no competition that might lead to truth telling. Citizens get most of their information on the topics of the day from media outlets – broadcast radio and television, Internet news services and social media. Analysts have pointed to the increased use of the Internet, noting that more people in 2006 read The New York Times online than on paper.

 “There were almost 400 newspapers that ceased daily publication during the last quarter of the 20th Century – a loss of 25%, although 64% of these newspapers continued to serve their markets as weeklies, merged dailies, or zoned editions. In effect, the newspaper industry lost service in more than 50 major markets during these years. After 2003 the process speeded up, as revenue from advertising fell and circulation declined, as more people relied on the Internet for news. The newspaper workforce has declined by 40% over this period!

The problem is not with the quantity of information but with the quality – the “currency”. In colonial times, everyone knew the publisher and the veracity of his work. If a reader wasn’t happy with that newspaper it was easy to find another. Now, much information is not sourced, unable to be verified, opinion is disguised as reporting and discussion frequently degrades into adolescent ravings, even at long established outlets. The term “currency” has largely fallen into disuse as the media world has grown both in scope and in complexity.

“The gentler pejorative “infotainment” was coined more recently to refer to generally inoffensive news programming that shuns serious issues, but blends “soft” journalism and entertainment rather than emphasizing more important news values. When infotainment involves celebrity sex scandals, dramatic (or dramatized “news”) stories and similar trivia, it borders on the tricks of old-fashioned yellow journalism.

Corporate media is another recent pejorative, when applied to news conglomerates whose business interests’, critics see, as counter to the public interest. For example, such media may avoid incisive reporting on influential corporations or limit public information about proposed government regulation of media industries. Collusion between political, business and media worlds, a modern phenomenon, sometimes brings allegations of illegal or unethical practices ranging from fraud to antitrust violations but, it is becoming more apparent that the national political game is “rigged” in favor of “big money” interests at the expense of the People and importantly – the nation’s voters.

While bland infotainment and unethical corporate media practices may be considered “yellow” in the sense of “cowardly”, the term yellow journalism traditionally refers to news organizations for whom some combination of sensationalism, profiteering, propaganda, journalistic bias or jingoism takes dominance over factual reporting and the profession’s public trust.

If one may construe gradations of bias, then Yellow journalism may be considered less subtle and coarser in content and execution than media bias, though bias is indeed evident. A current perceived rift is therefore more akin to segmentation according to definitions of “news.” The public still attaches to “news” the connotations of “journalism”.

The intersection of “celebrity” journalists and infotainment has now taken on ludicrous elements. NBC has reportedly agreed to pay for the Today Show host to helicopter out and back to the Hamptons on Long Island every day as part of his new contract, where he has a 40-acre horse farm in and a nearby mansion, reportedly worth $15 million. That seems sort of excessive for a mere “talking head” on a “soft” news show.

Because of these developments, the common definition of “news” no longer belongs in the domain of journalists, but to wider television and Internet media outlets and “social media” over a vast spectrum of target issues and audiences. The proliferation of web media has in a certain sense re-validated journalistic ethics: reports that conform best tend to be treated as more authoritative. “Pseudo-news” organizations draw general audiences, who tend to fall into market demographics that each favor particular blends of issues-based entertainment along with their “news.”

What else can we learn from this short history and thumbnail biographies of significant figures in the history of the press in America? One significant characteristic of the individual actors in this press history is that they would always be advocating some position or other in which they had a particular or peculiar interest. It may have been a personal or a professional interest – it may have been a business interest or a political interest – but it was some form of advocacy unique to the individual – not to a collective. Whether reporting of events, speculation or opinion they may have missed the mark but they were providing first-person, unique information in some form or other.

Since the 2000 presidential election [a traumatic event for the liberally biased “main-stream media” – perhaps leading to some enduring cases of journalistic PTSD], “journalists” working for recognized establishment news organizations and those organizations themselves have engaged in a more sinister practice. They simply withhold information from the public on a grand scale or force a story into an acceptable, pre-conceived, predictable template. They, in many cases, do not cover or report on significant events because they don’t “fit” into the approved scenario; Democrat good – Republican bad!

But, the truth suffers even more in the media where the PLDC trots out so-called experts on the political topic of the day to defend the “template” against all criticism. Sitting coolly in network studios, they face the camera and tell lie after lie in relentless performances characterized by filibustering any other guest experts who may have a different point of view – like telling the truth.

But, when this type of journalistic activity is exposed, the PLDC responds with charges that their opponents are using “alternative facts”. In the PLDC lexicon, “alternative facts” are not facts, they are lies. And this an argument from the deconstructionists! So, let’s briefly delve deeper into this controversy.

On the day of the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States, a significant and prominent topic on the PLDC networks was the size of the crowd on the National Mall compared to the crowd that attended the first Barack Obama inauguration in 2009. Pre-positioned photo evidence was instantly and prominently displayed showing a larger Obama crowd and this was trumpeted as “proof” that there was widespread opposition to Trump which neatly fit the PLDC template.

The crowd size was the story to the biased media – not the fact that a politically inexperienced private citizen had defeated the pre-ordained Democrat candidate for whom the media had made certain – the fix was in – in the most stunning and unpredictable victory in American political history.

Sunday morning following the Trump inauguration in January 2017, NBC´s Chuck Todd questioned statements by White House spokesman Sean Spicer concerning proof of the actual size of the turnout for the event. When questioned, Presidential Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway told Todd that Spicer was only offering “alternative facts”, to which Todd stated instantly and unequivocally that, “Alternative facts are just falsehoods“.

The term used by Conway was widely repeated and derogated in the US media and on social-media. The singular meaning that the term has taken on – a politically declared “fact” that does not match reality; a fiction, a falsehood, a lie, not a fact – is not the meaning that Conway legitimately intended to convey. And this from the same people who brought you “deconstruction”.

Is there such a thing as an “alternative fact”? Is this another way to say “facts which present an alternative view”? How about alternative perspective, alternative logic, alternative values, viewpoint, view, outlook, reason, sense, standard, ideal, motive, cause or purpose. Here’s what the People said on social media.   

Merriam-Webster – yes, the dictionary people, quickly got into the act for some reason (let me guess …), defining fact as: “a piece of information presented as having objective reality, authenticity, genuineness. But, does “Presented as having objective reality” mean it “is objectively real”? Their very definition leaves open the possibility – perhaps, the probability – that a fact, as they themselves define it, may not be objectively real and, thus, is open to alternatives.

Kellyanne Conway used a word in front of the word “facts” an important fact that is being completely ignored. ALTERNATIVE is an adjective or, a clarifying word, that means “offering or expressing a choice”, “available as another possibility”. Think: legal arguments, policy issues, opinion writings, debates, scientific challenges. Only a fool would engage in any of these without facts to back them up.

In debates, the facts each side uses dispute the other side’s facts and are presented as – say it with me – alternative facts! It has been going on since the time of Socrates, the immortal Greek philosopher. So, alternative facts (pieces of objective information that offers a choice or are available as another possibility) do exist. Just as alternative medicine, alternative lifestyles, alternative meanings of words (crane, point, right, bark, nail, mine, for example) also exist.

The more germane debate is why are people looking up the definition of “fact”. Everyone knows what a fact is, the word that should be discussed is “alternative”, an alternative to “something” is NOT a falsehood!”

The issue being debated should be infotainer Chuck Todd flatly declaring “alternative” to be the equivalent of a falsehood. That is the lie – or perhaps just an ignorant opinion – but the hystericals just accept it as truth. And woe be to the journalist who defies the powers of the PLDC. Consider:

“From the moment that (veteran television reporter) Sharyl Attkisson [in the course of her duties at CBS News] met a shadowy source known as “Big Mac”, she was plunged into a nightmare involving mysterious surveillance of her computers.

They met at a McDonald’s in Northern Virginia at the beginning of 2013, and the source (she dubs him Number One) warned her about the threat of [domestic] government spying. During their next hamburger rendezvous, Big Mac told Attkisson, then a CBS News reporter constantly at odds with the Obama administration, that he was “shocked” and “flabbergasted” by his examination of her computer and that this was “worse than anything Nixon ever did.”

Attkisson’s book–“Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction and Intimidation in Obama’s Washington” – reads in part like a spy thriller. Just when you think Attkisson’s imagination might be running away with her comes wave after wave of evidence that both her CBS computer and personal iMac were repeatedly hacked and its files accessed, including one on the [controversial] killing of our Ambassador to Libya on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi.

A consultant hired by CBS reached the same conclusion. Further scrutiny of her personal desktop proves that “the interlopers were able to co-opt my iMac and operate it remotely, as if they were sitting in front of it.” And an inspection revealed that an extra fiber-optics line had been installed in Attkisson’s home without her knowledge. This is chilling stuff.

There is the strong implication that an administration that spied on the Associated Press and Fox News correspondent James Rosen might have been involved. A Justice Department spokesman said in an earlier statement that “to our knowledge” the department “has never ‘compromised’ [talk about “alternative facts”] Ms. Attkisson’s computers” [whatever that means] or tried to obtain information from any of her devices. A spokeswoman for CBS News said the network had no comment on the book.

In the fall of 2013, with White House officials accusing Attkisson of being biased in her Benghazi reporting, the files in her MacBook Air suddenly began deleting at hyper-speed right before her eyes. She videotaped the process and showed it to two computer experts. “They’re [blanking] with you,” one says. “They’re trying to send you a message,” says the other. The experts also found evidence that the intruders had tried to cover their tracks by erasing 23 hours of log-in information.

The computer melodrama forms the backdrop for the deterioration of Attkisson’s relationship with CBS, where she worked for two decades and won Emmys and other awards. Time and again, she writes, network executives in New York and Washington derailed her stories and treated her like a troublemaker: “They rarely said the story wasn’t going to air. They just let it sit around and ‘loved it’ until it began to stink like old fish.”

And Attkisson named names, saying the blocking of her work became virtually routine under CBS anchor Scott Pelley and his then-executive producer, Pat Shevlin. Stories were repeatedly rewritten, watered down and delayed until they never made air, she says. And Attkisson says these weren’t just stories that took on politically charged controversies involving the [Obama] administration, but also pieces that challenged government waste and corporate conduct, such as the questions surrounding Boeing’s Dreamliner – where the administration ruled that Boeing had to build planes where the government said to – in union-friendly Washington State and not in right-to-work State of South Carolina. [Mind-boggling! ]

Perhaps the most eye-opening tale involves CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Benghazi and the President. During the second Presidential debate in 2012, Obama challenged Mitt Romney by insisting he had labeled the assault in Libya a terrorist attack the very next day. This became a huge controversy, especially since CNN’s [obviously biased moderator] Candy Crowley had sided with the President during the debate.

Turns out that admitted adulterer Steve Kroft had conducted a “60 Minutes” interview with Obama the day after the attack, portions of which had never aired. When Attkisson did a story on the flap, her CBS bosses instructed her to use a particular script and a particular sound-bite that seemed to back up the President’s version. She was stunned when a CBS colleague later read her another actual exchange from the interview:

KROFT: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya attack.

OBAMA: Right.

The correspondent then asked point-blank:

KROFT: Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?

OBAMA: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously, it was an attack on Americans.

Attkisson writes, “I couldn’t get past the fact that upper-level journalists at CBS had been a party to misleading the public.” Under pressure from Attkisson and others, the network posted the exchange on its website the Sunday night before the election, but it got lost in the final hours of the campaign. She says CBS News President David Rhodes promised her there would be an internal investigation, but she never heard another word about it.

Attkisson resigned in frustration. She says there was a campaign to paint her as a disgruntled conservative; while in reality she investigated George W. Bush’s administration as aggressively as Obama’s. More important, she makes a broader case against agenda-driven journalism:

·         “We do stories on food stamps, but only to the extent that we prove the [template] that they’re needed, without also examining well-established fraud and abuse.

·         We look at unemployment but only to the extent that we present sympathetic characters showing that benefits should be extended rather than examining, also, the escalating cost and instances of fraud.

·         We cover minimum wage but only to the extent that we help make the case for raising it, without giving much due to the other side, which argued it will have the opposite effect than intended.”

Attkisson doesn’t explicitly accuse CBS and the rest of the mainstream media of a pervasive liberal bias. But that view is clear from the sheer accumulation of detail in her book.”

Fast forward to the 2016 presidential campaign. Mysteriously, members of the upstart Trump campaign are the targets of electronic eavesdropping and among the powers that be in Washington – Obama’s Washington – nobody admits to knowing anything about it. Who ordered it? Who did it? Why did they do it? What damning evidence did they hear? Why has nothing been reported cohesively about it in the main-stream media?

This is chilling behavior by an entrenched bureaucracy created and protected by the PLDC.  Next time: More media abuses.

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