The mainstream media’s (MSM) coverage of Hillary Clinton’s medical travails offers yet another instance of its blatant bias, and its distortion and outright suppression of the news. The roots of the captive MSM stretch back to the 1940s, which helps explain the waning prospects for dissemination of the truth in 2016.
Veracity is the first casualty of war. During World War II, the government openly co-opted the media, including Hollywood, as propaganda organs. Radio and television stations and networks had to obtain permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate. They toed the government’s World War II line. A few newspapers and individual journalists, notably H.L. Mencken and John T. Flynn, challenged it, but Roosevelt pretense of being against US involvement in the war, Pearl Harbor’s vulnerability, the alliance with Joseph Stalin, who was at least as bloodthirsty and tyrannical as Hitler, massive fire bombing of civilian populations in Germany and Japan, and the decision to deploy the atomic bomb should have raised far more questions than they did.
Without missing a beat the government transferred its World War II rationales for “managing” the news and media to the Cold War. The key figure of the era was Allen Dulles, the Director of the CIA from 1953 until 1961. In 1977, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, detailed the CIA’s relationship with the press in the 1950s and 1960s in a lengthy expose for The Rolling Stone. Dulles instituted a partnership, Operation Mockingbird, between the agency and the media. The agency would supply journalists with information and access to situations that would have been otherwise inaccessible in exchange for on-the-ground intelligence and the occasional performance of agency requests. Implicit in the arrangement: journalists would hew to the CIA line.
A veritable who’s who of the media elite embraced the arrangement. Per Bernstein: “By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.” No questions were asked in the bland reports that the duly elected leaders of Iran and Guatemala had been deposed, CIA-orchestrated operations. Nor were they asked in the early days of Vietnam, as the CIA set up shop in Saigon and the press worried about falling dominoes in Southeast Asia.
Some of the agency’s screw-ups were too big to whitewash. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, President Kennedy asked Dulles for his resignation. Dulles’ subsequent membership on the Warren Commission, where he stage-managed the investigation to its preordained conclusion, raised eyebrows. However, the raised-eyebrow set were disparaged as “conspiracy theorists,” a term invented by the CIA to discredit anyone questioning the official version of anything.
The Vietnam War was too extensive and lengthy to hide. As the years rolled on and the body count mounted, questions were asked. Journalists had remarkable latitude to roam, often accompanying military units to battle zones. They saw fighting first-hand and talked directly to the fighters. Their stories were a sharp contrast to the military’s bland briefings in Saigon. That Vietnam was, at best, a hopeless quagmire and probably a lost cause was a bottom-up realization; the soldiers and the in-the-field press covering them knew it long before the brass and its house-broken reporters. Publication of The Pentagon Papers in 1971 marked the media’s finest hour in Vietnam. Its revelations of duplicity reinforced America’s mood; by then all it wanted from Vietnam was a graceful exit.
After a ten-year hiatus dating from the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US establishment acquired a new enemy. Despite the pyrotechnics of 9/11, the terrorists presented orders of magnitude less of a threat than the Axis powers in World War II or the Soviet Union during the Cold War. However, a war on a tactic—terrorism—can be waged anywhere and against anybody the government chooses. It can and apparently will go on forever; victory in such a conflict being impossible to define, much less achieve. All this was obvious before the US ventured into Afghanistan and Iraq, but few in the media questioned the conceptual basis of those forays.
Judging by restrictions on civil liberties embedded in the Patriot Act, subsequent legislation, and judicial interpretations, rag-tag terrorists whose main weapons are stolen artillery and firearms, improvised explosive devices, and blowing themselves up pose a greater threat than the US’s World War II and Cold War foes. A measure of how captive the MSM has become: it labeled Edward Snowden a traitor for exposing the government’s Orwellian surveillance in the name of “fighting terrorism.” Snowden should have been hailed. Such surveillance makes a free press impossible; if it cannot shield its secrets from the government it cannot operate.
For the press and freedom of press to mean anything, the media must be outside the government, looking in. Currently, that characterization only applies to the independent segments of the media, mostly the Internet, that takes a reflexively adversarial stance towards the powers that be, including the MSM. Call it the alternative media. What it lacks in the docile MSM’s cherished “access” it more than makes up for in pugnacity.
The Drudge Report made a name for itself publicizing Bill Clinton scandals the MSM ignored. It is the most powerful and widely viewed alternative site. Zero Hedge, like the Drudge Report, aggregates news, analysis, and commentary from a variety of sources, but it also features its own analyses and comments (Zero Hedges has reposted Straight Line Logic articles). Financially oriented, Zero Hedge made its bones during the last crisis, which it saw coming well before it arrived. Its commentary and stories since on the government and Federal Reserve’s responses—the bailouts, stimulus, and quantitative easing—have been scathing.
These two sites are the vanguard of the alternative media: hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sites worldwide that probe virtually every idiocy and prevarication emanating not just from governments and central banks, but large corporations, academia, militaries, intelligence services, and the MSM itself. The alternative media has little capacity to generate original news coverage (although leaks, hacking, and videos have been invaluable), but publicly available material is virtually inexhaustible. It has become a giant thorn in the side of what it variously calls the establishment, the powers that be, the deep state, the Empire, globalists, or the new world order. Although not all in the alternative media support Donald Trump, they are united in their contempt for Hillary Clinton. Their relentless skepticism, disclosures, and editorializing have been bastions for the Trump campaign. It’s probably not an overstatement to say that campaign wouldn’t be where it is without the alternative media.
The established order recognizes the threat. Hillary Clinton’s recent speeches condemning the alt-right and the “basket of deplorables,” and President Obama’s comments Monday about unspecified blogs “churning out a lot of misinformation” confirm the apprehension. The alt-right is part of the alternative media and takes a politically incorrect perspective on the mainstream’s racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender catechism. As such, it makes the easiest target, however, it is not the establishment’s real target. Obama gave up the game with the word “misinformation.” He’s not worried about misinformation—if he were Obamacare never would have become law—he’s worried about correct information, also known as the truth.
The alternative press shatters the cozy arrangement midwifed by Allen Dulles’ between the government and the MSM. The biggest threat to powers that be is always the truth. Just as they will steal everything you’ve got (see “You Will Be Poor”), they will suppress the truth. The alternative media has gone from success to success, but if Trump is elected, it will probably mark an apotheosis. The establishment will neither forgive nor forget, and sooner or later the alternative media will train its sights on Trump himself. It’s hard to believe that he won’t give it reason to do so—power does corrupt—especially for that segment of the alternative media with a more libertarian perspective.
Alternative media hubris is an unaffordable luxury. The counterattack is coming—take Hillary and Barack’s word for it—and the alternative media is extraordinarily vulnerable. It can be silenced by someone pulling the plug on the Internet or parts thereof. Like a “Funds Inaccessible” message on our bank accounts, a “Site Not Available” message may well greet us one morning when we try to pull up Zero Hedge . The rationale could be “deplorable” racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, or Islamophobia, or peddling what has been officially deemed “misinformation,” but make no mistake, the truth that emerges from the alternative media poses a grave threat to those who would rule us, and they know it.
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