Censorship, fake news, perception management

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Mar 16, 2023 2:39 pm

It’s Good To Be Mean To War Propagandists

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Sydney Morning Herald editor Bevan Shields has published an article titled “We are not above criticism but these attacks go too far“, tearfully rending his garments over criticisms his paper’s three-part war-with-China propaganda series “Red Alert” has received from former Prime Minister Paul Keating and from ABC’s Media Watch.

The whole article is Shields moaning about the way Keating raked Australian war propagandists at the National Press Club of Australia on Wednesday. He cries about how Keating told “Red Alert” co-author Matthew Knott “you should hang your head in shame” and “do the right thing and drum yourself out of Australian journalism,” mocked the intelligence of Sky News reporter Olivia Caisley for seriously suggesting that China is a military threat to Australia, and called Sydney Morning Herald editor Peter Hartcher a “psychopath” and “maniac”.

“For years, we have laughed along with Keating as he hurls his trademark barbs. But it’s not funny any more,” weeps Shields.

And you know what? Good. It’s good that these disgusting war propagandists are crying. They deserve a lot worse than a public tongue-lashing from a former prime minister.


To be clear, when I say the people Keating ripped into at the National Press Club are propagandists, that’s not just how I see them — that’s how they see themselves. They might not use that label, but they plainly see themselves as responsible for promoting Pentagon-friendly narratives, as evidenced by their behavior at that very press conference. If you watch them line up to question Keating and listen to what they are saying, over and over again you hear them trying to insert narratives like a propagandist rather than asking probing questions like a journalist.

You hear ABC’s Andrew Probyn work to insert the narrative that China is a threat to Australia by citing things like sanctions on select Australian products in retaliation for Canberra’s playing along with Washington’s attacks on Beijing over Covid, regurgitating the discredited claim of Chinese “debt diplomacy”, and babbling about China’s militarization as though the US wasn’t encircling China militarily and engaging in increasingly aggressive acts of brinkmanship.

You hear the aforementioned Olivia Casely work to insert the narrative that China is a military threat to Australia.

You hear Bloomberg’s Ben Westcott work to insert the narrative that Australia should work with the US to protect its trade from China, hilariously accidently re-enacting the famous Utopia sketch by ignoring the fact that China is Australia’s primary trading partner.

You hear The Australian’s Jess Malcolm work to insert the narrative that China building up its own military in its own country is somehow a “provocation” against Australia, which Keating immediately smacks down with appropriate disdain.

You hear the aforementioned Matthew Knott work to insert the narrative that Keating is a treasonous Xi Jinping puppet by sleazily insinuating that the former prime minister must say critical things about the “Chinese Communist Party” in order to prove his fealty.


Over and over again they line up to act like loyal defenders of the US empire, and over and over again Keating treats them like what they are: propagandists. Power-worshipping bootlickers for the most powerful empire that has ever existed.

Watching Keating tear strips off all those war pornographers was so satisfying because it showed Australians the appropriate emotional posture to have toward these depraved freaks. That’s the bare minimum level of contempt they should always be treated with. Australians who don’t want a war with China are still unclear about how to respond to this deluge of mass media war propaganda our country is being smashed with, and Keating showed exactly how to respond; he provided a solid model for us all.

If anything, Keating was too kind to those ghouls. One really can’t have enough disdain for those who peddle war propaganda professionally and pass it off as journalism to the unsuspecting public. They’re right up there with all the absolute worst human beings who have ever lived, and they should be treated as such.

Bevan Shields melodramatically refers to the public excoriation of his colleagues as “Donald Trump-like abuse of journalists doing their jobs,” but they are not journalists doing their jobs. They are propagandists. If you want to call yourself a journalist, you need to act like it. Be skeptical, question your sources and their funding, and get the story right. That’s the job. In this case the lives of nearly 26 million people are relying on you to get it right. It’s a huge responsibility and you are failing us. You deserve so much worse than to have mean things said to you by a retired politician.



These Pentagon puppets deserve more than just shame. I can’t believe they can so blithely push our country into the frontline of someone’s else’s war. How very generous of them to offer up our sons and daughters in the name of the almighty US of A.

It should enrage all Australians that a war of unimaginable horror is being shoved down our throats by the US empire, and it should enrage us that people who call themselves “journalists” are using the trust of the public to help manufacture consent for it. We need to start saying “NO” to this, and we need to whip up enough fire in our bellies to make sure that “NO” comes out with enough force to generate fear in these bastards.

Australians are not good at rage, but rage is what these actions should elicit, and our own actions need to start flowing from there. We can’t just let them inflict this horror upon our world with a signature Australian “Ah, whatever you reckon’s a fair thing mate.” The war propagandists cry about “abuse” when being put in their place by a 79 year-old ex-PM while inflicting the most abusive thing imaginable upon our civilization.

This cannot stand. We’ve got to get moving, people. These pricks will get us all killed if we don’t.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Mon Mar 20, 2023 2:12 pm

Empire-Funded Think Tanks Are Not Valid Sources: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

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ATTENTION JOURNALISTS:

It is never, ever acceptable, under any circumstances, to cite think tanks funded by governments and the military industrial complex as sources of information or expertise on matters of national security or foreign affairs.

If you do cite them (and, again, don’t), then at the very least you need to disclose the conflict of interest their funding causes in your reporting, and you need to make it abundantly clear to your audience that it is a conflict of interest.

This happens every single day in the western media, but just as an example take the way the independent Australian publication Crikey has shamefully published a bogus propaganda piece about the Chinese government persecuting LGBT people, with their sole source being the empire-funded Australian Strategic Policy Institute.


As soon as you do this, you’re guilty of journalistic malpractice. As soon as you find yourself writing anything like “According to my source from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute,” you have ceased to function as a journalist and are now functioning as a propagandist. It’s insane that this extremely obvious fact isn’t better understood.

You all get that you can’t cite unverifiable claims by outlets like RT or Sputnik unless it’s for official statements from the Russian government, but for some reason you’ve been told that it’s okay to cite think tanks that are paid by western governments and arms manufacturers in your reporting. It isn’t, and it never has been. It has always been a brazen violation of journalistic ethics, and if you give it a moment of intellectually honest thought, you will know this to be true.



Australians need to stop talking about AUKUS as a “defence partnership”. It’s got nothing to do with “defence”. You don’t need long-range submarines to defend Australia’s easily-defended shores, you need long-range submarines to attack China. Anyone who doubts this hasn’t been paying attention.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating explained what this is probably really about the other day, saying it’s about taking out China’s nuclear-armed submarines to cripple their “second strike capability”, i.e. to allow the US to win a nuclear war with China.

It’s not a defence partnership because it’s got nothing to do with defence, and it’s not a defence partnership because it is not a “partnership”. It’s the US empire driving Australia to its doom, to nobody’s benefit but the US empire.

Either it’s about attacking China, or it’s about protecting our trade with China from China. Which makes more sense to you?




One of the biggest obstacles to building a robust anti-war movement is people’s belief that their own individual activism and opposition makes no difference, which is simply not true. Your individual activism and opposition makes ALMOST no difference, not no difference. These might sound similar, but they’re actually literally an entire infinity apart.

If your efforts to oppose our trajectory toward World War Three made no difference, then those efforts would be pointless. But if your efforts make even the slightest bit of difference above absolute zero, all that means is a lot more people need to join you to help turn us away from this dangerous trajectory.

Hollywood has given us the wrong impression of how these things work, because the narrative structure of movies always places all its emphasis on the actions of the individual protagonist having an immensely consequential effect. Luke Skywalker blows up the Death Star. Frodo destroys the One Ring. The Avengers save the universe. The storyteller needs to make the hero’s actions have major consequences to get you to care about their adventure, and thus get you to care about the story they’re telling you.


But real life isn’t like that. In real life it takes many, many people to bring about real change. The actions of one individual make very little difference; even people like me who have larger-than-average voices are just a tiny drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things.

Real change doesn’t depend on the individual, it depends on the collective. We can see this just by looking around society, at what a massive billions-of-cast-members collective improvisation human civilization is. It takes the collective to keep civilization functioning, and it will take the collective to change it.

One bee sting won’t protect the hive, but many bee stings is deadly. The bee doesn’t hesitate because its one individual sting isn’t going to bring about its Hollywood ending — it just stings.

We need to be like that. Sting with all the power of your one sting, whatever that may be. Organizing. Attending protests. Guerrilla street activism. Writing. Tweeting. Making memes. Distributing literature. Talking to people. Making videos. Whatever you can do to help wake up the rest of the bees and alert them to the threat that our collective hive has come under.

You won’t stop the empire by yourself. You won’t make a major difference. But you will make a difference. And there’s nothing anyone can do to stop you from making that small difference that you can make.


Take that unstoppable small difference and work toward getting as many of the others to do the same, because enough unstoppable small differences will necessarily add up to becoming an unstoppable big difference. And once we hit that point, healthy change becomes inevitable.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue Mar 21, 2023 1:45 pm

John Bolton’s Prominence In The Media Proves Our Entire Society Is Diseased

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In order to narrative-manage the public conversation about the Iraq War on the 20th anniversary of the invasion, those who helped unleash that horror upon our world have briefly paused their relentless torrent of “Ukraine proves the hawks were always right” takes to churn out a deluge of “Actually the Iraq War wasn’t based on lies and turned out pretty great after all” takes.

Council on Foreign Relations chief Richard Haas — who worked in the US State Department under Colin Powell when Bush launched his criminal invasion — got a piece published in Project Syndicate falsely claiming that the US government and his former boss did not lie about weapons of mass destruction, and that “governments can and do get things wrong without lying.”

Former Bush speechwriter David “Axis of Evil” Frum cooked up a lie-filled spin piece with The Atlantic claiming that “What the U.S. did in Iraq was not an act of unprovoked aggression” and suggesting that perhaps Iraqis are better off as a result of the invasion, or at least no worse off than they would otherwise have been.

Neoconservative war propagandist Eli Lake, who has been described by journalist Ken Silverstein as “an open and ardent promoter of the Iraq War and the various myths trotted out to justify it,” has an essay published in Commentary with the extraordinary claim that the war “wasn’t the disaster everyone now says it was” and that “Iraq is better off today than it was 20 years ago.”

But by far the most appalling piece of revisionist war crime apologia that’s come out during the 20th anniversary of the invasion has been an article published in National Review by the genocide walrus himself, John Bolton.


Bolton sets himself apart from his fellow Iraq war architects by arguing that the actual invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein “was close to flawless,” and that the only thing the US did wrong was fail to kill more people and topple the government of Iran.

Bolton criticizes “the Bush administration’s failure to take advantage of its substantial presence in Iraq and Afghanistan to seek regime change in between, in Iran,” writing that “we had a clear opportunity to empower Iran’s opposition to depose the ayatollahs.”

“Unfortunately, however, as was the case after expelling Saddam from Kuwait in 1991, the United States stopped too soon,” Bolton writes.

Bolton claims that the notoriously cruel sanctions that were inflicted upon Iraq between 1991 and 2003 were too lenient, saying there should have been “crushing sanctions” that were “enforced cold-bloodedly”.

As Reason’s Eric Boehm notes in his own critique of Bolton’s essay, perhaps the most galling part is where Bolton dismisses any responsibility the US might have for the consequences and fallout from the Iraq invasion, attempting to compartmentalize the “flawless” initial invasion away from all the destabilization and human suffering which followed by saying “they did not inevitably, inexorably, deterministically, and unalterably flow from the decision to invade and overthrow.”

“Whatever Bush’s batting average in post-Saddam decisions (not perfect, but respectable, in my view), it is separable, conceptually and functionally, from the invasion decision. The subsequent history, for good or ill, cannot detract from the logic, fundamental necessity, and success of overthrowing Saddam,” Bolton writes.

This is self-evidently absurd. A Bush administration warmonger arguing that you can’t logically connect the invasion to its aftereffects is like an arsonist saying you can’t logically connect his lighting a fire in the living room to the incineration of the entire house. He’s just trying to wave off any accountability for that war and his role in it.

“One might suspect that Bolton imagines a world where actions should not have consequences because he’s been living in exactly that type of world for the past two decades,” Boehm writes. “Somehow, he’s retained his Washington status as a foreign policy expert, media commentator, and presidential advisor despite having been so horrifically wrong about Iraq.”


And that to me is what’s the most jaw-dropping about all this. Not that John Bolton still in the year 2023 thinks the invasion of Iraq was a great idea and should have gone much further, but that the kind of psychopath who would say such a thing is still a prominent news media pundit who is platformed by the most influential outlets in the world for his “expertise”.

It’s actually a completely damning indictment of all western media if you think about it, and really of our entire civilization. The fact that an actual, literal psychopath whose entire goal in life is to try to get as many people killed by violence as he possibly can at every opportunity is routinely given columns and interviews in The Washington Post, and is regularly brought on CNN as an expert analyst, proves our entire society is diseased.

To be clear, when I say that John Bolton is a psychopath, I am not using hyperbole to make a point. I am simply voicing the only logical conclusion that one can come to when reading reports about things like how he threatened the children of the OPCW chief whose successful diplomatic efforts in early 2002 were making the case for invasion hard to build, or how he spent weeks verbally abusing a terrified woman in her hotel room, pounding on her door and screaming obscenities at her.


And that’s just Bolton’s personality. The actual policies he has worked to push through, sometimes successfully, are far more horrifying. This is the freak who has argued rabidly for the bombing of Iran, for bombing North Korea, for attacking Cuba over nonexistent WMD, for assassinating Gaddafi, and many other acts of war. Who helped cover up the Iran-Contra scandal, who openly admitted to participating in coups against foreign governments, and who tried to push Trump into starting a war with Iran during his terrifying stint as his National Security Advisor.

This man is a monster who belongs in a cage, but instead he’s one of the most influential voices in the most powerful country on earth. This is because we are ruled by a giant globe-spanning empire that is held together by the exact sort of murderous ideology that John Bolton promotes.

Bolton is not elevated at maximum amplification in spite of his psychopathic bloodlust, but exactly because of it. That’s the sort of civilization we live in, and that’s the sort of media environment that westerners are forming their worldviews inside of. We are ruled by murderous tyrants, and we are propagandized into accepting their murderousness by mass media which elevate bloodthirsty psychos like John Bolton as part of that propaganda.

That’s the world we live in. That’s what we’re up against here.


And that’s why they’ve been working so hard to rewrite the history on Iraq. They need us to accept Iraq as either a greater good that came at a heavy price or a terrible mistake that will never be repeated, so that they can lead us into more horrific wars in the future.

We are being paced. Until now, “Iraq” has been a devastating one-word rebuttal to both the horror and failure of US interventionism. The essays these imperial spinmeisters have been churning out are the early parlay in a long-game effort to take away that word’s historical meaning and power. Don’t let them shift it even an inch.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed Mar 22, 2023 2:41 pm

20 Years After Iraq, Corporate Media Defends US War Crimes But Obsesses Over Trump Trivialities
Margaret Kimberley, BAR Executive Editor and Senior Columnist 22 Mar 2023

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A fake AI-generated image of former president Donald Trump being arrested by police. (Twitter)

Liberals and the media give great attention to Donald Trump's legal problems that are related to his personal life, but they cover up for the war crimes he and other presidents committed.

United States troops began the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003 under the direction of president George W. Bush. The death toll estimates for Iraqi civilians vary between 275,000 and 654,000 as a direct result of warfare, with one study estimating as many as 1 million deaths . If even the lowest figure is correct, the U.S. committed a horrific war crime, a deliberate attack on a civilian population.

In 2003 thousands of people massed in protest across the country. On February 15, 2003 , millions gathered around the world in the largest protests since the Vietnam war. While public opinion was divided, the corporate media firmly sided with the Bush administration. MSNBC fired Phil Donahue, who hosted their highest rated show, because he expressed opinions in opposition to the war. Even Oprah Winfrey , an opinion maker hawking snake oil self-improvement quackery and celebrity worship, presented a pro-war program featuring the likes of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who worked with her paper to lie about the existence of Iraqi biological weapons programs.

Little has changed 20 years later. Now the New York Times describes the ruined nation as merely free but not hopeful without any mention of the continued devastation. They also blithely point out that George W. Bush still believes he was right to kill thousands of people . The Times indulges Bush in this latest puff piece, informing us that he enjoys painting and benefits from favorable comparisons to Donald Trump. Every U.S. president kills people and Trump is no exception. He is responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 Venezuelans who succumbed as the result of his brutal sanctions imposed on their country. Collective punishment on a civilian population is by definition a war crime.

Trump is in the news of late but not because he killed Venezuelans or anyone else. The former president may be on the verge of being charged with falsifying business records with “intent to defraud” because of the way he recorded a reimbursement to his attorney who made a hush money payment to a porn star with whom Trump had an affair. The appeal of the story is part salaciousness and part mockery of Trump who made the payments just days before being elected president.

Former presidents generally receive all sorts of consideration. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed in connection with the Watergate scandal or any other offense. New presidents come into office vowing not to bother investigating their predecessors. Bush’s torture programs went unpunished by Barack Obama. There is collusion at the top of the political heap, with political elites rivaling mafia codes of silence.

Not so with Trump, who partly due to his own personal failings has created problems for himself that are unique to former presidents. Yet he may be punished for an incompetent cover-up of personal behavior while bigger crimes are hidden or even defended. Of course there is also a desire to drive a stake through Trump’s heart and kill him off politically, although the result may not be what Democrats expect. Even if Trump doesn’t run for president again, Trumpism will live on and perhaps be emboldened when it might have withered away on its own.

The gleeful anticipation of a Trump indictment and arrest are odd when one considers the dangers facing humanity. Joe Biden, the current white house occupant, has created a political disaster with his Ukraine proxy war. He has damaged relations with former allies, failed to damage Russia as he promised, committed his own war crime of sabotaging the Nord Stream pipeline, and is unable to extricate himself from Ukraine in the way he would like. When the Biden team isn't saber rattling against Russia, they are shooting down Chinese weather balloons and planning on a two-front war when they are already losing on one front. Banks are failing and Biden is bailing them out while families struggle with cuts to the SNAP program.

But the corporate media is one gigantic mouthpiece acting on Biden’s behalf and they say nothing about the problems he has created domestically and internationally. Big crimes remain hidden, even for Trump. It is his personal foible that gets attention and not the crimes he committed while in office.

The same liberal glee at the prospect of seeing a Trump mug shot is extended to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Putin demurred on the Iraq invasion in 2003 when the now rehabilitated Bush was out for blood. But Putin was widely reviled even before Trump’s 2016 election and was then falsely blamed for putting him in office.

Now that the U.S. is using Ukraine to fight Russia, Putin is demonized all over again. The “collective west” even engineered a war crimes indictment. The warrant claims that he kidnapped Ukrainian children. The proof is lacking but the phony outrage isn’t. Like the U.S., Russia is not a signatory of the Treaty of Rome which brought the International Criminal Court into existence. The ICC literally has no standing even if Putin is guilty of the charge.

Of course the U.S. not only decided not to be a party to the treaty which brought the ICC into being, but in 2002 passed a law, the American Service Members Protection Act , which prohibits Americans from being prosecuted by the ICC. It also gives the U.S. the right to forcibly remove any citizen who might fall into the court’s hands. The same nation which quite literally reserves the right to violate human rights around the world, is now ecstatic that flimsy charges are filed against the president of another country.

If Trump ends up in court because he paid his attorney to pay off a former girlfriend, justice will not have been done. The nonsense indictment will be a failure, not a victory. Trump will never face jail time for kidnapping Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab or assassinating Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. His predecessors understand the importance of defending the big crimes. But January 6 and other antics put Trump on the outs with the rest of the elite gang. He gets no protection and could make history in a way that he never dreamed of.

https://www.blackagendareport.com/20-ye ... ivialities

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The U.S. War in Iraq: 15 Years and Counting… the Dead and Displaced, 2018. (Photo: Pressenza)

20 years later, the stain of Corporate Media’s role in promoting Iraq War remains
Originally published: Common Dreams on March 20, 2023 by Brett Wilkins (more by Common Dreams) | (Posted Mar 22, 2023)

As the world this week mark the 20th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, journalism experts weighed in on the corporate media’s complicity in amplifying the Bush administration’s lies, including ones about former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons upon which the war was waged.

“Twenty years ago, this country’s mainstream media—with one notable exception—bought into phony Bush administration claims about Hussein’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, helping cheerlead our nation into a conflict that ended the lives of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis,” Los Angeles Times columnist Robin Abcarian wrote Sunday.

That “one notable exception” was a group of journalists at the Washington, D.C. bureau of Knight Ridder—which was acquired by McClatchy in 2006—who published dozens of articles in several of the company’s papers debunking and criticizing the Bush administration’s dubious claims about Iraq and its WMDs. Their efforts were the subject of the 2017 Rob Reiner film Shock and Awe, starring Woody Harrelson.


“The war—along with criminally poor post-war planning on the part of Bush administration officials—also unleashed horrible sectarian strife, led to the emergence of ISIS, and displaced more than 1 million Iraqis,” Abcarian noted.

She continued:

That sad chapter in American history produced its share of jingoistic buzzwords and phrases: “WMD,” “the axis of evil,” “regime change,” “yellowcake uranium,” “the coalition of the willing,” and a cheesy but terrifying refrain, repeated ad nauseam by Bush administration officials such as then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

“Of course,” wrote Abcarian,

there was never any smoking gun, mushroom-shaped or not.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit investigative journalism organization, Bush and top administration officials—including then-Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Rice—”made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.”


Those lies were dutifully repeated by most U.S. corporate mainstream media in what the center called “part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.”

“It should not be forgotten that this debacle of death and destruction was not only a profound error of policymaking; it was the result of a carefully executed crusade of disinformation and lies,” David Corn, the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for Mother Jones, asserted Monday.

Far from paying a price for amplifying the Bush administration’s Iraq lies, many of the media hawks who acted more like lapdogs than watchdogs 20 years ago are today ensconced in prestigious and well-paying positions in media, public policy, and academia.

In a where-are-they-now piece for The Real News Network, media critic Adam Johnson highlighted how the careers of several media and media-related government professionals “blossomed” after their lie-laden selling of the Iraq War:

David Frum—Bush’s lead writer who coined the term “Axis of Evil” to refer to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea—is “a well-paid and influential columnist for The Atlantic and a mainstay of cable TV.”
Jeffrey Goldberg, then a New Yorker reporter who pushed conspiracy theories linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11 and al-Qaeda to Iraq, is now editor-in-chief of The Atlantic.
MSNBC‘s Joe Scarborough, an erstwhile Iraq War hawk, rebranded himself as a critic of the invasion and occupation, and is a multimillionaire morning show host on that same network.
Fareed Zakaria hosts “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on CNN and writes a weekly column for The Washington Post.
Anne Applebaum, a member of the Post‘s editorial board at the time who called evidence of Iraq’s nonexistent WMDs “irrefutable,” now writes for The Atlantic and is a senior fellow at the Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

“The almost uniform success of all the Iraq War cheerleaders provides the greatest lesson about what really helps one get ahead in public life: It’s not being right, doing the right thing, or challenging power, but going with prevailing winds and mocking anyone who dares to do the opposite,” wrote Johnson.

Other journalists not on Johnson’s list include MSNBC‘s Chris Matthews—who infamously proclaimed “we’re all neocons now” as U.S. forces toppled Hussein’s statue while conquering Baghdad—and “woman of mass destruction”Judith Miller, who although forced to resign from The New York Times in disgrace over her regurgitated Bush administration lies about Iraq’s WMDs remained an influential media figure over the following years.

In an interview with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft—which is hosting a discussion Wednesday about the media’s role in war and peace—Middle East expert Assal Rad noted:

Rather than challenging the narrative of the state, calling for evidence, or even humanizing the would-be victims of the war, the Iraqi people, reporters such as Thomas Friedman with significant platforms like The New York Times most often parroted the talking points of U.S. officials. There was little critical journalism to question the existence of WMDs and little reflection on important issues, such as the U.S. role in supporting Saddam Hussein in the 1980s against Iran, international law, or the humanity of Iraqis.

While there was some contrition from outlets including the Times as the Iraq occupation continued for years and not the “five days or five weeks or five months” promised by Rumsfeld, journalist Jon Schwarz of The Intercept noted that media lies and distortions about the war continue to this day.

“Perhaps the most telling instance of the media’s acquiescence was a year after the Iraq invasion,” said Rad,

when President Bush’s joke at the White House Correspondents’ dinner about finding no weapons of mass destruction was met with uproarious laughter from an audience of journalists.

https://mronline.org/2023/03/22/20-year ... r-remains/

The 'rise of ISIS was not spontaneous, it was 'Plan B'. Progressives like Common Dreams can't handle the truth.
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue Mar 28, 2023 1:47 pm

The New York Times Is A Disgusting Militarist Smut Rag

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I hate The New York Times. Hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it. With every fiber of my being, from the depths of my immortal soul.

The “paper of record” for the most murderous and tyrannical nation on earth, The New York Times has been run by the same family since the late 1800s, during which time it has supported every depraved American war and has reliably dished out propaganda to manufacture consent for the political status quo necessary for the operation of a globe-spanning empire that is fueled by human blood and suffering. It is a plague upon our world, and it should be destroyed, buried, and peed on.

And I am being charitable.

Among the latest items of unforgivable militarist smut churned out by the Times is an article titled “An Anxious Asia Arms for a War It Hopes to Prevent,” which freakishly frames the US as just a passive, innocent witness to the US military encirclement of China.


Times author Damien Cave writes ominously that China’s president Xi Jinping “aims to achieve a ‘national rejuvenation’ that would include displacing the United States as the dominant rule-setter in the region,” as though it makes perfect sense for the US to be the “dominant rule-setter” in the continent of Asia.

(You see lines like this in The New York Times constantly; earlier this month the Times editorial board bemoaned the fact that “the United States had tried with little success to persuade or compel China to abide by American rules,” like that’s a perfectly sane and normal line to write. Other nations make demands, the US makes “rules”. These people really do begin with the premise that the US government owns the entire world, and then write from there.)

Watch how Cave then frames the US military encirclement of China as something “China’s neighbors” are doing as a “response” to Xi’s goal of “displacing the United States as the dominant rule-setter in the region”:

In response, many of China’s neighbors — and the United States — are turning to hard power, accelerating the most significant arms race in Asia since World War II.



On March 13, North Korea launched cruise missiles from a submarine for the first time. The same day, Australia unveiled a $200 billion plan to build nuclear-propelled submarines with America and Britain that would make it only the seventh nation to have them.



Japan, after decades of pacifism, is also gaining offensive capabilities unmatched since the 1940s with U.S. Tomahawk missiles. India has conducted training with Japan and Vietnam. Malaysia is buying South Korean combat aircraft. American officials are trying to amass a giant weapons stockpile in Taiwan to make it a bristling “porcupine” that could head off a Chinese invasion, and the Philippines is planning for expanded runways and ports to host its largest American military presence in decades.



Notice the glaring contradiction between the narrative that the US is “the dominant rule-setter in the region” and the framing of this encirclement operation as something the US is merely supplying to locals who request it of their own free will. If you acknowledge that the US exerts enough control over those nations to be able to “set rules” for them, then it’s probably a bit nonsensical for you to claim they’re stationing US war machinery because it was their own idea that they chose of their own volition.

As we discussed recently with regard to Australia, we’ve all seen what the US does to nations which disobey its “rules”. Australia isn’t arming itself against China to protect itself from China, Australia is arming itself against China to protect itself from the United States. The same is true of all the other US assets listed above.

Just one paragraph after outlining the ways China is being military encircled, Cave then writes that China has “engaged in provocative or dangerous behavior” toward its neighbors:

In flashpoint after flashpoint over the past year, China’s military has also engaged in provocative or dangerous behavior: deploying a record number of military aircraft to threaten Taiwan, and firing missiles into the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone for the first time last August; sending soldiers with spiked batons to dislodge an Indian Army outpost in December, escalating battles over the 2,100-mile border between the two countries; and last month, temporarily blinding the crew of a Filipino patrol boat with a laser, and flying dangerously close to a U.S. Navy plane, part of its aggressive push to claim authority in the South China Sea.

The US empire asks us to believe many stupid things on a daily basis, but arguably the very stupidest among them right now is the narrative that the number one geopolitical rival to US power is being surrounded by US war machinery defensively.

The US is surrounding China — a nation on the other side of the planet — with war machinery in a way it would never permit itself to be surrounded for even an instant. One of these nations is the aggressor, and the other is responding defensively to those aggressions. If you can’t tell which is which, it’s because empire propaganda has melted your brain.


Another recent New York Times article titled “From Rockets to Ball Bearings, Pentagon Struggles to Feed War Machine,” author Eric Lipton warns urgently that the US isn’t producing enough weaponry to meet its current needs while preparing for war with China.

“If a large-scale war broke out with China, within about one week the United States would run out of so-called long-range anti-ship missiles, a vital weapon in any engagement with China, according to a series of war-game exercises conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank,” Lipton writes.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is funded by military-industrial complex entities like Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, and is also directly funded by the US government and its client states, including Taiwan. Lipton makes no mention of this immense conflict of interest.

The whole article reads like an advertorial for the need to pour more wealth and resources into arms manufacturers, even directly citing statements from war profiteering CSIS funders like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Lipton quotes Lockheed Martin COO Frank St John expressing his deep and solemn concern that the Pentagon might not be meeting its goals in procurement of expensive military equipment, saying, “Any time you see an analysis that says, hey, we might not be prepared to achieve our strategic objectives, that’s concerning.”

Hey thanks for your concern Frank, I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that your company sells the murder machines which meet those strategic objectives. Great journalism, Mr Lipton.

“The surge in spending is likely to translate in the long run into increased profits at military contractors,” Lipton notes.

Yeah, no shit.


One of the most freakish and depraved things happening in our society is the way war machine-funded think tanks shape public opinion through the mass media and government without that conflict of interest being disclosed. Profoundly influential outlets like The New York Times routinely cite them as though they are impartial analysts of national security and foreign affairs and not functional PR firms for war profiteers and government agencies.

If you killed thousands of people and sold their skins for a fortune, the media would correctly call you the worst monster who ever lived. If you kill the same number of people for the same amount of money but do it by lobbying for war and selling the weapons used in that war, the media will call you an industrious job creator.

It is never, ever acceptable, under any circumstances, for news media outlets to cite think tanks funded by governments and the military industrial complex as sources of information or expertise on matters of national security or foreign affairs. As soon as they do this, they’re guilty of journalistic malpractice. As soon as you find yourself writing anything like “According to my source from the Center for Strategic and International Studies,” you have ceased to function as a journalist and are now functioning as a propagandist. It’s insane that this extremely obvious fact isn’t better understood in western journalism, but we can understand why this point is obfuscated by looking at the power structures it serves.

Western media are the marketing department of the US-centralized empire, selling war and militarism to the public in the form of nonstop propaganda. And The New York Times is probably the most destructive offender among all of them.



https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2023/03/27 ... -smut-rag/

The thing about Chomsky is that even as he rightfully rails against the manufacturing of consent is that he does the very same himself with his doctrinaire anti-communism. He didn't get to be a millionaire by endorsing a serious challenge to the bourgeois state, ya know.

To quote a meme I can no longer find:

You can be a child forever if you believe that Noam Chomsky is in any way radical.
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed Mar 29, 2023 2:30 pm

Imagine If All Officials Were Interrogated By Reporters Like This

Image

A fascinating exchange took place at a UN press briefing the other day between China Global Television Network’s Xu Dezhi and the UN’s Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq about the US military occupation of Syria. The exchange is interesting both for the wild pro-US bias shown by a UN official, and for the way it illustrates how much truth can be exposed when journalists do what they’re supposed to do in the press gallery.

Xu, who has done on-the-ground reporting in Syria in the past, asked Haq some challenging questions about an attack on a US military base in eastern Syria last week which injured multiple American troops and killed an American contractor. In his response, Haq made the extremely incorrect claim that there are no US armed forces in Syria, and refused to say whether the US military occupation of part of the country is illegal.

Here’s the UN’s transcript of the key part of this exchange (emphasis added by me):
Xu: Do you not urge everyone to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria?

Haq: Well of course, that’s a given, and obviously it’s important that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria is respected. At the same time you are aware of the complexity of the situation of foreign forces, but we call for them to exercise restraint.

Xu: But, do you think the presence of the US military in Syria is illegal or not?

Haq: That’s not an issue that we’re dealing with at this stage. There’s been a war.

Xu: But, is that… because it sounds very familiar this week. We talk a lot about the UN Charter, the international law and relative resolutions. But, it sounds to me, a foreign ministry based presence in another country without invitation, sounds like something else to me.

Haq: I’ll leave your analysis to you. That there’s… At this stage there’s no…

Xu: What’s the difference between the situation in Syria and the situation in Ukraine?

Haq: There’s no US armed forces inside of Syria.
And so I don’t have a… It’s not a parallel situation to some of the others.

Xu: You’re sure there’s no US military personnel in Syria?

Haq: I believe there’s military activity. But, in terms of a ground presence in Syria, I’m not aware of that.

Xu: Okay. Five US service members were injured in that attack. If there were no US service members in Syria, how could they got injured? That’s weird, right? Should I ask you about that? And by the way, if you’re talking about the resolution, the international law here is the resolution from Security Council 2254 (2015), I believe, it says in its PA [preambular] paragraph, “reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.

Haq: Yes. I’m aware of that. And as you see, that is accepted by the members of the Security Council itself.

Xu: Yeah. So, again, back to my question, is that illegal to have presence in Syria for the US base, according to the relevant resolution that I just read out?

Haq: The relevant resolution does call for that and we call on all countries to respect that. I wouldn’t go beyond that at this stage.



To be absolutely clear, this is a UN official. Haq has been in his current position as deputy spokesperson for almost a decade, and routinely answers questions about Syria as part of his capacity in that position.

It is not some obscure esoteric secret that there are US military personnel in Syria; it’s in the mainstream news constantly. Just the other day The New York Times reported that “America still has more than 900 troops, and hundreds more contractors, in Syria.”

Haq was either ignorant of this extremely important and relevant piece of common knowledge, or was dishonestly pretending to be. The most charitable interpretation of his actions at this press conference is that he sincerely did not know the US has armed forces in Syria.

To put it into perspective, this is like being a UN official and routinely taking questions about Ukraine from the press, but not knowing that Russia invaded Ukraine and has been fighting a war there since last year.

Haq is the son of a Pakistani politician but speaks with a pristine American accent, and his acrobatics in dodging around Xu’s US-critical questions would impress even Jen Psaki. My favorite part is when he says “I’ll leave your analysis to you,” because it’s such a brilliant deflection that can be used on any inconvenient question you can imagine (“Sir why are you holding a severed human head in your hands right now?” “Look, I’ll leave your analysis to you.”)

Xu’s straightforward, intellectually honest questions were all it took to get Haq to expose himself as an airheaded empire lackey, and I can’t help but fantasize about how wonderful the world would be if this happened all the time.



I mean, compare this oppositional interrogation with the shit show that erupted in the White House press gallery earlier this month when Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba interrupted some silly publicity appearance by the cast of Ted Lasso to complain that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had not called on him in seven months.

The entire press corps immediately leapt to the defense of the White House official in the most sycophantic way imaginable, turning against their fellow journalist and paternalistically telling Ateba to shut up and mind his manners when he accused Jean-Pierre of “making a mockery of the First Amendment.”

Reporters from immensely influential platforms like Reuters, AP and CNN shouted Ateba down with calls of “Be respectful!” and “Mind your manners,” with one woman even shrieking “Decorum!” at the top of her lungs like an overwhelmed child. AP’s Zeke Miller even apologized for Ateba’s “display”, saying “I just want to express our apologies in the press corps to the folks watching at home for the display we saw earlier.”

Those are the sort of groveling bootlickers who insulate the press secretary of the most powerful government office on this planet. Imagine what would happen if the press were as oppositional to Jean-Pierre as Xu Dezhi was to the UN’s Farhan Haq. Imagine what contradictions could be exposed, what hypocrisy illuminated, what inconvenient questions pursued until a fruitful response was arrived at.

Instead we get the world’s most powerful government represented by people whose only traits are the ability to skillfully avoid providing meaningful answers, receiving slobbering rim jobs from power-worshipping cronies who want nothing more than to be their friend. This is the exact opposite of a healthy dynamic, and the exact opposite of a functioning free press.

It should not take a reporter from Chinese state media to ask inconvenient questions about the most powerful and destructive government on earth; western journalists should be falling all over themselves to ask those questions, because that’s what the job is supposed to be. The fact that this isn’t what happens shows that the free press has been replaced with propaganda, and accountability has been replaced with the blind service of power.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2023/03/29 ... like-this/

******

paging Farhan Haq....

Image
A convoy of US armoured vehicles patrolling the occupied territories of northeastern Syria bordering Turkiye (Photo: Indian Punchline File Photo)
U.S. is stirring up the Syrian cauldron
By M. K. Bhadrakumar (Posted Mar 27, 2023)

Originally published: Indian Punchline on March 26, 2023 (more by Indian Punchline) |

The circumstances surrounding the flare-up in Syria between the U.S. occupation forces and pro-Iranian militia groups remain murky. President Biden claims that the U.S. is reacting, but there are signs that it is likely being proactive to create new facts on the ground.

The U.S. Central Command claims that following a drone attack on March 23 afternoon on an American base near Hasakah, at the direction of President Biden, retaliatory air strikes were undertaken later that night against “facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.”

However, this version has been disputed by the spokesman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council who accused Washington of “creating artificial crises and lying.” The Iranian official has alleged that,

Over the past two days, American helicopters have carried out several sorties with the aim of increasing instability in Syria and transferred Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists in the territory of this country.

He said Washington must be held accountable for such activities. The official warned that Tehran will give a prompt response to any U.S. attack on whatever false pretext against Iranian bases that exist on Syrian soil at the request of Damascus for fighting terrorism.

Is the U.S. deliberately ratcheting up tensions in Syria even as the China-brokered Saudi-Iranian rapprochement is radically changing the security scenario in the West Asian region in a positive direction?

There is optimism that Syria stands to gain out of Saudi-Iranian rapprochement. Already, the Saudi Foreign Ministry revealed on Thursday that talks are going on with Syria for resuming consular services between the two countries, which will pave the way for the resumption of diplomatic relations and in turn make it possible to reinstate Syria’s membership of the Arab League.

Saudi Arabia has established an air bridge with Syria to send reef supplies for those affected by the devastating earthquake in February.

The backdrop is that the normalisation of relations between Syria and its estranged Arab neighbours has accelerated. It must be particularly galling for Washington that these regional states used to be active participants in the U.S.-led regime change project to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The Saudi-Iranian rapprochement badly isolates the U.S. and Israel.

From such a perspective, it stands to reason that the U.S. is once again stirring up the Syrian cauldron. Lately, Russian aircraft have been reported as frequently flying over the U.S.’s military base At Tanf on the Syrian-Iraqi border where training camps for militant groups are known to exist.

Israel too is a stakeholder in keeping Syria unstable and weak. In the Israeli narrative, Iran-backed militia groups are increasing their capability in Syria in the last two years and continued U.S. occupation of Syria is vital for balancing these groups. Israel is paranoid that a strong government in Damascus will inevitably start challenging its illegal occupation of Golan Heights.

A key factor in this matrix is the nascent process of Russian mediation between Turkiye and Syria. With an eye on the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary election in Turkiye in May, President Recep Erdogan is keen to achieve some visible progress in improving the ties with Syria.

Erdogan senses that the Turkish public opinion strongly favours normalisation with Syria. Polls in December showed that 59 percent of Turks would like an early repatriation of Syrian refugees who are a burden on Turkish economy, which has an inflation rate of 90 percent.

Evidently, Turkiye is ending up as a straggler when the West Asian countries on the whole are coasting ahead to normalise their relations with Damascus. But the catch is, Assad is demanding the vacation of Turkish occupation of Syrian territory first for resuming ties with Ankara.

Now, there are growing signs that Erdogan may be willing to bite the bullet. The consummate pragmatist in him estimates that he must act in sync with the public mood. Besides, the main opposition party CHP always maintained that an end to the Syrian conflict needs to be anchored firmly on the principles of Syria’s unity and territorial integrity.

The influential Beirut newspaper Al-Akhbar has reported citing sources close to Damascus that Erdogan is weighing options that would meet Assad’s demand with a view to restore relations. The daily reported that one possibility is that Turkiye may propose a timetable for the withdrawal of its troops in Syria.

Significantly, Erdogan telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday and the Kremlin readout mentioned that amongst “topics concerning Russian-Turkish partnership in various fields,” during the conversation,

the Syrian issue was touched upon, and the importance of continuing the normalisation of Turkish-Syrian relations was underlined. In this regard the President of Türkiye highlighted the constructive mediatory role Russia has played in this process.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held telephone talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to discuss developments in Syria where he underscored that the “sole purpose” of its deployment in northern Syria is to secure its borders and fight terrorism.

It is entirely conceivable that Erdogan has sought Putin’s help and intervention to reach a modus vivendi with Assad quickly. Of course, this is a spectacular success story for Russian diplomacy–and for Putin personally–that the Kremlin is called upon to broker the Turkish-Syrian normalisation.

The China-brokered Saudi-Iranian normalisation hit Washington where it hurts. But if Putin now brokers peace between two other rival West Asian states, Biden will be exposed as hopelessly incompetent.

And, if Turkiye ends its military presence in Syria, the limelight will fall on the U.S.’ illegal occupation of one-third of Syrian territory and the massive smuggling of oil and other resources from Syria in American military convoys.

Furthermore, the Syrian government forces are sure to return to the territories vacated by Turkish forces in the northern border regions, which would have consequences for the Kurdish groups operating in the border region who are aligned with the Pentagon.

In sum, continued U.S. occupation of Syria may become untenable. To be sure, Russia, Turkiye, Iran and Syria are on the same page in seeking the vacation of U.S. occupation of Syria.

Thus, an alibi is needed for the U.S. to justify that although dialogue and reconciliation is in ascendance in West Asian politics, Syria is an exception as a battleground against “terrorism.” The U.S. is vastly experienced in using extremist groups as geopolitical tools.

The U.S.’ real intention could be to confront Iran on Syrian soil–something that Israel has been espousing–taking advantage of Russia’s preoccupations in Ukraine. The Russian-Iranian axis annoys Washington profoundly.

The spectre that is haunting Washington is that the stabilisation of Syria following Assad’s normalisation with the Arab countries and with Turkiye will inexorably coalesce into a Syrian settlement that completely marginalises the “collective West.”

In retrospect, the unannounced visit by General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to northern Syria in early March falls into perspective. Milley told reporters traveling with him that the nearly eight-year-old U.S. deployment to Syria is still worth the risk!

The time may have come for the militants, including ex-Islamic State fighters, who were trained in the U.S.’s remote Al Tanf military base to return to the killing fields for “active duty.”

Tass reported that on Friday, the terrorist group known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham tried to break into the Aleppo region which has been under Syrian government control and relatively stable in the recent years.

https://mronline.org/2023/03/27/u-s-is- ... -cauldron/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Mar 30, 2023 1:50 pm

Media and Government Excuses Are Basically Intertwined’
CounterSpin interview with Norman Solomon on the Iraq invasion
JANINE JACKSON

Janine Jackson interviewed the Roots Action’s Norman Solomon about the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion for the March 24, 2023, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.


Janine Jackson: So here we are, 20 years after the US war on Iraq, and, to speak broadly, the popular understanding is that Iraq wasn’t behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and that they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction aimed at the US, weapons whose immediate threat, yes, was the vehemently argued premise for a grave assault on a sovereign country.

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Atlantic (3/13/23)

But somehow, in all of this talkity-talk, the idea of acknowledgement of wrong—forget compensation, forget apology—is nowhere in evidence.

The story has been made over such that the Iraq invasion was wrong, but still OK. Iraqis were harmed, but still helped. And all the advisors and experts that got it very wrong are still, somehow, right.

The 2003 war on Iraq is, most importantly, a story about imperialist violence. But it’s also about the web of lies and disinformation used to advance it, and the role that nominally independent journalists played—and play.

Norman Solomon has been thinking and working on these issues for decades. He’s been part of FAIR since the start. He’s co-founder of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His most recent book is War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, out soon from the New Press.

He joins us now by phone from the Bay Area. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Norman Solomon.

Norman Solomon: Thanks, Janine.

JJ: There are so many places we could start. But I did want to stick a fork in one thing. Talking about media today, at the 20-year mark, the theme is missed signals, miscalculation, misunderstanding.

It’s hard to talk about what happened, and media’s role, without recognizing that the George W. Bush administration and its advisors wanted and intended to invade Iraq before the September 11, 2001, attacks. But that’s not a contention. That’s just a thing we know, based on evidence, right?

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Guardian (2/24/06)

NS: Yes, Rumsfeld made a very clear statement in a memo, just in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, that they were going after Iraq. It was their “eyes on the prize,” in a grotesque sort of way.

And when we look back 20 years, I think there’s a consistent thread that the media and the government excuses are basically intertwined. Which sort of makes sense, since the disinformation messaging after 9/11, before, during and after the invasion of Iraq—all that was also intertwined between government and mass media.

And we think of and sometimes notice the revolving door of personnel, where someone is a press secretary for the president, then goes to a cable news network, or vice versa. George Stephanopoulos, and many others who followed him, just had this career path that was basically recycling between those in government who often deceive, and those in media who have a follow-up career. And they’re just in a different part of the deception chain, as it turns out.

And so I think it’s fitting, unfortunately, that 20 years after so many of the government officials and media mavens and so-called journalists—quite often not deserving the name—that they were basically singing out of the same hymn book. And now they’re being exculpatory for each other and themselves at the 20th anniversary.

One example that I think is just so profoundly grotesque is that in the months before the invasion of Iraq, you had people who were recycling falsehoods out of government sources, or government-designated, -anointed sources, into news media, like Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, onto the front pages of the New York Times.

Then you would have Dick Cheney, for instance, who would go on the Sunday talkshows, knowing that his own office had funneled the disinformation into the New York Times, then he would say, “Well, don’t just believe us. This is being reported by the New York Times.”

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Intercept (3/15/23)

JJ: Right. And a number of folks have written recently—Jon Schwarz at the Intercept, Derek Seidman at Truthout, also Marjorie Cohn, Adam Johnson at Real News—about how these visible architects of the Iraq War, in government, but also in think tanks, and then also in media, they’ve all failed upward subsequently, haven’t they? Even knowing what we know, there’s been no comeuppance, no fallout, for those folks.

NS: That is something I think we could call a repetition compulsion disorder that completely gets a reward system to back it up. Whereas those who step out of line, who don’t conflate being pro-war with being objective, they are not going to find upward mobility in media anywhere near so smooth. And often they just hit a brick wall, forget glass ceiling, they hit a brick wall above their heads.

We have some examples that cry out for remembering and reminding people, that Phil Donahue, who had the temerity to actually have a variety of voices about the wisdom of invading Iraq in the months before in his primetime MSNBC program, we know because of a leaked memo that he was fired a few weeks before the invasion, precisely because people at the top of management—MSNBC, NBC News—they were worried that, as they put it in this, for a while, secret memo, that the flag-wavers at Fox and CNN would make MSNBC look bad because Donahue was allowing some anti-war voices onto the air.

And I know from having been reporting and visiting Iraq before the invasion a few times, and writing about this at the time, including for FAIR, that there was a tremendous amount of pressure going on from news media, and to the extent there was an opening for debate, say in the summer and early fall of 2002, the aperture continued to narrow, and so the more that a consensus was being promoted and forced, you might say, that a war and invasion was necessary, the less space there was.

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Salon (3/19/23)

I know personally, because I was able to go to Iraq with some delegations, a former senator and current member of Congress, and then with Sean Penn, and then with a UN official. I found in the late part of 2002 what was first a bit of an opening, where I would be invited on to CNN or MSNBC or even Fox. By the end of the autumn, that opening had pretty much closed, and certainly by the end of the year.

And the explanation I was given was that in October of 2002, when the House and Senate voted that an invasion of Iraq would be authorized, that became official policy, and some of the bookers and so forth at the cable news networks would say, “Well, you know, now this is the US government stance that an invasion is in the cards; it’s officially authorized by the legislative branch. So there’s less controversy here.”

JJ: And so now we need to close up any window of debate in the public conversation, because officials have decided what’s going to happen. And I don’t think that’s maybe everybody’s understanding of the way journalism works, or should work.

NS: Yeah, it’s a sort of an ersatz, pseudo-journalism that sets the standard for professionalism. And we, I guess, ought to face it that when people move into the journalism profession, they’re out of college or whatever, what defines professional standards? It’s the ambience, the content, the style, the attitude that’s inherent in what people who have already made it in the profession are doing every day.

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Norman Solomon: “High-quality media outlets in the United States of America basically served as conveyor belts for pro-war propaganda.”

And so it’s an imitative quality that defines what journalism, or at least what passes for journalism, is. And part of that is not really apologizing, even later on. And I think this gets to what you were alluding to at the outset of our discussion, Janine, that when there’s an anniversary, or a look back, there’s really very little impetus for candor, least of all self-assessment or self-criticism, really, from these media institutions.

And so even in some of the most conspicuous, egregious cases like the New York Times distortions and serving up just bogus stories, the Washington Post as well, when they did sort of mea culpas, many, many weeks later, they were sort of equivocal. And they avoided really shedding harsh light on how it could be that these two purportedly most important, high-quality media outlets in the United States of America basically served as conveyor belts for pro-war propaganda coming from the top of the US government.

JJ: To me, the fact that when you look at the architects and the folks who are most prominent in mouthpiecing for this invasion, the fact that they are all still in high-paid and prominent positions, it underscores the fact that corporate media’s “debate,” it has a patina of rationality and of debate, but it’s really kind of just a club, right?

There’s just certain folks that they listen to and whose ideas they promote. And it doesn’t matter if those folks are wrong or right, or if they’re reliable or not, or if they’re lying or ignorant, they’re just on the list. And then there are other people who are just not on the list, whether or not their predictions turn out to be right, or whether or not they’re reliable.

And with Iraq, that was historians and regional specialists and human rights researchers. They’re just never going to be let into the conversation, no matter how correct they were.

NS: There really are tacit media boundaries that I think are well-understood, however consciously or not, and when a misassessment was later shown to be egregiously wrong, with a war or peace at stake, there’s later on a sense of a clean slate, let’s wipe the record clean, because, eh, we all make mistakes, and so forth.

And that goes to individuals and also to media organizations. And we might want to think the ones that are really top quality, they will cop to their mistakes, distortions, errors, even, or especially, when the errors were extremely important.

And yet, that’s not the case. One example, which at least has to do with history—and we’re told that journalism is the first draft of history; OK, later on, there should be a better draft. Of course, one would hope that the first one was accurate, given that that is the most important, while these events are unfolding.

So one example that comes to mind is the New York Times reported, early on in this whole 20-year span, that the invasion came after Saddam Hussein had kicked out UN weapons inspectors from the country in 1998. So this was the New York Times telling all of its readers that, hey, those UN weapons inspectors were pulled out of the country several years before the invasion, they were kicked out, Saddam Hussein did not allow them to inspect anymore.

And FAIR, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, made the clear and accurate point, and mobilized some messaging to the New York Times, that that’s an interesting story which happens to be false, and that Saddam Hussein did not kick out the UN weapons inspectors in 1998.

They were withdrawn by the United Nations because the government of, under that point, President Bill Clinton had made clear it was about to bomb Iraq in what became known as Operation Desert Fox.

And so it was because the US government announced, essentially, it was about to bomb the country that the UN thought it was prudent to save the lives, perhaps, of the UN inspectors, to withdraw them.

And so that was something that FAIR activists were able to get the New York Times to publish a subsequent correction.

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New York Times (3/18/23)

Fast forward many years, to the time of the 20th anniversary that we’ve just gone through, and the New York Times again publishes the falsehood that Saddam Hussein kicked out the weapons inspectors from the country in 1998, which reminds me of something that George Orwell wrote in 1984: “Those who control the present control the past. Those who control the past control the future.” And I think that’s a good cautionary note to anybody who thinks, well, this is just history, why talk about it now?

Because all of this is prefigurative; it is actually reinforcing mindsets. These distortions are messaging to people, subtly and not so subtly, that at the end of the day, I think as you put it at the beginning of our discussion, Janine: The US government can be wrong, but it’s still OK.

We can go into war and, OK, we made mistakes, etc., etc., which is easy for us to say, while other people experience it with more suffering by far than those in the US. But still the pretense, subtly or not, is it’s OK, because we mean well.

There was a short story written 100 years ago called “Editha,” and there’s a character in it, and this is in about 1905, when it’s published, which is in the aftermath, really, of the US slaughter of people in the Philippines. And there’s a character who says: what a wonderful thing it is to live in a country that might be wrong, but when it’s wrong, is right anyway.

JJ: And that’s the water that elite news media carry, and to folks who could think smarter, to a population that could handle reality, and react accordingly.

And I guess that’s what makes me so angry, is that people pick up the paper thinking that they’re being addressed as an intelligent person who’s trying to make decisions about what they support and what they don’t support. And it’s just not what they’re getting. It’s not what they’re getting.

And there were a few things that stand out to me, Norman, because I know that some of CounterSpin listeners weren’t born in 2003. And so they’ve only heard the remix, as it were. But there are things that stand out for those of us who were there.

And one of them is a massive demonstration in New York, with thousands of other people who were opposing an imminent invasion of Iraq, who were pulled out of their apartments, people who don’t usually go out in the street, who don’t usually demonstrate. But we were very aware that this was a war that was going to be called in our name, specifically, like, look at what happened to New York on September 11. And it was supposed to be in our name.

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New York Times (10/30/02)

And as I’ve said many times before, the most prominent message here in New York City was “our grief is not a cry for war,” and the desire to not turn the horror and loss of September 11 into more horror and loss for other people.

And what I remember was coming home from this massive demonstration, and reading the New York Times saying, well, not a lot of people showed up, it wasn’t as many people as organizers thought, and so wrong, so wrong, that the Times had to go back and re-report the story later.

And so I guess what I’m trying to get at is that the erasing and the denigrating of anti-war voices was key in 2003, and it’s key in 2023.

NS: Absolutely. It’s the erasure of those who are either suffering under the US bombs, erasure from media coverage of substance and let alone empathy, and also erasure, as you say, of anti-war voices in our own communities in the United States, and the tremendous quantity, really, and depth of anti-war feeling and understanding. It is infuriating. It should be infuriating.

And often, when I read even the best, what we’re told are the best, mass media outlets in the United States, it seems that there’s an effort in effect to infantilize the readers, to almost like what was in school called the Weekly Reader, where things were really, if not dumbed-down, it’s just simplified, and the lens on the world, the window on the world, is so tinted red, white and blue. We’re being assumed to be either naive, gullible or simply blindly (what passes for) patriotic.

And the staying power of people who are in the upper reaches of editorial decision-making is really quite stunning. It’s hard to think of anyone who was in a major position 20 years ago, propagating and fomenting and spreading the lies to grease the path, the skids, for the war on Iraq, it’s hard to think of many who suffered at all from their careers. They simply did fine, the ones who did all that, just went right along, often rising into the profession’s upper reaches.

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New Yorker (1/26/03)

I think, for instance, of David Remnick, who was already the editor of the New Yorker magazine during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, and he wrote a de facto editorial calling for the invasion of Iraq. It was quite vehement. And that was a couple of months before the invasion.

But even worse, under his editorial leadership, David Remnick ran a magazine, the New Yorker, that published one article after another that was absolute distortion, claiming without any evidence—and it certainly turned out to be false—that Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government had ties to Al Qaeda, had ties to what happened during 9/11. These were very powerful messages.

And many people, naively, gullibly assumed, well, it’s in the New York Times, or it’s in the New Yorker, or it’s in the Washington Post, that these kinds of stories were true, or had credibility.

In fact, they were disinformation of the most dangerous and ultimately destructive kind.

JJ: And finally, and following from that, it’s work, isn’t it, to resist the confusion and the cognitive dissonance that elite media enforce, for a person who’s just trying to inform themselves about the world.

The messages you get—sovereignty matters, except when we say it doesn’t. Invasion is horrific, except when we do it. Look how they oppress their own people; that’s reason enough to force regime change. Oh, but don’t talk about that in the US, you freaking commie.

Forget your political stance—it just breaks your brain to try to pretend to follow elite media’s, what they call rationality. And I guess, above all, it makes you feel confused and alone.

And what I want to ask you is, what do you see as the antidotes to that? Where do you see the place for folks to go who recognize how brain-breaking and how wrong this is?

NS: As you say, the effort is so important, because if we’re simply passive and let it wash over us, that’s not going to work.

I think recognizing that the essence of propaganda is repetition, and that if we are immersed in this constant waterfall, this flood of corporate-driven media coverage and what passes for analysis and so forth, that we’re in the deluge, and that we need to swim, so to speak, in a very different direction.

And that includes, of course—I don’t mean this as a cliche—thinking for ourselves, and also availing ourselves and supporting media outlets that are very much willing to swim upstream to challenge the conventional media wisdom that is so driven by, among other things, the military industrial complex and corporate power.

And so that should mean including supporting FAIR, subscribing to the newsletter Extra!, going to FAIR.org, supporting CounterSpin; going to outlets like Truthout and Common Dreams and the Intercept and elsewhere, Democracy Now!

These are very important outlets, because if we don’t sustain them, we will simply be overwhelmed by the disinformation machine.

JJ: We’ve been speaking with longtime FAIR associate Norman Solomon of RootsAction.org and the Institute for Public Accuracy. His latest book, War Made Invisible, will be out soon from the New Press. Thank you so much, Norman Solomon, for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

NS: Thanks a lot, Janine.

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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Thu Apr 06, 2023 1:24 pm

For The Record, NPR Absolutely Is US State Propaganda

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American liberals are in an uproar over Twitter’s recent labeling of National Public Radio as “US state-affiliated media”, a designation typically reserved for state media from governments the US is trying to topple like Russia’s RT, China’s CGTN, and Iran’s Press TV.

In an article titled “Twitter labels NPR’s account as ‘state-affiliated media,’ which is untrue,” NPR’s Bill Chappell attempts to argue that his outlet does not deserve to have the same labels affixed to it as state media from naughty governments like Russia and China:

“Noting the millions of listeners who support and rely upon NPR for ‘independent, fact-based journalism,’ NPR CEO John Lansing stated, ‘NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy.'”

It is an interesting choice to spotlight NPR’s CEO John Lansing while trying to argue that NPR is not state-affiliated, given that Lansing spent his pre-NPR years as the CEO of the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM). USAGM is the US government narrative management umbrella which runs overt US state propaganda outlets like Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Voice of America.

In a 1977 article titled “Worldwide Propaganda Network Built by the C.I.A.,” The New York Times explicitly names Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Free Asia as part of the network constructed by the Central Intelligence Agency to circulate propaganda. As Fair.org’s Bryce Greene recently noted, USAGM received $810 million in US federal funding in 2022, which is more than twice the amount RT received from Russia for its global operations in 2021.


Lansing’s history is not an anomaly; NPR is regularly overseen by executives who came directly from senior positions in Washington’s official propaganda network. From 1998 to 2008 NPR’s president was a man named Kevin Klose, who previously ran Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and then returned to that job after his decade-long NPR stint. A man named Ken Stern became NPR’s executive vice president in 1999 and was appointed CEO in 2006; prior to that he was the senior advisor to the director of the USAGM’s International Broadcasting Bureau.

So it is a bit funny that John Lansing is now cited complaining about NPR being labeled “state-affiliated media” on Twitter, given that he has devoted his life to promulgating US state-affiliated media. NPR receives funding from the US government, consistently advances the information interests of the US government, and is routinely run by professional propagandists of the US government. You could spend hours of your life just reading through Fair.org’s “NPR” section to see the many, many ways that platform has exhibited wild biases to grease the wheels of the US empire. If NPR is not state-affiliated media, then nobody is.

In his efforts to argue that his outlet is not state-affiliated media, Bill Chappell also hilariously points out that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended NPR as a wonderful exemplar of journalistic integrity:

When asked about Twitter’s decision during the White House’s daily briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to address Twitter’s content rules specifically. But she also defended NPR’s journalism.

“There is no doubt of the independence of NPR journalists,” Jean-Pierre said. “If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of their questions, you know this.”

Yeah great argument Bill, “The White House says we’re good so we can’t possibly be US state-affiliated media.”


Defenders of NPR try to argue that the label is inaccurate because NPR only receives a small amount of its funding from the US government (between one percent and 15 percent depending on whose talking points they’re reciting), but this claim is undercut by NPR’s own claim that “Federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public and its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR [emphasis theirs].”

It’s probably also worth saying that if I was receiving between one and 15 percent of my funding from the government of Russia or China, I feel quite confident that Twitter would slap me with the “state-affiliated” label immediately, as it has so many others. If you’ve conceded that you receive government funding to any extent, it’s hard to then argue that you are in no way “affiliated” with that government.

It’s probably additionally worth noting that NPR receives a massive amount of funding from oligarchs like Bill Gates. When you live in an oligarchy like the US, receiving funding from oligarchs is not meaningfully distinct from receiving funding from the state.

But what’s especially revealing is the reasons people are giving for why the “state-affiliated media” label is detrimental to NPR.

“Twitter has labeled National Public Radio as ‘state-affiliated media, a move some worried could undermine public confidence in the news organization,” reads a tweet by AP. The tweet paraphrases a quote from PEN America’s Liz Woolery, “For Twitter to unilaterally label NPR as state-affiliated media, on par with Russia Today, is a dangerous move that could further undermine public confidence in reliable news sources.”


Think about what they’re admitting here, and what they’re not saying. They’re acknowledging that this label that’s been getting slapped on the media from nations which disobey the US government “undermines public confidence” in those outlets, which means they know Twitter has been using that label to undermine public confidence in the media from nations which disobey their government. They’re just not taking that understanding to the obvious conclusion: that this means Twitter has been functioning as a propaganda arm of the US government.

Indeed, the problem with the “state-affiliated media” label hasn’t so much been that it exists, but that it will always be unevenly applied. The label gets pinned to outlets like RT and China Daily while left off of known US propaganda outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Voice of America. This designation is also nowhere to be seen on other outlets which receive a far greater share of their funding from the state than NPR does, like the UK’s BBC, Australia’s ABC, Canada’s CBC, and the Saudi Press Agency.

There is no valid reason why NPR should carry the label of “state-affiliated media” while those outlets I just listed should not. So while NPR is unquestionably state-affiliated, the fact that it is the sole anomaly in Twitter’s otherwise consistent policy of pro-US, pro-western bias is a pretty clear sign that this designation did not come about because of an interest in truth or facts.

The explanation could be as simple as the fact that NPR published something that Twitter’s new CEO didn’t like, such as its recent article “Dogecoin price spikes after Elon Musk changes Twitter logo to the Shiba Inu dog.” Or it could be something even simpler, like the fact that NPR doesn’t support the same politics as Musk.


In any case, the “state-affiliated media” label is plainly a propaganda construct designed to suppress unauthorized speech in facilitation of the information interests of the US empire. If it was being used to promote truth and critical thinking it would be applied to every mainstream outlet in the western world, because those all serve as propaganda organs for the US empire today. While the official job of outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia is to administer US propaganda, their unofficial job is to give people the impression that they are the only kinds of institutions which administer US propaganda.

All this bickering and squabbling about whose voice should be uplifted as trustworthy and whose voice should be squelched as untrustworthy is just a manifestation of the fact that powerful people understand something most ordinary members of the public do not: that whoever controls the narrative controls the world. If you can exert control over the way people perceive reality, then you can control reality itself.

Until the public becomes more aware of this fact, our lives will be subject to the whims of oligarchs, government agencies, and mass media propagandists. Not until then will we be able to awaken from our propaganda-induced coma enough to shake off the psychological manipulations which keep us marching to the tune of oligarchy and empire, and use the power of our numbers to force the emergence of a healthy world that benefits us all.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2023/04/06 ... ropaganda/

I am a fully recovered npr junkie. I hate their guts.

Npr is propaganda for people who think they're smarter than everybody else. Get over it.

Used to think it was Newt's 'Contract on America' which ruined npr but I was wrong. It was propaganda from the git, as I reflect upon their coverage of the NATO war on Yugoslavia. I knew something was 'off' at the time but then 'I couldn't handle the truth'.
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Tue Apr 11, 2023 4:05 pm

The Word “Presstitute” Is Insulting (To Sex Workers): Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

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Responding to a war caused by NATO expansion by expanding NATO.

Fighting Russian authoritarianism by increasing censorship.

Fighting Russian propaganda by increasing propaganda.

Pursuing peace by rejecting diplomacy.

Defending Europe from Russia by bombing European pipelines.



Twitter has dropped its entirely appropriate designation of NPR as “state-affiliated media”, instead creating an entirely new designation, “Government Funded”, which it has also now given to the accounts of outlets like the BBC and Voice of America. You still see establishment guard dogs decrying this new label for western propaganda outlets on nonsensical pedantic grounds, but really the problem is that they’re not receiving the same “state-affiliated media” label as outlets like RT and Press TV despite being equally propagandistic. The label is designed to provide the false impression that western propaganda outlets are not propaganda outlets.

It’s actually very revealing how huffy and indignant empire apologists are getting over the “Government Funded” label, because it shows that they see it as Twitter’s responsibility to facilitate western propaganda. Imperial spinmeisters have a vested interest in maintaining the illusion that propaganda is something that only happens to other people, and any move that might disrupt that illusion even slightly is met with hostility.



It’s one of the most shameful jobs in the entire world to spend your time doing critical reporting on the enemies of your government while ignoring your own government’s far more egregious crimes.

People talk about sex work as shameful, and in America they’ll even shame you for working a low-paying job like McDonald’s, when on all our screens every day we see people selling their own government’s ugly foreign policy in a line of work that is entire universes more shameful.

That’s why I dislike the use of the word “presstitute” to refer to these people. Not because it’s insulting to the press, but because it’s insulting to sex workers.



Over and over and over again we see US officials talking very differently about a hot war with China over Taiwan than they talked about hot war with Russia over Ukraine. This is absolute screaming insanity, and it should enrage everyone.

https://twitter.com/AZgeopolitics/statu ... 5920867331

The US has no place flirting with the possibility of an Atomic Age world war over a longstanding inter-Chinese conflict that’s none of the west’s business. It should enrage us all that they’re talking about throwing our sons and daughters into the gears of that horrific war.




China must be stopped before it imposes totalitarian diplomacy on Ukraine and authoritarian peace in the middle east.

We’ve got to stop China from achieving peace over there so we don’t have to stop it from achieving peace over here.



It’s a completely false narrative that the US is “polarized” politically. On the most consequential matters both factions are always in enthusiastic agreement; the “divisions” are limited to superficial culture war issues whose outcomes will never affect anyone with real power.


If anything the US could stand to be far more politically “polarized”, because it would mean actual political opposition happening in the world’s most powerful country instead of nonstop kayfabe combat while the empire marches on uninterrupted regardless of who’s in office.



What would it mean if humans are the lone intelligence in the universe? If there are no aliens, no gods, no conscious AI waiting to emerge in the future? Well, it would mean we’ve got a lot more responsibility, for one. Nobody’s coming to the rescue. It’s on us to fix this mess.

And I think that’s probably a big part of what drives the belief that we’re not alone — not because the evidence is particularly strong, but because of how intimidating the prospect is.

That’s what I find when I look within myself, anyway. When I ask myself “What if we’re alone in this?” the very first response that comes up within me is, “Ah shit.”

Because think about what that would mean. Think about it and feel about it. Not only would it mean we’re permanently on our own when it comes to fixing all our massive problems, but we’ve also got a massive responsibility not to fuck this all up. If we’re the only intelligent life in the universe, then we’ve actually got a serious responsibility to try and preserve that life.

I mean, if we wipe ourselves out with nuclear war or environmental collapse, or with some other wonderful technology-based emergence we haven’t invented yet, then that’s bad enough by itself. But if on top that we also wiped out the only intelligent life in the universe, it’s almost infinitely worse, no? It means we didn’t just inflict that horror upon ourselves, we inflicted it upon the future of the entire universe.

And I just think that’s probably what drives a lot of the belief that there’s something else out there. The fact that we’re all kind of intimidated by the responsibility which would come with our being alone.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2023/04/09 ... ve-matrix/
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Re: Censorship, fake news, perception management

Post by blindpig » Wed Apr 12, 2023 1:53 pm

White House Says Don’t Report on Pentagon Leaks

NSC spokesman John Kirby says the information has 'no business' being on the 'front pages of newspapers or on television'
by Dave DeCamp Posted onApril 11, 2023CategoriesNews

The White House on Monday warned media outlets against publishing information contained in the top secret documents leaked from the Pentagon and other US government agencies that have surfaced on the internet.

“Without confirming the validity of the documents, this is information that has no business in the public domain,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“It has no business, if you don’t mind me saying, on the pages of — front pages of newspapers or on television. It is not intended for public consumption, and it should not be out there,” he added.

The documents first surfaced on Discord, a messaging platform mainly used by gamers, and most appear to be authentic as the Biden administration is scrambling to control the leak. Kirby admitted that the administration has no idea if more leaks are coming.

“We don’t — we don’t know what’s out there … We don’t know who’s responsible for this. And we don’t know if they have more that they intend to post. So we’re watching this and monitoring it as best we can,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin vowed to “turn over every rock” to find the source of the leaks. “Now, I can’t say much more while the Justice Department’s investigation is ongoing. But we take this very seriously,” he said.

Some of the leaks show the US’s war plans for Ukraine and expose that Washington believes Kyiv is running out of air defenses and won’t be able to gain much ground in an expected spring counteroffensive. The leaks also expose the US spying on its allies, including Ukraine, Israel, South Korea, and Hungary.

https://news.antiwar.com/2023/04/11/whi ... gon-leaks/

"Free Press", huh?

Well, it's still not totally clear if all of this material is kosher. Could be US disinformation meant to deceive the Russians, perhaps not all but some 'limited hangout' would add to the perceived authenticity. As does this admonishment from warmonger John Kirby. Certainly some of the stats are 'off'.

Or it could indeed be kosher and the discrepancies simply due to Pentagon errors or implanted propaganda. We'll find out soon enough in respect to Ukraine.
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