The Bi-Partisan Murder Of The Free Press

Watching the latest update on the Guardian, a UK-based newspaper, publishing a story about Julian Assange allegedly meeting with Paul Manafort, has inspired my next article. I realize that many of my readers will already know everything I say in the article. If you consider yourself progressive, I’m super glad you’re reading this, but I’m really hoping to enlighten your friends and family when you share this article around (so please do).

Julian Assange is a publisher, and as such, he deserves the same freedoms and protections that any other publisher gets. He was a hero of the left when he published files that exposed torture at Abu Ghraib, which made George W. Bush look like a war criminal (he is). When he dared to expose secrets that hurt Democrats, the establishment didn’t like that as much and many officials declared that he should be executed. Now, if you agree that Assange is a criminal for publishing what he did, I’d like to take a moment to remind you that journalists and publishers regularly use material that is obtained in less than legal ways. It happens all the time!

Already in the Ecuadorian Embassy, because of some statutory rape charges in Sweden, which were dropped, he knew damn well that if he went to Sweden, the U.S. would have him extradited, even though there were no charges against him “officially”. He still faced charges of skipping bail, in the United Kingdom in 2012, when he went to the embassy for asylum, even though the original Swedish charges had been dropped.

Since the 2016 election, Democrats have accused Assange of working for Russia and working for Trump, in an effort to discredit him, even though Wikileaks has never, in its existence, had to retract a story. Earlier this week, a sealed indictment of Assange was “accidentally released” by a cut and paste error on the part of U.S. prosecutors.

On November 7, a CNN journalist named Jim Acosta, had his White House press pass revoked for being pushy during a press conference. You might have a different view, but I thought Acosta was out of line, whether or not he put his hands on anyone. Still, practically every news outlet reported that story as if it were an assault on the First Amendment. So where are they when it comes to Assange? The persecution and potential prosecution of Assange is an assault on all of them, and yet they are almost all silent, or they blame Assange. That’s because the mainstream media (yes, even PBS) now has a corporate narrative, and protecting Assange doesn’t fit into it, just like the truth about potentially dangerous medications (how many drug commercials do you see during the news?) or any kind of anti-war message at all. Ed Schultz was fired from MSNBC for favoring Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election*. Pulitzer Prize winner, Chris Hedges was fired from the NY Times for questioning the Iraq War. **

Back in the days of Murrow or Cronkite, people could count on the news to at least try to be accurate and fair. So what happened? Well, it began with Ronald Reagan, whose FCC eliminated The Fairness Doctrine, which “was a policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was — in the FCC’s view — honest, equitable, and balanced.” *** The elimination of this doctrine allowed outlets to be totally biased. This was how we got right-wing radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh.

But even if you have right-wing media and left-wing media, you still have hundreds of other news outlets that will call out dishonesty, at least until 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act and deregulated the media.**** As a result of this act, larger news outlets started buying up others, leaving us where we are today, with all of the mainstream media being owned by a total of six corporations, many of them sharing the same scripts. A video famously circulated featuring dozens of news personalities from stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group reciting identical lines. It’s quite disturbing that this is the state of our media. Sinclair owns stations in 81 markets, reaching 70% of American homes. If you haven’t seen it, I’ll footnote the link to an article where you can watch it. *****

In 2017, before leaving office, Barack Obama signed The Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act, which repealed the ban on propaganda. ****** This leaves us with very few choices in the media, and the choices we do have no longer even have to be truthful. For instance, when the media made such a big deal about President Trump refusing to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand *******. It wasn’t true. President Trump had shaken Chancellor Merkel’s hand many times that day, and the media had been with them the whole time. They knew it was a lie. Then they retracted it later. That is fast becoming standard practice — to publish a false story to discredit someone the news corporation doesn’t approve of, then later retract it, usually quietly or in small print, at the end of a broadcast or on page 4, several days after the public has absorbed the lie.

The latest case of this (that I’ve heard of) is this Manafort story about him meeting with Assange. Wikileaks has accused the Guardian of fabricating the whole thing and is taking the paper to court. Considering Wikileaks track record of never losing, my hunch is that the story is totally false. But if you’re thinking its only national sources that are doing this, you’d be wrong. Recently, the Napa Register printed a letter to the editor about a Napa Valley College Trustee named Amy Martenson — a letter that falsely accused Ms. Martenson of voting against using the college as a shelter from the 2017 fire.******** A simple 5 minute check of the dates in the letter disproved it, but another Trustee also wrote to the Register to correct it. Still, it took several days for a correction to be issued, which appears as a disclaimer on the original letter, so you probably didn’t see it unless you were looking back at letters from several days earlier. This same paper, when several other important stories that were completely verifiable were presented to them, flat-out refused to print a word or investigate at all.

There is no longer an interest in truth, in media, only in what furthers that outlet’s agenda. Another example is Jill Stein’s 2016 appearance on PBS’ Newshour. Her criticism of Hillary Clinton and of the TPP were simply edited out. ********* PBS didn’t want anything bad about either going out over the airwaves. I can hear a bunch of “left-of-center” Democrats crying blasphemy. PBS is, in fact, a corporation, and as such is extremely biased. I used to love PBS radio, never realizing how biased it was, until I suddenly did. Some of PBS’ corporate sponsors include Chevron, Walmart, Koch Industries and Coca Cola. Do you really think that PBS is willing to give extensive coverage to the damage the Chevron refinery does to the Richmond area or to the people who live near the refinery? Nope. The reality is there are news stories out there that the mainstream media simply will not report.

What kind of news would the media NOT report? Well, for one, they didn’t want to tell you about Bernie Sanders. Trump and Clinton got like 1000 times more coverage than Senator Sanders in 2016. The media once had a live camera on Trump’s podium, before his speech, during the entire time Senator Sanders was speaking. They didn’t report the massive protests at the 2016 Democratic Convention, or the fact that half the delegates walked out in protest. Instead, seat-fillers were hired and the media proclaimed how unified Democrats were. The media won’t report problems with medications like Abilify or Benicar until the public pressure gets so great that they have to report it. DuPont dumped millions of pounds of a cancer-causing chemical known as C8 directly into the Ohio River, which ended up in the drinking water of 70,000 homes, but you didn’t hear about it on CNN or NBC. When a former Russian spy who was living in the UK, was suspected to have been poisoned, that story was everywhere, but when evidence started piling up that Russia was blameless and owed an apology, the story disappeared. And you sure didn’t hear how the United States, under Barack Obama, installed a Neo-Nazi President in Ukraine (Petro Poroshenko).

I sometimes have been known to watch the local news. Local news, nowadays, has weather frequently broken into 3 segments and sports into 2. The anchor reports a few semi-relevant stories in the first few minutes, then the rest is fluff. Filler. On my local ABC station, it seem like their last 7 or 8 minutes are often a commercial for some local restaurant. This is because of all the topics they aren’t allowed to talk about. Well, at least that’s my theory.

So, what can we do? My suggestion is alternative media sources like The Intercept, Consortium News, Truth Dig, Zero Hedge. I like to watch certain shows on RT America, like America’s Lawyer, which focuses on legal news such as the DuPont and drug stories I mentioned in the previous paragraph, or Redacted Tonight, which is news given to you with comedy. The important thing is to think, to question. What is their motive in telling you what they tell you? Are they trying to make you hate or fear someone or love them? What aren’t they telling you? Did that story not quite make sense or contradict another story?

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