Controlling the Narrative
The new 4th estate phoenix rises from the ashes of the FCM
A thanks to Ray McGovern for providing me with a term for USA corporate media. I've never liked "mainstream media" (MSM). Dinosaur media seems okay, but doesn't really grab. His term is "Fawning Corporate Media" which captures the spirit well. He explains how to pronounce the FCM acronym. The "C" should be pronounced as a hard "C". He notes that this pronunciation also encapsulates his attitude towards them. I concur. Thanks, Ray. FCM it is.
The FCM made a lot of money out of Donald Trump, during his presidential candidacy and his term of office. The amount of "the walls are closing in" hyperbole and commentary from ex-CIA officials was so astonishingly grotesque that a phrase for it was developed "Trump Derangement Syndrome".
Everybody who has done any decent research into the basis for the "RussiaGate" "hack" knows that it is pure BS. It was purely and simply a political position to attack both Trump and Wikileaks in some grand conspiracy with "The Russians". Why did the FBI allow a commercial firm, chosen by the Democratic party, to analyse their servers, instead of impounding them and doing the investigation itself? Hmmm? That is enough to cast a very long shadow. However, the head of said "Cyber Security" firm Crowdstrike, Shaun Henry, admitted under oath before a Senate hearing that there was no evidence of "exfiltration of data", by which he means that there is no evidence of data having been extracted. What? The GRU were using the DNC's servers to play Tetris? Has the FCM reported on Henry's statement to the Senate? Nope. Warning, there’s a lot of nope coming.
Of course, the narrative managers, as Caitlin Johnstone would describe them, have not given up on RussiaGate and have wheeled out Luke Harding with another piece of rubbish so stinky that every person in the independent media slammed it. ConsortiumNews' Editor in Chief, Joe Lauria, posted a very restrained article highlighting its very shaky foundations. MoonOfAlabama was a little less restrained.
So talented a businessman was Trump that he, despite not paying contractors, could not make a profit from a casino. But, a far more successful casino operator, one Sheldon Adelson, who donated heavily to Trump's campaign, could find enough spare cash to hire the firm UC Global to spy on Julian Assange in the Equadorian embassy in London so that the US knew everything about him, including his legal strategies to resist extradition in the soon to be released indictments.
With Trump tramping out of the Whitehouse the cable news arm of the FCM had all of a sudden not much to talk about; and talking is what they do. This caused a significant drop in viewership. A recent survey of persons who watch cable news asked what is the most trusted section of their news broadcasts? The weather. I applaud the respondents for their perception.
While this continued decline in trust, and more alarmingly for them, a sudden decline in viewership, was under way, the most significant media trial of my generation (us mid-lifers) was under way; the extradition request for Wikileaks publisher and journalist Julian Assange. The meagre and cursory coverage of the trial by the FCM was illuminated by the fact that the only detailed coverage came from people the FCM like to call "bloggers". As we shall see, in the USA and largely in the UK too, what was the 4th estate has largely merged with the executive branch of the 3 estates, and those "bloggers" and a few independent media outlets are the current 4th estate. Some like to use the term 5th estate, but I do not wish to bless the sycophantic, stenographic, access-journalism that the FCM perform any credibility. FCM, as one could say.
The other related trend that has been emerging over the last few years is a greater integration with the power structures by not just the media, but by social media too. People who have researched the investment funding behind companies like Google and Facebook know the USA's Spy community (they prefer "intelligence community" but I see little to warrant that term) involvement from the very outset. Slides published by journalists that came from the archive provided to them by Edward Snowden shows the continuous ongoing relationship between the spies and the Tech Giants / Social Media companies.
These social media companies were gifted with a statute that said that they could "moderate" (read censor) content on their platforms and also not be liable for what was being said. I actually agree with part of this. Think of social media like a gigantic "letters to the editor" page, where the author is at risk for what they say, and the publisher not. I can understand why some social media publishers would like to curate/censor their publication towards a certain topic or audience. But, censorship is a powerful weapon and needs to be wielded carefully. Criticism of "but I got censored" could be countered with "well, publish elsewhere" and most importantly "they are a private company, its their thing and they can do what they want".
Given the concentration of power in the social media space, just as the concentration of ownership in the corporate media space, the first counter argument is losing some efficacy. But, the internet, due to its standardised protocols, is a bit of a hydra and other less censorious platforms are emerging. Rokfin and Substack (on which this article is published) come to mind.
But, the second argument "they are private companies" has just had its wheels blown off.
One can recall the repeated appearances of CEO's of social/tech companies before the USA congress with various threats being issued by the legislators and the CEO's explaining how they are doing their best. Its interesting because the social media companies are in this day and age even more powerful than the FCM in controlling public opinion and thus have the congress critters by the short and curlies. We also know that the very wealthy social media companies donated lots of money towards political parties in the recent USA election, most of it to the Democrats.
The wheels were blown off by the executive branch admitting that it is advising the social media companies as to which accounts on their platforms are publishing things they don’t like and the social media companies are using "Community Guidelines" in the craziest way to remove, block, suppress, defund or outright delete content by these people. In a recent case Matt Orfalea was dinged by Youtube for content that he had uploaded but never made public, and then deleted BEFORE he got the "strike". You just cant make this ‘stuff up’. Time travel thought police, anyone?
So, we have this ham-fisted, lawless, government mandated, censorship of speech being enacted by the social media companies, whilst the FCM just keep printing propaganda and talking points, and specifically not publishing things that are of significant interest to both themselves and the rest of us. Here, we return to Mr. Assange.
Back in 2010 Wikileaks had a source the likes of which any news outlet would crave, a disgruntled, principled, top-security clearance enabled insider; Manning. He (then Bradley) had approached FCM outlets like the New York Times and others and had been rebuffed. He then contacted Wikileaks. The rest, as they say, is history and in this case literally documented history exposing war crimes and the inner workings of the USA empire via the State Department Cables. One can see the heads of the deep state exploding as these publications came out. Now, Mr. Assange is a rather clever lad and had partnered with major publications during these "revelations" to maximize their impact, and "spread the responsibility"; a very clever strategy, indeed. We will come back to this as the “New York Times” problem.
I think one of the greatest compliments and damnations was by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's declaration of Wikileaks as a:
non-state hostile intelligence agency
He was head of the CIA at the time, and this comment was in his first public appearance in that role. It foretold much of that which was to come. Let us analyse the statement, by turning it on its head. The implication is that the FCM are:
state controlled friendly counter-intelligence agencies
Quod erat demonstrandum.
Okay, more evidence is required. Stundin, an Icelandic publisher, published a report into the shady character of Mr. Thordarson and exposed that statements that he had made to the FBI in exchange for legal protection were in fact full of lies. The final "superceding" indictment against Assange was based on these statements and were referenced by district court Magistrate Baraitser in her judgement. The superceding indictment’s purpose was, as Mr McGovern so rightly puts it, to avoid the "New York Times" problem (NYTP) and portray Assange as a "hacker".
As Mr Snowden put it just after this publication, the case against Assange is over.
Why? Because they are now back in the middle of the NYTP. Not that this will stop them trying, despite Assange having a mountain of support from the UN to all major human rights and press freedom organisations and the editorial staff of even the FCM. This is not even counting the cross-party political support in parliaments from Australia, Spain, UK, Germany and many other countries.
As former USA extradition target Lauri Love well expressed:
the process is the punishment
To what degree did the FCM report on this astonishing investigative journalism that places the USA extradition right back squarely in the middle of the NYTP? None. Nada. Crickets.
Meanwhile, Assange's father and brother had been on a 13 stop tour of the USA to raise awareness of their relative's plight (or psychological torture as UN Special Rapporteur on the topic, Nils Melzer, officially declared it). How much FCM coverage did the tour get? Crickets.
This is particularly weird as their event (see sources, full video) in New York was attended by Chris Hedges, Aaron Mate and Roger Waters. Now, Waters is just a great musician and general advocate for the oppressed, but Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist and major intellectual (Hello, Inverted Totalitarianism), and Mate is one of the USA's newest investigative journalist stars (Hello, RussiaGate demolisher and piercing light into the political corruption in the OPCW). No coverage? WTF?
Waters even provided new unknown material, that Facebook/Instagram had asked him for the rights to use one of his songs and his response was "F*** you, Zuckerberg". I mean, how can this event not be covered? There is one and only one answer, suppression.
When John and Gabriel Shipton turned up (see sources, full video) at the National Press Club to give a presentation and answer audience questions, with Dr. Cornell West (a USA intellectual at least at the level of Hedges) and M.C'd by The Intercept's Washington D.C reporter Ryan Grim, how many journalists from the FCM turned up at the NATIONAL FUCKING PRESS CLUB?
—> 0 <—
I mean, massage me with a guillotine. How much suppression do you need?
Happy Birthday to You
Before concluding, on the recently passed event of Mr. Assange's 50th birthday there were plenty of tributes. Here are two. An eight minute speech by Ray McGovern (its worth a listen) that was played on loud speakers outside of HMP Belmarsh wherein Mr Assange lives under 23 hour a day isolation, and a magnificent piece of multimedia art by "call it as it is" Caitlin Johnstone:
In conclusion, Operation Mockingbird is complete. The FCM have CIA officers as special guests, and pay them. The social media companies are doing the bidding of the government to censor speech. There is a name for this, its called Fascism. As I mentioned, Hedges calls it inverted totalitarianism. I call it seriously dangerous.
Let us use those places left, or emerging, to speak our minds.
Peace be with you.
Sources (because you deserve this and the FCM dont give it to you)
STAND WITH ASSANGE: Reception for John and Gabriel Shipton, the father and brother of Julian Assange, The People's Forum NYC
Cornel West and Ryan Grim join Julian Assange's father & brother at National Press Club, Assange Defense
PS: I’m proud to have so many of my favorite independent journalists as references. Thank you, Chris, Ray, Caitlin, Aaron, Max, Matt, and b for your work. If only your voices were more loudly heard.
PPS: Finally, I’m going to do a “Jimmy Dore”. Go and find this level of analysis of the merging of the FCM and social media companies, and thus more centralised government and corporate control of the “narrative” anywhere on the FCM. I have no training whatsoever in journalism, and as you have read, my writing leaves paddocks of space for improvement. You wont find this critique in the FCM, not because they don’t know or are not better authors, but because they cannot speak of it. We have moved from manufacturing consent into that and manufacturing silence within the media itself.
Do NOT watch the video. Listen.