- Politics and Social Issues
The Truth Deficit - Fake News In a Disinformation Matrix
Things must have come to a pretty pass when we are contemplating a Donald Trump presidency and the forces that have coalesced to bring us to that end. The mainstream media continues to bark ‘fake news’ at many of the ‘alt-right’ news sites that have clogged our social media feeds over the last few years and especially in the last six months. The mainstream media may have a point where these alt-right sites are concerned, however, these websites have only been able to peddle much of the nonsense they do, due to the truth deficit that has opened up where reporting is concerned within the mainstream itself.
The establishment has been fulminating over Trump’s refusal to take daily security briefings from the CIA, and Trump’s response?
"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction."
And to be fair, Trump has a point, doesn’t he? Well, surprise, surprise, Trump’s statement isn’t quite the truth, in fact it serves to further muddy the waters on what really happened with regard to the CIA report on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
It wasn’t actually the CIA who said that Saddam Hussein was producing and preparing WMD’s for use in a war against the west, it was actually the Bush administration who allowed the public to believe the claim. The full CIA report on Saddam Hussein’s WMD’s and his links to Al-Qaeda was published by Vice News on March 19th 2015 and what it actually appears to show is a U.S. administration building a case by cherry picking intelligence in order to advance to an outcome they had already decided on, war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
The October 2002, 93 page CIA report, known as the ‘National Intelligence Estimate’ (NIE) was later assessed by congress who concluded the Bush administration ‘overstated’ it’s warnings on the imminent threat posed by Iraq and Saddam Hussein and Bush and Rumsfeld’s claims regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program were “not supported by the underlying intelligence reporting.”
Let’s put it another way, they lied. The NIE actually contained many qualifiers and some of the information was obtained from terror suspects who were tortured. As so much of that information turned out to be untrue, it would appear that relying on the evidence obtained from tortured suspects in order to launch foreign wars would be out of fashion. Not for Trump though, he says that the U.S. should go even further in its use of ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques. And in his claim that it was the CIA who said “these are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” he is also incorrect. The CIA just forwarded intelligence to Dubya Bush and co and said there were no hard conclusions that could be drawn.
Bush and Rumsfeld translated that as:
"(Iraq) possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons" and "the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program." (George W. Bush, October 7th 2002)
"We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad……we have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a decade, and of possible chemical and biological-agent training." (Donald Rumsfeld, September 2002)
These statements are pure fabrications and they are the root of the disaster that continues to unfold in all its horror across the Middle East today (well, that and previous U.S. administrations who had funded the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan throughout the nineteen-eighties in their war against Russia.) Yet Donald Trump believes that it was the CIA who said that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And now, due to Donald Trump’s assertion, further more millions believe the CIA said it…….and the whole sorry tall tale continues.
With their weasel words, Bush and Rumsfeld rallied the mainstream media machines to the cause of swinging the weight of public opinion behind an unjustifiable war, based on false conclusions, from false, sketchy and misleading intelligence. And it worked. Were you one of the duped?
One report counted that in the two years following the 11th September attack on the twin towers, George W. Bush and seven of his other White House administration team members made 935 false public statements regarding the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and his non-existent WMD’s and their imminent threat to U.S. national security. At the time, most of those statements were reported as ‘real news’ by the mainstream media both in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
Did you see Fox News in the United States taking the Bush team to task for making ‘fake statements’ about Iraqi weapons? Did you read in The Sun newspaper in the UK that Tony Blair was a criminal liar who agreed privately with George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq, thereby illegally bypassing parliamentary scrutiny?
And yet now in the UK, Rupert Murdoch, owner of both Fox News and The Sun, is attempting an audacious £18.5 billion full takeover of SKY TV. A man whose news organisations have peddled in fake news for decades, whose journalists have been prosecuted for making stories up, entrapment, for hacking the phone of a murdered school girl. He owns news organisations that have wholly supported wars with no purpose other than to enrich those who gain contracts in their wake. How do such supposedly truthful organs of ‘news’ keep their audience in hock when their risible reporting and analysis is found to be untruthful and the means of getting stories often criminal?
Quite simple, they play to your worst fears and prejudices in order to confuse you into acting against your own best interests.
It is said that when a population is fed nothing but a diet of lies and propaganda, that it will eventually start to experience so much cognitive dissonance that its behaviour will become more and more erratic and disturbed, until it’s actions en-masse become indistinguishable from the actions of those who are diagnosed with suffering from schizo-affective disorders. This is the ultimate conclusion of a disinformation-matrix.
Hello President Trump.
And here, in some way, we may actually find the CIA to be more than somewhat culpable in the disintegration of a free press that holds power to account, if, of course, such a thing as a free press ever existed. A February 1981 quote from Willam Casey, then CIA director, and leaked by a former White House staffer, gets right to the crux of the matter:
"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."
This quote was reportedly in reply to a question from Ronald Reagan as to what Casey saw as the ultimate goal of the CIA. If Donald Trump has been an intelligence target of the CIA, it could be assumed that they actually have their man in the White House. Regardless of the establishment exhortations that Russia now has their patsy in place as the next president, it’s quite clear that almost everything that Donald Trump believes is actually false. So could it be that it is the CIA, and not ex-KGB chief Vladimir Putin that has achieved their ultimate goal with a president Trump?
And put a cherry on top by getting the public to believe that it was Putin and not them that did it?
Of course, the above conclusion was reached by cherry picking information and then making a wild assumption decided in advance for the purpose of this essay. And that, my friends, is the absolute nuts and bolts of how fake news works. Fake news sites can generally be identified by the fact that they have pre-set agendas and skew information, often small nuggets of information, out of context with its original setting, within the thrust of what they are reporting in any given article.
This doesn’t just flag up such obviously partisan and nonsensical operations as Alex Jones’ Infowars and Breitbart for scrutiny where fake news is concerned. It also places pressure on almost every major media organ in the United States and the United Kingdom for their complicity in helping propagate the propaganda peddled by Dubya Bush and his cronies and the ensuing international crisis it has caused, and the kid-gloving it has given Obama over its persecution of whistle-blowers and involvement in the continuing wars in the Middle-East. The problem with this is it gives Alex Jones and co a lot of whataboutery to throw in the faces of those who accuse him of being fake news. People who live in glass houses, throwing stones, etc….
Try taking a look at this hysterical party political broadcast released by the U.K Conservative Party in September 2015, shortly after Jeremy Corbyn’s successful bid to become leader of the Labour Party. See if you can see small bits of information being taken out of context and placed on a framework on which the whole of the U.K. political establishment (including many within his own parliamentary party) are trying to hang Corbyn on….
The contrived stories and articles that have quite obviously been a device employed between the media and the political establishment have failed to stop the Corbyn ascendancy to party leader. However, it has quite clearly marked out The Guardian and virtually every other major U.K. media operation as fake news. They have decided in advance that Corbyn should not and will not be a major U.K. political figure and they are doing everything they can to frame every morsel of information about Corbyn in that direction.
In this embarrassingly partisan Guardian video report that The Guardian headlined as ‘Oldham by-election: Corbynmania collides with reality,’ The Guardian minion sent to report on the, hoped for by the mainstream media, collapse of Labour Party support, traipses desperately around the English town of Oldham for signs that the result of the by-election will finish Corbyn off for good as a political force.
Of course, we will never know what interviews hit the cutting room floor singing Corbyn’s praises or the opposite, the direction of the piece, however, is given away by the article title and also the first few moments of the video clip when the reporter states that,
“Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party is looking increasingly fragile……..it may turn out his fate is decided, not in Westminster, not even in London, but the sort of eternally overlooked place, where it’s fair to say most people don’t get to decide anything.”
Unfortunately for The Guardian however, the people of Oldham did decide something that day. They certainly must have decided what they were reading in The Guardian was fake news.
The reporter concludes his report with the following monologue,
“I suppose what I’m really thinking about is the cruel irony at the heart of this story. [When] Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, a lot of people thought he was there to get the party back to its traditional values, stop its core vote haemorrhaging away, some people even thought he’d be able to bring back Labour voters, who were switching to UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party,) after a day spent here, you get the sense that he might have made those things even worse. Standing here right now it feels like we’re in the middle of another chapter, in the story of everything falling apart.”
Quite what it was that was supposed to be falling apart was never told.
And of course, the mainstream media and Guardian narrative of haemorrhaging Labour Party support due to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was confirmed after the announcement of the results of the Oldham West and Royton by-election. Except it wasn’t.
The Labour Party retained their seat claiming a huge 62% of the total vote share and increasing their % vote from the previous year’s general election by 7.3%. The actual voter turnout however, was lower than the general election, as is usual for a mid-term by election, which meant that Labour had a smaller majority in actual votes cast. It was however, a stunning victory but of course, some papers didn’t lead with the news of a stunning victory, which they had previously clamed would not happen and that Labour would be beaten by UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party,) who actually only claimed a third of the amount of votes as Labour. No, they lead with stories along the lines of,
‘Labour win with reduced majority.’ One BBC Radio 5 Live reporter unashamedly finished his live broadcast of the by-election results with “So, now it’s on to the next disaster for Labour.”
They are basically telling us black is white in front of our faces and most people seem to be falling for it.
But were there ever good old days, when we did have a free press that held power to account, who we could trust to tell us the good and honest truth? To investigate this, perhaps we should take ourselves back to a speech that was made by a long standing member of the U.S. press, John Swinton, in April 1883,
“There is no such a thing in America as an independent press, unless it is out in country towns. You are all slaves. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dare to express an honest opinion. If you expressed it, you would know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150 for keeping honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for doing similar things.
If I should allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, I would be like Othello before twenty-four hours: my occupation would be gone. The man who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street hunting for another job. The business of a New York journalist is to distort the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread, or for what is about the same — his salary.
You know this, and I know it; and what foolery to be toasting an "Independent Press"! We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks. They pull the string and we dance. Our time, our talents, our lives, our possibilities, are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
I was so impressed with this speech when I first read it some fifteen years or so ago, I wrote some words for a song in its honour. A couple of years later, in 2003, I recorded the song with some friends and after coming this far through this article, a musical break would probably be appreciated. So here it is, the Ken ‘O Keefe overdub was added on a whim sometime in 2012-13 I think, it seemed like a good idea at the time…..
So, as we can see from John Swinton’s speech, fake news is nothing new. In fact it is more than likely the norm in most countries at most times. An entity that owns the production and dissemination of entertainment and information owns the population and can make choices on its behalf. However, social media, has in some ways superseded the old model of state and politicorporate broadcasting which had held sway in the west especially since World War II, and now flows of information are splintering as people wall themselves off in their social networks that amplify their own world view.
This would be fine if people were educated well enough to assess how truthful or factual any given information may be but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. People by and large aren’t taught to think critically by their educational systems, they aren’t taught the inherent pitfalls of language and how it can be used to manipulate and obfuscate and this is where dark forces can step in and brainwash huge segments of the population by playing to their fears and prejudices.
And that’s exactly what they have done in getting Trump elected.
Were you duped?
And who, exactly, are they?
Be seeing you!