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Dec 13

Antidote to Mainstream Propaganda

In Brief—We are regularly subjected to a diet of propaganda from the mainstream media and the government. The Intercept is one method of seeing past the subtle yet pervasive propaganda bombarding us daily. Do you want an antidote? Skepticism is always a choice. The Intercept, Truthout and TomDispatch are other reliable choices.

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There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute—

Hillary Clinton lied when questioned about Edward Snowden during the purported Democratic “debate.” Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not meant to suggest that any sane person vote for one of the Republican clowns running for president in 2016. The Republican candidates lie like rugs and are dangerous to the world in the bargain. I am saying that Hillary Clinton lied to burnish her “cred” as a hawk. Was there any doubt on that?

Black signEven though PolitiFact stated that Clinton’s answer was “False,” Times journalists not only didn’t mention PolitiFact’s corrective, they unabashedly waxed lyrical in pointing out that Hillary Clinton had “won” the debate. By contrast, The Intercept told its audience that PolitiFact had labeled Clinton’s answer as “False.”

How about the chemical and seed giant Monsanto’s responsibility for the calamitous decline in the Monarch butterfly population or the suicides of despairing Indian farmers who are legally required to buy Monsanto’s seeds rather than save last year’s seeds? The media—owned by rich investors—failed to mention these outrages. One wonders why. The Intercept featured the story.

How about the media’s featuring an American general before a friendly congressional committee to describe the “accidental” bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz. Doctors Without Borders wasn’t invited to correct the record and point out that the attack killing at least 30 patients and personnel was deliberate. All President Obama needs to do is consent to an independent investigation. He hasn’t consented. He apparently prefers to let the American military’s version stand. Was this mentioned in the mainstream media? No. The Intercept and Truthout reported the truth.

The Intercept is one of a few reliable sites that report what the mainstream media either fails to report or flat hides. Makes a thinking person wonder what the mainstream media choose to ignore. And the American government? The Intercept tells us what the government doesn’t want us to know.

Truthout and TomDispatch are two other reliable sources to counteract the media version. The informed person must always check more than the mainstream media to get closer to the truth. To accept at face value what is seen in the mainstream media or what the government says is to wed oneself to the blue pill version of life, to buy into the propaganda.

Remember two things: 1) the mainstream media are owned by wealthy oligarchs and rich investors who are interested primarily in preserving their perks, in preserving the status quo. 2) the mainstream media protect their profits by attracting eyeballs. Thus, they play up the drama rather than reporting the news without fear or favor.

The Intercept, Truthout and TomDispatch—

What is The Intercept? It’s an online news publication created in 2014 by First Look Media and funded by Pierre Omidyar. Its editors are Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. It boasts a staff of dedicated writers who adhere to the purpose of defending press freedom in the public interest. It is opposed by the U.S. military, and members of the military are banned from reading it.

What is Truthout? It is a daily non-profit progressive news organization focused on political issues and unconventional thinking. It doesn’t adhere to the same old system of doing things. Contributors include Kathy Kelly, Bill Moyers, Paul Krugman, Noam Chomsky, William Rivers Pitt and other notable journalists. It takes on the issues of war, torture, health care, prison reform, elections and other matters of national and international interest.

What is TomDispatch? It was launched by Tom Englehardt in 2001. A member of the Nation Institute, it is devoted to commentary of both domestic and international interest. It is focused on the mainstream media and how the world really works, not how the mainstream media say it works. Big difference! Writers include Rebecca Solnit, Bill McKibben, Michael Klare, Adam Hochschild, Nick Turse and other notable journalists.

The important thought to take away from this is that you must always maintain a healthy skepticism as well as recognizing that the mainstream media—and the government—are telling you only what they want you to believe. Think critically regardless of the source. Weigh the evidence. Take the red pill. Don’t accept propaganda.

8 comments

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  1. Dave Meyers

    If you are a FOX News watcher, you tend to believe FOX commentators.
    If you lean left and watch MSNBC, you tend to agree with their take on the ‘news’.
    I subscribe to the latter and scoff at the Fox take on the event covered by both. I agree with MSNBC much more than I agree with FOX. Why is that. Well, if I’m honest, it’s because I lean the same way that MSNBC leans even before I switch on the TV.
    So, why is it helpful for me to use the three sources that you’ve outline in your piece? Why should FOX viewers use them either? How do they not have a bias in the same way that the major news outlets do.
    Noam Chomsky, a brilliant man, is described as a Libertarian Socialist. He certainly has a bias. The well known commentator and Democrat, Bill Moyers, certainly was a bias. Laura Poitras has suffered scrutiny from the U.S. Government for he liberal activism, I’d guess that she has a bias view point as well.
    Understand that I’m playing the Devils advocate here Don.
    I use these sources too. But how can I be assured that their views are totally unbiased? I’m likely to accept them because they tend to have views similar to mine. But, if I were a FOX News watcher, I bet I would disagree with their assessments all together.

    Convince me…….. 😉

    1. Don Bay

      To the Devil’s Advocate I say that every living entity on Earth has a bias whether it be humans, governments corporations or any other entity. I gave examples that I hope register with all readers as well as they have for you. Here is my train of thought.

      On the bias spectrum, the mainstream media and the government are on the right side while the sources I mention—The Intercept, Truthout and TomDispatch— are on the left side. Along with healthy skepticism, these three present facts that clarify and even expose information that those entities on the right either distort, lie about or avoid. If you read both, you will come closer to the truth than if you simply rely on what those on the right say without further checking.

      While the three I recommend are “left” biased, they put evidence out there that contrasts—sharply in most instances—with what you are told or not told by those on the right. You must always remember that the mainstream media are owned by the oligarchs who have an interest in maintaining the status quo and influencing you to buy their product. The government and the media are in the propaganda business 24/7 and the United States is second to none when it comes to propaganda. As I stated earlier in this blog, all nations use propaganda, but America is in first place with a big lead.

      The take-away from this piece is that you must never simply accept what you are told by the mainstream media or the government. The three organizations I identify are a more trustworthy source of information whatever one’s bias. That said, a healthy skepticism is always helpful whatever your bias. To be perfectly open, I firmly believe a benevolent bias toward our fellow humans and other species is healthier than a right-wing bias toward distrust, anger, authoritarianism and lies.

    2. Kathy

      Dave, you’ve hit the nail right on the head. Excellent point.

      1. Don Bay

        Which point? The overall point was that a person needs to look for balance.

        1. Kathy

          The point that everyone has a bias (if not an actual agenda), and that we tend to agree with those who share our biases and dismiss those who don’t. The most powerful biases are those we aren’t even aware of.

          1. Don Bay

            Yep, everyone in the world has a bias…in some cases, it’s an out-and-out prejudice. Some are good while others are harmful. Some are aware and others are not. It’s part of human nature. As I said, however, the whole piece was about seeking balance in point-of-view. If one doesn’t have time to check both sides, then one’s bias will determine which sources are most believable. Healthy skepticism and weighing the evidence helps.

  2. Jim Newton

    I have been reading Truthout for a long time and like their coverage. The others are new to me, and thanks for naming them.

    Now to Dave’s comment. I know that FOX a) lies and b) represents a view of the world with which I profoundly disagree. Maybe I should be reading and listening to their lies to hear “the other side” but I pretty much know their other side and I’m sick of it. This would be sort of like on the schoolyard seeking out the known liar for advice and understanding.

    Rather, if I know and trust another source, and if I don’t have 24 hours a day to read and listen to every source, why shouldn’t I spend my time and effort with sources I trust? I have limited time, limited attention span, limited ability to find the truth in any case, so why shouldn’t I use trusted sources?

    Don’s example of the MSF bombing is a good example. I receive information from MSF all the time. Why not believe their take on the bombing and be done with it. I trust them completely, so any other take is suspect or simply disbelieved.

    And in a world full of disinformation, often for reasons of self-interest and greed, I need access to the other side of any issue. I know what I believe, I know how I believe the universe should unwind, and any source that helps me understand that better, and very importantly, explain that to other people, is to be valued.

    Should I try to get every side of every issue? Probably so. Should I trust known liars to help me get both sides. No way.

    1. Don Bay

      Your honesty is admirable and, unfortunately, in short supply. As I point out in my response to Dave’s Devil’s Advocacy, a thoughtful and considerate left-leaning bias is better for all species than the many examples of right-wing bias roiling America and the world. Thanks for this comment and all you do to make the world a better place.

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