By Matt Ward
“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” (George Orwell)
The national conversation has always been shaped by fake news stories. In 1980, Janet Cooke received a Pulitzer Prize for her piece “Jimmy’s World.” In the story, Cooke detailed how “Jimmy,” a “precious little boy” had “needle marks freckling the baby-smooth skin of his thin, brown arms.”
It was a truly searing story about an eight year old heroin addict in Washington D.C. The story became so widely read and influential that Mayor Marion Barry spent inordinate amounts of money searching for poor little “Jimmy” in order to rescue him from his utterly dire situation. The only problem was that the story was a complete fake. Cooke had made the whole thing up. “Jimmy” was a figment of her imagination.
In 2003, New York Times reporter Jayson Blair became infamous for simply “inventing” numerous published news stories. He was especially renowned for filing news reports, supposedly from other cities, when he was in fact sitting comfortably in his Brooklyn apartment. So significant were Blair’s lies that the New York Times took the unprecedented step of releasing a statement acknowledging that Blair has caused a “profound betrayal of trust, and a low point in the 152 year history of the newspaper.”
The 1970’s film “Saturday Night Fever,” which later became culturally iconic, was itself based on a fake news story. The whole film was originally supposed to be a fictionalised account of a real disco dancer’s life and times. Until writer Nik Cohn admitted it was all based entirely made up.
Who can forget Rathergate, perhaps one of the most pivotal news scandals of the era, bringing an ignominious end to Dan Rather’s once stellar career? In 2004, Rather and his producer, Mary Maples attempted to influence the outcome of the 2004 US general election by fabricating documents that called into question George W Bush’s service record in the Air National Guard. Rather and Maples used documents, supposedly from the 1960’s to validate their claims. The only issue with this, later exposed extensively in the blogosphere, was that they used 2004-era word processing to produce the 1960 era documents.
In response CBS generated more fake news stories to protect Rather, instead of simply acknowledging the truth that their star reporter had systematically lied and deceived. It was a tremendous, and lasting blow to CBS News’ credibility.
Then there was the edited 911 call made by George Zimmerman, maliciously edited by NBC in order to make it sound as though Zimmerman was obsessed with Martin’s race. There was Brian Williams, again of NBC, who in 2015, was accused of lying about taking enemy fire while in a helicopter over Iraq. Williams repeated this story over and over again over many years until he was exposed. Williams, unbelievably, still has a career in news journalism and reporting.
In the wake of 9/11 the media was awash with fake news detailing in exquisite detail how Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and editorials proclaiming him to be a clear and present danger to the United States and Western Europe. There were detailed claims that Hussein had the capability to launch these weapons in “just 45 minutes.” There were claims, repeated often and widely in the US media that Saddam was also in some way connected to 9/11.
Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them innocents, have died as a direct consequence of these fake news stories. A whole continent has been destabilised, the Middle East to this day remains on fire. All based on lies.
What of the lies in more recent times that the Syrian rebels we were going to work with in order to get rid of Assad were actually “moderates” and were not in any way influenced by radicalism? These same moderates, after taking all the weapons and training they could get from America, ran off and formed their own group; we know them today as ISIS.
What about Benghazi and the lies, told over and over again by those at the very highest levels of the US government, that Ambassador Christopher Stephens and the four brave America Navy Seals who tried to protect him, were killed as a direct result of a poorly produced video which mocked Islam? Utter lies.
What about the Washington Post tweeting on October 24th that “Donald Trump’s chances of winning are approaching zero,” followed by an in depth editorial-analysis piece detailing how “with 15 days out…the maps just keeps looking grimmer and grimmer for Donald Trump.” Lies.
What of the fake news from almost every single US and Western media outlet and network in the world, proclaiming right up until late in election night itself, that Donald J. Trump had no chance at all of winning the US Presidency?
Fake news has always existed and has been part of our national dialogue for generations. Suddenly though, the conversation about fake news has changed. It has become much more sinister and much more ominous, especially in terms of the implications for our democracy and freedoms.
In this past week, Hilary Clinton has emerged from her self-imposed exile to take aim at the “epidemic” of fake news stories she believes cost her the election. She believes fake news is putting “lives at risk.”
“This is not about politics or partisanship,” Clinton said, during a tribute to departing Senate minority leader Harry Reid. “Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities.”
Clinton continued, “…it is a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly.”
There is an unseen, multi spectrum war taking shape, right now, and you and I are dead centre of it. This multi spectrum war is multi-faceted. The imposition of highly constrictive political correctness is but one element, destroying all free journalism and reporting is another.
Since the shattering conclusion of the 2016 Presidential election there has been a monumental shift in attitudes towards independent, alternative news sources. Open war has been declared. Truth is now being actively redefined as whatever the US government says it is. Make no mistake — a concerted effort is underway to undermine those who express any point of view other than that taken by the United States government, and the left wing media that service them.
The sustained effort to discredit alternative media, or any publisher who strays from the centrally agreed left wing narrative, by lumping all independent publishers into a contrived category of ‘fake news’ has begun. All alternative narratives, no matter how fact based, are being collectively demonised as “fake” news.
The destruction and subjugation of the free press is one of the last steps to occur before a nation-state sinks into totalitarianism. That is happening now in America, and all over the free Western world.
The desired endgame is for people to accept as a matter of fact that whatever the United States government says is true, is true – and to dismiss all is else as lies, and “fake.” It is a blatant and criminal attempt to suppress freedom. It is a clear challenge to democracy in America and with the backing of all the mainstream media, it is gaining rapid momentum. A totalitarian power seeks to exert influence over its constituents by conveying messages that only it approves of. That is what is happening right now.
In attacking so called “fake” news and demonising those who produce and read it, the powers that be are very clearly attempting, especially in light of Donald Trumps victory, to control the public’s perceptions on a wide range of issues.
Things are now moving at quite some pace. On Monday, November 14th Google and Facebook both independent of one another, announced they were taking steps against sites that spread fake news and against social media pages that publish what they alone consider to be “misleading content.”
Again, this opens up truly huge questions for freedom. What exactly does constitute “misleading content?” Does a specific political viewpoint, a certain religious belief, or open criticism of the government constitute “misleading content?”
The power that social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp wield is immense, with some 2.7 billion daily users world-wide. It is absolutely imperative that sound minds make correct judgements here. To that end both Facebook and Google will be appointing legions of faceless, unelected, anonymous and entirely unaccountable monitors whose only job will be to determine – along completely arbitrary lines, which news is “real” and which is “fake.”
To make matters worse Google have said that they will seek to actively punish sites publishing fake news by barring them from their AdSense network, which places advertisements on internet sites worldwide. The thought process is all too clear; cut-off the funding, end the websites, therefore kill all dissent.
This process has only just begun and the incremental attacks on journalistic skepticism and freedom of thought, upon which a truly free press is based, will continue until all journalistic freedom comes to an end.
At the time of the end, a time now coming increasingly into focus, a Man of Lawlessness will rise to preside over a completely subjugated media. Big Brother really will have taken over and it will be worse than anything George Orwell could ever have envisaged.
Make no mistake – we are now witnessing the beginnings of a well organised, powerful and concerted effort by the mainstream media to undermine those independent news outlets and organisations that express peaceful dissent. It is a blatant attempt to discredit alternative media by lumping them together with the far right.
For your part, if you read or produce independent news you are being very methodically criminalised. The shining light of democracy is fading in America, despite the election of Donald Trump. Active war has been declared against him and the future is anything but certain. The only guarantee is that all things are heading, inexorably, towards a time known in the bible as the Tribulation period.
By that time, the greatest of all demagogues will take his throne as master of all. It would seem that the steady slide into his dictatorship has already begun,
“The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:5-8)