The Four Reasons the Mainstream Media Is Worthless → Washingtons Blog
The Four Reasons the Mainstream Media Is Worthless - Washingtons Blog

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Four Reasons the Mainstream Media Is Worthless

There are four reasons that the mainstream media is worthless.

1. Self-Censorship by Journalists

Initially, there is tremendous self-censorship by journalists.

For example, several months after 9/11, famed news anchor Dan Rather told the BBC that American reporters were practicing "a form of self-censorship":
"there was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around peoples' necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions.... And again, I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism.

"What we are talking about here - whether one wants to recognise it or not, or call it by its proper name or not - is a form of self-censorship."

Keith Olbermann agreed that there is self-censorship in the American media, and that:

"You can rock the boat, but you can never say that the entire ocean is in trouble .... You cannot say: By the way, there's something wrong with our .... system".

As former Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin wrote in 2006:

Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do. . . .

There’s the intense pressure to maintain access to insider sources, even as those sources become ridiculously unrevealing and oversensitive. There’s the fear of being labeled partisan if one’s bullshit-calling isn’t meted out in precisely equal increments along the political spectrum.

If mainstream-media political journalists don’t start calling bullshit more often, then we do risk losing our primacy — if not to the comedians then to the bloggers.

I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter - whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way.

And Air Force Colonel and key Pentagon official Karen Kwiatkowski wrote:

I have been told by reporters that they will not report their own insights or contrary evaluations of the official 9/11 story, because to question the government story about 9/11 is to question the very foundations of our entire modern belief system regarding our government, our country, and our way of life. To be charged with questioning these foundations is far more serious than being labeled a disgruntled conspiracy nut or anti-government traitor, or even being sidelined or marginalized within an academic, government service, or literary career. To question the official 9/11 story is simply and fundamentally revolutionary. In this way, of course, questioning the official story is also simply and fundamentally American.
(page 26).

2. Censorship by Higher-Ups

If journalists do want to speak out about an issue, they also are subject to tremendous pressure by their editors or producers to kill the story.

The Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who uncovered the Iraq prison torture scandal and the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam, Seymour Hersh, said:
"All of the institutions we thought would protect us -- particularly the press, but also the military, the bureaucracy, the Congress -- they have failed. The courts . . . the jury's not in yet on the courts. So all the things that we expect would normally carry us through didn't. The biggest failure, I would argue, is the press, because that's the most glaring....

Q: What can be done to fix the (media) situation?

[Long pause] You'd have to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives. You'd actually have to start promoting people from the newsrooms to be editors who you didn't think you could control. And they're not going to do that."

In fact many journalists are warning that the true story is not being reported. See this announcement and this talk.

And a series of interviews with award-winning journalists also documents censorship of certain stories by media editors and owners (and see these samples).

There are many reasons for censorship by media higher-ups.

One is money.

The media has a strong monetary interest to avoid controversial topics in general. It has always been true that advertisers discourage stories which challenge corporate power. Indeed, a 2003 survey reveals that 35% of reporters and news executives themselves admitted that journalists avoid newsworthy stories if “the story would be embarrassing or damaging to the financial interests of a news organization’s owners or parent company.”

In addition, the government has allowed tremendous consolidation in ownership of the airwaves during the past decade. The large media players stand to gain billions of dollars in profits if the Obama administration continues to allow monopoly ownership of the airwaves by a handful of players. The media giants know who butters their bread. So there is a spoken or tacit agreement: if the media cover the administration in a favorable light, the MSM will continue to be the receiver of the government's goodies.

3. Drumming Up Support for War

In addition, the owners of American media companies have long actively played a part in drumming up support for war.

It is painfully obvious that the large news outlets studiously avoided any real criticism of the government's claims in the run up to the Iraq war. It is painfully obvious that the large American media companies acted as lapdogs and stenographers for the government's war agenda.

Veteran reporter Bill Moyers criticized the corporate media for parroting the obviously false link between 9/11 and Iraq (and the false claims that Iraq possessed WMDs) which the administration made in the run up to the Iraq war, and concluded that the false information was not challenged because:

"the [mainstream] media had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked."

And as NBC News' David Gregory (later promoted to host Meet the Press) said:

"I think there are a lot of critics who think that . . . . if we did not stand up [in the run-up to the war] and say 'this is bogus, and you're a liar, and why are you doing this,' that we didn't do our job. I respectfully disagree. It's not our role"
But this is nothing new. In fact, the large media companies have drummed up support for all previous wars.

For example, Hearst helped drum up support for the Spanish-American War.

And an official summary of America's overthrow of the democratically-elected president of Iran in the 1950's states, "In cooperation with the Department of State, CIA had several articles planted in major American newspapers and magazines which, when reproduced in Iran, had the desired psychological effect in Iran and contributed to the war of nerves against Mossadeq." (page x)

The mainstream media also may have played footsie with the U.S. government right before Pearl Harbor. Specifically, a highly-praised historian (Bob Stineet) argues that the Army’s Chief of Staff informed the Washington bureau chiefs of the major newspapers and magazines of the impending Pearl Harbor attack BEFORE IT OCCURRED, and swore them to an oath of secrecy, which the media honored (page 361) .

And the military-media alliance has continued without a break (as a highly-respected journalist says, "viewers may be taken aback to see the grotesque extent to which US presidents and American news media have jointly shouldered key propaganda chores for war launches during the last five decades.")

As the mainstream British paper, the Independent, writes:

There is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it. The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news.
The article in the Independent discusses the use of "black propaganda" by the U.S. government, which is then parroted by the media without analysis; for example, the government forged a letter from al Zarqawi to the "inner circle" of al-Qa'ida's leadership, urging them to accept that the best way to beat US forces in Iraq was effectively to start a civil war, which was then publicized without question by the media..

So why has the American press has consistenly served the elites in disseminating their false justifications for war?

One of of the reasons is because the large media companies are owned by those who support the militarist agenda or even directly profit from war and terror (for example, NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the largest defense contractors in the world -- which directly profits from war, terrorism and chaos).

Another seems to be an unspoken rule that the media will not criticize the government's imperial war agenda.

And the media support isn't just for war: it is also for various other shenanigans by the powerful. For example, a BBC documentarysdocuments:

There was "a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by a group of right-wing American businessmen . . . . The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression."

Moreover, "the tycoons told the general who they asked to carry out the coup that the American people would accept the new government because they controlled all the newspapers." See also this book.

Have you ever heard of this scheme before? It was certainly a very large one. And if the conspirators controlled the newspapers then, how much worse is it today with media consolidation?

4. Censorship by the Government

Finally, as if the media's own interest in promoting war is not strong enough, the government has exerted tremendous pressure on the media to report things a certain way. Indeed, at times the government has thrown media owners and reporters in jail if they've been too critical. The media companies have felt great pressure from the government to kill any real questioning of the endless wars.

For example, Dan Rather said, regarding American media, "What you have is a miniature version of what you have in totalitarian states".

Tom Brokaw said "all wars are based on propaganda.

And the head of CNN said:

"there was 'almost a patriotism police' after 9/11 and when the network showed [things critical of the administration's policies] it would get phone calls from advertisers and the administration and "big people in corporations were calling up and saying, 'You're being anti-American here.'"
Indeed, former military analyst and famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said that the government has ordered the media not to cover 9/11:
Ellsberg seemed hardly surprised that today's American mainstream broadcast media has so far failed to take [former FBI translator and 9/11 whistleblower Sibel] Edmonds up on her offer, despite the blockbuster nature of her allegations [which Ellsberg calls "far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers"].

As Edmonds has also alluded, Ellsberg pointed to the New York Times, who "sat on the NSA spying story for over a year" when they "could have put it out before the 2004 election, which might have changed the outcome."

"There will be phone calls going out to the media saying 'don't even think of touching it, you will be prosecuted for violating national security,'" he told us.

* * *

"I am confident that there is conversation inside the Government as to 'How do we deal with Sibel?'" contends Ellsberg. "The first line of defense is to ensure that she doesn't get into the media. I think any outlet that thought of using her materials would go to to the government and they would be told 'don't touch this . . . .'"

Of course, if the stick approach doesn't work, the government can always just pay off reporters to spread disinformation. Indeed, an expert on propaganda testified under oath during trial that the CIA employs THOUSANDS of reporters and OWNS its own media organizations (the expert has an impressive background).

And famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein says the CIA has already bought and paid for many successful journalists. See also this New York Times piece, this essay by the Independent, this speech by one of the premier writers on journalism, and this and this roundup.

Indeed, in the final analysis, the main reason today that the media giants will not cover the real stories or question the government's actions or policies in any meaningful way is that we live in a country that is not all that free (see point number 6). Mussolini said that fascism is the blending of the government and corporate interests, and the American government and mainstream media have in fact been blended together to an unprecedented degree.

See this book and the following 5-part interview for further information on 9/11 and the media: (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

Can We Win the Battle Against Censorship?

We cannot just leave governance to our "leaders", as "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" (Jefferson). Similarly, we cannot leave news to the corporate media. We need to "be the media" ourselves.

"To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men."
- Abraham Lincoln

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Powerlessness and silence go together. We...should use our privileged positions not as a shelter from the world's reality, but as a platform from which to speak. A voice is a gift. It should be cherished and used."
– Margaret Atwood

"There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that [nothing] cannot suppress."
- Howard Zinn (historian)

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent"
- Thomas Jefferson


  1. Bravo. That was excellent. I'm linking it on fb.

    I consider your blog a "news source". My blog is just me giving opinions - more kind of like a personal blog. Sometimes I give an opinion on matters of the news.

    But your blog is the writing that should be, imo, in Times and Newsweek (if we had a real press - rather than the SRM - State Run Media).

    Thanks again for your work. I hope you get loads more subscribers.

  2. I will never post here again until you resolve the following issue: the browser reloads after every word! My guess is that goog_le is funneling your users posts to federal authorities. It might also be possible you are an employee of the federals, looking to spook out dissent.

    I would urge all readers to cease from posting until this matter is addressed.

  3. Anonymous,
    I am not a government employee, and no one else has reported browser reloads.

    I am not sure to what you are referring, or whether it is a problem on your own computer.

  4. Life is too short to waste what little time the average dude has each day on people who don't ask the questions we want answered, and money way to tight to waste on paper that is maybe lower than fishwrap and doesn't answer our quesitons either, or fishwrap that supports the government lies that takes us to unjust wars, or blatant cover ups like 911 (not necessarily the conspiracy part) , or the shitty coverage of Katrina and the Bushies total failure in dealing with it.

    It's damn plain to anyone that looks that newspapers created their own beds to lie in, they bought into the scam that bigger is better, and you can do it with less, and you can make 30 to 40 % profits and your CEO;s can be handsomely rewarded. Along the way they can service this mountain of debt they created buying up their competition. They also believe in the Tooth Fairy because after they get her to buy their fake teeth they are gong to "TO KILL THE BITCH:. Check out David Simon's (ex Baltimore Sum writer, and writer of the wire. )

    They whine and cry that outfits like Craigslist have stolen their add business (bullshit) they gave it away. While Craiglist was doing adds they did absolutely nothing to try and slow the tide. They in a some cases jacked their add rates to hit the magic 30% profitablity mark to make their bonus marks. In fact accordintg to Simon they cut writing staff and delivery men, boxes on the streets, too expenssive, cut em.

    Poor dears are not honest enough to admit they got their asses kikcked by Craiglist kinds of sites and the hell of it is Craigslist didn't wiggle a finnger to whip em, they did it all to theirselves.

    (Look out GW here comes the smoke) I personally spend more time each day reading sites like GW's,or Urban Survival, or Shadow Government Stats, or oh hell you get the point, just the ole blogging circuit, and oh my oh my they don't do orignal stuff much of the time. No , what they do is they ask the hard questions of the article they are linking to, or source they are quoting. They ask the damn questions we want the answers too, what other reason could you give me for reading them over MSM.

  5. George Washington Ed, [1/3]

    Very good, but unfortunately not quite the entire picture. In Intelligence doctrine there is a principle known as the 80:20 principle, where 80% is true, and 20% of the information that is withheld, if told, gives a very different 'blame game' picture, to the root causes of the problem.

    Then issues become mroe tricky; cause what many blogs accuse the 'mainstream media' of, namely self censorship, of the root causes of the problem; they themselves practice!!

    Cause pointing out the root causes of the problems ain't very popular with most readers, who prefer to stick their heads in the sand, and blame someone else (and not their addiction to a slave and cannon fodder corporate, population or economic growth religions), for overpopulation and 'God/Allah' etc. for not making Earth's resources infinite.. so we can just consume and consume as much as we like without making any effort to consume, logic, reasoning and deductive thinking, in our limbic brains and neocortex...

    For example, including any of the following information, would provide clues to the 20% withheld (not necessarily intentionally, I imagine perhaps negligently or naively):

    ... World population growth is widely recognized within the Government as a current danger of the highest magnitude calling for urgent measures...... it is of the utmost urgency that governments now recognize the facts and implications of population growth, determine the ultimate population sizes that make sense for their countries and start vigorous programs at once to achieve their desired goals.”

    ... population factors are indeed critical in, and often determinants of, violent conflict in developing areas. Segmental (religious, social, racial) differences, migration, rapid population growth, differential levels of knowledge and skills, rural/urban differences, population pressure and the spatial location of population in relation to resources -- in this rough order of importance -- all appear to be important contributions to conflict and violence... Clearly, conflicts which are regarded in primarily political terms often have demographic roots. Recognition of these relationships appears crucial to any understanding or prevention of such hostilities.

    ...there is general agreement that up to the point when cost per acceptor rises rapidly, family planning expenditures are generally considered the best investment a country can make in its own future.”
    ~ National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth ~

  6. George Washington Ed [2/3]

    CIA and Pentagon's Perspectives of Ovepopulation as a root cause of Resource Wars, whether local, statewide, national or international:

    Nightline, 200): CIA & Pengagon Perspecitves on Population & Resource Wars

    Future wars and violent conflicts will be shaped by the inabilities of governments to function as effective systems of resource distribution and control, and by the failure of entire cultures to compete in the post-modern age. The worldwide polarization of wealth, afflicting continents and countries, as well as individuals in all countries, will prove insurmountable, and social divisions will spark various forms of class warfare more brutal than anything imagined by Karl Marx.

    Basic resources will prove inadequate for populations exploding beyond natural limits, and we may discover truths about ourselves that we do not wish to know. In the end, the greatest challenge may be to our moral order.

    Resource scarcity will be a direct cause of confrontation, conflict, and war. The struggle to maintain access to critical resources will spark local and regional conflicts that will evolve into the most frequent conventional wars of the next century. Today, the notion of resource wars leads the Westerner to think immediately of oil, but water will be the fundamental need of some states, anti-states, and peoples. We envision a need to preserve rainforests, but expanding populations will increasingly create regional shortages of food--especially when nature turns fickle. We are entering the century of "not enough," and we will bleed for things we previously could buy.

    Gross overpopulation will destroy fragile possibilities for progress in much of the non-Western world, and much of this problem is the West's fault. Our well-intentioned introduction of relatively crude concepts of sanitation and disease control, combined with our determination to respond generously to local famines, has allowed populations to explode.
    ~ US Army War College: The Culture of Future Conflict: Overpopulation & Resource Scarcity will be the Direct Cause of Confrontation, Conflict, and War ~

    “Population is a political problem. Once population is out of control it requires authoritarian government, even fascism, to reduce it.

    “...even if successful, voluntary family planning programs cannot be expected to resolve the world population dilemma. Even in the more developed countries, and notably in the United States, surveys show couples desiring more children than are necessary for replacement... Thus we cannot rely on the self-interested choices of individual couples to met society's needs. The only acceptable goal is zero rate of growth because any rate of growth continued long enough leads to astronomical figures. Given existing preferences in family size, governments must go beyond voluntary family planning. To achieve zero rate of population growth governments will have to do more than cajole; they will have to coerce.
    ~ Thomas Ferguson, State Dept. Office of Population Affairs ~

  7. George Washington Ed [3/3]

    To advocate for human rights, peace, and social justice while ignoring their necessary ecological basis --— a stable human population – at, or slightly less than – the eco-systems long term carrying capacity --- is intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy.

    The longer we put off choosing the nicer methods of achieving demographic stability, the more likely the nasty ones become, whether imposed by nature or by some fascistic regime. ~ Population, Resources, and Human Idealism, Energy Bulletin | Population Growth: Most Powerful Force on Earth, Money&Markets ~

    Population Security Misery Theorems: [1]: "The Dismal Theorem"- If the only ultimate check on the growth of population is misery, then the population will grow until it is miserable enough to stop its growth.

    The economic analysis I presented earlier indicates that the major priority is a world campaign for the reduction of birth rates. This is more important than any program of foreign aid and investments. Indeed, if it is neglected, all programs of aid and investment will be ultimately self-defeating and will simply increase the amount of human misery.
    ~ Reflections on Sustainability, Population Growth, and the Environment: Carrying Capacity & Denial of Population Problem ~

    If each human family were dependent only on its own resources; if the children of improvident parents starved to death; if thus, over breeding brought its own "punishment" to the germ line -- then there would be no public interest in controlling the breeding of families. But our society is deeply committed to the welfare state, and hence is confronted with another aspect of the tragedy of the commons.

    In a welfare state, how shall we deal with the family, the religion, the race, or the class (or indeed any distinguishable and cohesive group) that adopts over breeding as a policy to secure its own aggrandizement? To couple the concept of freedom to breed with the belief that everyone born has an equal right to the commons is to lock the world into a tragic course of action.
    ~ Killing Times: The Killing Times are Here: Population Policy || Depopulation or Perish || Tragedy of the Commons ~

    Today, 6.5 billion humans depend entirely on oil for food, energy, plastics & chemicals. Population growth is on a collision course with the inevitable decline in oil production.
    ~ The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror, Free Will Production ~

    “But the agenda-setting process seems useful only if we consider what the media do place on the agenda. This study shows that agenda-setting may have a dark side, when we consider what the media do not cover. To generalize from this study, it seems likely the media have a blind spot regarding the basic layers of multilayered causality. The deep causes that drive daily events remain off the agenda. Certainly this is the case with population growth, but such causal dissociation may keep many other deep-seated causes of social problems off the agenda.”
    ~ 'WHAT BLEADS, LEADS'?: Media's Population Agenda & 'War on Terror' Outcome: "HOW and WHY Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection", by Univ. of SW Louisiania ~

    Apologies for all the links, remove them, by edit, if you wish. Hope that helps to provide a perspective to what I opine was the missing 20%....

  8. "Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know, the rest is propaganda." - Horacio Verbitsky

  9. This a must read for every American. You covered all four bases and then took it home with the quotes at the end.

    Hats off to you!

  10. Mr President, we can win against the censorship.

    We, as a group of dedicated individuals, are slowly getting to the rest of the population via the internet.

    The Government lies are so heinous, and the evidence of their crimes so obvious, that there is no way out for them this time.

    The mainstream media is losing its credibility such that it'll become seen collectively as the new Pravda. People will know not to trust them.

    The truth will out, and we will out it.

    Keep up the Good Work !

  11. I see my comments did not make the grade.. I guess bit of self censorship going on at George Washington???

  12. I really enjoy your blog. You are very insightful and address important topics on a regular basis. Your site is on my daily "must read" list.

    Big Chief

  13. I had so much to say then I read the comments and found it had been said-so I will say except for Anonymous -to which I will say personal computer problem -I am having no trouble -what U said Laura and what U said Grey Tiger -KUDOS and well said-I agree-My blog is also personal opinion and bringing the news I find But U George are the quality the "mainstream news"?? wish they were!

  14. You should have added the CIA control of the media - Operation Mockingbird

  15. Dan Rather has been a member of the CFR for some time - along with others from CBS:

    Laurence A. Tisch, CEO -- CFR
    Roswell Gilpatric -- CFR
    James Houghton -- CFR, TC
    Henry Schacht -- CFR, TC
    Dan Rather -- CFR
    Richard Hottelet -- CFR
    Frank Stanton -- CFR


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