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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Who Is the Real "The Enemy of the People"? - special edition, Aug 16, 2018


Is the Media the "Enemy of the People?" Why that Deserves more than Simplistic Rejection

by Lawrence Wines

Today, Thursday, August 16, 2018, over 300 daily newspapers across America are individually taking part in a campaign initiated by the Boston Globe. Each newspaper -- joined by numerous online news sources -- is publishing its own response to the repeated accusation from the President of the United States that "The news media is the enemy of the people."

To be clear, this is not another Sinclair Broadcasting moment, wherein local TV news anchors across the US were required to read, ver batim, the same editorial. That was a centrally-mandated message from Sinclair corporate heads.

This is nothing like that.


Today, each participating news source, including the Guide, is, by its own choice, addressing the issue -- from its own perspective, wholly in its own voice.

That said, please do not expect an expression of the echo chamber, or a circling of the wagons, or a rehash of "the narrative" from us. It's time for a harsh, honest and thorough evaluation of why anybody has reason to accept an accusation like the one at issue.

We've been at this journalism thing a long time. We've been privileged to fly NASA's Space Shuttle simulators (the ones the astronauts trained on) and stood between Buzz Aldrin and William Shatner at the first wholly civilian space launch. We've attended the inaugurations of two presidents, inaugural balls, Senate and House hearings, sat down across the lunch table from US Senators and covered national political conventions. We've interviewed many movers and shakers and innovators.

We've spent time backstage chatting with music icons and film and TV stars. We've done long-form interviews with accomplished famous folks on the radio.

We've written about new routes we put up on mountains, crawling through caves, exploring places where no human had been, and other places that no one had entered in years. We've done many field research trips investigating and documenting one of the rarest endangered species on the planet.

We've covered a story from a seaplane and stood in the hallowed wheelhouse of a paddlewheel steamboat with no other visitors and legendary riverboat pilot and banjo player John Hartford reading subtle landmarks on the lushly tangled green banks to negotiate the sandbars and snags.

We rode horseback taking the route of Custer on the Little Bighorn battlefield, on the anniversary day of the battle -- just yours truly with the last living Crow war chief, the late Joe Medicine Crow, as guide.

We've done participatory journalism restoring and running long-dead railway steam locomotives, and experienced 80-inch diameter drive wheels under the floor at speed, with a five-chime whistle resurrecting the dead.

We've been chosen as the person to represent the press pool when only a few could be admitted, and we've been honored with awards, exclusive access, and much more. We've also done plenty of shoe-leather reporting, ferreting-out facts, digging through archives, finding those who didn't want to be found, and piecing together facts that had not been in evidence.

So yes, we do feel qualified to comment on this subject. We've been working on a dissertation about the state of affairs of the media for some time now, and we do believe we have something of worth to contribute.

Members of the press used to be received and regarded very differently than they -- we -- are now. A reckless remark, especially when it comes in a stream of disrespectful, sometimes hateful, criticisms about the media bode ill for the physical safety of everyone trying to bring news to the rest of our society. Yet there are reasons why such vitriol can find an audience that accepts it with cheers. And to ignore that aspect would surrender to the same uselessly divisive polarized tribalism that has America in the embrace of dysfunction and poised for someone else to be physically assaulted over expressed thoughts.


The Guide is presenting a look at how and why things got to this point. Our feature story examines how and why decisions about life-and-death economics of media institutions produced marginalization of credibility even as they contributed to CEO bonuses and corporate get-out-of-jail-free cards.

Those life-and-death economic decisions have created rich heroes of finance who have integrated news with entertainment and corporate agendas.

This has produced information giants and message management empires that have enabled a protection racket for proliferating tentacles of corporate control. They have sailed courses through shark-infested waters that they have willfully chummed, because sharks make for dramatic imagery and can easily occupy all the available air time. Meaning there's no time available to cover anything else, and the public is too satiated to notice.

While purporting to keep us informed, corporate Big Media has perfected a message management that selectively minimizes much that is important by dramatically maximizing a narrative into a veritable singularity. Along the way, facts are selectively dramatized,  exacerbated, exploited, minimized, marginalized, and purposefully contextualized. Sometimes, though not as often, entire sectors of events are ignored completely -- though more often, they're given minimalist coverage that effectively marginializes them.

Still, calling the press "The Enemy of the People" is right out of the totalitarian playbook. It is a phrase from the Stalinist Soviet Union -- a phrase invoked by the despot who murdered more of his own people than the number of its citizens killed in World War II.


There is ample reason to discuss and debate, comprehensively and with painful self-examination, the state of affairs of the American media today. That should start with its cozy relationship with powerful forces.

From the Pentagon's reporter "embeds" with the troops that produce rah-rah coverage for invasions of countries that have not attacked us (Iraq); to extending the climate of insatiable consumerism into spending more on weapons than the entire rest of the world, combined; to Big Pharma / Big Med escaping what should rightfully be non-stop scathing focus on oligarchs ruling an empire based on pain and suffering, a systemless system that costs America more money for health care, per-person, than any other nation, even though millions of our citizens have no access to health care; to dozens of other underreported or unreported critical issues that determine the very viability of our society.

This day of parallel editorials from the nation's journalism outlets has little precedent. Had it happened to voice skepticism when facts were not in evidence, it could have caused public opinion to take history in a better direction on countless occasions. For example, an honest appraisal rather than a stampede of flag-waving could have prevented the Iraq War.

Because of corporatization to achieve message management, the media has lost public trust.

The casualties are profound.


America's Founding Fathers had to quickly create the very first amendment to the US Constitution with its guarantees of freedom of speech and the press, as well as religion. It was truly a broad-spectrum guarantee of freedom of thought and an ability to share it, to circulate and disseminate even unpopular ideas, without fear of reprisal.

They didn't envision monopolistic, self-serving interests buying message management any more than they imagined the Robber Barons deriving from Civil War profiteers.

Still, throughout our history -- and indeed, going back to the ancient Greeks who inspired America's political heroes -- there is a pantheon of iconic figures who have asserted that an educated and informed public is essential if democracy is to succeed.

That concept was paramount when America's founders devised a federal government with three branches that would check and balance one another -- and the "fourth estate" of a free press that would hold all of them to public account.


Though the founders were a bunch of rich white guys, their sensibilities were unable to comprehend a time of hegemonical, oligarchical, egomanical, billionaire capitalists bent on ruling a kakistocracy. Or that the most prominent institutions of freedom of the press could be bought-up by rich corporatists to become their house organs.

Neither could free-press proponents foresee that a then-secret development grant would come from DARPA -- the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- to enable social media to become the safety valve of the masses, the addictive ultimate distraction from the selectivity of the corporate Big Media agenda.

As a result, all of us living in the America of our time have lost interest in remembering. We seldom recall even recent history, that it was the press that championed America's most critical causes and took the moral high ground. That's what the press did, as so many  individual reporters, editors, newsrooms, and independent publishers, so many separate outlets, took pivotal positions of advocacy during the Civil Rights Movement. And in facing imprisonment by presenting the revelations of lies that lured us into Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos.

Yet today, whistleblowers like John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden were flashes in the pan of a media that moved on, allowing government officials to occasionally spew hatred of one or another of them without recourse.


Most of what is different between those earlier times of a courageous press and ours of obsessed singularities and side dishes of pablum comes down to a sad simplicity.

It is the absence, the removal of the rich tapestry. Just like the airlines no longer feed you and cram your knees into your armpits, nothing about corporatism has any modicum of respect for your human dignity.

You are a subject until it's time to coerce you into giving them your money. Then you are momentarily a customer. But never for long enough for the customer to ever be right.

When it comes to Big Media, voices and viewpoints -- of reporting and analysis -- have been forced down the neck of the corporate funnel. Today, not a single big city or small town daily newspaper employs anywhere near the same number of reporters they had a decade ago. The world may be evermore complex, but the number of people available to tell you about any of it is reduced to fewer and fewer all the time.

Instead, metadata determines the list of topics that editors should use for "high interest" assignments. Instead of telling you about something you don't know, you're apt to have your prejudices reinforced. Hey, it's been working profitably for social media, and why should those billionaires get all the bucks from cheesy exploitation?

Today, only six megagiant corporations control most of what is presented as the news.

We, as a society, dodged a bullet when Sinclair dropped its effort to do a Borg assimilation of Tribune Broadcasting. But the forces of profit-taking consolidations and layoffs aren't going away.

And the corporations who control those Big Media outlets? Their back-and-forth networked sales and sharing of every trivial detail culled from what each of us does drives what they tell politicians and other corporations who want to know how to manipulate us. It's collected and compiled and catalogued and analyzed and processed and sold to myriad government agencies and countless exploitive capitalists who do not mean us well.


Instead of an information renaissance in an age of a high-speed internet seamlessly integrated through all your platforms and devices and delivered in your order of preference into your phone?

In truth, our portable wonders of technology are tracking devices, delivery systems for constant monitoring, and we are paying them to subject ourselves to their tenuously legalized spyware. Spyware that distills our lives into constantly-updated cyber profiles for purposes we are not allowed to know.

That is immediately and compellingly relevant to the media. Because in large measure, all those things happen based on what we read, where we read it, and how much time we spend with what topic at what source, supported by what corporate advertiser.

The corporatization of information management, driven by tactics akin to psychological warfare, has cost Big Media its credibility. Wall Street, overtly and covertly, has made the public trust a maleable commodity and shattered the bubble of believability.

All that continuously combines every kind of metadata -- obtained through disguised and addictive spyware -- to craft the message dispensed by media. Your own curiosity is weaponized against you to produce the maximum-size audience and deliver you as an individually identifiable target demographic to purveyors of everything from beer to prescription pills to Big Oil and Big Ag and the endless war machine.

Because the mass audience news sources of Big Media have not exposed it -- and indeed, because they have been co-opted by it -- we are in an age when not just journalistic integrity is endangered, but the physical safety of journalists is, too.

Corporations are always said to be risk-averse. That has been so, ever since the age of lawsuits apexed innovation. Insurance rates, as well as protecting a positive public image, depended on avoiding risk. But in our time, corporate risk avoidance is best achieved by obtaining control of the media, because that assures absolute control of message management.

That happens in two ways. One is
the economic power of payola of advertising dollars as news platforms become the province of Big Pharma advertising and buy their own immunity from journalistic investigation. The other is, increasingly, outright ownership of a controlling interest in key media outlets by the same corporations whose profits depend on escaping scrutiny.

Thus, corporate America finds it most cost-effective to specialize in message management to control public opinion. And so media feeds us things like these:

· Big Pharma spends many more millions marketing prescription drugs than they spend on research and development of new medications. (Slick, expensive advertising for something you can't even buy. Unless you "ask your doctor." Who is being persuaded to prescribe whatever-it-is "off-label" to make indiscriminate sale of controlled substances legal.)

· Big Oil sponsors so much of public broadcasting's programming that critics refer to NPR as "National Petroleum Radio."

· The octopus-like tentacles of the warconomy gain purchase across the spectrum, from Boeing sponsoring "Meet the Press" to Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, and Raytheon effectively buying gushing media "gee-whiz-wow" coverage of the latest cruise missile barrage launched in a presidential tantrum.

· The unholy alliance of Big Ag and Big Chem keeps investigations deferred or on the back burner, and Americans don't get reporting on carcinogenic ag chemicals and bioengineered organisms banned in the EU or elsewhere in the world. Not until the "breaking news" shock of a court fining Monsanto for making Round Up herbicide -- after Monsanto has just vanished into its underreported purchase-merger with Bayer Pharmaceuticals.


It brings us to the issue of reporters, newsrooms, and news outlets facing actual threats of physical violence, and prominent voices, including the current president, whose stray remarks and Twitter tweets can have the effect of fomenting such violence.

On Monday, CSPAN covered an event presented by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Education. It was a discussion with journalists, educators, and others on practicing journalism "in a hostile political climate."

The title sounds more benign than the purpose of the event. It was about threats and intimidation that are on the increase from various publics and fringes.

Threats against workplaces -- newspaper offices or broadcast studios -- have proliferated since members of a weekly paper were gunned-down this summer in their offices in Annapolis, Maryland.

Some journalists receive daily death threats across the spectrum of modern communications. This has never been so widespread. From reporters to editors, receiving threats has, of late, become part of the job.

It's not just threats focused on particular reporters and on what will happen if they write or say something that's "for" or "against" a particular object of the crowd's adoration -- whether that's an official or corporation or group or cause or campaign. It can get quite specific. Stay away altogether, and do not dare to report at all on some specific event. Do not attend that event to cover it, or else.

Yes, threats often are specific to what will happen if the threat issuer sees a particular reporter -- or anyone from a particular outlet -- covering a specific event.

That aspect is the world turned upside down. Instead of a group with a particular viewpoint wanting the coverage? A group that's trying to find ways to get the press to attend their event, and grab interviews with attendees, so their group's size and devotion to its particular viewpoint will receive broader public exposure? 

That traditional relationship is gone. It's very different now. Instead of a press area with urns of coffee and boxes of donuts? Instead of being handed late-update press releases with pre-packaged "interview" quotes and talking points -- points to facilitate stories by those too lazy (or too over-assigned) to get their own facts and collect their own comments?

Instead of being coddled and subjected to pleasantries of indoctrination from attractive young PR grads who stand close and smile with doe eyes while making sure you get the central theme of their talking points, being comfortably co-opted into helping promote something?

It hasn't become what doctors get from Big Pharma -- the season tickets to the NBA team in return for pushing drugs. In fact, there isn't much at all about journalism that feels very welcoming any more.

Of late, an assignment to cover some event can bring a "welcome" of a hostile mob -- sometimes orchestrated -- complete with angry epithets, plenty of amplitude, tonsils emerging from shouting throats, signs calling the press names, and a forest of middle fingers directed at cameras. Even thrown objects of various weights and sizes are not unknown, as are occasional physical ambushes and pummeling with fists.

Because, too often now, there is a climate of resentment against the presence of the media, or a particular part of the media.

In addition, modern threats often have suggestive or overt references to families and children, including where someone's kids go to school.

One comment from the audience of fellow professionals seen on the CSPAN coverage was the kind of thing you might expect, though it came across as bravado: "If you're receiving threats, you're probably on to something."

Instructors present at the event related plenty about their journalism students. Some seem consciously aware that mental preparation must now include more than "staying focused" on asking the right questions and not being diverted away from pursuing the most important answers.

As one teacher put it, today's aspiring journalists are taught "they should not seem afraid."

Obviously, that changes the agenda and goes to whether or not an editor -- or the public -- should expect the same outcomes -- always heretofore required -- of assigning a reporter to cover anything in particular.

That gets into another part of the arena of a Huxlian Brave New World.

One newspaper reporter in attendance encouraged the forging of "peculiar alliances." From his experience of cultivating friendly relations with cops, he spoke of how that brought tips from them about when and where he should watch his back while in the midst of pursuing a widespread corruption investigation.

Of course, others among his colleagues didn't like that idea at all. No one said it opened the door to being co-opted by the cops, but multiple comments danced all the way around it.

And that kind of skepticism and assertion of journalism ethics vs. pragmatism -- and one's personal survival -- was welcome, and all too rare in any forum the public can observe.

That's not to say that such discussions do not occur in newsrooms every day. But the public only sees them dramatized in movies.

It is important to recognize that most of the people who become journalists honestly want to do the job with integrity and produce work that informs the public. Indeed, within the boundaries set by corporate agendas, they can do that. And even saying that much flies in the face of any accusation that journalists are "the Enemy of the People."

So CSPAN covering the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Education event on Monday was, of course, of high interest to anyone working in news gathering, investigation, and presentation of news, at all levels.

Thing is, nobody finds it worthy, or perhaps is willing to peel back the curtain, to let fresh air, daylight, and public observation into the dialog and process. No one, except, in this case, CSPAN, and our recount of it here.

You are free to speculate on whether such important looks into the process and hazards of news gathering do not produce ratings, or if there is a desire on the part of the puppet master corporatists to avoid scrutiny.

The comments from the event's audience, as far as they went in too little time, were both valuable and telling.

One journalism educator said she would be using, in her classroom this fall, the guide published by the James Foley Foundation. She explained, "It's a 'how-to' for working journalists to stay safe."

No one on the panel knew about it, but there was instant alert interest. Everyone in the room wanted to know.

The foundation that publishes that guide bears the name of one of the journalists -- James Foley -- who was beheaded by ISIL. 

Also mentioned from the audience was the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) two-page guide of "Best Practices" for journalists. There was wider, but not universal, awareness of that one.

We were not pleased that the controling role of overmerged, megagiant corporate media escaped all question and critical analysis by a gathering of news people seeking ways to understand and avoid threats.

It's pervasive: from public distrust of what Big Media reports, and what is exempt from critical attention; the corporate control of a narrative; setting an agenda for the corporation's news division to protect the corporation's other holdings; obsessive singularities that ignore everything else in the world -- or at least divert attention from certain things that would make certain key sponsors look bad.


The latest buzz term to empower censorship is "Hate Speech." It is, legally, not protected speech, deriving from the concept that one cannot yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

It is nonetheless both an elusive concept and a slippery slope.

Take the historical example of the American Nazi Party being denied a permit to march in Skokie, Illinois. Skokie had a large Jewish population, including Holocaust survivors. The ACLU took the case to court, on behalf of the Nazis' freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It cost the ACLU a sizable part of its membership at the time.

The press was split, editorially. Some outlets saw it as a "clear and present danger" not guaranteed any rights, while others published pieces asserting that abrogation of the freedom of one was denial of the guaranteed rights of all.

In the end, the US Supreme Court granted the Nazis' right to march. And when few brown shirts showed up, it was a victory for American media because all the attention showed the reality of a fringe whose ideology was universally rejected by the masses.

We can see a parallel of that in last weekend's flop of the "Unite the Right 2" in both Charlottesville and D.C., where white supremacists and neonazis numbered about 40 individuals, while counter-demonstrators came by the thousands. Of course, social media may have been more a factor than actual news media in making people aware so they could become participants.


Social media cannot be confused with any news organization of any color or stripe -- except when it comes to the overarching control of the corporatists, because literally billions of dollars are at stake. There, we see a trend-driven, and therefore dollar-driven, basis for outing the hate-speech-du-jour.

Once a social media darling -- for the price its advertising demanded -- Alex Jones and his "InfoWars" page were banned from Facebook last week. "Hate Speech" hadn't been invoked when Jones began claiming that the massacre of elementary school children at Sandy Hook "was a hoax." It had to wait until trendiness and plunging value of Facebook stock determined the righteous ethics for the Facebook corporatists.

Another proof that social media cannot be confused with journalism is the sudden social media banishment this week of TeleSUR. A respected outlet, it is the exact opposite of Jones' right-wing presence. TeleSUR is based in Latin America and funded by Spanish-speaking countries that are on the US spy agencies' sh*t list, including Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

When TeleSUR began delving into the attempted assassination last week of President Maduro, the American intelligence community went nuts. And suddenly, like the magician's rabbit, no more presence for TeleSUR on multiple social media platforms.

Which is only the latest manifestation of corporate kowtowing to the same Military-Industrial-Cybersecurity Complex that funded the rise of social media and its vacuum cleaner of data gathering, going back to the original DARPA grant.


We should also take the example of the White Helmets, the supposed "Syrian Civil Defense Force." A glowing documentary about them won an Oscar. But the truth about the group is very dark. They've been funded by the US -- the CIA, NSA, Defense and State Departments -- while they have operated hand-in-glove with the very terrorist groups that US taxpayer dollars and US military lives have been expended to fight against.

Corporate mainstream media has consistently made the White Helmets their darling, "a group of brave heroes among the horror," as one CNN report called them.

Yet journalists have been beheaded by the very terrorists that the White Helmets have supported.

And the moral outrage voiced by media outlets against a bloviating US president for his reckless remarks that endanger reporters?

Nothing like that outrage was heard against the White Helmets, when western media and the defense establishment determined that all-things opposing the elected government of Syria were to be portrayed as good rebels. Bashir so Assad gets hate speech and that's okay, at all levels, while the White Helmets get a free pass. And, oh, by the way, when the terrorists accepted safe passage anf free bus rides to northern Syria, out of their fallen strongholds? The White Helmets chose to go with them, though US mainstream media didn't manage to report that. Didn't 'zactly fit the narrative.


Often, polls reveal things that US corporate mainstream media never analyzes, if they mention those things at all.

For example, more registered Democrats now favor socialism over capitalism. You missed that? So did most of the American media audience.

Why wasn't that discussed, especially on cable "news" that seems to discuss things to death? Well, with an msm narrative fixated on telling voters in the midterms that "Bernie Sanders-endorsed candidates lost in 80% of the primaries to moderates," there would be a message-management problem if you added an "Oh, by the way," that threw shade on your oft-repeated premise.

To the credit of precious few outlets, Bernie Sanders was asked about the statement. Though that did not include being asked to comment about the one directional flow of the reporting. Bernie told Larry King Tuesday afternoon, and Stephen Colbert Tuesday night, rpretty much the same thing regarding his endorsements supposedly falling flat:

"That's not entirely accurate. Most of those primaries were against entrenched incumbents with all the money and all the party machinery behind them, where nobody else would have stood a chance."

Bernie continued, "But take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her victory in the primary over the third-most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives proves something. If you get the message out -- that instead of paying for tax cuts for the rich, we should have health care for all as a fundamental right, free college tuition to insure the future of our society in the face of global competition, and that anyone who works 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty because of entrenched income inequality -- then that message can win."

But everywhere else, that was a blip, at best, amidst the Trumpian singularity.

Corporate cable news -- whether it's the equally but oppositely biased MSNBC and FOX News, or the camped-somewhere-near-the-Pentagon CNN (when it isn't obsessively looking for a lost airliner), is all based on the same paradigm. It's all a daily scheduled serial of hour-long cult-of-personality presentations that reinforce, through endless repetition, the predetermined narrative. Predetermined? That's obvious, because "Breaking News!" cuts away for anything too earth-shattering to ignore (that's not to say "for anything that happens," because that's a bridge too far). Then it's right back to the narrative, after some quick condescending remark from that hour's host, about praying for the victims.


There is no question there is rampant "Trump Derangement Syndrome" out there, stampeding in every direction across the mediascape. Neither is there a question that it is fed by the singularity of narrative that has seized the levers at corporate cable news and other corporate media outlets.

Take Les Moonves. He was quickly ushered back behind the curtain to resume his Wizard of Oz role. After multiple accusations of sexual harassment. Accusations of the kind, with fewer accusers, that have caused an avalanche of resignations by iconic media figures for the past year. Where's Charlie Rose, and Garrison Keillor? Both gone, their names chiseled off the monuments they built, just like Egyptian pharaohs who fell from grace. Or were pushed, like Humpty Dumpty.

Before his current splash of infamy, Les Moonves was best remembered for saying, "Trump may not be good for America, but he's damn good for CBS."

He was talking about candidate Trump, and how an audience could be held -- commanding high advertising rates -- because they remained at their TV sets staring at an empty podium, or listening to the daily phoner with the bombastic candidate.

Now Moonves is the only major corporate head in the past year who remains in power in the face of multiple accusers who say he sexually harrassed them. As a financial wizard, he's damn good for CBS, so rewrite the news agenda. More diversionary outrage. More Trump tweets. More of Jan Brady's Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, as Russia, Russia, Russia.


Diversion. Distraction. Carefully crafted outrage. Give the people what they want -- after you decide for them what that is. And you have plenty of "B" roll to keep reinforcing it. With repetition every hour. On  cult-of-personality cable news show.

Just censor-out anybody who won't reinforce the narrative. Bring the whistle. And the car keys. And  the B-roll.

Welcome to world of seemless integration of perpetual marketing and tastemaking propaganda. Where you celebrate removal of everything outrageous. Or disagreeable. Or annoying. Or -- different from your echo chamber.

There may be a loosely defined movement calling itself "The Resistance," but it seems woefully unprepared to protect the First Amendment. Or to investigate voter disenfranchisement, vote fraud, putting the fix in the 2016 primary elections, or the lack of a paper trail in states that use the most widespread voting machines.

Or perhaps that's more consistent with wanting all the demographic data from Facebook for voting-age users, matched with a list of political and news sites viewed and how long and how often each of us looks at whatever we look at.

Democrats who lead that party can tell you plenty of other things (not just what, but who) they're against. But they're not against corporate control of our lives. And they can't manage to tell you, in any comprehensive, coherent way, what they're for.


The media's relentless campaign is equivalent to the morass of hedgerow skirmishing that bogged down all the forces after the Normandy Invasion. The media's hedgerow row with Trump may derive from just one thing they can't admit: perhaps they are doing penance before the angry public for their de facto help in getting him elected.

After all, no campaign in a multiply-contested presidential primary EVER received as many free hours of air time as the Trump campaign. And nobody, EVER, in the history of television, has gotten the number or the total time in phoners broadcast live as were given by corporate mainstream media to candidate Donald Trump.

Or it could be Big Media playing the jilted lover since he stopped calling.

Or, it could be that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, who largely share the same funders, are actually beholden to the same entrenched interests. But you sure won't see THAT examined on corporate Big Media, any more than you'll see a discussion of lung cancer when tobacco executives appear before Congress.

Instead, it's all Trump, all the time. But even the most likely reasons for their obsession go unexamined.

Trump is a true loose cannon, in the original nautical sense -- he is unmoored, rolling dangerously and violently across the pitching deck, crushing all who try to restrain him, and liable to go-off and blow a hole in the ship at any moment. 

Trump represents an entirely different set of threats to corporatists, but he also offers a myriad of opportunities for wealth and power -- like massive tax cuts that give the rich a free ride on the backs of the rest of us. So it could be that Big Media is functioning as a safety valve, an outlet for public steam that protects the boiler from an actual explosion.


Instead of the endless Trumpian singularity, corporate Big Media could be analyzing all the ways that both the Democratic and Republican parties are fragmented and dysfunctional. But that might further the move of the majority of the millenial electorate to registering as independents, and expressing disgust with both parties.

You'd think someone in that gaggle of cult-of-personality shows would want to examine that. But you need to turn to alternative media.

And not fall for the false equivalency that the White House's "alternative facts" are the same as alternative media. And not buy the name-calling, the default position of smug labelling of anything different as "fake news." Whether it's the Tweeter in Chief or the Facebook though police that espouse it, it is a refuge of tyrants to eliminate all thoughts but theirs.

Bots, of all kinds, should be banned. If you want to communicate an idea, craft your own message and send it from you to your audience. Communication of anything professing to be news should never be farther removed than the model of a newspaper coming off a press and being thrown into your porch. You know who published it and you know how and where to find them and if need be, to hold them accountable.

Much of the best reporting being done today comes from outlets without anything like the resources of Big Media. There is TruthDig and TruthOut. There is Jake Uygur on webstream TV, and until his untimely death last month, there was Ed Schultz, evening news anchor on RT America. Both those important journalists left high-paying positions as talking heads on MSNBC, because they resolved not to be part of the corporate narrative.

There are still good newspapers. Just look for the ones that are not owned by oligarchs who want their "news divisions" to carry water for the rest of their corporate empires.

While documentary films are subject to the advocacy of the filmmakers, you can look for those that win awards and are invited to the film festivals. Often, they do what Big Media's investigative reporters are not allowed to do. Both BBC World and RT America screen such documentaries multiple times a week.

There are some good, honest and intellectual exchanges on TV, without yelling and tribalism and childish name calling vilification -- if you look carefully. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges writes for TruthDig and hosts an excellent weekly half-hour on RT America. Former two-term Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who was elected and served as an independent, does a weekly cornucopia of practical populism on the same channel. And a unique amalgam of topical investigative journalism on Fridays / solid interviews on Thursdays, mixed both days with skewering sociopolitical humor, can be found on "Redacted Tonight" on RT America and several places on the web.

Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" is an old stand by of alternative sources, though she's being dangerously co-opted into the Russia-Russia-Russia mantra and the plethora of risks that come with it.

BBC World Service, France 24, DW from Germany, RT America, and NHK from Japan are just essential. These outlets must play parts in the weekly viewing of any American. Especially anyone who wants to know what the rest of the world sees and is concerned by, and what is likely to develop into something the American media will suddenly and shockingly discover and cursorily report as "Breaking News!" a month or two from now.

And finally, there needs to be a coherent and consistent realization that censorship is one of the greatest dangers to all we hold dear. No matter how benign, no matter marinaded in morality or religious righteousness, no matter how slickly it is portrayed as "protecting us," censorship always functions in favor of one viewpoint as the only truth.

The arrogance of "Facebook jail" should scare the hell out of everyone who seeks to see other viewpoints.

The gathering of data on what you see and watch and read and question, and the ways all that can deny you a job or promotion or admission to a college is the most sinister use of technology this side of the dark world that George Orwell warned us against.

And finally, live, human reporters must be allowed to ask questions, seek answers, interact with people on different sides of issues, and report on the ever-changing tapestry of our world. They must be allowed to perform that essential function for all of us, and to do it every day, without intimidation or boundary markers from corporatists or advertisers, and without fear of death threats or being physically assaulted because they have a job to do.

Despite the media's infamous penchant for dumbing-down everything to wholly invalid simplicities, they can't away with separating things that are in fact connected. Understanding the reasons reporters are at risk of being attacked, and preventing such attacks, require:

· protecting reporters from fixated zealots -- defusing the desire to attack the messenger.

· demanding integrity, inclusiveness, no deck-stacking, and no collusion or kowtowing or overt or covert control of what is allowed to be presented to us as news.

A functioning, healthy democracy requires a thoroughly and continuously informed electorate. An electorate informed by all the facts, not a crafted narrative from a corporate compliance office that requires cherrypicked facts and cooked books.

The essence of maintaining a democratic society is not herding sufficient numbers into party regimentation and ignoring economic sedimentation. Rather, it requires inclusively democratizing the dialog and assuring that it will be reported honestly, thoroughly, fairly, and with no attempt to mold it to fit any predetermined message.

That's how we will keep our journalists safe. That's how we will reestablish respect for a profession whose uninvited masters have squandered it. We will earn it back, by making reporting about news, and not about information management.

And until we do those things? We can expect whistles from protesters drowning-out anything anyone says that they may find disagreeable. We can expect some other crazed nut job to turn a car into a deadly weapon and maim and kill people because the driver is distraught over being exposed to a message that isn't theirs. We can expect gun violence as a means of horrifically unacceptable expression by those who are resolved to express their displeasure at someone else's message.

We must base our society on tolerance, and steadfastly maintain willingness to hear and listen to views that are not ours. Then we can be ready to think and consider. And then we will demand our journalists facilitate it.



That's all for now.

We'll be back again soon with music news and more "News of the Non-Trumpcentric Universe." (c)



Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?

What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...

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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS – and views of interest to artists everywhere – more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music. That includes both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues (now undergoing a major update), and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues from the monumentally large to the intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops, conferences, and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the swamp water roots of the blues and the bright lights of where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell. The cyber porch'll be here anytime you come back from the road.


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