Spruiking the Coalition’s 2020 tax cuts; Australians’ ‘$200 billion’ war chest; Google’s experiments; free speech; and even a Liberal Party self-congratulatory piece on the NBN. Michael Tanner checks out the past week in the mainstream media.Tamed Estate: media kicks of 2021 copying and pasting government “drops” – Michael West
The best we can hope for when picking up our daily paper is that an attempt has been made to present opinions with at least a passing nod to objectivity. That should not be too much to ask but increasingly opinion is clearly just that: opinion. What happens when propaganda replaces journalism?Mainstream media chastises China, ignoring U.S. crimes
But what many have been wondering is why, if Murdoch wants to “Kill Bill”, all the other mainstream media – Fairfax, Seven, Nine, Ten, SBS, the ABC, even Australia’s feeble version of the UK Guardian – have been running the exact same line: that if the ALP lose in Longman and/or Braddon in this weekend’s “Super Saturday” by-elections, Shorten’s leadership will be in dire peril, due to his lack of popularity with the Australian public? Yet virtually nothing has been said about any pressure on Malcolm Turnbull, whose administration has just lost an unprecedented 36 consecutive News Corp run Newspolls in a row?
We’ll clear up why Australia’s mainly wrong media are running the same line on this issue ‒ as they do on virtually every subject ‒ but first let’s examine if the threat to Shorten’s leadership is, in fact, real.
“It’s incredible how readily the cable news channels have politicians on pushing for war in Syria with almost no questions asked about how disastrous it might be or the so-called evidence,” Uyger added. “They pretended to learn lessons from Iraq but have actually learned nothing.”
So, the Firestarter method. It is the technique of playing upon a latent fear or an innate belief and fanning it until it becomes a blaze. Without oxygen a volatile source cannot become a fire. The media give an issue (or a perceived issue) oxygen. During the WA shark cull they played on the public’s fear and misunderstanding of sharks. Today they are doing precisely the same thing in fanning the flames of racial tension with the magnification of the ‘African gangs’ issue. And to revisit that galaxy far, far away: ‘Fear leads to anger, and anger leads to the Dark Side.’
The pen, as they say is mightier than the sword. It comes down to the integrity of the holder as to how it is used.
The MSM runs on bluff. They are will-o-the-wisps, all smoke and mirrors. The LNP/IPA crowd are cowards, all of them. Gutless cowards every man-Jack /woman-Jill. There is no real threat from that quarter, but it is their pay-masters who will be out there slinging the stones and arrows, seeking to get as many of the voting public on-side to do as much damage to union credibility as possible through those miserable creatures in their pay; the journalists. ……. So whenever any of the MSM comes out with an attack upon the union and/or its leadership, consider it an attack upon ourselves – for that is what it is – and then attack back at that individual journalist. And spare no measure when doing so, for they will not show any consideration nor mercy toward any one of us they want to destroy..
TeleSur | – – Ice cover at the top of the globe shrank to its smallest area in 2016 —some …
Anderson Cooper and CNN have been caught staging fake news about Syria to justify military intervention. The primary “witness” that the mainstream media is using as a source in Syria has been caugh…
Our old friend Cliff Kincaid is back, and he’s as mad as hell. The reason? Michael T. Flynn, a retired American three-star general, attended RT’s conference – and subsequent dinner – on December 10th in Moscow, celebrating the channel’s 10th anniversary.
A poll in 2012 showed that trust in the mainstream media is increasing, which should worry all of us who value truth, integrity and press freedom.
However, a recently released analysis by PunditFact revealed that out of every statement made by a Fox News host or guest, over half of them were completely false. What’s more, only 8% percent could even be considered “completely true.”
But for anyone who regularly tunes into the conservative news show, such revelation is nothing new. PunditFact only confirmed what many have been aware of for a while now: Fox News lies – like, a lot.
But keep in mind it’s not just Fox that tends to weave more tales than truth…
Why? Here are 10 disturbing things everyone needs to know about the global media giants who control our supply of information, wielding immense power over the people- and even over the government.
1. Mainstream media exists solely to make profit
What´s the purpose of the mainstream media? Saying that the press exists to inform, educate or entertain is like saying Apple corporation´s primary function is to make technology which will enrich our lives. Actually, the mass media industry is the same as any other in a capitalist society: it exists to make profit.Medialens, a British campaigning site which critiques mainstream (or corporate) journalism, quoted business journalist Marjorie Kelly as saying that all corporations, including those dealing with media, exist only to maximize returns to their shareholders. This is, she said, ´the law of the land…universally accepted as a kind of divine, unchallengeable truth´. Without pleasing shareholders and a board of directors, mass media enterprises simply would not exist. And once you understand this, you´ll never watch the news in the same way again.
2. Advertisers dictate content
So how does the pursuit of profit affect the news we consume? Media corporations make the vast majority (typically around 75%) of their profit from advertising, meaning it´s advertisers themselves that dictate content- not journalists, and certainly not consumers. Imagine you are editor of a successful newspaper or TV channel with high circulation or viewing figures. You attract revenue from big brands and multinational corporations such as BP, Monsanto and UAE airlines. How could you then tackle important topics such as climate change, GM food or disastrous oil spills in a way that is both honest to your audience and favorable to your clients? The simple answer is you can´t. This might explain why Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times- sponsored by Goldman Sachs- is so keen to defend the crooked corporation. Andrew Marr, a political correspondent for the BBC, sums up the dilemma in his autobiography: ´The biggest question is whether advertising limits and reshapes the news agenda. It does, of course. It’s hard to make the sums add up when you are kicking the people who write the cheques.´ Enough said…
3. Billionaire tycoons & media monopolies threaten real journalism
The monopolization of the press (fewer individuals or organizations controlling increasing shares of the mass media) is growing year by year, and this is a grave danger to press ethics and diversity. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch´s neo-liberal personal politics are reflected in his 175 newspapers and endorsed by pundits (see Fox news) on the 123 TV channels he owns in the USA alone. Anyone who isn´t worried by this one man´s view of the world being consumed by millions of people across the globe- from the USA to the UK, New Zealand to Asia, Europe to Australia- isn´t thinking hard enough about the consequences. It´s a grotesquely all-encompassing monopoly, leaving no doubt that Murdoch is one of the most powerful men in the world. But as the News International phone hacking scandal showed, he´s certainly not the most honorable or ethical. Neither is Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB spy and politician who bought British newspaper The Independent in 2010. With Lebedev´s fingers in so many pies (the billionaire oligarch is into everything from investment banking to airlines), can we really expect news coverage from this once well-respected publication to continue in the same vein? Obviously not: the paper had always carried a banner on its front page declaring itself ´free from party political bias, free from proprietorial influence´, but interestingly this was dropped in September 2011.
4. Corporate press is in bed with the government
Aside from the obvious, one of the most disturbing facts to emerge from Murdoch´s News International phone hacking scandal (background information here ) was the exposure of shady connections between top government officials and press tycoons. During the scandal, and throughout the subsequent Levesoninquiry into British press ethics (or lack of them), we learned of secret meetings, threats by Murdoch to politicians who didn´t do as he wanted, and that Prime Minister David Cameron has a very close friendship with The Sun´s then editor-in-chief (and CEO of News International) Rebekah Brooks. How can journalists do their job of holding politicians to account when they are vacationing together or rubbing shoulders at private dinner parties? Clearly, they don´t intend to. But the support works both ways- Cameron´s government tried to help Murdoch´s son win a bid for BSkyB, while bizarrely, warmongering ex Prime Minister Tony Blair is godfather to Murdoch´s daughter Grace. As well as ensuring an overwhelming bias in news coverage and election campaigns, flooding newspapers with cheap and easy articles from unquestioned government sources, and gagging writers from criticizing those in power, these secret connections also account for much of the corporate media´s incessant peddling of the patriotism lie– especially in the lead-up to attacks on other countries. Here´s an interesting analysis of The New York Times´s coverage of the current Syria situation for example, demonstrating how corporate journalists are failing to reflect public feeling on the issue of a full-scale attack on Assad by the US and its allies.
5. Important stories are overshadowed by trivia
You could be forgiven for assuming that the most interesting part of Edward Snowden´s status as a whistleblower was his plane ride from Hong Kong to Russia, or his lengthy stint waiting in Moscow airport for someone- anyone– to offer him asylum. Because with the exception of The Guardian who published the leaks (read them in full here), the media has generally preferred not to focus on Snowden´s damning revelations about freedom and tyranny, but rather on banal trivia – his personality and background, whether his girlfriend misses him, whether he is actually a Chinese spy, and ahhh, didn´t he remind us all of Where´s Waldo as he flitted across the globe as a wanted fugitive? The same could be said of Bradley Manning´s gender re-assignment, which conveniently overshadowed the enormous injustice of his sentence. And what of Julian Assange? His profile on the globally-respected BBC is dedicated almost entirely to a subtle smearing of character, rather than detailing Wikileaks´s profound impact on our view of the world. In every case, the principal stories are forgotten as our attention, lost in a sea of trivia, is expertly diverted from the real issues at hand: those which invariably, the government wants us to forget.
6. Mainstream media doesn´t ask questions
´Check your sources, check your facts´ are golden rules in journalism 101, but you wouldn´t guess that from reading the mainstream press or watching corporate TV channels. At the time of writing, Obama is beating the war drums over Syria. Following accusations by the US and Britain that Assad was responsible for a nerve gas attack on his own civilians last month, most mainstream newspapers- like the afore-mentioned New York Times– have failed to demand evidence or call for restraint on a full-scale attack. But there are several good reasons why journalists should question the official story. Firstly, British right-wing newspaperThe Daily Mail actually ran a news piece back in January this year, publishing leaked emails from a British arms company showing the US was planning a false flag chemical attack on Syria´s civilians. They would then blame it on Assad to gain public support for a subsequent full-scale invasion. The article was hastily deleted but a cached version still exists. Other recent evidence lends support to the unthinkable. It has emerged that the chemicals used to make the nerve gas were indeed shipped from Britain, and German intelligence insists Assad was not responsible for the chemical attack. Meanwhile, a hacktivist has come forward with alleged evidence of US intelligence agencies´ involvement in the massacre (download it for yourself here ), with a growing body of evidence suggesting this vile plot was hatched by Western powers. Never overlook the corporate media´s ties to big business and big government before accepting what you are told- because if journalism is dead, you have a right and a duty to ask your own questions.
7. Corporate journalists hate real journalists
Michael Grunwald, senior national correspondent of Time, tweeted that he ´can´t wait to write a defense of the drone that takes out Julian Assange.´ Salon writer David Sirota rightly points out the irony of this: ´Here we have a reporter expressing excitement at the prospect of the government executing the publisher of information that became the basis for some of the most important journalism in the last decade.´ Sirota goes on to note various examples of what he calls the ´Journalists against Journalism club´, and gives several examples of how The Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald has been attacked by the corporate press for publishing Snowden´s leaks. The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin called for Greenwald’s arrest, while NBC’s David Gregory´s declared that Greenwald has ´aided and abetted Snowden´. As for the question of whether journalists can indeed be outspoken, Sirota accurately notes that it all depends on whether their opinions serve or challenge the status quo, and goes on to list the hypocrisy of Greenwald´s critics in depth: ´Grunwald has saber-rattling opinions that proudly support the government’s drone strikes and surveillance. Sorkin’s opinions promote Wall Street’s interests. (The Washington Post´s David) Broder had opinions that supported, among other things, the government’s corporate-serving “free” trade agenda. (The Washington Post´s Bob) Woodward has opinions backing an ever-bigger Pentagon budget that enriches defense contractors. (The Atlantic´s Jeffrey) Goldberg promotes the Military-Industrial Complex’s generally pro-war opinions. (The New York Times´s Thomas) Friedman is all of them combined, promoting both “free” trade and “suck on this” militarism. Because these voices loyally promote the unstated assumptions that serve the power structure and that dominate American politics, all of their particular opinions aren’t even typically portrayed as opinions; they are usually portrayed as noncontroversial objectivity.
8. Bad news sells, good news is censored, and celebrity gossip trumps important issues
It´s sad but true: bad news really does sell more newspapers. But why? Are we really so pessimistic? Do we relish the suffering of others? Are we secretly glad that something terrible happened to someone else, not us? Reading the corporate press as an alien visiting Earth you might assume so. Generally, news coverage is sensationalist and depressing as hell, with so many pages dedicated to murder, rape and pedophilia and yet none to the billions of good deeds and amazingly inspirational movements taking place every minute of every day all over the planet. But the reasons we consume bad news are perfectly logical. In times of harmony and peace, people simply don´t feel the need to educate themselves as much as they do in times of crises. That´s good news for anyone beginning to despair that humans are apathetic, hateful and dumb, and it could even be argued that this sobering and simple fact is a great incentive for the mass media industry to do something worthwhile. They could start offering the positive and hopeful angle for a change. They could use dark periods of increased public interest to convey a message of peace and justice. They could reflect humanity´s desire for solutions and our urgent concerns for the environment. They could act as the voice of a global population who has had enough of violence and lies to campaign for transparency, equality, freedom, truth, and real democracy. Would that sell newspapers? I think so. They could even hold a few politicians to account on behalf of the people, wouldn´t that be something? But for the foreseeable future, it´s likely the corporate press will just distract our attention with another picture of Rhianna´s butt, another rumor about Justin Bieber´s coke habit, or another article about Kim Kardashian (who is she again?) wearing perspex heels with swollen ankles while pregnant. Who cares about the missing $21 trillion, what was she thinking?
9. Whoever controls language controls the population
Have you read George Orwell´s classic novel 1984 yet? It´s become a clichéd reference in today´s dystopia, that´s true, but with good reason. There are many- too many- parallels between Orwell´s dark imaginary future and our current reality, but one important part of his vision concerned language. Orwell coined the word ´Newspeak´ to describe a simplistic version of the English language with the aim of limiting free thought on issues that would challenge the status quo (creativity, peace, and individualism for example). The concept of Newspeak includes what Orwell called ´DoubleThink´- how language is made ambiguous or even inverted to convey the opposite of what is true. In his book, the Ministry of War is known as the Ministry of Love, for example, while the Ministry of Truth deals with propaganda and entertainment. Sound familiar yet? Another book that delves into this topic deeper is Unspeak, a must-read for anyone interested in language and power and specifically how words are distorted for political ends. Terms such as ´peace keeping missiles´, ´extremists´ and ´no-fly zones´, weapons being referred to as ´assets´, or misleading business euphemisms such as ´downsizing´ for redundancy and ´sunset´ for termination- these, and hundreds of other examples, demonstrate how powerful language can be. In a world of growing corporate media monopolization, those who wield this power can manipulate words and therefore public reaction, to encourage compliance, uphold the status quo, or provoke fear.
10. Freedom of the press no longer exists
The only press that is currently free (at least for now) is the independent publication with no corporate advertisers, board of directors, shareholders or CEOs. Details of how the state has redefined journalism are noted here and are mentioned in #7, but the best recent example would be the government´s treatment of The Guardian over its publication of the Snowden leaks. As a side note, it´s possible this paper plays us as well as any other- The Guardian Media Group isn´t small fry, after all. But on the other hand- bearing in mind points 1 to 9- why should we find it hard to believe that after the NSA files were published, editor Alan Rusbridge was told by the powers that be ´you´ve had your fun, now return the files´, that government officials stormed his newsroom and smashed up hard drives, or that Greenwald´s partner David Miranda was detained for 9 hours in a London airport under the Terrorism Act as he delivered documents related to the columnist´s story? Journalism, Alan Rusbridge lamented, ´may be facing a kind of existential threat.´ As CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather wrote: ‘We have few princes and earls today, but we surely have their modern-day equivalents in the very wealthy who seek to manage the news, make unsavory facts disappear and elect representatives who are in service to their own economic and social agenda… The “free press” is no longer a check on power. It has instead become part of the power apparatus itself.’
Last week Mainstream Media (MSM) political commentators were united in their condemnation and their mockery of PM Tony Abbott following his bizarre announcement that HRH Prince Phillip would become an Australian Knight.
They also seemed equally united in their condemnation of Abbott’s overall performance and the prospect of an imminent leadership challenge following the Queensland election. Better late than never, I suppose.
In fact, the media’s unity on these two issues is similar to their united front on Labor’s economic prowess, particularly between 2010 and 2013. At the time, they gave Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey unquestioning prominence while the two amigos recklessly hacked away at Labor’s economic record.
The only difference is that they were dead wrong about the two amigos and also about Labor’s grasp of the issues.
When Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister in 2007 he inherited a gross ‘debt’ of $58 billion; quite trivial by today’s standards. At the time, he and Labor were treated lightly by the media until the GFC exploded and suddenly, the big question was: what would they do about it?
But up until this time, the media had been asleep at the wheel unaware of what really had been going on. For the ten years or so prior to 2007 they had been happy to drink the wine of what they perceived as good fiscal management by Peter Costello who had been delivering surplus budgets year in, year out.
But they should have known that in a national economy, the three principal sectors of management, i.e. government, private and external, the respective balances of each will always play against each other, while their aggregate total must balance when combined. If two are in surplus, one must be in deficit. If two are in deficit one must be in surplus and the net result must always equal zero.
A simple formula expresses this as follows:
(I – S) + (G – T) + (X – M) = 0
where I is Investment, S is Savings, G is Govt. Spending, T is Taxes, X is Exports and M is Imports.
During Costello’s time no one ever queried that up until 2007, while he bathed in the glory of government surpluses, external income was in deficit, and private debt, particularly household debt was skyrocketing.
Costello’s surpluses were made possible because of the availability of easy credit, e.g. home equity based loans, banks offering credit cards to anyone breathing, and even some who had stopped breathing. Costello took advantage of the ignorance of the MSM and the people with his surpluses and actually gained their admiration in the process.
As we all remember, soon after the GFC struck, the Rudd government announced a stimulus program, one much criticised by the then LNP opposition, which put the budget into deficit. This created excess reserves in the banking system necessitating the issuing of bonds to ensure the central bank could control the overnight cash rate.
This necessary monetary process was misconstrued and presented as borrowing to finance the government’s spending when it was nothing of the sort. It quite falsely became the “debt and deficit myth” the LNP used so effectively to discredit Labor.
Following that stimulus, the external sector (trade) remained in deficit but the private sector (business) stopped borrowing and began paying down debt.
Fast forward to today and we find that household debt has remained at its historic high. Meanwhile, the business sector have been using accumulated profits to reduce debt and buffer themselves from deflationary forces in the absence of attractive investment opportunities.
At the same time, successive years of deficit budgets caused by China’s economic slowdown coupled with an over-valued Australian dollar has had the effect of limiting further deterioration in unemployment.
That’s the good news. Now for the bad news. Joe Hockey’s austerity budget threatens a seismic shift in these balances.
The move to austerity will actually force the private sector towards higher indebtedness (deficit) by running down savings because there won’t be the flow of money to enable current levels of saving.
If the household part of the private sector starts saving and/or begins to pay down household debt (credit card and mortgages), the economy generally will begin to contract, business will slow, unemployment will grow and the deficit will also grow from further reduced revenues. The December 2014 inflation rate announced last week confirms this trend.
This means that the private sector will bear the burden of balancing the economy on a scale that will drive the country into a horrible and prolonged recession.
This is why the European Central Bank has decided to issue $1 trillion euros of fiat currency to be deposited into the reserves of the member banks. This is why austerity doesn’t work, at least in these circumstances.
The question arises therefore, why is it that the Australian MSM economic experts are not pointing out this fact? Are they once more asleep at the wheel? Or, is it just too hard for them to acknowledge Labor’s better understanding of the way the economy works?
It is my opinion that neither they, Joe Hockey nor Mattias Cormann understand any of this.
The way in which the mainstream media (MSM) chooses to report and discuss the economy, i.e. in conventional neo-liberal terms, reinforces the notion that the economy is some sort of God who must be served and obeyed by the people in one particular way to the exclusion of any other. This is a false concept wrapped in metaphorical jargon that has not only poisoned our minds but, in the process, allowed us to become enslaved to its will.
The way the media frames its articles and the language it uses to present them, crowds out any alternative discussion and prevents alternative concepts being presented. As a result, the present government’s ideological agenda of austerity and surplus driven macroeconomics becomes something akin to the Ten Commandments, which we must obey and accept. This too, is a false concept.
It is time for a more progressive view to be aired, discussed and debated.
The progressive vision of an economy is the reverse of the existing one, where it serves the people, advancing public purpose, whatever that might be. It is a vision where, within the constraints of a healthy environment, we live in harmony with the planet, where equality is the principle commandment, where we control everything about it and we use it to advance our quality of life, without destroying the planet and without leaving anybody behind.
The barrier that is preventing this progressive view from being debated is in the language used to explain it. We are trained in our early language to think of the word ‘deficit’ as bad. It equates with concepts of debt, of owing, of a burden, of having to restore a shortfall, etc. It isn’t helped at all by comparing a nation’s economy to household budgeting.
We haven’t been able to link the word, ‘deficit’ with something good, with employment, with growth, because the mainstream media won’t indulge it. They are seduced by convention, afraid to think outside the square.
To this end, the MSM have allowed the present government’s failed ideology to prevail. Where it fails is in thinking that a surplus is a goal rather than a tool. Surpluses and deficits should be determined by what we, as a nation, want and should be used to suit the circumstances at the time. Surpluses and deficits are not an end in themselves, they are tools used to achieve an outcome.
What we want right now is full employment or as close to full employment as we can come. In our present circumstances, that will not be achieved by trying to bring the budget into surplus. The media’s so-called economic experts should be framing their articles to reflect this. At the moment they are seduced by the metaphorical language that undermines any hope of full employment.
Using the current issue of welfare, the one the media love to milk, where they grasp at any suggestion of waste and abuse, of lazy people not trying to find work, of the sick bludging on the system, we can demonstrate an economic imperative they never highlight.
What they never explain and what the present government doesn’t realise is that when tax revenues fall, welfare payments increase. One works inversely with the other. These are the automatic stabilisers where the common denominator is the workforce participation rate and by association, the GDP growth rate.
These stabilisers restrict the range of the business cycle by expanding and contracting depending on the level of fiscal policy. When unemployment rises so do welfare payments. If, for example, Scott Morrison thinks he can reduce welfare payments while tax revenues are in decline he is effectively trying to reverse a natural outcome. It is a bit like trying to go forward when the car is in reverse gear.
So, if his approach to welfare payments is similar to his approach to stopping the boats, i.e. having no time for the personal impact on his decisions, just the outcome relative to the government’s policy position, he will discover that just like stopping the boats, reigning in welfare spending is a dirty science. Outcomes will vary in ways he and the government cannot foresee.
Thinking that having a business friendly conservative government will automatically generate business confidence is foolhardy at best, also lazy and already proving to be a false expectation. Only full or near full employment will generate demand of the kind that will lift us out of stagflation. The unemployed cannot find jobs if the jobs are not there. At the last count, there were approximately 770,000 unemployed and less than 150,000 jobs advertised.
As long as governments, like our present one, push supply side economics (if you make it, buyers will come), instead of demand side economics (making what buyers need and want), unemployment will continue to rise. The private sector will not manufacture or produce goods without a known ready market.
The media has failed dismally in explaining this to its readers. It has failed the people it is there to serve. It peddles a false and misleading language that serves an exclusive minority, the super-rich. Little wonder circulation has plummeted.
The task of explaining alternative, progressive economics has fallen to the blogosphere and social media sites where much of the lost readership of the MSM has found a new home, found what it wants to read and the language it prefers.
Is it a forlorn hope that 2015 will see a breakthrough in progressive economic theory? We will certainly try.