Taking a page from the paranoid Trump playbook, this liberal interventionist of the Obama administration penned a New York Times op-ed calling for the construction of a huge, amazing, beautiful wall like the world has never seen before. This wall would consist of stringent monitoring and censorship of whatever independent thought on the Internet that she and some shadow cohort deem to be "fake news" - a/k/a subversive. Suppression is needed, Power writes, because any and all criticism of the Military-Industrial Complex is obviously coming straight out of Russia. Vladimir Putin is secretly feasting upon what she calls "a ripe subset of the population."
People not fortunate enough to be a member of Samantha Power's Class of Expert Thinkers are too stupid to distinguish proper, American, market-based neoliberal propaganda from other types of propaganda. Therefore she wants to take us back to a mythical time when all good citizens and true strictly adhered to mainstream media. She wants consumers to settle for whatever political discourse the corporate media chooses to slice, dice, marinate, cook up and boil down in a limited smorgasbord of pre-approved information.While television remains the main source of news for most Americans, viewers today tend to select a network in line with their political preferences. Even more significantly, The Pew Research Center has found that two-thirds of Americans are getting at least some of their news through social media.After the election, around 84 percent of Americans polled by Pew described themselves as at least somewhat confident in their ability to discern real news from fake. This confidence may be misplaced. (my bold.)
We Americans are getting way too fat on way too much unregulated content. And Samantha Power wants our diets to be fair, balanced, vapid, and docility-provoking.
Here's the fake, untrue, paranoid and misleading paragraph in her op-ed that really got me chuckling:
During the Cold War, most Americans received their news and information via mediated platforms. Reporters and editors serving in the role of professional gatekeepers had almost full control over what appeared in the media. A foreign adversary seeking to reach American audiences did not have great options for bypassing these umpires, and Russian dezinformatsia rarely penetrated.As a former "professional gatekeeper" on both newspapers and radio during the waning days of the Cold War and its aftermath, neither my job description nor that of my editors ever involved watching the wires and news releases coming across our desks for evidence of rampant infestations of dezinformatsia. Our main challenge was in mucking out whole boatloads of domestic political manure, which propagated in mountainous piles of real American press releases and flowed in endless streams of homegrown gobbledygook warning real Americans about such dangers as the Black Panthers lurking on every rooftop, and the Commie plot to sneak fluoride into our drinking water supply.
|Revisionist History, Henry Kissinger-Style|
Maybe Henry Kissinger, that fawning Joe McCarthy critic (he could have done more to fight Communism!) and architect of not a few crimes against humanity himself, got her to revise her worldview when he picked her for a prize which he humbly named after himself.
Sure, the poobahs have always complained, loudly and vociferously, about content they don't like, and they've often threatened (and filed) libel suits. But rarely have they seriously demanded that a publication or a station be shut down, as they are now calling for such outlets as RT to be shut down. They took the First Amendment very literally "in those good old days".
It was with the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, which had mandated broadcasting in the public interest, when local news stations began to be subsumed into such consolidated megaliths as Clear Channel Communications, original home base of hate-monger Rush Limbaugh, among others. Local news went the way of the rotary phone, If there isn't Limbaugh to listen to for hours upon hours every day, there's always the canned feedback of the same top ten hits to keep you bland from Bangor to San Diego.
As John Light writes for the Bill Moyers blog, there are "857 channels, and there's nothing on."
And it's getting worse during the Trump era. The planned takeover by the right-wing Sinclair family of the Tribune Company will result in one company controlling the local TV news beamed out to 70% of American households.
The waning days of the Cold War were also the waning days of the daily local newspaper. Vulture investors swooped down with a vengeance during the 70s recession, bought up all the financially struggling periodicals they could, downsized them, loaded them up with the debt, and then shuttered them for good at a windfall profit for themselves. If a newspaper was reasonably profitable, it stayed open under new cost-cutting management. I'd suggest that if Samantha Power was so worried about "foreign interference" in our media, she would have first pointed her finger at Australian mogul Rupert Murdoch, who bought up a whole slew of US newspapers and broadcast stations, including the last newspaper I ever worked for. As the soon-to-be de facto head of the Republican "Fox News" Party, he proceeded to close all our satellite bureaus and to fire most of the staff. We pre-existing reporters were not only too liberal and muck-rakish, Murdoch also thought that our modest but livable wages were way too high. Also, too many news stories were unfairly interfering with all those garish front page ads for booze and used cars.
So, Earth to Samantha: Russia has nothing to do with the demise of quality print and broadcast media, or the alleged dumbing down of Americans. Corporate greed on a global scale has done that. And the corporations, particularly those which profit mightily from the American war and surveillance state, want to ensure that only their important messages get through to us.
The excellent Moon of Alabama blog has a detail-rich, evidence-based deconstruction of Powers's op-ed, which among its other blatant whoppers, maintains that the Soviets unconscionably infiltrated Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign. The Russians wanted Walter Mondale to win, so thank goodness we dodged that lethal bullet and Reagan went on to successfully entrench the neoliberal mantra - private competition and profit at great public cost - into people's ripe little minds. This, from a top adviser in the Obama administration! I can only surmise that Samantha must have just watched The Manchurian Candidate on TV to get her so inspired and so befuddled.
She despises the lefties, what's left of them, just as much as Joe McCarthy did back in the good old late 40s and early 50s. She wants America to hate again just as eagerly as Donald Trump does. But the special thing that centrist Democrats want us to hate, besides Russia, is a brand-new horrible something called divisiveness:
In the United States, the vulnerability to foreign influence is exacerbated by divisions within the political establishment. During the Cold War, the larger struggle against communism created a mainstream consensus about what America stood for and against. Today, our society appears to be defined by a particularly vicious form of “partyism” affecting Democrats and Republicans alike. This divisive environment can make the media more susceptible to repeating and amplifying falsehoods.More nonsense from a self-described historian. All you have to do is watch the Vietnam War documentary currently airing on PBS to remember that Lyndon Johnson demanded that the anti-war raging protests on American streets and on college campuses be exposed as a Kremlin plot. He was very sorry when even J. Edgar Hoover himself couldn't shut down the dissent and come up with evidence of Russian meddling. The war and its critics ended up destroying his presidency.
The granddaddy of propaganda, Edward Bernays, noted 90 years ago that divisiveness has always been as all-American as fear itself. The difference nowadays, as I noted above, is the stunning lack of diversity in our consolidated establishment media, now comprised of only six or eight major corporations. In 1928, when Bernays wrote, there were 22,128 specialty periodicals, with most of them enjoying circulations above 100,000 readers.
The diversity of these publications is evident at a glance. Yet they only faintly suggest the multitude of cleavages which exist in our society, and along which flow information and opinion carrying authority to the individual groups....
"Life" satirically expresses the idea in the reply which it represents an American as giving to the Britisher who praises this country for having no upper and lower classes or castes:
"Yeah, all we have is the Four Hundred, the White-Collar Men, Bootleggers, Wall Street Barons, Criminals, the D.A.R., the K.K.K., the Colonial Dames, the Masons, Kiwanis and Rotarians, the K. of C., the Elks, the Censors, the Cognoscenti, the Morons, Heroes like Lindy, the W.C.T.U., Politicians, Menckenites, the Booboisie, Immigrants, Broadcasters, and - the Rich and Poor."So therefore, methinks that Samantha Power doth protest too much.
For a member of a political party which prides itself so much on "diversity," it certainly seems insanely intent upon limiting America's diverse citizenry to the preferences of its own very small core of wealthy donors and Neocon warmongers.
And it was absolutely no surprise to me that the compliant New York Times chose not to allow reader comments to Samantha Powers's special pleading for even more censorship of dissenting, independent voices.
This country is ripe for revolution, or maybe it's already just a ripening corpse, but whatever it is, it's obviously consolidated all the Powers That Be into one massive blob of pulsating delusions.
|Blob-o-Mania: Samantha Power Receiving Kissinger Diplomacy Prize|
... And now streaming for your nostalgic Orwellian viewing pleasure over an acceptable Internet site, or if you're a real American, through your smart modern two-way TV set: