Friday, October 5, 2018

Shut Down Reader Comments Sections, Urges Atlantic Council

The American Ruling Class is terrified of losing its iron grip on power, money, people and information. To that end, one of its premier propaganda mills, the Atlantic Council, is calling upon respected news outlets to consider shutting down the "virus" of independent thought in the reader comments sections appended to their articles.

It's right out there in the open. They view ordinary people with opinions as a disease, a scourge that must be wiped out so that billionaires, corporations, military leaders, weapons manufacturers and their partners in political crime can get on with ruling the world and everyone in it.

The Council, already in the forefront of recent censorship efforts related to "fake news" and fomenting conspiracy theories about Russian meddling in elections and infiltration in both right and left-leaning Internet news sites, has just issued another manifesto pressuring establishment news organizations to play even more of a "gatekeeper" role than they are already do.

The defiantly militant title of a recent strategy paper says it all: "Whose Truth? Sovereignty, Disinformation, and Winning the Battle For Trust."

To make its scary point, the piece is preceded by a photograph of Japanese citizens having the gall to protest a US military installation in their country more than 70 years after the end of World War II. If it were not for the Internet, the Japanese would never know that the US was still occupying their country, apparently. 

It is a war of the ruling class against the rest of us, poor befuddled mortals who are so overloaded with choice that our heads are spinning. As author John T. Watts synopsizes a ruling class sovereignty "Challenge" conference held last spring, the masters of the universe must walk a fine line between cracking down on independent thought and dissent and not appear to be cracking down on independent thought and dissent.

Watts, a former Australian military officer who now "consults" with the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security, bemoans the erosion of public trust in the media, which has dropped a full nine percentage points -- from 52 percent to 43 percent -- in just the past year, along with a 30 percent decrease in trust in government. He blames this not on widening wealth disparity directly caused by policies devised to serve only the interests of the wealthy and corporations at the expense of poor and working people, but on the "partisanship" fomented by disinformation campaigns from unregulated sources.

He also blames Julian Assange and the Wikileaks revelations of war crimes and corruption in high places, and without providing one iota of evidence, ties these leaks directly to Russia. If that weren't enough, too many people trust their "peers" more than they trust the proper authorities. The proles are talking too much among themselves, and the leaders are worried.

"Without shared facts," Watts complains, "society lacks the basis for a rational discourse."

The implication is that minds must therefore be better controlled with the proper, prescribed content from ruling class sources.

While bemoaning the lack of proper local news sources, he does not delve into the reasons why these local news sources have disappeared: the creative destruction of them by media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Gannett, and their ultimate consolidation into only five or six corporate entities. He notes only that this disappearance has created a vacuum being filled by "unqualified" bloggers and "irresponsible" information sites:
Those who  can generate the most attention by playing to the audience's greatest fears, bias, and ignorance will generate more revenue. In this environment - where any individual can generate, modify, or subvert facts for material political gain - there are multi-tiered incentives for individuals and groups around the world to generate misinformation and disinformation for little cost and significant reward. In contrast, truth telling and fact checking are expensive and of arguably less material value. 
Watts could just as well be describing Fox, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. If these media giants aren't ginning up war fever and Russiagate paranoia and big bucks with their reporters and on-air personalities just sitting around a table and interviewing each other rather than gathering information out in the field and talking to regular people, they're inviting government consultants like Watts to join them and hand-wring about how both Donald Trump and those useful Kremlin idiots of the renegade media are going beyond the bounds of good taste. That is, of course, before they take frequent breaks from their discussions to broadcast the latest Donald Trump Nuremberg-style rally or run commercials for oil companies and overpriced drugs.

So what is to be done to draw all those straying eyeballs away from the Internet and back to corporate and weapons industry-sponsored information sites where they belong?

Censorship, censorship, censorship!

It's not enough that Facebook and Google have already agreed to infiltration by thousands of law enforcement and military "gatekeepers" to monitor content in order to keep the minds of the globe sufficiently and pliantly narrow enough to soak up all the approved propaganda.

The self-appointed censors of the Military-Industrial Complex must appeal even more to the greed of such establishment organs as the Times, warning that their failure to disseminate the right propaganda might cause their advertisers to bolt. Therefore, the Atlantic Council is prevailing upon those advertisers themselves to demand more control of the news:
 Advertisers would get greater return on their investment if their message was attached to better quality material that properly engages the reader. Their brand can also suffer harm if it is associated with poor quality or misleading material. By demanding that their advertising is proven to be associated with high quality material, they will eventually realign some of the market forces and shift the incentives of the producers.
Translation: there can never be enough corporate control of our lives. If journalists and editors persist in maintaining the red line between their news and advertising divisions, a line which has always been the hallmark of a free press in democratic societies, the oligarchs will see to it that these noncompliant news organizations fail. Advertisers, not journalists and editors, must determine what is and what is not "high quality material." This is perhaps the most chilling of the Atlantic Council's prescriptions. It is an open threat to the First Amendment.

It gets worse. Watts also considers the readers who comment on articles to be  "diverse threat actors" and as such, establishment news sites should consider completely disabling reader commentary on articles. Too often, independent voices refute the corporate-funded and Pentagon-engendered propaganda on the news pages, or else they add supplementary erudite information (facts) not consistent with the narrow narrative. This outside commentary is becoming unduly influential.
Media producers need to recognize that adversaries are out there and actively seeking to cause harm through their medium.  They have a responsibility to respond to threats and raise awareness of the incidents occurring, both because it is their business to do so and because of a larger duty of care. In doing so, they need to be careful not to 'carry the virus' as one speaker put it. This means they should consider disabling commentary systems - the function of allowing the general public to leave a comment beneath a particular media item.
Adolf Hitler and other fascist demagogues also have used the term "virus" to describe Jews and minorities and perceived outside "threats," which paved the way for their expulsion and eventual extermination. 

And as Andre Damon notes, "What Watts outlines in his document is a vision of a totalitarian social order, where the government, the media, and technology companies are united in suppressing oppositional viewpoints. The most striking element of the document, however, is that it is not describing the future, but contemporary reality. Everything is in the present tense. The machinery of mass censorship has already been built."

Interestingly enough, though, Watts also offers a suggestion that I happen to agree with. Contributors on the op-ed pages and independent outlets should always divulge who they work for and who is paying them -- either before or at the end of their articles. Unfortunately, Watt chooses not to reveal where his own paycheck comes from.

So I will. The funding sources for his work comprise at least 25 foreign governments, including authoritarian regimes on the Arabian peninsula, with millions donated to the Atlantic Council by the genocidal Saudis; bomb and gun and drone manufacturers; the gambling casinos known as banks; private equity parasites; climate-destroying oil companies... in other words, a veritable Who's Who of the ruling oligarchy. Of course, they prefer to call themselves the "Honor Roll," rather than the Orwellian Ministry of Truth.

Please feel free to leave your comments!

It's coming up on the weekend, so nothing is off-topic.


Anna Radicalova said...

Great job busting Watts, Karen.

Is there any way the 'Presidential Alert' fits into their scheme? Here's my recent comment to the NYT that took more than a day to appear. They probably had to check with the Ministry of Truth first.

What an incredibly dumb idea! What are we supposed to do if a missile is on the way, duck under our desks? This sounds like a prescription for disaster. You'd think the Hawaii 'misfire' last January would have been a lesson learned.

Parents already panic when there's simply a rumor (head lice!) never mind a real incident at their child's school. Scale that up to the entire country and when a Presidential Alert is issued, it will be instant pandemonium.

I'm surprised that the Ruling Cla$$ who own our government would allow this vulnerability to hacking or error and subsequent tidal wave of panic. There has to be some big financial payoff or this would never have gotten off the ground.

Will the Alert also come with orders, such as to shelter in place or obey the military forces in the streets which is now authorized by the NDAA? Will cell phones lock down after receiving an Alert as happened to many in the Pacific Northwest?

Remember how the Shock Doctrine works. When everything seems to be crashing down, the bottom feeding Disaster Capitalists exploit everything they can, and they're usually well prepared because they own all branches of the government. The only thing they lack is total control over us, and post 9/11 with the Patriot Act, NDAA, etc. they're almost there. All that's lacking is a panic they can control in the name of safety and security.

When the Presidential Alert comes, remember to keep your head and USE it.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Later today, the Senate is scheduled to make Judge Kavanaugh Justice Kavanaugh. To coin a phrase, what a travesty of justice. The 5 to 4 line up of old will become more solid than it was before swing-voter Justice Kennedy retired.

The average age of the four liberal justices is slightly more than 70, that of the five conservatives (counting Kavanaugh) slightly less than 60. There will not be much point for Justice Ginsburg, 84 and frail, to hang on, waiting any longer for a Justice Godot from the Democratic side. In short order after she leaves 5-4 is likely to become 6-3, probably for a long time.

In searching for immediate causes of this disaster, would it be fair to count the Court's marked shift to the right among the great achievements of 44's legacy? He certainly had a way for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Or is it our fault, as has been so often charged, we the voters who abandoned Hillary and her party?

Anna Radicalova said...

Nothing demonstrates Kavanaugh's poor judgment and lack of wisdom than his not putting his family first and refusing the nomination for the Supreme Court. Would it be so bad to remain a U.S. Circuit Court Judge? I bet his wife and kids would be happier. Something is impairing his judgment.

It speaks volumes that his sad-eyed puppy dog wife evidently won't stand up to him and advocate for herself and their daughters and insist he drop out, especially after insulting half the country in his televised emotional tirade. That's going to stick to him for years to come like flies on sh*t.

"I won't quit!" he shouted. Was he actually referring to beer drinking? The hallmark sign of alcohol abuse is that it causes problems in one's personal life. Since quitting drinking is the absolute worst outcome, they can't admit a problem or they'd be pressured to quit.

It was telling when 'Bud' Kavanaugh said “There is a bright line between drinking beer, which I gladly do and which I fully embrace, and ...." Gladly and fully embrace? Sounds like he's got some very tender, fond memories associated with beer drinking. He probably needs beer to let his inhibitions down. Being so immersed in Catholicism, I can imagine that might be the case. Are Margaret and Liza's middle names Busch or Miller by any chance? Or maybe it's the fond memory of all those Beach Weeks.

Some people can't accept when they've risen as far as they can go (hello Hillary!). They should realize that when they create a lot of baggage over the course of a career, they may end up having to carry it and that weight can stop them in their tracks. 'Bud' has stumbled over the goal line with the help of his prep school teammates, but will his team win in the end? Probably, given the opposing corporate-sponsored team is so compromised and incompetent. Dems couldn't even put on a good show of it during the hearings. When did fighting for the people become beneath Democrats? When elite corporate tool Obama was elected.

These privileged people don't realize how many people are impaired for a lifetime because of the baggage the justice system saddles them with after being forced to take a plea deal, not because they're guilty but because worse things are threatened if they don't. If only the muckety-mucks were similarly affected.

'Bud' and the rest of them have a lot to learn about American justice. Those lessons can't come soon enough.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Correction: Justice Ginsburg is 85. Back in the day I understand she and Scalia would take each other to the opera. That's nice. I wonder whether Scalia's replacement will be as chivalrous.

Anna Radicalova said...

Great idea!

Barbara Ehrenreich
All we can do now is to hasten the discrediting of the Supreme Court, for ex, by holding massive keggers outside the Court whenever it’s in session. Party-goers should wear SCOTUS-style robes and drink till they’re shit-faced.

Anna Radicalova said...

Bill and Hillary Clinton to Start 13-City Paid Speaking Tour After Midterms

'Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will embark on a 13-city tour starting next month with paid joint appearances across the U.S. and Canada, they announced Monday.

A ticket to see the political couple could cost more than a music concert or professional sports game. The least expensive tickets for the first event in Las Vegas were going for about $72 on Ticketmaster. Tickets for an event in Oakland were listed for as much as $750.'