Corporate media and fake news, interview

This video is called OutfoxedRupert Murdoch‘s War on Journalism • FULL DOCUMENTARY FILM exposes Fox News.

By Ben Cowles in Britain:

Have we ever lived in a pre-‘post truth’ society?

Friday 16th December 2016

DAVID EDWARDS of Media Lens discusses with Ben Cowles how the corporate media’s failure to explore corporate control of its coverage of ‘post-truth’ politics and so-called ‘fake news’ is fake news in itself

IN THE wake of the EU referendum and Donald Trump’s successful presidential election campaign, the concept of a “post-truth” world has become part of the cultural zeitgeist for many on the soft left.

Wondering why liberal media organisations like the Guardian are using the term so frequently, I sought answers from David Edwards of Media Lens, an online project that has been analysing mainstream media bias since 2001.

What are Media Lens’s issues with the term “post-truth” and what (if any) dangers does its usage have on the media and its role as the watchdogs of democracy?

There never was a pre-“post-truth” society — certainly not for at least the 100 years since big business gained a near-monopoly over the mass media in the early 20th century. It should be obvious that profit-maximising, 1 per cent-owned media corporations dependent on corporate advertising and subsidised news from state-corporate sources with the political, economic and legal clout to reward conformity and punish dissent, are not willing or able to report honestly on a world dominated by giant corporations.

Media performance that emerges out of such a system is itself largely fake news. Take any issue you like, a corporate media system will not report honestly Western machinations in places like Iraq, Iran, Haiti, Libya, Syria and Venezuela as imperialism.

The “mainstream” focus on the West’s supposed “responsibility to protect” (a major theme in Guardian coverage) has been used to promote imperialist wars of aggression in Iraq, Libya and Syria. But the idea that Western elites feel a “responsibility to protect,” that they are guided by moral concerns, is fake news — the historical record simply mocks the claim.

Similarly, a corporate media system will not expose the fierce opposition, over decades, of most large corporations (not just fossil-fuel companies) to action on climate change, with perhaps terminal consequences for human survival. It will not honestly expose the corporate media and their advertisers’ role in normalising unsustainable mass consumerism and infinite economic growth on a finite planet. It will not discuss the role of corporate power in “mainstream” politics, leading to the reality described by three-times US presidential candidate Ralph Nader: “We have a two-party dictatorship in this country. Let’s face it. And it is a dictatorship in thraldom to giant corporations who control every department agency in the federal government.”

Why has the term become popular in the liberal media recently?

The British liberal establishment was profoundly opposed to Brexit, just as the 500 largest US newspapers and magazines supported Clinton and opposed Trump. These losses, in the face of immense corporate media efforts, sent shock waves through the Establishment. Elites are far more keenly aware than many on the left that their traditional ability to achieve a “managed democracy” by manipulating public opinion is being disrupted.

Social media have broken the corporate media monopoly. The focus on “fake news” is an attempt to address this problem by discrediting social media and perhaps preparing the way for controls, further demonisation or perhaps even some form of censorship.

The Washington Post highlighted a sinister report by the PropOrNot organisation that “identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times.”

As Chris Hedges of Truthdig, which is on the list, commented: “This attack signals an open war on the independent press. Those who do not spew the official line will be increasingly demonised in corporate echo chambers such as the [Washington] Post or CNN as useful idiots or fifth columnists.”

Could the term “post-truth” help people to be more skeptical of the things they read or does the liberal media’s usage of this term imply that they are the sole holders of the truth?

It certainly could be useful in alerting people to the need to think critically, to examine the truth of arguments and honesty of sources. But only if the term is rescued from propagandistic use demonising social media and bolstering corporate media.

In the Guardian, author Andrew Smith argued that, post-Trump and post-Brexit, future historians will decide “whether this will go down as the year democracy revealed itself unworkable in the age of the internet.”

Smith’s conclusion was grim indeed: “One day, I suspect, we will look back in disbelief that we let the net-induced friction on civil society reach this pitch, because if we didn’t know before, we know now that our stark choice is between social networks’ bottom line and democracy. I know which I prefer.”

This represents a fierce, McCarthyite attack on social media, published by the “liberal-left” Guardian. Smith focused on “the accidental or deliberate propagation of misinformation via social media” supporting Trump and Clinton.

But he made no mention of the immense, baseless “mainstream” and social media efforts to suggest that Trump was in cahoots with Putin.

In fact, in his discussion of the “deliberate propagation of misinformation,” Smith had nothing to say about the leading role played by traditional corporate media.

And yet we have all lived through an extraordinary 18-month period when corporate media, across the supposed “spectrum,” have relentlessly smeared Jeremy Corbyn.

This has been a rather obvious Establishment attack on a few thin roots of parliamentary democracy offering voters some semblance of a choice from the two main party political “options” serving the business-run status quo.

In all the “mainstream” articles discussing “post-truth” politics and “fake news” — and there have been many hundreds — we have not seen one that has seriously explored the corrupting influence of elite-ownership, profit-orientation and advertiser-dependence on traditional media.

This means, with perfect irony, that corporate media reporting on “fake news” is itself largely fake news.

Why is it important to highlight the hypocrisy of this term and why does Media Lens focus so much on “left-wing” media like the Guardian, Independent and the BBC?

Non-traditional social media run by non-corporate organisations have had an awesome democratising effect in a very short space of time. They have played a major role in the empowerment of Bernie Sanders, Corbyn, Podemos in Spain, and so on.

For the first time ever, non-corporate media are able to challenge state-corporate propaganda instantly to a mass global audience.

It is vital that these media aren’t demonised, presented as a threat and censored.

Our point is that it is not reasonable to expect corporate media to report honestly on a world dominated by corporations.

In order to show that’s the case, we focus on media across the supposed “spectrum” in Britain and also the US.

While we strongly disagree that the Guardian or BBC could ever be described as left-wing, “liberal” media are generally assumed to represent the more enlightened wing of the media system. In other words, if honest reporting and commentary challenging the state-corporate system is going to be found anywhere, it will be found here.

So that’s the place to identify the limits of free speech in society, rather than, say, The Times or The Sun [both Rupert Murdoch-owned].

But in fact, we find that the better media also provide a system-reinforcing role bolstering state-corporate power, defending the status quo and attacking dissent.

• David Edwards is co-editor of Media Lens and author of Free To Be Human — Intellectual Self-Defence in an Age of Illusions. The Media Lens website can be found at

Facebook’s “fake news” measures: A move toward censorship: here.

Attacking media outlets that challenge the status quo is not only counterproductive but also dangerous, writes TOMASZ PIERSCIONEK.

The “fake news” hysteria has become the cover for the U.S. government and mainstream media to crack down on fact-based journalism that challenges Official Washington’s “group thinks”: here.

Why Is CNN Getting Nervous About Its Coverage of the Donald Trump-Russia Investigation? By Tom Porter on 6/26/17 at 9:59 AM.

16 thoughts on “Corporate media and fake news, interview

  1. Pingback: Corporate media and fake news, interview — Dear Kitty. Some blog | Indiĝenaj Inteligenteco

  2. Tuesday 20th December 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    FAKE NEWS, we’re told by the corporate media, is a serious problem and you should only trust “reputable” sources like them.

    This assertion is made more laughable by their total regurgitation of a claim that “the lights could go out” next Christmas, a classic piece of “fake news.”

    It comes from a report by the “British Infrastructure Group of MPs” (BIG) — not a real parliamentary group despite its name — carrying the name of Tory MP Grant Shapps.

    It’s all nonsense, and you would think anything with Shapps’s name on it would raise suspicions. The former Conservative Party chairman has been caught masquerading as a marketing guru called “Michael Green,” lying about — sorry, “over-firmly denying” — having a second job while an MP and allegedly editing his own Wikipedia page.

    But the report’s claims have appeared verbatim across the media — even the one that “MPs [plural] have warned” is false, when it is only Shapps.

    The report is ridiculous. Its top point after “the lights could go out next Christmas” is that the National Grid’s electricity “safety buffer” this winter is 0.1 per cent — in fact it’s 6.6 per cent, higher than last year.

    It’s true to form for the BIG, which in a previous report titled We’re Jammin’ (really) suggested that traffic lights be dug up to reduce traffic congestion. This is an old favourite of Thatcher’s favourite think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs and is total tripe.

    The idea comes out of some weird right-wing libertarian fantasy world. It’s quite possible that Shapps inhabits that alternative universe, with his claim that Britain’s supposed energy problems are to be blamed on “a decade of target-led, interventionist energy policy.”

    This paper must have missed that decade given that we’ve still got our rip-off, backward privatised electricity market.

    This is the point where the report’s real aim begins to seep out. It praises the smashing of the publicly owned electricity utilities and paints a picture of a wonderful life under privatisation. Then it introduces the villain: action to clean up electricity generation and reduce its contribution to planet-wrecking climate change.

    This is an old right-wing fairy tale, its moral being that government should let “the market” handle things and everything will be fine. But the market only provides what is profitable for private participants, at however high a price they can get away with, while dumping the ill effects of their actions onto wider society.

    The lights are not in danger of going out, but we must reshape electricity provision in this country. The government has cut the ground out from under renewables — recently making solar panels much more expensive — at a time when we need a gigantic programme of investment and installation.

    The cost of renewables is dropping fast and cheap government borrowing could take advantage of that to transform electricity generation. At the same time, advances in storage and small local generation offer the chance to build a more resilient grid that is decentralised and democratised. Robin Hood Energy, owned by Nottingham City Council, is a good first step down this path.

    But ideologues such as Shapps and the Tory government as a whole are obsessed with privatisation and the unaccountable concentration of power. We know where that leads: a high cost to households and to the planet.

    A radical renewable future is within our grasp and the only hope we have of getting out of this hole the capitalist class has dug for us.


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  8. After President Obama won in 2008, FOX News did not hire dozens of progressive, female, Black and Brown, young TV personalities in order to speak to the Obama coalition.

    So why on earth is MSNBC pushing out Black and Brown voices and filling its network with hard-line extreme conservatives?1

    NBC had troubling ties to Trump during the presidential campaign and gave the racist sexual predator a national platform.2 Now MSNBC, too, is tilting to the right. We need to let NBC executives know that there will be a sharp backlash if MSNBC becomes another platform for right-wing hate.

    Tell NBC executives: Stop the white conservative hiring spree at MSNBC. Click here to sign the petition.

    The man in charge of MSNBC has made it clear that he wants to make the network whiter and more conservative – even though the ratings of progressive shows are skyrocketing. He is, in the words of reporter Ryan Grim, “resisting the resistance.”3

    Andrew Lack, the chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, aims to make them more “centrist,” by which he means bringing in conservative voices. Just look at the recent hires:4,5,6

    Nicole Wallace, a former spokesperson for President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, will get her own show.
    George Will, the conservative columnist, climate denier and campus rape apologist, signed a lucrative contributor contract.
    Hugh Hewitt, the right-wing talk radio host who recently defended Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, will get his own show.
    Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren, both conservative former FOX News hosts, have been given daytime TV shows.

    In the process, Lack has pushed out Black and Brown talent including Melissa Harris Perry, Alex Wagner, Touré Neblett, Dorian Warren, Michael Eric Dyson, Adam Howard, Jamil Smith, Jose Diaz-Balart and Tamron Hall. In fact, Lack has a history of replacing Black on-air personalities wherever he goes.7 America needs voices like these now more than ever, and we need to make it clear to Lack that we are paying attention and there will be consequences.

    Tell NBC executives: Stop the white conservative hiring spree at MSNBC. Click here to sign the petition.

    The utterly absurd part of all of this is that the ratings of progressive shows are skyrocketing. With Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell in the lead, MSNBC is beating FOX News in the ratings for the first time. And it has nothing to do with Lack – his hand-picked shows are tanking while progressives soar, a fact that, according to reports, “makes him furious.”8

    It has not yet changed his strategy – he kicked Joy Reid and Al Sharpton to weekends and replaced them with beltway hacks, and Nicole Wallace is replacing Maddow protege Steve Kornacki.9 But the clear evidence of powerhouse ratings for progressives combined with sharp public pressure could make Lack reconsider his conservative approach, so we must speak out.

    Tell NBC executives: Stop the white conservative hiring spree at MSNBC. Click below to sign the petition:

    Thank you for speaking out,

    Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
    CREDO Action from Working Assets

    Add your name:
    Sign the petition ►


    Ryan Grim, “With Trump In The White House, MSNBC Is Resisting The Resistance,” HuffPost, May 1, 2017.
    Katie Sullivan, “NBC News Is Struggling To Report On Its Own Trump Problem,” Media Matters, Dec. 12, 2016.
    Grim, “With Trump In The White House, MSNBC Is Resisting The Resistance.”
    Media Matters for America, “George F. Will,” retrieved May 25, 2017.
    Media Matters for America, “Hugh Hewitt,” retrieved May 25, 2017.
    Grim, “With Trump In The White House, MSNBC Is Resisting The Resistance.”


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