16 Apr 2018

Fake News = Fake Democracy

I once had the pleasure of speaking to Justin Walker, the founder of the British Constitution Group.  He told me of some solemn advice that he was once given by his late uncle, Sir Harry Pilkington:
"In 1954, my uncle, Lord Pilkington, attended the inaugural Bilderberg Group meeting at the Hotel Bilderberg in Holland.  A year later, he became a Director of the Bank of England, a position he held until 1972. It was also in 1972, as a sixteen-year-old on my way back to school on the train to do my ‘O’ levels, that my uncle suddenly told me what he considered to be the two most important facts that I should take through life: he said “Never, ever believe anything you read in the press because we control it – and never, ever believe a politician when they say they can do something…they can’t unless we say they can!”

I have for some time had no doubts that our mainstream media and press, the BBC included, are controlled by the rich and powerful of the world. In the main, only neutral or favorable information is expressed through the corporate-controlled media-machine. What does slip through their control is either unimportant to the overall momentum of the corporate agenda, or its ignored and dismissed in a number of ways.

If you have ever been directly involved in any publicity campaign you will know that the media do not report all the facts, they omit and sometimes bend information to meet an agenda being set for them. Ask members of the recent campaigns for the EU referendum, the Firefighter’s pensions dispute, the Scottish referendum, the young Doctors, the 'Save our NHS' campaign, and many anti-war campaigns, to name just a few. Anyone involved in these processes will attest to the manipulation of the media in favour of the Government’s preferred outcomes.

In 2008, award-winning journalist Nick Davies lifted the lid on how manipulative the mainstream media is. The title of his article in the Independent newspaper says it all: “How the Spooks Took Over the News.” In his articles and his book, he illustrates how “shadowy intelligence agencies are pumping out black propaganda to manipulate public opinion--and the media simply swallow it wholesale.” In the Guardian newspaper, Davies describes how our media have become mass producers of distortion, and he evidences this with clear, unambiguous examples. He convincingly delivers the message that “the mass media generally are no longer a reliable source of information”.

The international mega media corporations, like News International owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, drive opinion and political awareness not just in the direction of profit, but also towards the longer-term goals of their associates. The corporate ownership of news has now all but destroyed the principle of truth-telling by grossly politicising the news agenda and severely reducing the actual time available for journalists to do their jobs.

Specialists at Cardiff University surveyed more than 2,000 UK news stories from four quality dailies (Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Independent) and the Daily Mail. They found two striking things. First, when they tried to trace the origins of their “facts”, they discovered that only 12% of the stories were wholly composed of material researched by reporters. With 8% of the stories, they just could not be sure. The remaining 80%, they found, were wholly, mainly or partially constructed from second-hand material, provided by news agencies and by the public relations industry. Second, when they looked for evidence that these “facts” had been thoroughly checked, they found this was happening in only 12% of the articles. 

The implication of these two findings is alarming. Where once journalists were active detectives and gatherers of news, now they are blocked by their chief editor or have generally become mere passive processors of unchecked, second-hand material, much of it contrived by agencies to serve some political or commercial interest.
"Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent every year to control the public mind." - Noam Chomsky
Democracy cannot exist without a free press.  Without widely available, reliable and rigorous journalism their can be no means of making properly informed choices.  Choices based upon half-truths or disinformation are not choices. With a stifled and controlled media, representative democracy becomes even more of a joke than it already is. 
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.― George Orwell1984