10 Compelling Reasons You Can Never Trust The Mainstream Media

truther 3
Sophie McAdam, True Activist

A poll last year showed that trust in the mainstream media is increasing, which should worry all of us who value truth, integrity and press freedom. 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

10 Compelling Reasons You Can Never Trust The Mainstream Media

Murdoch: Evil wizard
Image Credit: ♥ photofairy

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.

Flicr / WilliamBanzai7/Colonel Flick

´journalist´ Andrew Ross Sorkin and the Goldman Sachs connection
Flickr / WilliamBanzai7/Colonel Flick

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

Image Credit - Flickr / Mike Licht

Image Credit – Flickr / Mike Licht

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

Photo: Dafydd Jones (telegraph.co.uk)

British Prime Minister David Cameron partying with Rebekah Brooks
Photo: Dafydd Jones (telegraph.co.uk)

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 Leveson inquiry 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.

Image Credit: heavy.com

Image Credit: heavy.com

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

Image Credit / web.archive.org

Image Credit / web.archive.org

´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 newspaper The 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

Image Credit / intellectualrevolution.tv

Image Credit / intellectualrevolution.tv

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

Justin Bieber - Image Credit / Wikimedia

Justin Bieber – Image Credit / Wikimedia

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

Flickr / Jason Ilagan

Flickr / Jason Ilagan

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

Flickr / watchingfrogsboil

Flickr / watchingfrogsboil

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.’


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3 Comments »

  1. 5 War Veteran January 18, 2014 at 3:23 am - Reply

    OK the Zionists own the Media, and the Banks, and the bought politicians, I get it. Now what do you want to do about it?

    • John Cook January 18, 2014 at 8:18 am - Reply

      Most people don’t realise that Murdock is a Jew. His mother is a Jew and that is the definition of Jewishness. So add his empire to the list of Zionist “Chosen Ones” controlled media.
      Do about it? Inter them all like was done (with much less justification) to Japanese during the second world war. They are enemy aliens and virtually all of them have a Zionist agenda – the essential conflict of interest should at least make them inelegible for any government or media roles especially lobbyists.

    • HII January 18, 2014 at 12:11 pm - Reply

      Businesses have been at wars ever since ; don’t you guys notice ??_ just realize that; media is one thing _ currencies wars are more critical; so what about the wars mechanics, the nuke wmd weapons have not exploded as yet _ in more details ?? the scopes of the wars have been redefined; physical as the WW II ?? _ they are in the past _ so the means of the nuke explosion will be the last resorts; everybody _ the ZIONIST USA, Europe, China, Russia, India , Pakistan etc _ they are using the media only _ BLUFFING out loud _ don’t you guys notice these again ?? why ?? because they themselves are scared to death too _ OK ?? so will attempt to not needing the NUKE hence avoid ; but the currencies to pay the cost already expended; who were paying the cost ?? the govs _ military ?? NO they don’t have the money; you guys were the lived moneys; were paying the cost by your labors, lives, poverty and suffering to famines vs open taxes ( >> 30% pluses ) _ hidden taxes ( >> 2000% pluses ) _ imbeded in and through World Inflationary Indexes _ OK ??

      Mean time other forms of wars have been taking places and progressing _ without even you guys noticing that _ you guys all have been made half a sleep or entirely DRUNK _ in orgy parties _ admit that, got that guys ?? sound very SCARY _ does not that ??; the wars ( business world wars III ) now had been redefined in the UN AGENDA 21 199x_ check them out _ you guys will soon understand the scopes _ OK ?? so the media wars _ are just the SHITS WARS at the tip of the ice bergs; even the tip of the ice bergs are really very bad that purposely had sank the titanic as well; and more titanics to come to sink _ OK ?? one of them was the WTC 2003 _ more false flag attacks _ don’t need to surface as physical; the Syrian False Flag was getting caught in record as one amongst the ZIONIST failures _ and they are staging more replacement _ more attacks to come _ be ready _ see the suicidal bombing Ukraine _ that was the dirts they were planting; but faked by the misled names Islamic jihad murders again and again _ do you guys see the patterns of the ZIONIST wars scenarios ?? the ZIONIST war patterns are throwing GRENADES _ hiding their hands _ OK ?? these wars have nothing to do with the YEWS of ISRAEL _ don’t get wrong; there are good vs bad yews in ISRAEL as well YEWS around the world ; same as there are good vs bad ordinary vs super USAs in the USA as well around the world _ OK ??

      The media MURDOCHs ?? they are among ts the PARASITES vs KILLER WORMS in the economy you guys are IN; back to your questions _ WHAT TO DO ?? may be not much _ are you going MAD ?? to who ? but yourselves ?? check these out _ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwpZBtlUx3M ; presentations of the david icke in melbourne 2009 _ explained that you guys unless getting in the acts now _ very soon you guys will regret yourselves _ as noted _ OK ? you are going mad but to yourself _ at that point ? you guys are already help less _ bad news ; these media MURDCHs issues _ just present the case: what to do _ stay away from the media _ but you can’t _ they are all around you to date ?? answer either DO NOTHING _ or you guys actions NOW _ Revolts _ you need lots of guns ( so stay away from USA 201x illegitimate laws of gun confiscations _ OK ?? )_ big ones _ not just small rifles _ and get organized _ can you ?? >> perhaps NOT _ you guys are doomed _ OK !! that is the fact _ and the UN Agenda 21 are way ahead they know these have been the case a head of the time 199x !! what to do again ?? final resorts _ will your Jesus come to rescue _ as the Bible would have said _ the answer now _ thence it will be time for you guys to pray even though some of you guys are atheists vs non believers _ there would be time all non believers _ convert themselves automatically _ disbelieve ?? time will tell _ the time is now coming ?? guys _ Get ready with in your own way of reasoning vs preparations better late now than never _ OK ??

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