We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

‘Corruption’ as a Propaganda Weapon

Click here to access article by Robert Parry from ConsortiumNews.

I have in recent years frequently expressed my astonishment at the deterioration of corporate news into what looks like pure capitalist ruling class propaganda. This perspective is based on my experience as an activist over the past 60 years. Corporate news reports have never been free of such bias, but now this mainstream media appear to be used almost entirely as a propaganda weapon against enemies of the US ruling class. 

This article by Parry was apparently provoked by the recent reports carried all over corporate media about the release of the so-called "Panama Papers". The coverage was mostly framed as a Putin corruption scandal except that Putin was never named in the released papers. This coverage caused Parry to conclude that US corporate media are now being used for political purposes:
Sadly, some important duties of journalism, such as applying evenhanded standards on human rights abuses and financial corruption, have been so corrupted by the demands of government propaganda – and the careerism of too many writers – that I now become suspicious whenever the mainstream media trumpets some sensational story aimed at some “designated villain.”

Far too often, this sort of “journalism” is just a forerunner to the next “regime change” scheme, dirtying up or delegitimizing a foreign leader before the inevitable advent of a “color revolution” organized by “democracy-promoting” NGOs often with money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy or some neoliberal financier like George Soros.
It appears that our ruling class masters are seeing signs that many people are doubting the reports of corporate media especially because of discerning articles by bloggers such as Parry carried via the internet. Hence the recent piece carried in the US capitalist mouthpiece Bloomberg News which framed a report about one person, Andrés Sepúlveda, using the "Internet", but in reality he was using mostly social media carried via Internet technology, to rig elections in Latin American countries. (Of course, this never happens in the US.) Bloomberg authors describe what a former employer said about Sepuvida:
Sepúlveda, saw that hackers could be completely integrated into a modern political operation, running attack ads, researching the opposition, and finding ways to suppress a foe’s turnout. As for Sepúlveda, his insight was to understand that voters trusted what they thought were spontaneous expressions of real people on social media more than they did experts on television and in newspapers. He knew that accounts could be faked and social media trends fabricated, all relatively cheaply. He wrote a software program, now called Social Media Predator, to manage and direct a virtual army of fake Twitter accounts. The software let him quickly change names, profile pictures, and biographies to fit any need. Eventually, he discovered, he could manipulate the public debate as easily as moving pieces on a chessboard—or, as he puts it, “When I realized that people believe what the Internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything.” [my emphasis]
The Bloomberg article mixed social media manipulation (which has happened) in with World Wide Web articles (which can be true or false or somewhere in between) carried via the Internet to cast doubt on the latter in favor of "experts on television and in newspapers" owned by major corporations.