We have often discussed the increasing bias and advocacy in major media in the United States. While cable networks have long catered to political audiences on the left or right, mainstream newspapers and networks now openly frame news to fit a political narrative. With the exception of Fox and a couple of other smaller news outlets, that slant is heavily to the left. What is most striking about this universal shift toward advocacy journalism (including at journalism schools) is that there is no evidence that it is a sustainable approach for the media as an industry. While outfits like NPR allow reporters to actually participate in protests and the New York Times sheds conservative opinions, the new poll shows a sharp and worrisome division in trust in the media. Not surprisingly given the heavy slant of American media, Democrats are largely happy with and trusting of the media. Conversely, Republicans and independents are not. The question is whether the mainstream media can survive and flourish by writing off over half of the country.
The new study from the non-partisan Pew Research Center shows a massive decline in trust among Republicans. Five years ago, 70 percent of Republicans said they had at least some trust in national news organizations. In 2021, that trust is down to just 35 percent.
Conversely, and not surprisingly, 78 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents saying they have “a lot” or “some” trust in the media. When you just ask liberal Democrats, it jumps to 83 percent.
For those looking for echo-journalism that reaffirms their assumptions, liberals are more likely to realize such confirmation bias on networks and cable programs. For conservatives and others (see below), they are largely limited to looking to Fox News and a couple other sites to get the other side of stories. This has worked incredibly well for Fox which has rivaled the national networks in some time slots. However, it is not good in the long run for American media, which is jettisoning much of the country in its coverage. We need healthy and multiple news outlets to give citizens a reliable and trusted body of journalism.
They're destroying our discourse. They're also destroying themselves but they are too stupid to notice.
Pair that with this:
Despite being a jam-packed summer of breaking news, viewers continued to flee from the so-called "most trusted name in news."
From June 1 through August 31, the news cycle did not take a summer vacation, which included the migrant crisis at the southern border, skyrocketing crime in cities across the country, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, growing inflation concerns, the tragic Surfside condo building collapse, the battle over infrastructure spending on Capitol Hill, the shocking overturned conviction of Bill Cosby, the resignation of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Biden administration's chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
However, none of the major headlines were enough to salvage CNN's dwindling viewership.
Over the course of 92 days, CNN failed to reach 1 million viewers on 53 of them, roughly 58% of the summer, according to Nielsen data. The network averaged just 603,000 in total day viewership, a staggering 42% decrease from Summer 2020.
"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Truth remains hidden in the corporate media.
At INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE, John Pilger offers some of the reality missing from the ongoing conversation regarding Afghanistan:
As a tsunami of crocodile tears engulfs Western politicians, history is suppressed. More than a generation ago, Afghanistan won its freedom, which the United States, Britain and their “allies” destroyed.
In 1978, a liberation movement led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) overthrew the dictatorship of Mohammad Dawd, the cousin of King Zahir Shah. It was an immensely popular revolution that took the British and Americans by surprise.
Foreign journalists in Kabul, reported The New York Times, were surprised to find that “nearly every Afghan they interviewed said [they were] delighted with the coup.” The Wall Street Journal reported that “150,000 persons … marched to honor the new flag … the participants appeared genuinely enthusiastic.”
The Washington Post reported that “Afghan loyalty to the government can scarcely be questioned.” Secular, modernist and, to a considerable degree, socialist, the government declared a program of visionary reforms that included equal rights for women and minorities. Political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.
Under the monarchy, life expectancy was 35; 1-in-3 children died in infancy. Ninety percent of the population was illiterate. The new government introduced free medical care. A mass literacy campaign was launched.
For women, the gains had no precedent; by the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up 40 percent of Afghanistan’s doctors, 70 percent of its teachers and 30 percent of its civil servants.
Backed by the West
So radical were the changes that they remain vivid in the memories of those who benefited. Saira Noorani, a female surgeon who fled Afghanistan in 2001, recalled:
“Every girl could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked … We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian films on a Friday … it all started to go wrong when the mujahedin started winning … these were the people the West supported.”
For the United States, the problem with the PDPA government was that it was supported by the Soviet Union. Yet it was never the “puppet” derided in the West, neither was the coup against the monarchy “Soviet backed,” as the American and British press claimed at the time.
President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, later wrote in his memoirs: “We had no evidence of any Soviet complicity in the coup.”
In the same administration was Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s national security adviser, a Polish émigré and fanatical anti-communist and moral extremist whose enduring influence on American presidents expired only with his death in 2017.
On July 3, 1979, unknown to the American people and Congress, Carter authorized a $500 million “covert action” program to overthrow Afghanistan’s first secular, progressive government. This was code-named by the CIA Operation Cyclone.
The $500 million bought, bribed and armed a group of tribal and religious zealots known as the mujahedin. In his semi-official history, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward wrote that the CIA spent $70 million on bribes alone. He describes a meeting between a CIA agent known as “Gary” and a warlord called Amniat-Melli:
“Gary placed a bundle of cash on the table: $500,000 in one-foot stacks of $100 bills. He believed it would be more impressive than the usual $200,000, the best way to say we’re here, we’re serious, here’s money, we know you need it … Gary would soon ask CIA headquarters for and receive $10 million in cash.”
Recruited from all over the Muslim world, America’s secret army was trained in camps in Pakistan run by Pakistani intelligence, the CIA and Britain’s MI6. Others were recruited at an Islamic College in Brooklyn, New York – within sight of the doomed Twin Towers. One of the recruits was a Saudi engineer called Osama bin Laden.
The aim was to spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and destabilize and eventually destroy the Soviet Union.
Appealing to “white saviorism,” Western interventions are now framed as “humanitarian.” Already corrupted by material privileges and infused with assumptions of white supremacist biases, elements of the Western left fell into alignment with neoliberal justifications for imperialist actions in the global South.
This sentiment is being captured dramatically with the situation unfolding in Afghanistan. The decision on part of elements in the U.S. foreign policy community to redeploy U.S. forces from Afghanistan has sparked an ahistorical and hypocritical cry from liberals and the pro-war corporate press that the U.S. and the West are abdicating their “responsibility to protect” “oppressed” populations. This fantastic flight from reality by liberals is compounded by an equally, and even more absurd stance taken by large sectors of the radical left in the U.S. and Europe who also seem to believe, like some of their predecessors from the second international that supported Western colonialism, that the West and Western imperialism can have some beneficial results for the natives in the global South.
While this short commentary will not attempt to delve into the complexities of how the radical left ended up as collaborators with their imperialist bourgeoisie, I will discuss the divergent approaches to the current crisis by the international bourgeoisie and the Western left, with a particular focus on the U.S. left.
Having a clear understanding of the objective interests of U.S. led imperialism and the strategies being deployed to protect and advance those interests is imperative for colonized and oppressed peoples and classes. We do not have the luxury of confusion. The Western bourgeoisie still under the hegemony of U.S.-based finance and corporate capital has demonstrated through practice that, notwithstanding secondary conflict of interests among them, they have a common objective interest to act as a block to counter political challenges from the global South to the Pan European colonial/capitalist white supremacist patriarchy.
Biden and the Post-Trump reconsolidation of Global White supremacy
As a result of the incessant propaganda from neoliberal corporate press in the U.S., Biden and democrats are considered to be the nice, rational friends of people of color globally, and Trump the mean massa, the proto fascist at the head of a violent, irrational movement committed to white supremacy and capitalist hegemony.
Of course, as I have said on many occasions, the reality is much more complex, with neoliberalism actually representing a more dangerous threat to colonized and working-class peoples in the U.S. and globally. This is because within the context of the U.S., Democrats have been successful in perpetuating the myth that they represent “progressivism.” This perception usually leads to substantial demobilization and actual liberal – left alignment with neoliberalism objectively when Democrats occupy the Executive Branch.
Yet, as the late Glen Ford said on numerous occasions, the democrats are nothing more than the more effective evil, especially when it comes to advancing a white supremacist imperialist agenda.
Just a cursory examination of the rhetoric of the Biden campaign and his political objectives after assuming office reveals his quite obvious commitment to white unity and global white supremacy.
Restoring the historic alliance between the U.S. and Europe was announced by Biden as a major objective of his administration. His “America is Back” slogan was supposed to signify that the U.S. was ready to reassume its leadership of the Western alliance. Biden proudly identified himself as an “Atlanticist,” and indeed a number of the members of his foreign policy team were plunked from the “Atlantic Council.” Similar to the Council on foreign Affairs (CFA), the Atlantic Council is a neoliberal think tank that is funded by a cross-section of the ruling class but significantly by neoliberals associated with the democrat party.
The Atlantic Council was a severe critic of the Trump administration, not because of any concerns about its “racism” but because the Council opposed Trump’s unilateralist approach to foreign policy and his dangerous ideas like pulling out of NATO, a desire to draw down U.S. troops and his insufficient hostility to Russia. Plus, the Council and the neoliberal ruling class never forgave Trump for his scuttling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership because it pulled the rug out from under the Trans-Atlantic Investment Partnership that was supposed to be the next agreement after TPP and would have solidified the hegemony of U.S. capital in Europe for next few decades.
Mozzam Begg (ICH) offers this view of what took place on the ground:
In the summer of 2001, I moved with my family to Afghanistan from the UK to work on a project to build wells in drought-stricken regions of the country, and to help set up a girls’ school in Kabul.
The Taliban, who were in charge of the country, had banned television, but a friend of mine heard on the radio that the US had been attacked. I understood what the Pentagon was, but I had never heard about the Twin Towers. Initially, I thought the US had been invaded by China, or even Cuba. But the finger was soon being pointed at Osama bin Laden, who was also in Afghanistan.
Before the bombing began, I saw planes dropping leaflets from the skies, offering bounty money for al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects. It was a strange spectacle, and although I’d never been there, the description given by then-defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld - “dropping like snowflakes in December in Chicago” - seemed apt.
At first, US warplanes bombed under cover of darkness, and I could see Taliban anti-aircraft guns fire ineffectually into the sky. Shortly afterwards, however, the air raids occurred during the day. I had heard explosions during my visits to Bosnia in the 1990s, but I had never heard any explosions like this. I learned later that the US Air Force used 15,000lb “Daisy Cutter” bombs.
I evacuated to Pakistan and remained there until early 2002, when I was abducted from my home by CIA and Pakistani intelligence agents at gunpoint in front of my wife and children. Bad intelligence from the UK, alongside the snowflake leaflets, had secured my fate.
I was taken back to US detention facilities in Kandahar and Bagram, where I remained for almost a year before being sent to Guantanamo. Several of those held with me were Taliban members, including senior ones - but they were not the only ones.
I witnessed horrific abuses in Bagram and saw two Afghan prisoners beaten to death by US soldiers. One was an innocent taxi driver called Dilawar.
In Bagram, I met Afghans who had even fought against the Taliban, but had been sold for bounties amid tribal feuds. It was clear to me that the Americans had no idea what they were doing, or what the consequences of their abuses would be.
A young Afghan prisoner told me that his father had been buried alive by Soviet occupation forces at Bagram. In fact, the Soviets had originally built the place used by the US military to imprison us. I’ll never forget when the young Afghan told US interrogators: “The USSR killed my father right in this place; do you think his son will submit to the USA?”
US soldiers I spoke to then seemed proud that they’d captured Afghanistan in so little time. But they hadn’t read the history of this land. No one likes invaders, but Afghans have a history of defeating them - especially when they are the world’s most powerful forces.
And torturing people and desecrating their faith - well, that literally seals the fate of both the resistance and the occupation.
The United States views the world’s darker nations as having no rights that it is bound to respect. A host of military, political, and economic provocations are justified by evidence-free assertions that China is a “threat” to its own region. The U.S.’s endless wars in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa are viewed as necessary to curb “terrorism.” Russia’s so-called “strongman” Vladimir Putin has been the crutch that holds together the aggressive deployment of the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) along the country’s borders. In each case, the United States is the standard bearer of white superiority that bears responsibility for cleansing the natives of their tendency toward barbarism.
Racism provides ample cover for the economic interests served by the U.S.’s endless wars. Federal contracts for weapons manufacturers grew $119 billion from 2001-2020 in large part due to the bonanza of market opportunities that were engineered by the occupation of Afghanistan. The New Cold War against China and Russia has also driven the expansion of U.S. military resources into Asia and Africa. More than fifty percent of all U.S. military assets reside in the Asia Pacific and the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) now possesses partnerships with all but one African country (Eritrea).
War serves a myriad of interconnected interests for the U.S. ruling class. As the market for private military contractors has grown, so too have profits for Wall Street investors. Fossil fuel corporations supply one of the largest polluters in the world, the U.S. military, with the crude energy necessary to facilitate its endless expansion. Oil shares frequently rise with each new prospect for war . Military hegemony also aids in securing profitable markets through the installation of compliant political regimes. Capitalist Elon Musk alluded to this fact in July 2020 when he proclaimed on Twitter , “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”
Musk was referring to speculations that Tesla’s burning desire to privatize Bolivia’s lithium deposits motivated the 2019 coup of Evo Morales’ popular government. For the imperialists, the world is merely a profitable marketplace from which to plunder. Humanity is cast aside, and any people or nation that challenges the authority of the U.S.’s war machine is targeted for elimination. Elimination, however, cannot occur unless the targeted are stripped of their right to exist and relegated to the status of brutes and savages. This is why the governments of Syria, China, Iran, Venezuela, Eritrea, and countless others are repeatedly accused of crimes against humanity which are neither verifiable nor legitimate.
Those are four views and despite the fact that there's been wall-to-wall chatter presented by Andrea Mitchell and others on what passes for cable 'news,' you don't hear those voices or others like them.
The press isn't interested in informing you and they aren't interested in journalism, not in the US.
Was who I was there was no pretending lord knows the things I did
Then I got older a little stronger and I'd hold hands with guys
And walk around the cold concrete with a wall of judgment eyes
Maybe we just want a little love
Boys who like boys
No one holds you like a big man does
Go keep on hating I'll just keep dancing
With boys who like boys
Yeah, I just want a little love
It wasn't like I woke up one morning and decided to be gay
Look in the mirror and ask the question what are you trying to hide
I hope that you can find it out but I'm gonna live my life
Maybe we just want a little love
Boys who like boys
No one holds you like a big man does
Go keep on hating I'll just keep dancing
With boys who like boys
Yeah, I just want a little love
That's Eli Lieb's "Boys Who Like Boys" from earlier this summer. It's popular on YOUTUBE and maybe that's enough? I'm not insulting Eli, he's a good singer-songwriter. I'm referring to our society. Quacks like Mildred Newman did tremendous damage to gay men. (Mildred really didn't 'treat' lesbians.) She shoved them into the closet and filled their lives with shame and blame. As horrible as that is, I remain one of the only people who will say that. I've said that for years now offline. Since I've been online, I've said it many times as well.
Mildred was a quack who thought she could 'cure' gayness. She did so well that one of her clients, Anthony Perkins died of AIDS while still in the closet. Guilt and prodding got him to sleep with Victoria Principal (not a slam at Victoria, she's a wonderful person) and with steady pressure from Mildred, he slept with women and married one. Of course, the reality was that while he kept telling publications he was straight (he usually pretended he had been a virgin from the 50s forward -- ignoring his affairs with Tab Hunter and others), he was still engaging in same-sex sex -- usually hustlers he paid to beat him or to pretend to rape him. Many writing about Mildred knew about this -- and there are many other examples that can be offered -- but they didn't tell you there were problems with Mildred's 'therapy.' They just promoted her and they've never had a reckoning for that.
60 MINUTES was overly interested in conversion 'therapy.' Want to explain that one from the grave, Don? He wouldn't if he could. But they were obsessed with conversion therapy and were forever filing 'reports' on it. For those who don't know, conversion 'therapy' took lesbians and gay men and 'made' them straight. Really? No. And there was never any science backing it up. But they gladly filed their 'reports' promoting that. As did other outlets.
Where is the accountability? They've never apologized. Occasionally, there will be a documentary about conversion 'therapy' and it will note (today it will note) it was a quack science and maybe hold the people profiting from it accountable. But it won't hold the media accountable.
Over the weekend, I was asked by a number of friends to help with this or that move regarding reproductive rights. I made clear that I am fine doing that. With reproductive rights. I'm not interested in participating in get-out-the-vote rallies. Women have been doormats. Thanks, Gloria Steinem. The women's movement was strong, feisty and alive and then Gloria -- with help from her friends in the media -- shoves Betty Friedan out of the way and suddenly feminism is a begger, not a demander. Gloria cries in Miami, she doesn't fight. Four years later, in 1976, she's addressing women on how we have to accept whatever candidate Jimmy Carter might offer us. That's been her bag throughout. She's pathetic and she's going to go to the grave being pathetic.
Are things as dire regarding reproductive rights as some are insisting? I honestly tend to share the opinion of Jonathan Turley. I also see how this new fear or 'fear' is already being utilized to mobile a turn-out-the-vote.
I'm not in the mood. I'm not going to be held hostage by fear and I'm not going to lie and claim that politicians are going to save us. Nancy Pelosi has been the Democratic Party leader of the House -- and sometimes Speaker of the House -- since 2003. That's two years shy of twenty. And Roe V Wade was law of the land long before she got to Congress. If reproductive rights are now in trouble, it's time to ask what she and others did to protect them? They've had years and they've certainly used reproductive rights to turn out the vote in election cycle after election cycle.
ADDED: Jonathan Turley's has a column at THE HILL and at his site which includes:
Just before midnight on Wednesday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 not to grant an emergency injunction of a Texas law allowing citizens to enforce a highly restrictive abortion law. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) promptly declared that the court “overturned” Roe v. Wade, and she demanded immediate action; many media flogged the same narrative that conservative justices killed Roe in a midnight attack.
Both were legally and factually wrong.
The Texas law was enacted in May — but challengers waited until shortly before it was to take effect on Sept. 1 to demand emergency court intervention. It was a gamble that backfired when the court refused to intervene. However, the decision neither upheld Texas’s law nor reversed Roe.
Not only was the court’s order removed from the actual merits of the law, but the majority expressly acknowledged that “the applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue.” The rejection of the injunction was because the challengers are suing a state judge and clerk who are not actually tasked with enforcing the law. They were virtually randomly selected in a challenge that seemed more improvisational than procedural. The majority stated that “federal courts enjoy the power to enjoin individuals tasked with enforcing laws, not the laws themselves.” Even in his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts admitted it is unclear “whether, under existing precedent, this Court can issue an injunction against state judges asked to decide a lawsuit under Texas’s law.”
It also is untrue that the court’s decision prevents the law from being challenged. The law can — and will — be challenged in both state and federal courts. (Indeed, it has already been enjoined by a state judge). If anyone seeks to use this law, it will be challenged and likely expedited on review. Moreover, lower courts are likely to find the law unconstitutional under existing law.
The law’s drafters knew that setting the cutoff date before “viability” would conflict with the case law building on Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It was designed to force a new review by the Supreme Court, the only body that can set aside or reverse its prior rulings.
Future abortion rights do not run through Texas or Congress. Challenges to the Texas law will take months. But the most immediate threat to Roe is already on the docket. When Texas was enacting its law in May, the Supreme Court accepted a Mississippi case with a fundamental challenge in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case was accepted for one unambiguous question: “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” That case will allow the court a direct, clear case to reconsider the basis for abortion. The final decision in Dobbs will likely long precede any final decision on Texas’s law.
And as I reflected over that this weekend, I wondered if the LFBTQ community would be as stupid regarding their own rights as women have been regarding reproductive rights?
Yes, I know the HRC is nothing but a front organization for the Democratic Party. I also am aware that most don't take the HRC seriously and haven't for many years. (Helped in part by a number of scandals.)
I can't imagine any other group being as stupid as we, as women, have been over and over.
We let a focus on assault and rape be hijacked by a bunch of failed actresses who showed up at the Academy Awards a few years back to whine about . . . pay. That really wasn't the issue, gals, but nice of you to do the work for others and distract. (I haven't commented on Scarlett Johansson lawsuit and didn't plan to. But to be sure no one thinks I'm referring to her, I will now. If her contract promised X, then she is owed X. That is the entire purpose of a legal contract. And if we're in the midst of a pandemic is going to be DISNEY's defense, I hope her attorneys will call people from DISNEYLAND and DISNEY WORLD to explain how a pandemic has meant no one visits those theme parks. What's that? They do visit the theme parks? Of course they do.) We were dealing with serious issues and then had a bunch of greedy idiots hijack the conversation. And we had a bunch of losers try to blame their bad decisions that harmed their careers on Harvey Weinstein. Harvey's a creep and criminal, no question. I've called him out here for years. But he didn't force this or that actress to make this or that film that destroyed what little career that they had. Some of them were there acting like they were household names when most of the world never knew them . . . for good reason.
We fell for that garbage the same way we fell for Time's Up. I knew it was a fake and a fraud because I know the truth has still not been told on CAA. I've mentioned two actresses here. I hope they go public. But CAA is vile and disgusting and they didn't create Time's Up to help women.
If we had real reporters -- as opposed to Ryan Grim, for example -- the world might know that. When Alyssa Milano attacked Tara Reade, I was the only one to challenge her statements. I still am. She didn't believe Tara, she explained. Remember what followed? She'd talked to people in the know and blah blah blah. Time's Up didn't just turn down Tara's case (after leading her on for months), they actively poisoned opinion against Tara. At what point does the press intend to pick up on that?
Oh, wait, that would mean owning up to how their hit pieces on Tara were aided by Time's Out, right? And they're not going to own their part in that any more than they're going to own how they promoted 'conversion' as 'science' and damaged many lives in the process.
I'm not interested in distractions. I'm not interested in taking part in lies that we'll have to clean up twenty years from now.
THE GUARDIAN notes "US airstrikes killed at least 22,000 civilians since 9/11, analysis finds." You can be sure that is a very conservative estimate.
Meanwhile, THE TEHRAN TIMES reports:
General Mohammad Pakpour said that despite repeated emphases and announcements to officials of the northern Iraqi Region about the movements of terrorist and armed groups that infiltrate into Iran and carry out anti-security measures, terrorist and counter-revolutionary groups that are affiliated to the imperialist front and foreign intelligence services use the geography of the northern part of Iraq to disrupt security and tranquility of the borders with Iran and harass the people living in these areas.
He stressed that the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Region should not allow terrorists to roam and set up headquarters in northern Iraq and threaten and cause insecurity in Iran.
Any “negligence” in this regard will run contrary to “good neighborliness and friendly relations” between the two countries, General Pakpour remarked.
Pakpour emphasized, “Considering the situation in the region and the possibility of a decisive and regrettable response from the Islamic Republic of Iran to terrorist groups affiliated with the sworn enemies of the Revolution and the Islamic system that have nested in northern Iraq, we ask the residents of these areas to stay away from the terrorists' headquarters so that they will not be harmed.”
That's what happens when the international community treats it as normal that the Turkish government is bombing Iraq, that the Turkish government is sending ground forces into Iraq. When there's no outcry for those illegal actions, others will be emboldened. And now we're seeing that.
So much that happens is the result of silence and of corporate media distraction.