There must be more efforts at popular collaboration for successful truth circulation in the face of corporate gross mismanagement, governmental interference, and the attacks on journalism and information brokers.
September 18-19, 2017 — Google disseminates the largest amount of “fake news” on the web
Google claims it, like Facebook and Twitter, is tackling the issue of “fake news” appearing on social media sites. However, Google is the largest disseminator of “fake news” in the world today. There is a difference between “false news,” which is the focus of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others, and “fake news,” which primarily consists of meaningless and unimportant information. Chief among this so-called “news” is sports and celebrity entertainment.
Karl Marx once opined that “religion is the opiate of the masses.” Today, Marx would look around at near-empty churches and the preponderance of sports and celebrity news in the media and declare that “sports and entertainment are the opiate of the masses.” Google has lent itself to the dumbing-down of culture by programming its search algorithms to boost stories about sports and entertainment over those concerning issues of war and peace, feast and famine, and death and destruction. Google has created a virtual world that is composed of super-rich football players, entertainers, and super-models.
Google’s irresponsibility when it comes to offering anything closely resembling “journalism” should be condemned by every professional journalism organization. During the era of print journalism, it made sense to combine news, sports, entertainment — including comic strips like Dick Tracy and Blondie — and stock market reports in the newspaper. Until radio happened upon the scene, the newspaper served as a single conduit of information to the masses. With the advent of electronic journalism, there is no need to contaminate important news with meaningless nonsense about football, baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, rugby, cricket, badminton, golf, professional poker, bowling, Nascar and Formula 1 auto racing, or tournament fishing. These are not “news” stories. Nor do gossip items about movie actors and actresses, singers, rap performers, or night club performers belong under the banner of “news.”
The most innocuous political story is still more important than what player the Philadelphia Eagles or the Atlanta Braves are contemplating trading or hiring. That drivel does not qualify as news, even though the brain-dead listeners of and callers to the broadcast wasteland known as “sport radio” would deem otherwise. These sports savants and nincompoops are able to rattle off the performance stats of some obscure quarterback or pitcher but come up blank when trying to name their two U.S. senators or governor. Google, with its prioritization of sports over actual news, contributes to the ignorance of such imbeciles. Giving more attention to such “fake news” also directly contributes to low voter turnout in the United States.
Some social scientists explain the sports “fandom” culture as promoting self-esteem when a fan’s sports team is successful. The fan is emotionally buoyed when his or her team is successful. However, sports fanatics are normally at the low end of the intellectual scale and are losers when it comes to education, no matter how well their favorite teams perform. Anyone who tortures themselves for even a few minutes by listening to “sports talk” radio can ascertain that sports fanatics, as well as the sports talk radio hosts, are like any other extreme devotees — born losers.
Google, the largest news aggregator on the Internet, uses several metrics to rank news stories. The company has remained mum on the details of its algorithms, but some aspects are known. Google bases its news rankings on the size of the staff of the originating news organization, popular opinion about the news story in question, the “breaking” quality of the news story, the length of the news article, the popularity of the news organization, the number of news bureaus associated with the news organization, number of identified sources in the news story, writing style, international diversity associated with the news organization, and use of a particular news story (cites) by other news organizations.
Google’s algorithms are based on extremely subjective calls. They also fail to distinguish between hard news and sports and entertainment. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are all joining in a campaign against “fake news,” but this, too, is based on subjectivity and relies heavily on thoroughly discredited websites like Snopes and Wikipedia. Snopes has not recovered from an embezzlement and prostitution sex scandal involving its co-founder, David Mikkelson, and Wikipedia continues to be plagued by the duplicitous behavior of its co-founder Jimmy Wales.
The following are but a few examples about how Google’s algorithms are helping to dumb-down the world by placing greater emphasis on fake news about sports and other meaningless trivia:
New Zealand is facing a general election on September 23, one that may see the governing party ejected from office. Google News does not appear to care as seen with its top three stories on New Zealand:
Sport. Rugby Union. Aaron Cruden exclusive interview: New Zealand fly-half happy to quit All Blacks to build new life in France.
2. American rockers The Killers announce New Zealand tour.
3. Rugby Championship: New Zealand in record win over South Africa.
At seventh place on Google News is a story about New Zealand’s election: “Jacinda Ardern ‘electrifies’ NZ election.” That story should, along with other election news, been placed ahead of trivial items concerning rugby and some Las Vegas-based rock band. If Google News considers itself to be a news resource, it is guilty of blatant journalistic malpractice.
A search for “Canada” fares no better.
The first Google News story that appears is a click-bait item from a coin dealer website about crypto-currency. This story constitutes a different type of fake news, an advertisement masquerading as a legitimate news story. Google is certainly not alone in promoting this type of fraudulent journalism.
Following the click-bait is:
2. Canada’s Nestor, Pospisil top India to take Davis Cup lead.
The tennis item is followed by legitimate stories dealing with draconian U.S. immigration policies and U.S.-Canadian trade issues. The tennis item should have never been weighted as so important by Google relative to the more important U.S.-Canadian relations stories.
[The whistleblower, whose video is embedded at the link] “held several high-level positions in the CIA. He was assigned as a protective agent for the Director of Central Intelligence, a counterintelligence investigator, a Counter Terrorism Center officer, a team leader protecting sensitive CIA assets from assassination, a manager of high-risk protective operations, a lead instructor for members of allied governments, an internal staff security investigator, and a polygraph examiner. He was tasked with protecting the CIA from foreign agent penetration and the chief of training for the CIA federal police force. Mr. Shipp functioned as program manager for the Department of State, Diplomatic Security, and Anti Terrorism Assistance global police training program. He is the recipient of two CIA Meritorious Unit Citations, three Exceptional Performance Awards and a Medallion for overseas covert operations. He is the author of From the Company of Shadows–CIA Operations and the War on Terrorism.”
The getting ofreal news — the sort one can learn from minstrels (and perhaps from teleconferencing) — is not a mechanical act so much as a social process, and the social precondition for it is community.
A global conference of senior military and intelligence officials taking place in London this week reveals how governments increasingly view social media as “a new front in warfare” and a tool for the Armed Forces. The overriding theme of the event is the need to exploit social media as a source of intelligence on civilian populations and enemies; as well as a propaganda medium to influence public opinion.
The establishment media is dying. This is not a biased view coming from “alternative media,” it is a fact borne out by metrics and opinion polls from within the establishment itself. It was true before the recent election, and is guaranteed to accelerate after their shameless defense of non-reality which refused to accept any discontent among the American population with standard politics. Now, with egg on their face after the botched election coverage, and a wobbling uncertainty about how they can maintain multiple threads of a narrative so fundamentally disproven, they appear to be resorting to their nuclear option: a full shut down of dissent. Voices within independent media have been chronicling the signposts toward full-on censorship as sites have encountered everything from excessive copyright infringement accusations, to de-monetization, to the open admission by advertising giants that certain images would not be tolerated. [Source: ACTIVIST POST ]
The discredited mainstream media who have spread propaganda and lies causing the needless death and suffering of millions are now arrogantly trying to censor the alternative media who are working to expose their lies and save lives.
History has proven that the corporate/state media is the truly dangerous and deceptive “news”.
The irony is that alternative news sites would never have become popular if the mainstream media had not failed humanity by lying to us from Vietnam to Iraq.
They have the blood of millions on their hands and are panicking at the thought of brave whistleblowers and real investigative journalists exposing their crimes.
Of course there are fake stories in alternative media. It takes very little discernment to debunk these obvious frauds.
It’s like getting an email from a Nigerian prince who promises you millions. It does not take a genius to figure out it’s a scam.
We don’t need truth police censoring information the establishment does not like.
We need an honest fourth ward to speak truth to power, but they had their chance and blew it.
Now it’s our turn.
The age of the citizen journalist is here.
The age of the dinosaur media is done, and thank God for it.
“… who gets to decide what is real and what is not real? And – in an age when all sides propagate propaganda – when does conformity in support of a mainstream “truth” become censorship of reasonable skepticism?
As a journalist for more than four decades, I take seriously the profession’s responsibility to verify information as much as possible before publishing it – and as editor of Consortiumnews.com, I insist that our writers (and to the extent possible, outside commenters) back up what they say.
I personally hate “conspiracy theories” in which people speculate about a topic without real evidence and often in defiance of actual evidence. I believe in traditional journalistic standards of cross-checking data and applying common sense.
So, I am surely no fan of Internet hoaxes and baseless accusations. Yet, I also recognize that mainstream U.S. news outlets have made horrendous and wholesale factual errors, too, such as reporting in 2002-03 that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program (The New York Times) and was hiding stockpiles of WMD (many TV and print outlets, including The Washington Post).
And, mainstream outlets getting such life-and-death stories wrong was not just a one-off affair around the Iraq invasion. At least since the 1980s, The New York Times has misreported or glossed over many international issues that put the United States and its allies in a negative light.
The Times lagged badly, too, on investigating the secret operations that became known as the Iran-Contra Affair. The Times’ gullibility in the face of official denials was an obstacle for those of us digging into that constitutional crisis and other abuses by the Reagan administration. [For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “New York Times: Apologist for Power.”]
In that same era, The Washington Post performed no better. Leonard Downie, its executive editor at the time of the Contra-cocaine scandal, has continued to reject the reality of Ronald Reagan’s beloved Contras trafficking in cocaine despite the 1998 findings of CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz that, in fact, many Contras were neck-deep in the cocaine trade and the Reagan administration covered up their criminality for geopolitical reasons.
So, who are the “responsible” journalists who should be anointed to regulate what the world’s public gets to see and hear? For that Orwellian task, a kind of Ministry of Truth has been set up by Google, called the First Draft Coalition, which touts itself as a collection of 30 major news and technology companies, including the Times and Post, tackling “fake news” and creating a platform to decide which stories are questionable and which ones aren’t.
Formed in June 2015 and funded by Google News Lab, the First Draft Coalition’s founding members included Bellingcat, an online “citizen journalism” site that has gotten many of its highest profile stories wrong and is now associated with NATO’s favorite think tank, the Atlantic Council.
Despite Bellingcat’s checkered record and its conflicts of interest through the Atlantic Council, major Western news outlets, including the Times and Post, have embraced Bellingcat, apparently because its articles always seem to mesh neatly with U.S. and European propaganda on Syria and Ukraine.
If such a Ministry of Truth had existed in the mid-1980s, it might well have denounced the investigative reporting on the Contra-cocaine scandal since that was initially deemed untrue. And if “Minitrue” were around in 2002-03, it almost surely would have decried the handful of people who were warning against the “group think” on Iraq’s WMD.
Power and Reality
While it’s undeniable that some false or dubious stories get pushed during the heat of a political campaign and in wartime – and journalists have a role in fact-checking as best they can – there is potentially a greater danger when media insiders arrogate to themselves the power to dismiss contrary evidence as unacceptable, especially given their own history of publishing stories that turned out to be dubious if not entirely false.
It’s even more dangerous when these self-appointed arbiters of truth combine forces with powerful Internet search engines and social media companies to essentially silence dissenting opinions and contrary facts by making them very difficult for the public to locate.
Arguably even worse is when politicians – whether President-elect Donald Trump or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or President Obama – get into the business of judging what is true and what is false.
On Thursday, an impassioned President Obama voiced his annoyance with “fake news” twice in his joint news conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel — “because in an age where there’s so much active misinformation and it’s packaged very well and it looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television. … If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect.”
Let that phrase sink in for a moment: “We won’t know what to protect”? Is President Obama suggesting that it is the U.S. government’s role to “protect” certain information and, by implication, leave contrary information “unprotected,” i.e. open to censorship?
On Friday, a New York Times front-page article took Facebook to task, in particular, writing: “for years, the social network did little to clamp down on the false news.”
The Times added, in a complimentary way, “Now Facebook, Google and others have begun to take steps to curb the trend, but some outside the United States say the move is too late.”
This new alarm about “fake news” comes amid the U.S. government’s “information war” against Russia regarding the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts. Obama’s State Department insists that it is presenting the truth about these conflicts while Russia’s RT channel is a fount of disinformation. Yet, the State Department’s propaganda officials have frequently made false or unsupported claims themselves.
On Wednesday, there was the unseemly scene of State Department spokesman John Kirby refusing to answer reasonable questions from a Russian journalist affiliated with RT.
The RT journalist asked Kirby to identify the hospitals and clinics in Syria that he was claiming had been hit by Russian and Syrian airstrikes. You might assume that a truth-teller would have welcomed the opportunity to provide more details that could then be checked and verified.
But instead Kirby berated the RT journalist and tried to turn the rest of the State Department press corps against her.
QUESTION: Don’t you think it is important to give a specific list of hospitals that you’re accusing Russia of hitting? Those are grave accusations.
KIRBY: I’m not making those accusations. I’m telling you we’ve seen reports from credible aid organizations that five hospitals and a clinic —
QUESTION: Which hospital —
KIRBY: At least one clinic —
QUESTION: In what cities at least?
KIRBY: You can go look at the information that many of the Syrian relief agencies are putting out there publicly. We’re getting our information from them too. These reports —
QUESTION: But you are citing those reports without giving any specifics.
KIRBY: Because we believe these agencies are credible and because we have other sources of information that back up what we’re seeing from some of these reports. And you know what? Why don’t [you] ask … Here’s a good question. Why don’t you ask your defense ministry … what they’re doing and see if you can get…”
QUESTION: If you give a specific list —
KIRBY: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
QUESTION: If you give a specific list of hospitals —
KIRBY: No, no, no.
QUESTION: My colleagues who are listening hopefully would be able to go and ask Russian officials about a specific list of hospitals that you’re accusing Russia of …”
KIRBY: You work for Russia Today, right? Isn’t that your agency?
QUESTION: That is correct. Yes.
KIRBY: And so why shouldn’t you ask your government the same kinds of questions that you’re standing here asking me? Ask them about their military activities. Get them to tell you what they’re – or to deny what they’re doing.
QUESTION: When I ask for specifics, it seems your response is why are you here? Well, you are leveling that accusation.
KIRBY: No, ma’am.
QUESTION: And if you give specifics, my colleagues would be able to ask Russian officials.
As Kirby continued to berate the RT journalist and stonewall her request for specifics, an American reporter intervened and objected to Kirby’s use of the phrase “‘your defense minister’ and things like that. I mean, she’s a journalist just like the rest of are, so it’s – she’s asking pointed questions, but they’re not …”
Kirby then insisted that since RT was “a state-owned” outlet that its journalists should not be put “on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.” (But the reality is that Voice of America, BBC and many other Western outlets are financed by governments or have ideological benefactors.)
Kirby’s hostility toward legitimate questions being raised about U.S. or U.S.-allied assertions has become typical of Obama’s State Department, which doesn’t seem to want any challenges to its presentation of reality.
For instance, during the early phase of the Ukraine crisis in 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry called RT a “propaganda bullhorn” and Richard Stengel, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, issued a “DipNote” saying RT should be ostracized as a source of disinformation.
But Stengel’s complaint revealed a stunning ignorance about the circumstances surrounding the February 2014 putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
For instance, Stengel cited RT’s “ludicrous assertion” about the U.S. investing $5 billion to promote “regime change” in Ukraine. Stengel apparently wasn’t aware that Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland had cited the $5 billion figure in support of Ukraine’s “European aspirations” during a public speech to U.S. and Ukrainian business leaders on Dec. 13, 2013.
At the time, Nuland was a leading proponent of “regime change” in Ukraine, personally cheering on the Maidan demonstrators and even passing out cookies. In an intercepted, obscenity-laced phone call with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Nuland said her choice to lead Ukraine was Arseniy “Yats is the guy” Yatsenyuk, who ended up as Prime Minister after the coup.
So, was Stengel a purveyor of “fake news” when he was accusing RT of disseminating fake news or was he just assembling some propaganda points for his underlings to repeat to a gullible Western news media? Or was he just ill-informed?
Both democracy and journalism can be messy businesses – and credibility is something that must be earned over time by building a reputation for reliability. There is no “gold seal” from the Establishment that makes you trustworthy.
It’s simply important to do one’s best to inform the American people and the world’s public as accurately as possible. Awarding trust is best left to individual readers who must be the ultimate judges of what’s real and what’s fake.”
By Robert Parry, the investigative reporter who many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. Originally published at Parry’s Consortium News (republished with permission).
Emergent Complexity and the Role Attributes of Media
CUNY Brooklyn College, Montclair State University, and Evolutionary Media
Presented at the Spring, 2005 Meeting of the International Communication Association
This paper explores the “roles in media” as a consequence of the processes of structuration. It treats the generic roles that people play in enabling the smooth operation of a medium as generically useful solutions that solve recurrent problems across a variety of media. The processes of structuration are explored through the development of a typology, based on a dataset that codes 18 generic roles across 167 distinct media. Seven distinct role-based clusters of media are identified within a two dimensional solution. When the clusters are viewed as endpoints within these dimensions, several emergent solutions to role complexity in media are observed, each of which appears to be a consequence of a different kind of complexity. One of these solutions appears to parallel the hierarchical subassemblies suggested by Simon (1969) as the single emergent solution to complexity. The other emergent solutions to role complexity, serial complexity and floor contention, appear entail very different role profiles. Four research questions are satisfied by the results. The typology successfully groups structurally similar media. The structures reflect general solutions to problems that are encountered in the operation of media. A fundamental set of problems, different kinds of complexity, engenders the solutions. Finally, the typology is found to have practical value in its suggestion that that while technology may enable the convergence of user interface devices for very different media, role structures may make it difficult to merge companies that manage different kinds of media.
On CSPAN’s “Washington Journal” (@cspanwj) Richard Gage, founder of “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth” (@ae911truth) discusses their evidence that Building 7 was destroyed by controlled demolition on September 11th. Gage was live from MediaOne Studio 2.
There is a whole series of stages you must go through when dealing with pain such as this. The “5 steps of grieving process” (Denial, Anger, Bargaining (Prayer?), Depression, Acceptance). We owe it to the victims. Let’s get a new, independent hearing on the real causes of 9/11, with subpeona powers. Part of the healing process, is punishment for those criminally involved in the government’s conspiracy that day.