Source: Hot Air
Shocked, shocked am I at the sounds of silence from the mainstream media at a fascist combine of government and industry to suppress dissent and “shape” political debate.
Sadly, it’s not shocking at all. These days, the mainstream media has largely if not entirely aligned itself with Democrats and the Biden administration.
Yesterday, The Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein and Lee Fang reported that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI had actively attempted to “shape” online discussions as part of a partly classified effort to contain “disinformation.” The scope and breadth of that effort would have impacted nearly the entirety of American public discourse, as Klippenstein and Fang substantiated through documentation from DHS itself:
Behind closed doors, and through pressure on private platforms, the U.S. government has used its power to try to shape online discourse. According to meeting minutes and other records appended to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is also running for Senate, discussions have ranged from the scale and scope of government intervention in online discourse to the mechanics of streamlining takedown requests for false or intentionally misleading information. …
According to a draft copy of DHS’s Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, DHS’s capstone report outlining the department’s strategy and priorities in the coming years, the department plans to target “inaccurate information” on a wide range of topics, including “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”
My post yesterday made the argument that this kind of government-Big Tech partnership on speech suppression meets the actual definition of fascism. Techno Fog makes a similar argument in much more detail in a post titled “Big Brother’s Playbook“:
DHS is “directly engaging with social media companies to flag MDM” (MDM is defined as mis-information, dis-information, and mal-information). It is doing so “Ahead of midterm elections in 2022” and is readying its efforts with eyes focused on 2024 …
DHS has recognized four specific dimensions of disinformation to counter. It is recommended to: (1) Build a society resilient to misinformation/disinformation; (2) Proactively address anticipated misinformation/disinformation threats; (3) Rapidly responding to emergency or persistent informational threats; and (4) Countering actor-based threats.
The DHS plan would “provide financial support” to non-governmental partners who counter “false and misleading narratives.” In other words, US government contractors who would receive funding to suffocate anti-government narratives.
And how convenient it will be for the current administration to have those financial incentives on hand to influence private-sector speech platforms in the middle of elections, too!
John Schindler, an intel expert, has tried to defend DHS and the intel community against “deep state” accusations in the past. Those days are over, he declared earlier this morning:
I’ve long defended the US IC, and USG more generally, against accusations that a “Deep State” was colluding in our politics in improper or unconstitutional ways.
There’s no defending this. You worried about USG-Big Tech-Democrat collusion to suppress WrongThink? You were right. https://t.co/eDx6Lei6MW
— John Schindler (@20committee) November 1, 2022
One might expect the watchdogs of the American media to take an interest in a governmental attempt to incentivize social-media platforms to “shape” debate and silence dissent, especially in election years. If so, one will be mightily disappointed in today’s mere shadow of a Fourth Estate.
A search for “The Intercept” with “DHS” turns up one link at the Washington Post, which helpfully loads its “Democracy Dies in Darkness” logo at the top of every page. And that link only comes up because it contains a link to The Intercept rather than any reporting from WaPo on this issue. They use the subhead rather than the The Intercept’s headline “Truth Cops” to describe the story: “Leaked documents outline DHS’s plans to police disinformation (The Intercept).” (If you change “DHS” in the search to “Homeland Security,” the only hit you get in the past week is a story titled “The Accountant Shortage Threatens Capitalism’s Future.”)
What about the Paper of Record? A search just for “The Intercept” at the New York Times today for the past week also turns up a single link, which has even less to do with the topic: “Oz Struggles to Woo Black Philadelphians in Senate Race.”
What about CNN, where Chris Licht has promised a renewed focus on hard news over political bias? A search for “The Intercept” and DHS with no time parameters pulls up a grand total of four links, only two of which are from this year — both in July. A search for “The Intercept” and “Homeland Security” brings up ten links … but again, only the same two from July and nothing else from this year.
So the leading media platforms in the US do not find any interest in government acting sotto voce to manipulate public debate and police dissent. And the reason for that is, presumably, they prefer to work in an environment where Democrats can control the Overton window of debate, and they want to make sure that nothing challenges that control.
When mainstream media outlets begin to cover Joe Biden and Democrats with the same level of scrutiny as they do Republicans, perhaps I’ll change my mind. But as they proved so far, today is not that day.
Update: As I was getting this post ready to publish, Ben Shapiro began taking notice of what does matter to journalists in the wake of this reporting in his retweets. Namely, that Lee Fang had the temerity to appear on the one media outlet that has an interest in fascist control of public speech by the current administration:
The absolute epitome of the media industry is Lee Fang dropping a blockbuster story of national importance and the response from journalists on Twitter is to line up to scold him for appearing on Tucker.
— Leighton 明 Woodhouse (@lwoodhouse) November 1, 2022
Did any other cable shows invite @lhfang on last night to discuss the huge story he broke? If not, why wouldn’t CNN or MSNBC want to talk with him about it? Rhetorical questions but still worth pondering, for those who wonder why “mainstream” media has lost credibility.
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) November 1, 2022
Pushaw asks the right question. If journalists are unhappy about Fang accepting a slot from Fox News and Tucker Carlson, shouldn’t they also ask why no one else bothered to have him discuss this blockbuster report?
Update: Fang noted last night that DHS knew this program would look bad — and took steps to cover it up:
DHS official working on disinfo noted, during an internal strategy discussion, that the agency should use third party nonprofits as a “clearing house for information to avoid the appearance of government propaganda.” pic.twitter.com/BfOMxxXNDs
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) November 1, 2022
Want to avoid the appearance of government propaganda? Stop trying to “shape” public discourse and intervene on “disinformation.”
If you want to see and read that kind of scrutiny, you know what to do. The promo code gets mentioned in the video below, which I took seriously enough to wear a suit to make it. You’re welcome.
Addendum: If you have not already done so, you should also read Bias by Bernard Goldberg, the 2001 seminal critique of editorial bias in mainstream media. If you get the latest edition, you’ll get to read my foreword to the book.