Disinformation

This Week In Doom Feb. 6, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 3, 2019

What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” ― Individual-1  

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”                                   ― George Orwell, 1984


After two years, the constant drumbeat of incessant lying emanating from the White House is taking a toll. Having surpassed 8,000 lies in office, Individual-1 has managed to numb the news-following public into wholesale stupefaction. But it's all part of a conscious plan to control each day's news cycle, sow doubt, and discredit reporters of objective fact, including members of his own administration.

Last week Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats presented a summary of espionage and cyber threats from Russia, China and other foreign actors during congressional testimony. The published Worldwide Threat Assessment report (written in straightforward, accessible prose, and worth reading), outlines the greatest threats to the US for espionage and cyber-attacks. Little surprise that foreign governments will act in their own self interest, and at the expense of the US as when necessary.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and other top officials joined Coats in a discussion that covered a wide array of national security challenges, including cyber attacks that will aim to disrupt the 2020 presidential election and the continued threat posed by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

Coats, speaking on behalf of the assembled officials, gave a global tour of national security challenges, focused mainly on Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

He said that North Korea was “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” which the country’s leaders consider “critical to the regime’s survival.”

Putting his assessment at variance with that of Individual-1, and the Tweets subsequently emanating from the Fox News-infused Oval Office and the alternate reality zone in the mind of the occupant. 

Without forgetting for a moment the roles that US intelligence agencies have played in repression at home and regime change abroad, all for the benefit of US corporate interests, the threat assessment is a clear description of the US's primary international rivalries, and nothing in it was surprising if you follow the headlines. None of the officials affirmed a security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where Trump may yet declare a national emergency. 

Cold water was repeatedly thrown on the White House’s more imaginative views, such as the claim that the US and North Korea will achieve a lasting peace and that Kim's regime will ultimately give up its nuclear weapons.

Glossed over by most media, during a week when temps in the midwest and east broke well below freezing, was the mention of how Russia and China are capable of launching cyber-attacks that could disrupt electric grids and gas pipelines in the US.  Even Rachel Maddow noticed and interviewed Rebecca Smith, who covered the story for the Wall Street Journal. Maddow asked,

“What would happen if Russia killed the power in Fargo today? What would you do if you lost heat indefinitely as the act of a foreign power on the same day the temperature in your backyard matched the temperature in Antarctica?”

As to Russia's cyberdiddling, it has been known for some time that Russia has been probing our grid. On March 15, the US government released a report describing a massive Russian hacking campaign to infiltrate America’s “critical infrastructure” — things like power plants, nuclear generators, and water facilities. The Russian incursions reported in March were more for observation than sabotage, but as we've seen, the Trump administration's response to Russian impunity has been to lift sanctions on close friends of Putin.

When the report was released last June, Energy Secretary Rick Perry told lawmakers she that Russian cyber-attacks are “literally happening hundreds of thousands of times a day,” and warned that the Department of Energy needs an “office of cybersecurity and emergency response” in order to be prepared for threats like this in the future.

None of this sat well with Il Douche. For the last two years we've had a president who fundamentally does not believe in democracy, with no loyalty to either the Constitution or the traditions of American governance. This week, he demonstrated a visceral contempt for the work product of the intelligence community, oblivious to the fact that many of the conclusions in the report had already been publicized by his own government.

 

Trump maintains his power via Republican control in the Senate, where any impeachment proceeding would be tried. And no matter what they may say privately, Republican Senators are well aware of the fact that Citrus Caligula runs at 90 per cent approval among Republican voters, who make up 20 percent of the population but 100 per cent of Republican primary voters.

Little by little, the media has been figuring out how to deal with Trump's incessant lying, a different thing from the spinning of any previous administration. Greg Sargent explains:

The key point here is that Trump is not engaged in conventional lying. He’s engaged in spreading disinformation.

According to cable news fact checkers, zero per cent of new wall are being built. Zero. Previous administrations might emphasize favorable facts and cast them in the best possible light, but Trump repeats blatantly false statements, in hopes of wearing down the fact-checkers and creating a wholly new reality for his neo-fascist base. And after two years, that day may have arrived.

And vis a vis his wayward intelligence chiefs, Trump summoned them for a meeting, then reported that they had been misquoted (even though the proceedings were broadcast live.)

When you consider that Trump's grip on power is secured by the 35 percent approval rating he manages to maintain, via his 18 per cent of true-believer Republiconfederate neo-fascists, and a large number of low-information/Fox News-watching voters, you understand the importance of "winning" the daily news cycle. And if that takes making outrageous fact free statements, at least you have them talking about you. It works day in and day out because the media can't resist taking the bait. And never forget that when a thoroughly disgraced Richard Nixon prepared to board the helicopter, he maintained a 28 percent approval rating. And this was before the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which consequently enabled Fox News.

Google "Trump" and the phrase "without evidence". Just recently you'd have gotten Trump, without evidence, accuses James Comey of lying to HouseTrump, without evidence, says Arizona 'bracing' for surge of immigrantsPresident Trump Claims Without Evidence That Most Federal Employees Impacted by Shutdown Are DemocratsTrump claims without evidence that new migrant caravan is forming, and so on. Similar phrases will yield similar results: Trump rages at Twitter with baseless claim that it is tampering with his followers because of political bias. When you realize what the agenda is, each baseless lie and fresh outrage seems less an assault on truth and more a part of a consistent strategy to deny the notion of an objective reality made of verifiable facts.

Disinformation is the lure. Don't take the bait.


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Fall, and Further Fall, of Broadcast Journalism

gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Published on The Daily Impact on April 26, 2016

fortune teller

Get into a dignified line of work, he says. Go into TV journalism, and you’ll never have to be harassed or humiliated like, you know, a hedge fund guy. (Photo by Vito Fun/Flickr)

Discuss this article a the Guerilla Internet Free Speech Table inside the Diner

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, we were young, and journalists. We thought of ourselves as initiates in a brotherhood (which it was, mostly, then, the sisters came later), followers of a calling, and most importantly members of a profession.

A profession, according to the dictionary, is an occupation “that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.” We were never big on the “formal qualification” part — although we had to have an FCC licence to put our hands on the controls of a broadcasting station — but we did train. For many years I spent hours each week being grilled on the word choices in my scripts (Lewis, have you no idea of the difference between continuous and continual?”) and my pronunciation of them (“Lewis, I did not hear any sub-guttural value in that initial G, and where was the labial stop at the end of ‘ship’?”)

We thought of ourselves as doctors to the body politic, lancing the boils of ignorance, quieting the fears of the afflicted by dispensing the balm of objective information. We did this without fear or favor, resisting fiercely any interference in our judgments by crass commercial or political interests — you know, like for example the owners of the stations we worked for. Seriously. We called it separation of church and state, and we believed that the ethics of truth, justice and the American Way could withstand the power of cash. Did I mention we were young?

Our high priest was Edward R. Murrow. Who brought down Senator Joseph McCarthy, and not long thereafter saw his work for television sidelined to make way for quiz shows such as The $64,000 Question. In a valedictory address made shortly before departing from the airwaves (the very year that I read my first on-air newscasts), Murrow laid it out:

“[If] this instrument [television] is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.”

The struggle, of course, was already lost. We all soon realized, simply by taking note of who got fired and who got promoted, that the purpose of journalism was to get ratings. Cleavage and short skirts got ratings: The “weather girl” of yore was soon joined by the anchor babe. Bleeding, weeping and gnashing of teeth got ratings: “If it bleeds, it leads,” became the rule. Training? Diction? Ethics? Gedoudahere.

It’s hard to see how the degradation of a once honorable profession could go much further. At least it was, until Trump.

But there are other paving stones on the road to journalistic hell that have been little noticed or discussed. Once, “news” by definition meant an objective account of what happened. News accounts were supposed to be free of bias, opinion, even interpretation — that’s why there were editorials and columns.

Increasingly, however, turning or clicking on the news has come to resemble more and more a visit to a fortune teller’s tent. It’s all about what the President is going to say, how the election is going to come out, what somebody thinks is going to happen. Then when the President speaks, the votes are counted, or the happening happens, the “news” coverage is either how it did or did not “differ from expectations,” what the panel thinks of it, and/or what’s going to happen next because of it.

What’s the harm? In part it’s the continual reinforcement of an ill-informed, simplistic view of how the world works, with simple causes leading to simple effects, like the cartoonish representations of the human body used in drug ads.

The news industry is dedicated to its new guiding principals — no, not principles, principals, the guys in suits who demand more eyeballs, forbid affronts to sponsors and owners, and prefer crystal-ball gazing to reporting. And these principals insure that we know very little about the total collapse of the industrial world now in progress. For them the answer to last week’s revelations about the near total death of the Great Barrier Reef because of ocean warming, or about the stunning further collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is obvious and simple. Get Trump.

Not coincidentally, three different polls have found recently that only about 10 per cent of Americans trust the media; or believe the media do the right thing; or think they have integrity. Approximately the same number of Americans trust Congress, and think Judge Judy sits on the Supreme Court.

Good night, and good luck.

The Leviathan

Freda nudginggc2smFrom the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler
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Freda nudging
Artwork: Anthony Freda
 
Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation November 9, 2015
 

The economic picture manufactured by the national consensus trance has never been more out of touch with reality in my lifetime. And so the questions as to what anyone might do can hardly be addressed. How can I protect my savings? Who do I vote for? How do I think about where my country is going? Incoherence reigns, especially in the circles ruled by those who guard the status quo, which includes the failing legacy news media.

Federal Reserve has morphed from being a faceless background institution of the most limited purpose to a claque of necromancers and astrologasters, led by one grand vizier, in full public view pretending to steer a gigantic economic vessel that has, in fact, lost its rudder and is drifting into a maelstrom.

>For more than a year, the fate of the nation has hung on whether the Fed might raise their benchmark interest rate one quarter of a percent. They talk about it incessantly, and therefore the mob of financial market observers has to chatter about it incessantly, and the chatter itself has appeared to obviate the need for any actual action on the matter. The Fed gets to influence markets without ever having to do anything. And mostly it has worked to produce the false narrative of an advanced economy that is working splendidly well to the advantage of the common good.

This is all occurring against the background of a larger global network of economic relations that is quite clearly breaking apart. The rising tensions between the US, Russia, China, and the Euro Union grew out of monetary mischief “innovated” by our central bank, especially the shenanigans around debt monetization, which have created dangerous distortions in markets, trade, and perceptions of national interest. Nations are rattling sabers at one another and bluster is in the air. The world is bankrupt after thirty years of borrowing from the future to throw a party in the present, and the authorities can’t acknowledge that.

But they can provide the conditions for disguising it, especially in the statistical hall of mirrors that once-upon-a-time produced meaningful signals for the movement of capital. Instead of reality-based choices and decisions, the task at hand for the people in charge has been the ever more baroque elaboration of a Potemkin economic false-front, behind which lies a landscape of ruin scavenged by desperate racketeers. That this racketeering has moved so seamlessly into the once-sacred precincts of medicine and higher ed ought to inform us how desperate and perilous it has become.

The latest installment of the disinformation game was Friday’s employment release from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It was a “blockbuster,” implying blue skies everywhere from Montauk to Malibu. Except that no one with a remaining shred of critical faculty can be expected to believe it. 80 percent of the new jobs numbers were attributed to the mystical birth-death model, a pseudo-scientific fantasy of hypothetical new business starts and associated hypothetical new hires. Demographically, the most new jobs went to the over-55 age cohort — grocery baggers and Walmart greeters —  and the fewest to men 25 to 54 (that bracket substantially lost jobs). The official unemployment rate fell to 5.0 rate, with no meaningful discussion of the huge numbers of discouraged people who have dropped out of the workforce.

But the perception of an economy on full throttle chug sent the stock indexes up. The Dow, the S & P and the NASDAQ are the only signaling mechanisms that the legacy media pays attention to, and the politicos take their cues from them, in a feedback loop of false information that begets more delusional positive psychology in those same markets. I suspect the sentiment that reigns now is about nothing more than getting through the holiday season without a financial accident.

But this Fed now finds itself in a trap of its own making. Having so interminably yapped about the interest rate hike, the central bank will have to put up or shut up in December. Only the year-final BLS employment figures might give them an out, if the numbers don’t look so phosphorescent. I think the truth is, this phony baloney economy can’t withstand even a measly quarter-point benchmark interest rate hike. For one thing, it would blow up the operating models of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the buyers of home mortgages who are keeping the construction industry on life support, as well as the parallel rackets in securitized auto and student loans. Imagine all the derivatives bets that would go south. In reality, the Fed knows that it will have to shovel more ZIRP money into the debt-saturated maw of a dying financial leviathan. It can do that, of course, and probably will in the coming winter of 2016, but when that time comes, it will have absolutely no credibility left. And the leviathan will be a little closer to heaving up dead on the beach.

 

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

On Being Misinformed

Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on August 30, 2014

Discuss this article at the News & Multimedia Table inside the Diner

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” Mark Twain
When you consider the immense challenges and problems that lie ahead of us, which include climate change, peak energy and resources and ecological overshoot, you might begin to wonder why this isn’t front page news day after day. Indeed, after flicking through a few newspapers and surfing a few television news channels and finding not much beyond celebrity news, sports updates and political commentary, you might indeed begin to wonder whether the issues discussed in blogs like this one are not merely something for people with too much time on their hands to contemplate, or worse, a paranoid illusion. This naturally begs the very reasonable question: if our civilisation is indeed circling the drain then why isn’t it in the news very often?
This is a very interesting question and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no single easy answer to it. Some people might insist that there is a global conspiracy to keep ‘the real news’ out of the reach of ordinary people, but having worked in several news rooms I can easily discount this from first-hand experience that no such conspiracy exists.* Instead, the answer is far more complex and nuanced and has its basis in herd psychology, money and the religion of progress. 
Taking the first of these three, herd psychology is probably the most obvious driver of the content that appears before our eyes in the form of newspaper print and television images. News organisations copy one another, and there is safety in numbers. The news media is traditionally a system of information dispersal that is hierarchical in its structure and relies upon a network made up of nodes of information providers that includes government spokespeople, company PR departments, experts, politicians and a bewildering array of people who claim to have a piece of unique information. Near the top of the food chain are news agencies who gather this diffuse information and sell it on down the network to other news organisations, who either republish it without modification, or else shape it to fit the style and prejudices of their particular audience. Thus a bland piece of information which states that the economy grew by 0.1% in Q3, can be interpreted as either a disaster or a cause to pop open the champagne bottles depending on whether the ownership/readership of the news organ supports government policy or not. 
When twisting information in this way to create a narrative there is an inherent danger. Propaganda, defined as the act of deliberately and one-sidedly shaping communications in a way that changes the thoughts and opinions of the target, has probably been practiced ever since humans learned to communicate by speech. Originally defined in religious terms—it derives from the Latin verb to grow—its use has become far more widespread and covert in modern times, with various techniques employed to ensure its efficacy. Two of the main techniques used today include omitting relevant information, and repeating the message ad infinitum. A prime example of this is the well-funded oil industry which uses propaganda to try and influence public opinion towards a belief that climate change is not real. It pumps money into key nodes in the upper echelons of the information hierarchy, notably small but influential think tanks and columnists in the right-wing news media, who then focus obsessively on small contradictions and anomalies in published climate science articles, creating doubt in the mind of the news consumer. By repeating this message over and over, the reader or viewer comes to a conclusion along the lines of ‘Well, if there wasn’t some truth in it then why’s it all over the news?’
Of course, we’re right in the middle of such a spectacle right now, with virtually all of the western media focusing dutifully on the official narrative that Russia is poised to launch a war against the peace-loving west. This is proving to be highly successful from the point of view of policy wonks in Washington, but disastrous to anyone who cares for the truth and enjoys living in a peaceful world. 
This kind of mind manipulation is not always sinister in the Machiavellian sense, but it does go to prove that messages can be hammered home effectively if the power structure and money is there (the west spent some $5 billion funding the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected government, although you don’t often see this fact published in the everyday media). It also leads to the creation of journalistic narratives, which are the bane of objective journalism. A journalistic narrative is a lazy way of conveying information that relies upon the fact that human beings love a good story. Journalism text books state that every story must have a human angle, which is a way of saying that nothing outside the human world is relevant unless it impinges upon us, and this is drummed into the heads of young reporters as soon as they start their careers. What they don’t state is that these human angles can take on a life of their own and create narratives that, once unleashed, are harder to strap down again than Frankenstein’s monster Adam. 
Once you are aware of these narratives it is easy to recognise them and it pays to be wary whenever you spot one. Going with the earlier example of economic news again, economics and finance journalists are able to employ the narrative of the sick patient. Because the vast majority of people understand very little about economics but, one way or another, have a vested interest in the economy performing well for their own personal wellbeing it necessitates journalists to use this sick patient metaphor. Hence all the talk of ‘recovery’. A recovery following a long illness is something that everyone can relate to—after all, they might not understand all of the medical terminology but they can certainly see that the patient has recovered when the colour has returned to his face and he’s sitting up in bed. The journalistic narrative of the ‘recovery’ which has been splashed all over the news for the last nine months or so makes good copy and will provide some cheer: the patient has made a full recovery – hurrah! But is it the truth?
In this case, the recovery that is being spoken of is framed in terms of GDP growth. But a little closer analysis reveals less to be excited about. The banking system is teetering on the edge of systemic collapse, personal debt has reached unprecedented levels, the velocity of money has plunged to depression levels, job security is at all-time lows—indeed almost every vital sign of the immensely complex system we call ‘the economy’ seems to be in a state of crisis—except for the stock markets, of course, which are inflated to bursting point from frenziedly feeding on liquidity. 
So, from practically every angle we have an economic disaster for the majority of people, but every major news source we look at, from the BBC to the Sun, talks about ‘the recovery’ as if it were a done deal. If the economy were indeed a hospital patient it would be a very sickly one—akin to a doctor pointing at a terminal cancer patient in a coma and saying he is in recovery because his toenails are growing longer. But the journalistic narrative of ‘the recovery’, which was likely talked up by various ministers and think tanks has got out of control and is now unchallengeable because to challenge it is to try and prove a negative. Journalists can get away with writing about it without the need to fact check because it has entered into the realm of ‘received wisdom’, along with immigrants being ‘benefits tourists’, gas fracking being a ‘bonanza’ and any of the other narratives that have been hatched, incubated and let loose. The only way that such narratives can be brought back in line with reality is for some shock to the system powerful enough to make journalists snap out of their slumber.
So propaganda can create journalistic narratives which people then use as the building blocks for their thought patterns, creating further feedback loops which impede the flow of valuable ‘real’ information into the public realm. This in turn creates a ‘don’t rock the boat’ mentality among news media, because although news outlets are notionally in competition with one another, in reality they share similarities with a tribe mentality. There is safety in numbers and if one news outlet breaks from the pack a taboo has been broken and disastrous consequences could ensue. 
A further powerful driver of news content is – surprise, surprise – money. This should be obvious enough but I will illustrate it with an example from my own life. I once lived in a beautiful part of southern Spain among the mountains and not too far from the coast. Our small farmhouse was situated in an idyllic series of valleys, little touched by modern civilisation because the access was so difficult and the natural environment provided bounteous amounts of fresh food and spiritual balm. One day I decided to walk to the top of the highest mountain there and, upon reaching the summit, I saw a terrible sight. On the coast nearby there stretched an immense sea of white that went all the way to the horizon out to the east. I had heard about the alarming spread of plastic greenhouses that were eating up the land, but from my vantage point I could clearly see it was spreading our way and would soon engulf the entire area. Further research revealed that this was a huge get-rich-quick scheme in which thousands of illegal wells were being drilled into the aquifer to irrigate the greenhouses. The salad crops grown within were exported north to European supermarkets and in their wake they left a trashed landscape of fluttering plastic, depleted aquifers and poisoned wells. Furthermore, local politicians had decided to divert water from local rivers to supply this plastic salad industry, which would mean the life of the area where I lived would soon be gone.
I had to do something to try and stop this so I set up a small local newspaper with the aim of highlighting the threat. I called it the Olive Press, and it was run from a small office in the main provincial town of Orgiva. It attracted a lot of attention, and its green focus drew in lots of writers who were keen to voice their concern about the ongoing destruction of their local environment. It became a great success in all but one thing: money. Every month I found that costs seemed to go up, but income remained anaemic at best. Everyone, it seemed, said they loved it, but they also wanted it for free and were unwilling or unable to support it financially. Eventually myself and the other editor decided to employ a salesman, who in fact worked as an estate agent in the adjoining office block. The first thing he did was turf out all of the small advertisers who were having trouble keeping up with their payments, and instead focused on bigger advertisers. So it was out with all the crystal healers, dog groomers and men with strummers, and in with the larger real estate agents, private medical practices and dodgy-looking investment opportunities.
Soon the money began to roll in and we could relax a little. People further afield began to hear about the newspaper and we began to expand. The print run was racketed up to 20,000 copies a fortnight and we would drive all over the province delivering them in bundles. Most of the stories we covered focused on local corruption and abuses of the environment. 
But this greater coverage and exposure came at a price and soon the complaints started to come in. One estate agent said he was ‘embarassed’ to show a copy of the Olive Press to potential buyers. He said it might put them off investing property in the region. Another businessman cancelled his full-page advert because he said the news within was ‘too realistic’. The sales manager asked us if we could ‘tone it down’ and publish some more light-hearted pieces. Both of us resisted and, as a result, money became tight again. I wrote an editorial about how climate change would likely change the region to a dustbowl a few decades hence and was slightly shocked to see that it ended up being printed opposite a full page advert for a low-cost airline. A clear split had emerged between myself and the sales staff, of which there were now three. It all ended acrimoniously, of course. After a year more of dysfunction I was forced to leave the newspaper, selling my share to a former Daily Mail showbiz columnist, who abandoned its original remit and instead focused on the glitzy Costa del Sol, where there was much more money. These days it is the largest foreign newspaper in Spain, and is full of stories about celebrity sightings.
Afterwards I realised this experience had taught me a valuable lesson in how money warps and eventually overwhelms the messages that a supposedly unbiased media is meant to portray. And although this was just a small newspaper the same thing can be seen happening throughout the mainstream media as long as advertising pays for content. Thankfully, a proliferation of blogs has sprung up like weeds between paving stones, eager to supply information that ranges from the relatively objective to the downright opinionated – but without the corrupting influence of having to chase a dollar. 
Finally, although the above might shed at least some light onto why the news media is systemically incapable of being objective in assessing risk and communicating this to the wider public, there is another factor at play which is a lot less tangible. The simple fact is that some truths may be too unpalatable to recount. Delivering bad news on the state of industrial civilisation is a modern day taboo, and it should come as no surprise that news editors avoid it like the, ahem, plague. Although it might make a quirky opinion piece or two, the nebulous and often unquantifiable nature of the subject matter and the inevitably shrill reactions of those who object makes for nervous editors. Talking about ecological overshoot in polite company is like waving a red flag at a bull. Before you know it a sensible discussion about finite carrying capacities has sunk into a slanging match of hurled insults and vituperous abuse and any further discussion becomes impossible. Highlighting our own limitations as a species is always going to be controversial – it’s taking the human interest angle just a step too far. 

 

Thus we are left in the situation where people are able to pick and choose their media based on their prejudices. The wonders of the internet mean that one never has to be troubled by troubling news again and you can indeed configure it so that you are treated to a continuous stream of videos of celebrities pouring buckets of water over their heads. Alternatively you can set your feeds, blogrolls and social media likes to permit you to gorge yourself on stories of collapse, economic frights, pandemics, massacres, beheadings and ecocide until you fall down dead over your keyboard. And that’s the magic of technology.
Was it ever thus?
* On the other hand, I find it perfectly feasible that the editors and publishers of mainstream national press organisations are routinely called in for ‘meetings’ and asked ‘politely’ to avoid publishing material that is not in the national interest for reasons of security or to avoid economic panics.
 

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1 hour ago

Should William Barr recuse himself from Mueller report? Legal experts say AG's ties to Russia are troubling

AG Barr’s Troublesome Russia Ties, ‘The president’s insane’: New Book charts Trump War on Press, Tubman on the $20, Prison Time for Pipeline..

1 hour ago

Diner Twitter feed

Knarf’s Knewz

The National Security Agency headquarters in Maryl [...]

Overall there were 110 African American graduates, [...]

Communities in Florida, one of the states most vul [...]

In figures released annually by popular Canadian, [...]

Diner Newz Feeds

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Doomstead Diner Daily May 26The Diner Daily is ava [...]

Quote from: K-Dog on May 25, 2019, 04:43:15 PMIn t [...]

In the next election he can vote for me. [...]

There are lies, damned lies, and those who tell yo [...]

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CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

The National Security Agency headquarters in Maryl [...]

Overall there were 110 African American graduates, [...]

Communities in Florida, one of the states most vul [...]

In figures released annually by popular Canadian, [...]

Dear Readers, Things in Venezuela are getting mess [...]

Quote from: Golden Oxen on April 27, 2019, 01:49:4 [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 25, 2019, 09:09:46 AMQu [...]

Quote from: Golden Oxen on April 25, 2019, 04:33:0 [...]

                             Judy Shelton Is Right [...]

Go to Global Collapse Environment to read more or [...]

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Quote from: Surly1 on May 19, 2019, 12:40:41 PMQuo [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

A Window Into Our World By Cognitive Dissonance   Every year during the early spring awakening I qui [...]

Deaf, Dumb and Blind Who Is Better at Conceding They Are Wrong - Conservative or Liberal Extremists? [...]

The Apology: From baby boomers to the handicapped generations. by David Holmgren Re-posted from Holm [...]

Society Is Made Of Narrative. Realizing This Is Awakening From The Matrix. By Caitlin Johnstone Orig [...]

But We Need the Eggs Re-posted from Epsilon Theory   Ben Hunt of Epsilon Theory is one of those rare [...]

Event Update For 2019-05-24http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-05-23http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-05-22http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-05-21http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-05-20http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

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Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
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Pitching Seaweed Straws"Kelp-based straws will beat the price of paper straw competitors later this year and could und [...]

What is your climate pawprint?"If US dogs had their own country it would be bigger than 200 other countries and likely be on [...]

Orellana's Robots"Climate scientists are now connecting the dots and starting to glimpse how a terra preta thera [...]

Can some nut unseat King Corn?"Acornucopia is sprouting under a tree near you."“I am partial to the peculiar and wholeso [...]

Cheddar and the Leafcutters"What can you do when geophysics outpaces evolution?"My personal ancestry has a major limb [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

To fight climate change, you need to get the world off of fossil fuels. And to do that, you need to [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Correct estimate, that is clearly the only workable longer-term future model one can envisage after [...]

That has such people in it? Actually, there's no need to engineer those sorts of deformities. D [...]

It is very difficult to attempt a realistic comparison of 'wealth' values between people i [...]

Firstly, speaking of 'beyond organic/permaculture/shallow or no till/..', forget about the [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

Different factors control the types of adaptive strategies and likelihoods of experiencing climate c [...]

Salinity intrusion through the estuaries in low-lying tide-dominated deltas is a serious threat that [...]

The creation of realistic gridded precipitation fields improves our understanding of the observed cl [...]

A recent article reviewed data on Great Salt Lake (Utah) and concluded falsely that climate changes, [...]