Toronto — Many people who live in and outside the United States and rely on mainstream corporate media outlets for their news and information continue to believe that Hillary Clinton was a powerhouse candidate who was cheated out of the White House through Russian interference in 2016.
Although this notion has been repeatedly disproven, the idea that Clinton was cheated, and Donald Trump is an “illegitimate” president continues to be pushed by those who have vested interests in shaping public opinion and belief – regardless of the truth.
Perhaps more than any other in American history, the 2016 Election will be known as an event through which the people began to awaken to the massive amount of deception that those who control our societies use to maintain power and manipulate support of the elite’s agenda.
While the politically astute understand that deception and manipulation are part of the standard tool kit for politicians, the truly disturbing revelation of 2016 is the utter deterioration of America’s Fourth Estate into nothing more than a PR machine for the ruling elites.
Since 1787 when Edmund Burke coined the term The Fourth Estate to describe the press as a necessary institution to keep the powerful in check, there has existed an unspoken but ubiquitous belief that journalists protect the public interest by reporting truth. The media is given status and authority based on the public’s trust in their objectivity and ethical performance of their duties.
But Election 2016 – and the four years since Donald Trump was elected — have revealed that America’s mainstream media has broken the public’s trust and is no longer working on behalf of the people. Instead our “fourth estate” is functioning as a propaganda tool for wealthy globalists, their corporations, and the politicians they select to further their own interests.
There now exists documented evidence showing that America’s major corporate-owned media outlets not only colluded with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to influence the outcome of the election, they have also been revealed to be working with intelligence operatives to discredit Donald Trump and undermine his presidency.
While the wildly complex reasons for the latter appear to be the stuff of a Tom Clancy novel and are well beyond the scope of this story, the fact that major media outlets like The Washington Post, The New York Times, and even C-Span have repeatedly published accusations of an election-fraud conspiracy between Vladamir Putin, WikiLeaks, and Donald Trump without a single shred of evidence is deeply concerning.
Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist has lambasted news organizations for recklessly repeating stories alleging Russia hacked the election and cyber-attacked Vermont’s power grid without any follow-up or fact-checking. The Washington Post, the originator of the stories, has repeatedly been forced to issue corrections and retractions after being challenged by independent journalists and the public.
Glenn Greenwald, who writes for The Intercept, has asked, “Is it not somewhat concerning how many Russia media stories have had to be corrected and/or retracted – always in the same direction?” And, other independent journalists like Michael Tracey have expressed outrage over the Post’s publications of obviously false allegations that could be interpreted as provoking Russia, a major nuclear power.
The “Russia Hacking” narrative is part of a growing body of evidence documenting that the Post and other mainstream outlets aren’t operating as objective and ethical news organizations but appear to be functioning as a propaganda tools, possibly working on behalf of entities which stand to lose power and money through Trump’s conservative, nationalistic policies.
President Trump has called the election fraud allegations “ridiculous,” suggesting the stories are being used as distraction tactics by the Democrats following Clinton’s loss, and what he calls “one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics.”
Regardless of what one thinks about America’s controversial President, Trump’s suggestion that the media is working on behalf of Hillary Clinton has been well confirmed. In October, 2016 WikiLeaks released more than 20,000 of Clinton Campaign Chair, John Podesta’s emails revealing not only that all of the major networks and newspapers had reporters working directly with Clinton’s campaign from the beginning of the primaries, but that Clinton’s staff was actually directing and approving stories before they were released to the public. The Podesta emails showed that all the major media outlets were operating as the communications arm of the Clinton campaign, rather than providing objective, unbiased coverage to the public.
In addition, the emails showed that in the spring of 2016, Donna Brazille, a CNN personality who was also the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, provided Hillary Clinton with questions and answers prior to at least one debate and a Town Hall meeting in Flint, Michigan.
The Podesta emails also showed how the Clinton campaign colluded with the corporate media to “elevate” Donald Trump during the Republican primaries while simultaneously undermining Bernie Sanders’ campaign through media blackouts and smears. This tactic, called the “Pied Piper” strategy gave Trump billions of dollars of free media coverage during the primaries while virtually shutting out Sanders’ campaign, which had mobilized millions of people across the country. The endgame plan was to force the Republicans to run a candidate who would be considered so extreme, Hillary Clinton and her corporatist, globalist, war-economy agenda would seem acceptable by comparison.
It is no accident that the industry was second only to Wall Street in contributions to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, as the big media billionaires are committed to maintaining their control over information and entertainment in the US.
Big Media – including every major news organization – contributed more to Clinton than to any other candidate and also gave huge donations to the Clintons’ private foundation. The postelection closure of The Clinton Global Initiative, the funding source for The Clinton Foundation – which is now under investigation by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service – lends strong support to the widespread belief that the foundation was never a charity, but was an influence-peddling scheme.
Media analysts pinpoint Bill Clinton’s Telecommunication Act (1996) as the fundamental cause of the US media’s transition from Fourth Estate to PR machine. BenBagdikian revealed in his 1983 book, The Media Monopoly that, at the time, just 50 corporations owned 90 percent of the US media. Thirteen years later, through the Telecommunications Act, Clinton allowed giant corporations to buy thousands of local media outlets across the nation, creating a monopoly over the flow of information.
Today, 90 per cent of the US media (and many international affiliates) is owned by six companies: Viacom, News Corporation, Comcast, CBS, Time-Warner, and Disney. These corporations have made it a priority to eliminate local news departments and programming, and literally “feed” scripted news to their network affiliates.
There is now little doubt that America’s mainstream media has become “nothing more than a business, capitalistic and political power activity – rather than performing in its role of providing checks and balances and challenging the government on behalf of the people,” Michael Corcoran writes.
The impact of Election 2016 on traditional media and its relationship with Americans is stunning. Poll after poll has shown that the public’s trust in US corporate media has dropped to its lowest level than any time in history – with at least one report showing that less than 13% believe broadcast news outlets, and a 2017 Gallup poll showing that only 32% of Americans trust the media.
The Knight Foundation survey and report, “American Views 2020: Trust, Media & Democracy,” shows that at least half of Americans believe the media is to blame for the divisions now facing the country.
Yet, as dark as this situation may seem, thanks to the internet, we have reached a major turning point in the way we receive our news and information. People are cancelling cable and newspaper subscriptions and are turning to independent journalists and news organizations online, which has given rise to what has been named “The Networked Fourth Estate.” This term, described by author Yochai Benkler, refers to the practices, organizing models and technologies that are now functioning over the internet to provide information and public checks on governments and industry, the functions abdicated by the corporate media.
Social media has become a powerful channel for these new Fourth Estate actors that include non-Profit agencies, media watchdog organizations, academics, independent document publishers like WikiLeaks, and new media outlets that are taking over cyberspace.
Throughout the incredibly contentious and revealing election of 2016 and the increasingly harrowing time since, the powerful elites who control the American media tried to force their version of reality and their deeply flawed candidate onto a citizenry that has become wise to their ways and weary of their rigged Monopoly game.
Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks once said that “Reality is an aspect of property. It must be seized. And investigative journalism is the noble art of seizing reality back from the powerful.”
At this moment in our history, that is exactly what is happening. We have awakened to the propaganda and learned that those we entrusted with telling us “truth” from behind an anchor desk are in fact, nothing more than well-paid hucksters.
Now, a growing cadre of citizen-journalists has mobilized, creating clear channels of information and new opportunities for anyone willing to join the battle for truth. It is indeed a time of revolution. It is “the best of times, and the worst of times.”