Sharyl Attkisson is an award-winning investigative journalist with uncompromising integrity. Her book, “ Slanted: How the News Media Taught Us to Love Censorship and Hate Journalism ,” was released in November 2020. In this, her third book, she addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time: media bias and the deterioration of objective journalism — a topic on which she has first-hand experience. A former anchor at CNN and CBS News, Attkisson now produces her own Sunday television news program, "Full Measure," as well as two podcasts: "Full Measure After Hours" and "The Sharyl Attkisson Podcast," in which she covers the kinds of stories that mainstream news no longer touches.
Propaganda through media certainly isn't a new thing. Starting in the late 1940s, the CIA ran a well-documented but at the time covert campaign called "Operation Mockingbird," in which they recruited journalists as assets to spread propaganda — news slanted in one way or another. While the program is always referred to in the past tense, as it is said to have been ended in the 1970s, evidence suggests it never really stopped.
"There are all kinds of ways the Intel community has, and can, manipulate thenews,"
"but we reached a new level in 2016, 2017, because theydon't even have to whisper in our ear to get us to report stuff. We hired them.Meaning, Brennan, Clapper, Comey — all of them were hired as consultants.They were invited on the news directly.You didn't have to put them through a filter and anonymous sources, althoughplenty of anonymous sources were also used. But daily putting forth theirpropaganda, much of which, obviously, was proven false, particularly on theTrump, Russia narrative.12
But every day, we allowed them to plaster the airwaves, even after they wereproven admittedly wrong … After two years of spewing this false information,they're still consulted by the media. They're still used. So, it's so easy for anIntel operation if they wish to use the media towards whatever goal they mayhave …I firmly believe that there have been ongoing [propaganda] campaigns thatcontinue today. Maybe separate operations by intelligence agencies andoficials to manipulate the news, and certainly have things reported a certainway to try to push for certain outcomes in politics here at home andinternationally."
Big Industry Also Infiuences the News
Multinational industries, the drug industry in particular, also has a similar level of infiuence over content relating to their particular interests. In 1996, direct-to-consumer drug advertising was legalized, and as drug advertising became a major income stream for media companies, their reporting on health and medicine became increasingly biased. The reason is simple. They cannot afford to "bite the hand that feeds them." If an advertiser doesn't want the public to know about a particular finding, all they have to do to infiuence the reporting is to threaten to withdraw its advertising, which will hurt the media company's bottom line. Drug companies have also become major sponsors of medical education; thus, doctors are taught to prescribe drugs for all ills, but they're not taught about the side effects and drawbacks of those drugs. Today, the drug industry also controls fact-checking organizations such as NewsGuard, as it is funded by Publicis, which is supported by drug companies. When feeding from the Big Pharma trough, how could they possibly be objective in their fact-checking? Reality shows us they can't because they aren't..
Big Tech — Master Manipulators of Minds
Big Tech companies, of course, are also masters of censoring anything that might hurt themselves or their technocratic allies. As just one of countless examples, you can no longer post a link to Mercola.com on Twitter. First, they added a false warning that made it look like my site contained dangerous malware when readers would click on a posted link. After a while, they simply blocked the ability to post links to our site altogether.
"This started, and I traced this in my second book, 'The Smear,' to Media Matters… the left-wing propaganda group that supported Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama,and is a big smear organization,"
. "They acknowledged going toFacebook about the time when they were worried that Donald Trump was goingto get elected.They really felt that the only thing giving him a leg up, and they still believe thistoday, is his social media outreach. They tried to think of a way to control, withthe kind of social media and news people could get, so Media Matters lobbiedFacebook and tried to convince them — and did so successfully — to taking afact-checking brand-new role that nobody had ever asked for.We're not begging for our information to be curated. That was a pretenddemand created by the propagandists who wanted to control the information.They had to make us think that we needed a third party to step in and tell uswhat to think and sort through the information … The fake news effort, the fact-checking, which is usually fake fact-checking, meaning it's not a genuine effort,is a propaganda effort …We've seen it explode as we come into the 2020 election, for much the samereason, whereby, the social media companies, third parties, academicinstitutions and NewsGuard … they insert themselves. But of course, they're allbacked by certain money and special interests. They're no more in a position tofact-check than an ordinary person walking on the street …They have interests. They make sure certain things are not seen, even if true.And I think this is the most serious threat that I'm looking at right now to ourmedia environment.I'm afraid that our kids will be telling their kids of a time when you used to beable to go on the internet and find most, any, information you wanted, becausewe are increasingly being pointed only to that which they, people who controlthe information, wish for us to see."
Presidential Treatment Takes on a New Meaning
In her book, Attkisson also spends an entire chapter dissecting the highly-biased treatment of President Trump, and how the media have, through their own admission, suspended traditional journalistic ethics simply because they consider him "uniquely dangerous."
"Therefore, you don't have to follow the normal rules and guidelines when itcomes to fair and accurate reporting, which I think is one of the most absurdthings I've ever heard in my life, from someone in our profession, because thestandards exist precisely so that we report on everybody the same way,"
"In other words, using the same standards, whether we like them or not.Particularly, perhaps, if we don't like or agree with the candidate — that's whenthe standards become most important. But you need only look at Politico, forexample, during the last election.I interviewed them shortly afterwards. Someone in charge of some of theircoverage … in almost every answer to a question, she brought up PresidentTrump and something negative about him.One of the things she said was how many lies he tells per minute. She said, 'Weactually had a team that calculated the number of lies per minute that PresidentTrump told.' And I asked the obvious question, 'Well, what was that compared toHillary's supposed lies per minute?' And she actually said, 'Oh, we didn't havethe stafing to do Hillary too.'Can you imagine a national news organization that purports to cover somethingfairly and we'll fact-check the lies per minute of one candidate and not theopposing candidate and pretend that that qualifies as fair news?I also interviewed some noted liberals who have noticed the same thing: Thatthey look at things from a fair-minded viewpoint and are no fan of PresidentTrump, yet are appalled at how the media has dishonestly treated certain topicsand information, which should make everybody wonder, 'Are we getting the truthwhen it comes to things that don't have to do with President Trump?If the media can report so many things out of context and incorrectly when itcomes to somebody they don't like, what else are we getting that's not incontext or that's not fully true?'"
The Invention of Lying
Prior to President Trump, virtually no one in the media would accuse someone of lying. The standard was to question an individual's statement or point out a discrepancy to another source, but not call it an outright lie, because it's easy to get confused on specifics. A lie is a very specific allegation that implies an intent to deceive. Just because you misremember a fact doesn't mean you lied.
"[In the book] I talk about the fact that … I know I've probably been lied to manytimes, but I don't believe I've ever reported that somebody lied to me in a hardnews report. Why? Well, a lie is a specific thing that requires you to know themind of the person. And you as a journalist have to withhold, even if you thinksomething is true without the evidence, you really can't say it's true.I'll use the example I used in the book: Ford and Firestone tires. The executivesconsistently said there was no evidence that these tires were dangerous prior tothe scandal around the 2000 time period where there were a lot of deaths. I haddocuments from a source that showed this very danger many years before.It appeared that they were lying, but I didn't call it a lie because there are manyother explanations someone could give. They could say, 'Well, these guysweren't there at the time. So, they didn't know that these discussions had beenhad. They didn't have access to the emails, their subordinates didn't tell them.'So, you don't know whether they're mistaken or lying.And from a journalistic standpoint, we used to always take the objective roadand say something like, 'Their testimony contradicts the documentary record.'That's good enough. People at home can make up their own mind.But there was a turn taken, specifically, to target President Trump, whereby, themedia started frequently calling things that he said, lies — even when there wassimply something that was a matter of opinion, or could not be proven, or amistake, none of which are lies.The New York Times was proud of this when it did it. And I recount in the bookthe first time they made a headline where they talked about President Trumplying, and how that was cheered on by others in the media who then followedsuit.They were even cheered on by a journalism professor who wrote a big op-edabout how it was time to stop doing this objective reporting and that we neededto call out President Trump's lies frequently and often. It's just, again, from ajournalistic standpoint, ridiculous … I think this is a new and dangerous tacticthat has really destroyed our objectivity in the eyes of the public. And rightly so."
Massaging COVID-19 Messages
In terms of health, COVID-19 reporting has taken censorship and media manipulation to brand new heights, eclipsing just about all previous efforts. They don't even hide the bias anymore. All social media platforms are openly censoring dissenting views about the virus, particularly its origin and treatment. Even well-respected doctors and scientists have been axed for speaking against the desired narrative dictated by the World Health Organization. August 26, 2020, the CDC had released data showing 94% of people who had died during the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. died "with" the virus, not "from" it. Only 6% had COVID-19 listed as the sole cause of death on the death certificate. Hence, at that time the real death toll, those who unarguably died as a direct result of the infection, was only around 10,000. "For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death," the CDC stated. This is an important distinction. Yet mainstream media continued to report that nearly 200,000 had died "from" COVID-19 in the U.S, and have continued to add to the numbers, thereby increasing and ensuring national fear so they can continue to implement their lockdowns, face mask and vaccine mandates and other strategies to limit our personal freedoms and liberty.
"I think we need both numbers, in a separate sense, to have perspective andunderstanding of what's really happening,"
"And it's somethingthat very few people have shown interest in ... Early on, it was clear … that theprimary victims were those with the comorbidities and the elderly population innursing homes and so on.But then we sort of lost track of that. And then there seemed to be apropaganda effort to convince people that, initially, after understanding youngpeople were at very little risk of serious illness and death, there seemed to bean effort to convince people that the youth must be very careful. That moreyoung people are dying and getting sick.I can only guess as to why that's important to some interests, but I suspect ithas something to do with the fact that when the vaccine comes out, the marketneeds to be aimed.3
You can't rule out young people, you must make them believe they need it, orelse you've ruled out a huge section of the vaccine market. And they certainlydon't want to make a vaccine that's not used by a giant percentage of thepopulation. I think they have to create a market. Why do I think this?Well, I was actually told by a top immunization oficial for the government, whenthey learned fiu shots are ineffective in the elderly … that the way around thatwas not to take fiu shots away from the elderly — who would think that wasdishonest because we've been telling it was necessary for so many years — butto convince parents to get their children and babies fiu shots so that theywouldn't 'carry fiu to the elderly.'I remember him saying to me, 'The trick is going to be to convince parents togive a vaccine to their children who don't really need it themselves.' In otherwords, for a secondary supposed benefit for the elderly. And darn it, if you didn'tsee in the next season, they recommended fiu shots for babies and children.And they didn't tell anybody at the time that they were doing it because fiu shotsdon't work in the elderly. They just started telling people that your kids need fiushots."
When a 'Case' Is Not a Case
The media are also grossly misusing the term "case," in reference to the COVID-19 case load. A case is a medical term for a patient with a symptomatic type of infection. It's not someone who tests positive for antibodies or pieces of viral DNA. By referring to all positive tests as "cases," they're able to fan the fiames of panic, making the situation sound far worse than it actually is.
We're at a pretty scary time when scientists who areexperts on these issues fear speaking what they believeis the scientific truth because they'll becontroversialized. ~ Sharyl Attkisson
Many still do not understand that most of those who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic. They think these are sick people in the hospital and that rising "case" numbers are a refiection of a rise in deaths. Statistics reveal this simply isn't true, and that there's not a linear correlation between positive tests and deaths caused by COVID alone.
"There are just so many things that are misreported,"
"But if youtry to report them accurately and factually, you get called out by those in themedia who either didn't understand, or are simply so blinded by the propagandanarrative.The New York Times did this. They actually called me and several other peopleout as 'coronavirus doubters,' although I had never said or written anything thateven remotely denies coronavirus or denies the risk of it. But they were workingvery hard to silence voices who are simply reporting more accurately and withcontext on what's really happening.By the way, when I spoke to some scientists ... and I said, 'Why don't you speakout or correct what you think is the misconception?' Separately, several of themtold me they feared speaking out publicly because they were afraid they wouldbe labeled a coronavirus doubter, and for fear of contradicting Dr. Fauci.So, I said, 'We're at a pretty scary time when scientists who are experts on theseissues fear speaking what they believe is the scientific truth because they'll becontroversialized.'"
Search for Truth and Unbiased Facts
The clear take-home message I got from reading, " Slanted: How the News Media Taught Us to Love Censorship and Hate Journalism ," is that there's a profoundly serious problem with most mainstream conventional media. The obvious question is: Where can you go to get the truth? We would like to be informed, but we also want the truth. We don't have time to waste to be brainwashed by propaganda. At the end of her book, Attkisson lists a variety of sources she's come to trust. It may be worth getting the book for those recommendations alone.
"I didn't make a comprehensive list,"
"I'm sure I left many peopleout, but I tried to point to a few outlets and people, and I consulted some of mycolleagues for their recommendations. It's not an easy answer. There isn't aplace you can go. I can't say, 'Watch this news every day or read this publication.'It's more granular than that.You have to find a reporter that you trust on a topic and then chase that reporteraround … That's where I think you can find a segment of truth. And it's notalways, sadly, going to be objective truth.Some of the reporters I name are coming from the left viewpoint or comingfrom a right viewpoint, but they have proven themselves to be brave reporters ofa particular topic or controversy that I think you can rely on. But it's just not sosimple as it used to be where you could just point to a person or an outlet andsay, 'Watch that, and you'll get your fair shake at the news' …I would say, in closing, that I do think a new paradigm will develop when itcomes to news reporting. There are people looking at how news andinformation can be reported in a way that it cannot be censored by big techgiants, political figures and nonprofits and so on …I'm told there's a way to develop a social media platform where you can postfreely and also not be subject to censorship. I think things will evolve becausepeople are tired of what they're seeing. And I hope something really positive,being an optimist, develops out of all of this down the road."
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