Radical Media

For anyone critical of the media and politics at the turn of the century, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent was essential reading. The book’s “propaganda model” provided a useful framework for understanding how typical news coverage filters out some types of evidence while emphasizing others, ultimately privileging dominant narratives. One key lesson from this analysis was clear: To change the world, we must first change our media.

In the early 2000s, such thinking led me to the media reform movement and to the academic field of communication, where I hoped to learn about the limitations of, and alternatives to, the hyper-commercialized US media system. But I was disheartened to find in graduate school a mix of hostility and indifference toward critical media analysis. Over the years, I found pockets of radical scholarship, especially in the subfield of political economy, that focused on critical and historical analyses of media, but such work remained marginalized. Today, with the rise of new digital monopolies, fear of fascism, and the collapse of journalism, there’s renewed interest in structural analyses of our news and information systems, but too often it’s stripped of radical critique.

Chomsky has long provided a steady radical voice on these matters. I recently spoke to him about the contemporary relevance of his and Herman’s media critique, and why he first turned to media as an important site of struggle. I wondered if his analysis had changed; if anything had surprised him over the decades; and, most importantly, whether he

— source chomsky.info | Aug 13, 2021

Nullius in verba


How social media fuels U.S. political polarization

When Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) instructed the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection to determine what role social media played in fostering the attack on the Capitol, she implicitly embraced a widely held assumption: that the major tech platforms have fueled the acute level of political polarization in the U.S.

Facebook begs to differ. Since Jan. 6, the largest social media site has sought to discredit what it calls “an albatross public narrative” that is contributing to partisan hatred. In March, Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president for global affairs, took on that narrative in an article on Medium, while in congressional testimony, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg blamed the media and political elites for causing division, saying “technology can help bring people together.”

In a new report from the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, we challenge Facebook’s disavowals and show that while the use of social media may not create partisan divisiveness, it does exacerbate it. An understanding of this connection is vital to preventing a repeat of Jan. 6 and regulating online platforms responsibly.

— source | Paul Barrett | 09/13/21

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Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat participated in covert UK Foreign Office

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have sponsored Reuters and the BBC to conduct a series of covert programs aimed at promoting regime change inside Russia and undermining its government across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to a series of leaked documents.

The leaked materials show the Thomson Reuters Foundation and BBC Media Action participating in a covert information warfare campaign aimed at countering Russia. Working through a shadowy department within the UK FCO known as the Counter Disinformation & Media Development (CDMD), the media organizations operated alongside a collection of intelligence contractors in a secret entity known simply as “the Consortium.”

Through training programs of Russian journalists overseen by Reuters, the British Foreign Office sought to produce an “attitudinal change in the participants,” promoting a “positive impact” on their “perception of the UK.”

“These revelations show that when MPs were railing about Russia, British agents were using the BBC and Reuters to deploy precisely the same tactics that politicians and media

— source thegrayzone.com | Max Blumenthal | Feb 20, 2021

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America Has Arrived at One of History’s Great Crossroads

The Democratic Party is having an internal battle over the “small” and the “large” infrastructure bills, but what’s really at stake is the future of neoliberalism within the party. The smaller “bipartisan” bill represents the neoliberal worldview, including public-private partnerships and huge subsidies to for-profit companies, whereas the larger “reconciliation” Democratic Party-only bill hearkens back to the FDR/LBJ classic progressive way of doing things.

Milton Friedman began selling neoliberalism to America in the 1950s, and we fully bought into it in the 1980s. Most Americans had no idea, really, what this new political/economic ideology meant; they just knew it involved free trade, economic austerity/tax cuts and deregulation/privatization.

The free trade part, we were told, would bring about the end of great-power wars because countries that were economically interdependent wouldn’t dare ruin their own economies by going to war with a significant trading partner.

— source ibw21.org | Thom Hartmann | Aug 12, 2021

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The Evil We Do Is the Evil We Get

I was in Times Square in New York City shortly after the second plane banked and plowed into the South Tower. The crowd looking up at the Jumbotron gasped in dismay at the billowing black smoke and the fireball that erupted from the tower. There was no question now that the two attacks on the twin towers were acts of terrorism. The earlier supposition, that perhaps the pilot had a heart attack or lost control of the plane when it struck the North Tower seventeen minutes earlier, vanished with the second attack. The city fell into a collective state of shock. Fear palpitated throughout the streets. Would they strike again? Where? Was my family safe? Should I go to work? Should I go home? What did it mean? Who would do this? Why?

The explosions and collapse of the towers, however, were, to me, intimately familiar. I had seen it before. This was the familiar language of empire. I had watched these incendiary messages dropped on southern Kuwait and Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War and descend with thundering concussions in Gaza and Bosnia. The calling card of empire, as was true in Vietnam, is tons of lethal ordnance dropped from the sky. The hijackers spoke to America in the idiom we taught them.

The ignorance, masquerading as innocence, of Americans, mostly white Americans, was nauseating. It was the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. It was the greatest

— source scheerpost.com | Chris Hedges | Sep 10, 2021

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What are the Prospects For Peace

Events are unfolding at a quickening pace. Facing an alarming escalation in tensions around the world, we are looking to our most respected and renowned thought leaders for an honest assessment of both U.S. foreign and military policy to offer their most current thoughts and insights. We know they have some ideas for improving the prospects for peace.

Noam Chomsky needs no introduction. He has devoted his whole life to calling out the abuses of power and the excesses of U.S. empire. At 92, he still is actively engaged in the national conversation. We are of course honored that he took the time to talk to us and share his views.

The questions here are not philosophical or abstract. They focus on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real-time. They directly address the role of the U.S. in escalating tensions and its capacity to reduce them. We also probe the role of everyday citizens in affecting the relationship the U.S. now has and will have with the rest of the world community.

Here is what Noam Chomsky had to say.

— source chomsky.info | Aug 27, 2021

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Shopping for legislation?

At the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual meeting last week in Salt Lake City, all eyes were on the keynote speakers — high-profile governors from across the nation.

State and local policymakers from across the country trawling the vendor booths received far less attention.

At ALEC, a national conservative organization that’s been criticized for matchmaking state and local policymakers with corporate interests, you will find a few speciality government software providers staffing tables, but mostly people are there to sell ideas. Legislation. From opponents of human trafficking to proponents of legalizing sex trade, leading conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and fresh local upstarts such as Utah’s own libertarian Libertas Institute.

“My team loved the event, we thought it was great,” said Libertas Institute Executive Vice President Michael Melendez, who explained that Libertas was there not to focus on “legacy” issues like abortion and education, but new fields. “For us, it’s all about what are the gaps in the policy market?”

— source The Salt Lake Tribune | Luke Peterson | Aug. 9, 2021

Nullius in verba