Tag Archives: Media Censorship

Award-Winning Journalist Tackles Root of 2016’s “Fake News” Dilemma

Las Vegas, NV— A recent Tedx talk given by Emmy-winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson at the University of Nevada examined the “fake news” narrative that took the U.S. by storm during and following the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

While Attkisson acknowledged that fake news has long existed in various forms, she said that noticed something different taking root within U.S. mainstream media in 2016. Suspecting that the origins of this growing “fake news” narrative were less than organic, Attkisson began researching and said that she connected the origins of this phenomena to a non-profit organization called “First Draft,” which, she notes, “appears to be the about the first to use ‘fake news’ in its modern context.”

“On September 13, 2016, First Draft announced a partnership to tackle malicious hoaxes and fake news reports,” Attkisson said. “The goal was supposedly to separate wheat from chaff, to prevent unproven conspiracy talk from figuring prominently in internet searches. To relegate today’s version of the alien baby story to a special internet oblivion.”

First Draft was assembled back in June 2015, according to a report from Fortune. The coalition included Facebook, Twitter and 30 other news and tech companies.

Just a month later, then-President Barack Obama proclaimed “fake news” to be a threat.

“He insisted in a speech that he too thought somebody needed to step in and curate information of this wild, wild West media environment,” she said, pointing out that “nobody in the public had been clamoring for any such thing.”

Attkisson noted how quickly the topic of “fake news” came to dominate US mainstream media as if corporate media had received “marching orders.”

“Fake news, they insisted, was an imminent threat to American democracy,” Attkisson said, noting that “few themes arise in our environment organically.”

“What if the whole anti-fake news campaign was an effort on somebody’s part to keep us from seeing or believing certain websites and stories by controversializing them or labeling them as fake news?” Attkisson questioned.

Upon investigation, Attkisson discovered that one of the major financial backers of First Draft’s anti-fake news coalition was none other than Google, whose parent company, Alphabet, was chaired by major Clinton supporter Eric Schmidt until Dec. 2017. Schmidt “offered himself up as a campaign adviser and became a top multi-million donor to it. His company funded First Draft around the start of the election cycle,” Attkisson said. “Not surprisingly, Hillary was soon to jump aboard the anti-fake news train and her surrogate, David Brock of Media Matters, privately told donors he was the one who convinced Facebook to join the effort.”

Attkisson noted that “the whole thing smacked of the roll-out of a propaganda campaign.” The award-winning journalist then explained that Trump accomplished a “hostile takeover” of the term. “Something happened that nobody expected. The anti-fake news campaign backfired. Each time advocates cried fake news, Donald Trump called them ‘fake news’ until he’d co-opted the term so completely that even those who [were] originally promoting it started running from it, including the Washington Post.”

Attkisson advised that “powerful interests might be trying to manipulate” perceptions of society. “When interests are working this hard to shape your opinion, their true goal might just be to add another layer between you and the truth,” Attkisson said.

h/t PJ Media

Journalists Protest Obama’s ‘Politically-Driven Suppression of News’

The Society of Professional Journalists is leading 38 journalism groups, who have banded together in an attempt to bring a major issue to the attention of the White House.

In what the Washington Examiner is calling an “unprecedented criticism of the White House,” the 38 journalism groups are accusing President Obama’s team of censoring media coverage, and promoting a “politically-driven suppression of the news.

The group sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, urging him to be more transparent, and to “take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in.”

Over the past two decades, public agencies have increasingly prohibited staff from communicating with journalists unless they go through public affairs offices or through political appointees,” wrote David Cuillier, SPJ’s President and the letter’s author. “We consider these restrictions a form of censorship – an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear.”

The letter pointed out that despite the pledge Obama made on his first day in office to bring “a new era of openness,” to federal government, the opposite has occurred.

Recent research has indicated the problem is getting worse throughout the nation, particularly at the federal level,” Cuillier wrote. “Journalists are reporting that most federal agencies prohibit their employees from communicating with the press unless the bosses have public relations staffers sitting in on the conversations.

Cuillier mentioned a recent survey, in which it was found that 40 percent of public affairs officers admitted that they blocked certain reporters, due to the fact that they did not like what the reporters wrote.

While some people may think that controlling media access is necessary to guarantee that that information being published is valid, Cuillier argued that, “When journalists cannot interview agency staff, or can only do so under surveillance, it undermines public understanding of, and trust in, government.

It has not always been this way,” wrote Cuillier. “Only in the past two administrations have media access controls been tightened at most agencies. Under this administration, even non-defense agencies have asserted in writing their power to prohibit contact with journalists without surveillance.

The letter requested that President Obama end the restrain on communication in federal agencies, and provide an avenue through which any incidents of this suppression of communication may be reported and corrected.

We ask that you issue a clear directive telling federal employees they’re not only free to answer questions from reporters and the public, but actually encouraged to do so,” Cuillier wrote, on behalf of the 38 journalism groups. “We believe that is one of the most important things you can do for the nation now, before the policies become even more entrenched.”

This is not a ‘press vs. government’ issue. This is about fostering a strong democracy where people have the information they need to self-govern and trust in its governmental institutions.”