Action To End Media Bias Against Victims Of Police Violence

| Resistance Report

Protesters are gathered outside WCCO, where Bob Kroll’s wife Liz Collins works. Kroll is the president of the Minneapolis Police Federation with a checkered past. Organizers refer to “Bob Kroll and the Art of the Coverup”. Day 9 of Minneapolis protests for George Floyd.

Our coverage started on May 26: Minneapolis Police Murder Handcuffed Man With Neck-Kneel.

  • zak1

    We don’t have the vocabulary we need to talk about media reform – we don’t even understand the scale of what we’re dealing with – it’s like the water around the fish

    A century ago, “media” just meant press – now it encompasses our entire infrastructure of communication – and we barely understand the subliminal role played by the technology itself, let alone factors like entertainment narrative and social media algorithms in reinforcing Establishment practices

    The corporatized media industry is the most immediate instrument of social control – its job is to shape reality in our minds – it is a major deciding factor behind every social problem we face

    Medicare for All (especially the Hawkins platform) has given us an endgame to fix healthcare, and the abolitionists are offering a real, lasting solution to our epidemic of prisons and policing

    But to fix our toxic media industry – we need to talk about the fundamental mechanisms of communication and culture – this is about looking at the means of production and circulation

    The way we’re talking about healthcare and law enforcement – the media industry needs to be restructured and democratized, and its resources and channels need to be placed under the control of the communities they serve – we need a community driven and democratized model of cultural production and distribution

    If we think of the various media we consume as a kind of diet “nourishing” our minds – I think the local food movement may offer a valuable model for how to think about our media production, and the possibilities of reshaping the industry

  • Jeff

    We need an end to propaganda. Unfortunately, Americans fetishize free speech as if it’s more important than life itself, so it’s going to be hard to get any meaningful change in the right direction here.

    I’d start with very strong criminal penalties for publishing provable falsehoods, like ten years in prison minimum sentence with no parole (no prior restraint, that should be enough to discourage lies once enough of the propagandists are imprisoned). Like I said, that would just be a start. Modern propaganda is very sophisticated and the biggest portion of it is taking stories out of context by what they don’t say, or just not reporting a story at all, which amounts to censorship since the corporate media controls the vast majority of the flow of information for the general public. But again, outlawing the publishing of lies would be a good start.

  • zak1

    Thanks for your thoughtful response

    I agree with your concern regarding the role of factual information

    There’s been a pronounced erosion over the past few decades – I think it really kicked in with Reagan’s media deregulation – after that, it seemed that advertising in various ways really started to saturate everything, both above and beneath the surface – and this also spilled over into the blurring between info and entertainment – and this infected public affairs media – accountability eroded

    – we saw this playing out in coverage of climate change, for instance – you’d have these fossil fuel thinktanks crank out bogus “studies”, and the corporate media would give these equal weight and pretend there was some kind of debate going on – instead of the actual overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the danger

    – and now we’ve reached a point where both leading presidential candidates will lie freely and openly as if it doesn’t matter – and the media pundits enable and normalize this by ignoring it or just shrugging their shoulders at it, as if it’s all just some kind of entertainment

    – I think there’s been a kind of war on facts – a push to make factuality irrelevant in public discourse – I think the reason for this is that factuality represents accountability – so this dismissal of verification is another erosion of institutional accountability

    – in the past, the smokescreen was an ideological narrative – now that people no longer buy into it, this is an attempt to use our own skepticism against us – to sell us the notion that. if their narrative is fictional, then everything is fictional – and this lack of solid ground still keeps us off balance even AFTER we’ve seen through their lies – if they don’t have our trust, then at least they can still keep us confused about what to believe

    At the same time, I think it’s dangerous to create laws where we prosecute and imprison people for falsehood (unless it’s in the context of other criminal action – like public officials lying to people in order to create a war, or pharmaceuticals lying about the safety of their products)

    The law is a blunt instrument – and a legal precedent against publishing certain content can easily be turned around and used instead to suppress dissenting voices

    This is one reason I say the local food movement is a good model to look at when considering media discourse – they don’t talk about criminalizing junk food, or policing what people can eat – instead, they have a comprehensive approach that targets all levels of the food industry in a way that results in far healthier food production overall – I think it’s useful to consider public discourse the same way we think about food consumption

    I think free speech is fundamentally important – it’s the starting point that enables all other forms of accountability – I think we need other methods to generate and enforce the kinds of protections we’re discussing

    For a closer examination of this “factuality” issue, you may want to look up the “Fourisson Affair” – where Noam Chomsky defended the free speech of a writer who’d been questioning the existence of the Holocaust – take a look at Chomsky’s argument there and see what you think

  • zak1

    I agree with your concern about the importance of facts

    Indeed, I think there’s been a steady erosion of factuality in our public discourse, especially since Reagan deregulated the media industry – advertising has seeped into everything, both overt and under the surface – and the blur between information and entertainment

    – nowadays it seems like even an elected official can just spout anything they want, and the mainstream media will treat it like just another circus act, as if it doesn’t matter what they say

    However, I think it’s vital to protect free speech as the root of all other forms of accountability – censorship is dangerous, and the precedent can easily be turned around and used as an excuse to attack dissent in general

    Try Googling “The Faurisson Affair” for a more sustained discussion of this principle – Noam Chomsky came under fire for defending the free speech of someone with whom he seriously disagreed, and his defense was misinterpreted as agreement with that person – take a look and see what you think of his argument

    Anyway, this is why I talk about using the farm and food movement as a model – they don’t talk about outlawing junk food or policing what people eat – instead, they focus on changing the food industry at all levels, and the outcome is that the quality of food in general improves enormously – I think it’s useful to draw an analogy between food consumption and our media “diet”

  • Jeff

    I understand concerns about censorship and had a brief email debate with Glenn Greenwald about it a few years ago. The problems with defending all speech no matter what are: 1) There are more important things than speech, just like there are more important things than humans. For example, the entire planet would be far better off if the fossil fuel industry had not been able to publish all the global warming/climate change denial lies. There’s no speech of any kind on a dead planet, and more important is that only humans care about speech; and 2) this argument fails to differentiate between facts and opinions. I didn’t advocate restricting opinions, regardless of how disgusting or obnoxious.

    One of the great propaganda victories over the past 100 years or so has been to convince people that everything is an opinion. So one of Glenn’s responses to me was something like, “how are you going to decide whether something is true? You would need some kind of commission, and who’s going to set that up?” This is nonsense. Some things are obviously true, like the fact that 97-98% of all climatologists agree that global warming is real and that humans are causing it, and every scientist probably agrees that greenhouse gases trap heat and that human burning of fossil fuels has emitted a massive amount of them (you could actually measure the amount). But if you think that everything is an opinion, then you have no problem with industry and its hacks spewing their BS. This implied lie, that everything is an opinion, is a huge problem and causes people to fail to accept true facts as being so. I’ve heard so many people call facts “opinions,” including very intelligent and well-informed people who should know better, that I have no doubt that the acceptance of this big lie is at the heart of this problem.

  • zak1

    I don’t think it’s a question of everything being an opinion –

    But there are many ways to spin information – and as we see from all the people marching in the streets, there’s a huge trust issue about how laws and law enforcement are handled in our society, how this kind of power can be massively abused – so creating more reasons to lock people up is hugely problematic for me

    In any case, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how Chomsky handled that Faurisson dispute, and the logic he applied – it seems very close to this issue

  • Jeff

    I’m not familiar with”The Faurisson Affair,” though it’s obviously relevant to the issue here. From my brief perusal of a Wikipedia post, it seems that Faurisson denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers that were used to murder Jews. So my thoughts would be as follows:

    Whether the gas chambers existed and were used to murder Jews are facts, not opinions. Facts are either true, false, unknown, or unknowable. If the gas chambers of which Faurisson denied the existence in fact existed and if in fact they were used to murder Jews, which I believe to be the case without looking into it further (was he talking about all Nazi gas chambers, or just specific ones?), then I support the French government’s prosecution of him and Chomsky is wrong. If the facts are contrary, then Faurisson obviously did nothing wrong. If the facts are unknown at this time or unknowable, Faurisson should have said so in his letters and that should be required when publishing allegedly true fact that are actually unknown or unknowable.

    Again, based only on a very brief perusal of the Wikipedia post, it seems that here Chomsky is doing exactly what I said: confusing facts with opinions. Whether those gas chambers existed and whether they were used to murder Jews are not opinions, and I totally oppose allowing people to publish false facts.

  • zak1

    Ok, but what do you think of the points Chomsky makes in his own argument here? That’s the key question – he’s not questioning the point about facts – he’s saying something else

  • Jeff

    I think that if humans can’t easily and clearly determine what’s true and what’s false on clear facts (true or false) like this without determinations by “the state,” humans are a lost cause. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill! Maybe human society has become so convoluted that it’s beyond hope.

    And as I said, Chomsky illegitimately conflates facts with opinions. The idea that people have a right to publish lies is absolute BS. That’s at the heart of this issue, not what Chomsky claims. Publishing lies can cause far more harm than any restriction on speech ever has, with global warming/climate change denial lies being a prime example.