The Washington Post Is Selling Snake Oil

Max Borge / Flickr

By Adam Gaffney for Jacobin Magazine – Our friends at the Washington Post are waging a brave campaign against Medicare for All. Over the weekend, the Washington Post editorial board took a bold stance: they argued that universal health care with single-payer financing is simply beyond reach. That the Post felt the need to issue the editorial at this particular moment is a testament to single payer’s rising fortunes. From coast to coast, activists are on the march: against the widely loathed, upward-wealth-redistributing, health-care-stripping abomination known as Trumpcare, for sure — but also for real universal health care. Yet the Post’s frail arguments should be confronted, because they repeat a number of common talking points that rest on flawed assumptions and that could do real harm. The Post editorial board begins by briefly conceding that single payer does have “some strong advantages.” It notes that single payer would be less of a hassle for many people (a good point), that it would get employers out of the messy role of providing health-care benefits (reasonable), and finally that it would facilitate cost-effectiveness research by government investigators (fine I suppose, although this is unlikely to galvanize the average person).

Why Don’t U.S. Mainstream Media Report Vladimir Putin’s Take On Ukraine Crisis?

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By Robert Parry for Consortium News – A prime example of how today’s mainstream media paradigm works in the U.S. is the case of Ukraine, where Americans have been shielded from evidence that the 2014 ouster of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych was a U.S.-supported coup d’etat spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi extremists. As The New York Times has instructed us, there was no coup in Ukraine; there was no U.S. interference; and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And, the ensuing civil conflict wasn’t a resistance among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.” If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; if you mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or how “to “midwife this thing”; if you note how Nuland and Sen. John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; if you recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych…

Folsom Prisoners Declare Hunger Strike, Mainstream Media Silent

From liberationnews.org

By Staff of PSL – Folsom State Prison, also known as Old Folsom, is the second oldest state prison in California, behind San Quentin, and is highly recognized as one of the first maximum security prisons. Folsom State Prison is also known for the executions of over 90 inmates over the course of 20 years in addition to being where former Black Panther, Eldridge Cleaver, was held for a short period. The decades of oppression behind bars has never failed to produce resistance by those most affected. This most recent hunger strike was declared in response to the harsh conditions that prisoners in Administrative Segregation Units are facing. Prisoners are given food without plates or bowls and they’re not given any cups to drink water from thus being forced to eat from plastic bags and drink from old milk cartons. Mail is withheld from prisoners for months without any explanation. The prison refuses to provide them with basic rehabilitation programs or even cleaning supplies for their cells. Prisoners have reached out to multiple people and have received no response or help for the conditions that they are forced to live with on a day to day basis.

How Media Consolidation Threatens Democracy: 857 Channels (And Nothing On)

Vice President Al Gore speaks as President Bill Clinton looks on during an informal discussion with parents and children in Alexandria, Virginia on Feb. 9, 1996. Clinton had signed the Telecommunications Act the previous day. (Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

By John Light for Moyers & Company – Earlier this week, we wrote about a pending deal between Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media. Sinclair hopes to buy Tribune, a move that will allow the company to broadcast news to 70 percent of Americans. But the deal has raised eyebrows. The company is notoriously close with Trump, and also favored George W. Bush when he was president. The company’s DC office produces conservative commentary and news segments that paint Republicans in a favorable light, and distributes them to local stations around the country. Some worry that Sinclair hopes to create a competitor to Fox News, operating out of local television stations across America. If the deal does go through — anti-trust regulators and the FCC will have to approve it — it will only have been possible because earlier this year, Trump’s FCC chair Ajit Pai relaxed rules preventing media consolidation. Like much the FCC deals with — net neutrality, internet privacy — media consolidation is a dull-sounding topic that is nonetheless very important. It has a direct hand in the quality of American journalism, and it dictates how accountable that journalism is to its audience.

The FCC & Trump Escalate Media Mergers

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By Michael Corcoran for FAIR – This morning Sinclair Broadcast Group, the conservative media behemoth that owns more local news stations than any other company in the country, just got even bigger. It announced it was buying Tribune Mediafor $3.9 billion, creating what Bloomberg (5/8/17) calls a “TV goliath.” The purchase, which gives Sinclair a staggering reach of nearly 69 percent of the US population (Free Press, 5/8/17), would’ve been in violation of ownership restrictions just weeks ago. But last month, the Trump-appointed FCC chair, Ajit Pai, reinstated the “UHF discount,” an outdated loophole that allowed media conglomerates to exceed the nation’s 39 percent cap on ownership (New York Post, 4/20/17). Sinclair made a $420 million deal to buy Bonten Media Group(Baltimore Sun, 4/21/17) the very next day. This sequence of events “sure looks like a quid pro quo,” as Craig Aaron of the media advocacy group Free Press has noted (5/8/17). Months ago, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner told business executives, according to Politico (12/16/16), that “Trump’s campaign struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better coverage.”

“Mainstream Media” Forced To Admit NSA Still Spying

From activistpost.com

By Derrick Broze for Activist Post – In 2015 the U.S. Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill which was touted as a victory against the intrusive eyes and ears of the National Security Agency. The bill came about after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released classified documents regarding the agency’s massive spying programs. Democrats and Republicans came together to pass the Orwellianly named “USA Freedom Act. The bill was supposed to put an end to the monitoring of Americans’ phone calls. The politicians and compliant deadstream media applauded themselves for saving the day (while simultaneously condemning the man who exposed the spying) and everyone felt safer. The NSA promised to only inspect phone records of those suspected of terrorism, but they never stopped collecting emails. Also, the agency has a variety of other methods for accessing phone records of Americans. The reality is that the NSA never stopped spying. A new report released on Tuesday by the office of Director of National Intelligence confirms this reality. The report details how the NSA collected over 151 million phone records of Americans, even after the USA Freedom Act became law.

NY Times Creates North Korea Panic Over Unprovable Claim

Flickr/ John Pavelka. 
Star of the DPRK 
Panorama Hall of the Operation for the Liberation of Taejon;
Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum
Pyongyang, DPRK (North Korea)

By Adam Johnson for FAIR – From the beginning, the Times frames any potential bombing by Trump as the product of a “stark calculus” coldly and objectively arrived at by a “growing body of expert[s].” The idea that elements within the US intelligence community may actually desire a war—or at least limited airstrikes—and thus may have an interest in presenting conflict as inevitable, is never addressed, much less accounted for. The most spectacular claim—that North Korea is, at present, “capable of producing a nuclear bomb every six or seven weeks”—is backed up entirely by an anonymous blob of “expert studies and classified intelligence reports.” To add another red flag, Sanger and Broad qualify it in the very next sentence as a figure that is “impossible to verify.” Which is another way of saying it’s an unverified claim. When asked on Twitter if he could say who, specifically, in the US government is providing this figure, Broad did not immediately respond.

How An Activist Campaign Toppled Fox News’ Biggest Star

DonkeyHotey/Flickr

By Matthew Sheffield for Salon – During his long career in television, Bill O’Reilly has been the quintessential survivor. In large measure, this was because his high ratings (and the revenues they brought in) made him invaluable to his employers at the Fox News Channel. “He’s a jerk. Nobody likes him,” O’Reilly’s former boss, Roger Ailes is purported to have said when he was informed of an alleged instance of his star anchor’s boorish behavior. “But what am I going to do? I don’t like him, but he makes so much money, there’s nothing I can do.’” Ailes’ departure last summer under the cloud of sexual harassment and blackmail allegations certainly played a role in O’Reilly’s Wednesday ouster from Fox News. With Ailes gone, O’Reilly had lost his most important protector and defender. But even Ailes wasn’t above getting rid of his stars if they proved too troublesome, as Glenn Beck discovered in 2011. O’Reilly hosted the top-rated program on cable news and was the author of two books currently on the best-seller lists. So when the New York Times first reported that Fox News and its star had spent more than $13 million in payouts to women accusing O’Reilly of sexual or verbal harassment, it didn’t seem like a career-ending revelation.

Popular Movement Against Trump vs. Corporate Media’s Anti-Russia Witch-Hunt

Getty Images

By Andre Damon for WSWS – One day after Donald Trump’s extraordinary news conference, the battle within the American state only grew more intense. The conflict pits the ultra-right president of the United States against powerful sections of the military-intelligence apparatus, with the corporate media, the Democratic Party and a section of the Republicans serving as mouthpieces of the CIA. There is no progressive faction in this dispute, which centers on issues of foreign policy and war. Trump is a noxious representative of the financial oligarchy. He has packed his administration with CEOs and billionaires, alongside ex-generals, social reactionaries and outright fascists. His opponents in the political and media establishment are themselves reactionaries, motivated not by democratic principles, but by concerns that Trump is shifting away from the aggressive, militarist policy toward Russia that is backed by the intelligence establishment and was carried out by the previous administration.

NY Times Ethicist Gives Unethical Advice On Immigration

Of course, the actual immigration violator the New York Times “Ethicist” wants a reader to turn in to the state is unlikely to be blonde and light-skinned. (Illustration: Tomi Um)

By Jim Naureckas for FAIR – As Donald Trump issued an executive order intended to single out Muslims for immigration restrictions, many Americans searched their consciences for the right way to respond to this act of discrimination by their government. “First they came for the Communists/And I did not speak out/Because I was not a Communist,” begins the famous poem by Martin Niemoller. How can we avoid making the same mistake that the Germans made who failed to stand up against the first acts of repression by the Nazi regime? Fortunately, the New York Times Magazine publishes a column called “The Ethicist” that offers advice on complex moral questions.

The Biggest Underreported Stories Of 2016

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By Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star – The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society…is the true ruling power…we are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed…it is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” Thus wrote Edward Bernays in his book Propaganda, the nephew of Sigmund Freud and the father of modern propaganda, at whose suggestion, the United States’ War Department, at the time called the National Military Establishment, was renamed the Department of Defence in 1949.

Israeli Soldier Is Convicted Of Manslaughter

Sgt. Elor Azaria, surrounded by army friends, earlier occasion

By James North and Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted today by a military court in Jaffa of manslaughter for the execution of Abdel Fatah al-Sharif as he lay incapacitated in the street in Hebron last March, and there were immediate calls from Israeli political leaders and the public for the 20-year-old soldier to be pardoned. The story was the lead on BBC, and the New York Times and Washington Post also promptly put up the news. B’Tselem, the human rights organization whose video unleashed the investigation, said the case was the rare exception in which an Israeli soldier was held accountable for a human rights atrocity.

The War Against Alternative Information

Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, addresses the Security Council meeting on Syria, Sept. 25, 2016. Power has been an advocate for escalating U.S. military involvement in Syria. (UN Photo)

By Rick Sterling for Consortium News – The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center “to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.” The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to “coordinate with allied nations.”

Fake News From Corporate Media Kills

Flickr/ Kevin Jarrett

By Jack Balkwill for Intrepid Report – I believe that the murder of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was the result of the influence of fake news dominating the corporate media around the world. The shooter, identified as a 22-year-old Turkish riot police officer, shouted that he was upset about what is happening in Aleppo after committing the murder on video. The public around the world are getting lies about what is happening in Aleppo, and no doubt with Turkey’s participation in spreading terror in Syria, Turkish citizens are not getting facts. Turkish crowds are protesting what they believe is happening in Aleppo.

‘Fake News’ In America: Homegrown, And Far From New

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – The media landscape in America is dominated by “fake news.” It has been for decades. This fake news does not emanate from the Kremlin. It is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry that is skillfully designed and managed by public relations agencies, publicists and communications departments on behalf of individuals, government and corporations to manipulate public opinion. This propaganda industry stages pseudo-events to shape our perception of reality. The public is so awash in these lies, delivered 24 hours a day through electronic devices and print, that viewers and readers can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction.