The Deep State’s imperative to colonize independent media is now before us.

(U.S. Embassy in Chile)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

Watch and listen, O you with open eyes and ears. The national security state’s long, very long campaign to control our press and broadcasters has taken a new turn of late. If independent media are what keep alive hope for a vigorous, authentic Fourth Estate, as argued severally in this space, independent media are now subject to an insidious, profoundly anti-democratic effort to undermine them.

The Independent Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Frances Haugen, Maria Ressa: Let us consider this institution and these people. They are all frauds, if by fraudulent we mean they are not what and who they tell us they are and their claim to independence from power is bogus.

The Deep State — and at this point it is mere pretense to object to this term — long ago made it a priority to turn the mainstream press and broadcasters to its purposes — to make a free press unfree. This has gone on since the earliest Cold War decades and is well and responsibly documented. (Alas, if Americans read the many excellent books and exposés on this topic, assertions such as the one just made would not arrive as in the slightest outré.)   

But several new realities are now very evident. Chief among them, the Deep State’s colonization of corporate media is now more or less complete. CNN, filling its airtime with spooks, generals, and a variety of official and formerly official liars, can be counted a total takeover. The New York Times is prima facie government-supervised, as it confesses in its pages from time to time. The Washington Post, owned by a man with multimillion-dollar CIA contracts, has turned itself into a comic book.

For reasons I will never entirely fathom, corporate media have not merely surrendered their legitimacy: They have actively, enthusiastically abandoned what frayed claim they may have had to credibility. The national-security state incorporates mainstream media into its apparatus, and then people stop believing the mainstream media: The thrill is gone, let’s say. 

Accumulating Credibility 

Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur in a discussion while hosting The Young Turks live streaming show in 2015. (tytvault, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

In consequence of these two factors, independent media have begun to rise as … independent media. They accumulate audiences. A little at a time, they acquire the very habits of professionalism the mainstream press and broadcasters have let decay. Gradually, they accumulate the credibility the mainstream has lost.

Certain phenomena engendered by independent media prove popular. There are whistleblowers. People inside Deep State institutions start to leak, and they turn to independent media, most famously WikiLeaks, to get information out. While the Deep State’s clerks in mainstream media keep their heads down, and their mouths closed while cashing their checks, independent media take principled stands in favor of free expression, and people admire these stands. They are, after all admirable.

Those populating the national-security state’s sprawling apparatus are not stupid. They can figure out the logical response to these developments as well as anyone else. The new imperative is now before us: It is to colonize independent media just as they had the mainstream in previous decades.

There are some hopelessly clumsy cases. I urge all colleagues to stop bothering with The Young Turks in any capacity. Those running it, creatures of those who generously fund it, are simply infra-dig. As Matt Taibbi pointed out over the weekend in a piece wonderfully headed, “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Deep State,” they’ve now got some clod named Ben Carollo proclaiming the CIA as an accountable force for good, savior of democracy — this in a video appearing under the rubric “Rebel HQ.”

As an East European émigré friend used to say, “Gimme break.”

(Roy Blumenthal, Flickr, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Democracy Now! is a subtler instance of colonization. The once-admirable Amy Goodman drank the Russiagate Kool-Aid, which I counted the first sign of covert intervention of one or another kind. Then she caved to the orthodoxy on the chemical-weapons scam during the Syrian crisis, and lately — you have to watch to believe — Goodman has begun broadcasting CNN “investigative” reports with unalloyed approval.

It seems that Democracy Now!’s donors may have threatened to delay their checks.

The three recent phenomena suggested above are indications of the Deep State’s latest tactics in its assault on independent media and the culture that arises among them. It behooves us to understand this. 

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Two weeks ago, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published “The Pandora Papers,” a “leak” of 12 million electronic documents revealing the tax-fiddling, money-hiding doings of 300–odd political figures around the world. “The Pandora Papers” followed publication of “The Panama Papers” in 2016 and “The Paradise Papers” a year later. There are many useful revelations in these various releases, but we ought not be fooled as to the nature of the project.

Where did the ICIJ get the documents in “The Pandora Papers,” and how?  Explaining provenance, authenticity, and so forth is essential to any investigative undertaking, but ICIJ has nothing to say on this point.

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Why, of all the people “The Pandora Papers” exposes, is there not one American on its list? As Moon of Alabama notes in an analysis of this release, it amounts to a list of “people the U.S. doesn’t like.”

The ICIJ vigorously insists on its independence. But on close inspection this turns out not to be so by any serious understanding of the term. Among its donors are the Ford Foundation, whose longtime tiesto the CIA are well-documented, and the Open Societies Foundation, the (in)famous George Soros operation dedicated to cultivating coups in nations that fall outside the fence posts of neoliberalism. 

The Midtown Manhattan offices of the Ford Foundation. (Moucheraud, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The group was founded in 1997as a project of the Center for Public Integrity, another institution dedicated to “inspiring change using investigative reporting,” as the center describes itself. Among its sponsors are Ford, once again, and the Democracy Fund, which was founded by Pierre Omidyar, bankroller of The Intercept (another compromised “independent” medium). Omidyar is, like Soros, a sponsor of subversion ops in other countries masquerading as “civil society” projects.

ICIJ’s other sponsors (and for that matter the Democracy Fund’s) are comprised of the sorts of foundations that support NPR, PBS, and other such media. Anyone who assumes media institutions taking money from such sponsors are authentically independent does not understand philanthropy as a well-established conduit through which orthodoxies are enforced. 

What are we looking at here? Not what we are supposed to think we are looking at, certainly. I will return to this question.

Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa speaking at the World Economic Forum in 2014. (Sikarin Thanachaiary, World Economic Forum, Flickr)

There is the case of Maria Ressa, the supposedly courageous, speak-truth-to-power co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize this year, a Filipina journalist who founded The Rappler, a web publication in Manila. The Nobel committee cited Ressa for her “fight for freedom of expression.” Who is Maria Ressa, then, and what is The Rappler?

I grow tired of writing this sentence: She and her publication are not what we are supposed to think they are.

Ressa and The Rappler, each insisting on independence just as the ICIJ does, are straight-out lying on this point. The Rappler recently received a grant of $180,000 from the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA front — this according to an NED financial report issued earlier this year. None other than Pierre Omidyar and a group called North Base Media own nonvoting shares in the publication. Among North Base’s partners is the Media Development Investment Fund, which was founded by George Soros to do what George Soros likes to do in other countries.

Does a picture begin to emerge? Read the names together and one will. You have to figure they all party together.

Nobel in hand, Maria Ressa has already declared that Julian Assange is not a journalist and that independent media need new regulations, as in censorship. Henry Kissinger got a Nobel as a peacemaker: Ressa gets one as a defender of free expression. It’s a fit.

Frances Haugen

Frances Haugen earlier this month. (Office of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Wikimedia Commons)

This brings us to the case of Frances Haugen, the former Facebook exec who recently appeared before Congress waving lots of documents she seems to have secreted out of Facebook’s offices to argue for — what else at this point? —increased government regulation of social media, as in censorship. Frances Haugen, you see, is a courageous, speak-truth-to-power whistleblower. Never mind that her appearance on Capitol Hill was carefully choreographed by Democratic Party operatives.

It is hard to say who is more courageous, I find — the ICIJ, Maria Ressa, or Frances Haugen. Where would we be without them?

The culture of independent media as it has germinated and developed over the past decade or so gave us WikiLeaks, and its effectiveness cannot be overstated. It gave us all manner of gutsy journalists standing for the principles of a genuinely free press, and people listened. It gave us whistleblowers who are admired even as the Deep State condemns them.    

And now the national-security state gives us a secret-disclosing crew of mainstream hacks, a faux- independent journalist elevated to the highest honors, and a whistleblower who was handed her whistle — three crowd-pleasers, three simulacra. These are three frauds. They are to independent journalism what McDonald’s is to food. 

There is only one defense against this assault on truth and integrity, but it is a very good one. It is awareness. CNN, Democracy Now!, the ICIJ, Maria Ressa, Frances Haugen—none of these and many other media and people are properly labeled. But the labels can be written with modest efforts. Awareness and scrutiny, watching and listening, will prove enough.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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13 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: Psyops

  1. Carolyn L Zaremba
    October 20, 2021 at 15:34

    Excellent article. Thank you.

  2. Jim other
    October 20, 2021 at 14:27

    Thank you, Patrick Lawrence! This is why we need Consortium News!

  3. Anna Jeronymides
    October 20, 2021 at 07:51

    When you’ve been affected by the Dirty Systems, in whatever organisation that be, you know how it works, nothing but lies, dirty tricks, tactics, ploys, strategies deceit, self served self protecting self justified self condoned systems of indecent assault, violations, violence and abuse weiled by any professional, in any organisation and with whatever power and control they have, to add insult to injury because accoutability and transparency is just not there for us, it is the individuals and the systems towing the line, regardless of the harms and injustice they cause to others. Just a job to benefit theselves at the expense of others, to maintain a quality of life for theselves, at the expence and cost of others they are only there for themselves and to tow the line for the disgusting systems they themselves serve, destroying our lives to protect theirs and they bloody know it, or wouldn’t be in a job, as that is what it takes, to represent those they are allegedly there to serve. Fakery smug and smiling hypocrites, now so brazen they don’t even hide it. I ‘ve had it for thirty years, it started long before that, in a different country, with the same powers that destroyed our lives then, still here, in this god forsaken British Establishment. Colon ized in every sense of the word. Fuck these criminal corrupt vile and obscene Smug and Self satisfied insanitory and corrupt self served self serving self protecting self authorised Polit is sized Systems. it’s up our bloody arses and all those they shit on, numbed, blind, ignorant ignorants lap it up, tow the bloody line, justify and authorise this Pig Shit.

  4. C. Parker
    October 19, 2021 at 17:25

    There was a day I trusted Democracy Now! For quite some time I believed Goodman was above the Deep State narrative. Little by little the show fell off its game. All faith was lost after DN allowed Masha Gessen free range to deliver her message about Putin’s Russia for nearly an entire show without one question from Goodman. Far too obvious.

    I also wonder what happened to The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill whose absence I’ve noted following the imprisonment of the whistleblower, Daniel Hale. This after Scahill used information from Hale in his book, Dirty Wars. Perhaps Scahill is distancing himself from the Intercept.

    Thankfully, there is The Grayzone, The Dissenter, Caitlin Johnston’s, and ConsortiumNews.

  5. Georges Olivier Daudelin
    October 19, 2021 at 16:37

    Excellent article, merci!

  6. Hegesias Cyrene
    October 19, 2021 at 09:50

    I agree 100%. However, what about the “provenance” of the 100% authentic DNC emails. Personally, I think they came from Seth Rich, but should Wikileaks tell us? Thanks.

  7. M Day
    October 19, 2021 at 09:26

    Spot on Patrick Laurence!

  8. Piotr Berman
    October 19, 2021 at 07:07

    “And now the national-security state gives us a secret-disclosing crew of mainstream hacks, a faux- independent journalist elevated to the highest honors, and a whistleblower who was handed her whistle — three crowd-pleasers, three simulacra. These are three frauds. They are to independent journalism what McDonald’s is to food. ”

    I see that the author is outside the American mainstream, within our Overton Window you have to agree that there is no better food than a tasteless meat patty in a tasteless bun with fries, with a room of debate: is ketchup better than a yellowish goo called mustard? is adding cheese (-like substance) good? how should we call “fries” (there was a fleeting controversy). You can follow recipes and have good time in restaurants as recommended by, say, New York Times, but that is a diversion from what we like most.

    Duterte seems a distasteful type of populist, veering toward fascism, hence opposition is inevitable, and like in many similar situation, imperial strategy is to hone “responsible, acceptable opposition”. For that matter, the same happens domestically, as discussed in this article. Somewhat ironically, foreign support decreased the credibility of Maria Ressa (and perhaps some of what she published was a slander), but this is OK. It is important that the opposition within a country is at least as “imperial” as the current government, that makes the country a safe imperial dependency. That can be illustrated in a country after country.

    Ressa is also one of “the 25 members of the “Real Facebook Oversight Board”, an independent monitoring group over Facebook. [Wiki]”. I read that Facebook has “civil society” committees for every country, Ukrainian one is purely fascist (they do no like “neo-“, their heroes are from Nazi period). Our social media is in good hands.

  9. HereandThere
    October 19, 2021 at 05:12

    “The Deep State’s imperative ….. “

    In strategy it is wise to differentiate between belief of imperative and the necessity of imperative.

    There in lie lands of opportunities for “unintended consequences” and hence should be encouraged by “apparent challenges.”

  10. susan mullen
    October 19, 2021 at 02:55

    Thanks for mentioning CIA slush fund, “National Endowment for Democracy,” NED, giving $180,000 to alleged indy site The Rappler. NED had a lot more to spend in 2020 thanks to Deep State pal Trump. Instead of defunding NED entirely as his 2016 voters would’ve wished, in Dec. 2019 Trump increased NED funding to $300 million for 2020, a 66% increase from 2019’s $180 million total. Again thanks to Trump, in 2020, NED spent $10,778,481 sowing discord on the ground in Russia, a 70% increase from $6,347,976 spent there in 2018. I’ve read for a few years that Mr. Putin no longer allows NED, but according to NED’s published expenditures, that’s not so. Why does Mr. Putin continue to allow NED to operate in Russia?

  11. Rob
    October 18, 2021 at 22:01

    Courageous, truly independent, progressive journalists, such as Joe Lauria, Max Blumenthal, Chris Hedges and Caitlin Johnstone are far more deserving of a Nobel prize than tools such as Maria Ressa. The fact that she was selected speaks volumes about the integrity of the Nobel Committee (also tools).

  12. Jeff Harrison
    October 18, 2021 at 21:37

    We need more of this, Patrick. As they say, sunshine is the best antiseptic, or, as the Swedes say, the truth wears bright colors, spring, summer, winter, and fall. I’ve been using the term deep state for a long time now and a couple of years ago somebody claimed I was full of it and challenged me to explain who the deep state was. So I told him. When I got to the end of the sentence I added, et al. What you have just done is put these sources of news for the common folk like me into context for how much I can trust what they have to say. I learned the importance of this in 1980. I was in LA on a trip to see Hughes Aircraft in my role as an engineer for McDonnell Douglas. The hotel I was staying at gave us a copy of the LA Times in the morning. On the day I returned to St. Louis, the Times had this big story about the inflation and the news that the inflation rate had dropped. The article explained the structure of the CPI, how the government had changed the calculation which resulted in the lowered inflation rate, why the government had changed the calculation, and, no, they couldn’t tell me what the rate would have been had the calculation been unchanged because the requisite data had not been collected. Feeling fairly informed, I flew home and settled in with my copy of the St. Louis Post Dispatch (home of the sainted Joseph Pulitzer) and read an article about the inflation rate. I was hoping to get some additional information that maybe the LA Times had left off. Alas and Alack! Above the fold article could be best summarized as Sierra Hotel!! The inflation rate dropped!!! Ain’t Jimmy Carter the greatest thing since pizza and canned beer? You can tell that the administration’s economic policies are working!! Vote for President Carter in November. Well, I was a bit confused by this but at the end of the article it said go to page 99z. So I went to page 99z. Nothing. It was in the classified ads. I must have made a mistake. So I went back and checked. Yup. Page 99z. So I went back. I couldn’t believe this. 99z was a page full of how many ever columns of classified ads they get on a page and there, in the middle of the page, commingled amongst all the classified ads on the page was about a four line bit as wide as a classified ad that essentially said Oh, by the way, they changed the way that they calculated the inflation rate. I felt that somehow I’d lost knowledge.

  13. Stephen Blobaum
    October 18, 2021 at 21:22

    Amen, amen, and amen.

Comments are closed.