CNN’s epic fails keep getting worse, and their channel has become almost impossible to distinguish from an SNL skit. Here are just a few of the most recent examples.
CNN’s epic fails keep getting worse, and their channel has become almost impossible to distinguish from an SNL skit. Here are just a few of the most recent examples.
“The disgrace of America’s putative intellectual class is nearly complete as it shoves the polity further into dysfunction and toward collapse…”
The disgrace of America’s putative intellectual class is nearly complete as it shoves the polity further into dysfunction and toward collapse. These are the people Nassim Taleb refers to as “intellectuals-yet-idiots.” Big questions loom over this dynamic: How did the thinking class of America sink into this slough of thoughtlessness? And why – what is motivating them?
One path to understanding it can be found in this sober essay by Neal Devers, The Overton Bubble, published two years ago on TheFuturePrimaeval.net — a friend turned me on to it the other day (dunno how I missed it). The title is a reference to the phenomenon known as the Overton Window. Wikipedia summarizes it:
The Overton Window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the public will accept…. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton (1960–2003), a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy….
Devers refines the definition:
The Overton Window is a concept in political sociology referring to the range of acceptable opinions that can be held by respectable people. “Respectable” of course means that the subject can be integrated with polite society. Respectability is a strong precondition on the ability to have open influence in the mainstream.
This raises another question: who exactly is in this corps of “respectable people” who set the parameters of acceptable thought? Primarily, the mainstream media — The New York Times, The WashPo, CNN, etc. — plus the bureaucratic functionaries of the permanent government bureaucracy, a.k.a. the Deep State, who make and execute policy, along with the universities which educate the “respectable people” (the thinking class) into the prevailing dogmas and shibboleths of the day, and finally the think tanks and foundations that pay professional “experts” to retail their ideas.
The Overton Window can be viewed as a mechanism of political control, demonizing anyone who departs from the consensus of respectable thought, and especially if they express their heresies in public speech.
This has consequences.
The trouble with the Overton Window as a mechanism of political control, and with politicization of speech and thought in general, is that it causes significant collateral damage on the ability of your society to think clearly.
If some thoughts are unthinkable and unspeakable, and the truth happens in some case to fall outside of polite consensus, then your ruling elite and their society will run into situations they simply can’t handle….
An unwise political elite is one incapable of thinking clearly about their strategic situation, acting in concert, or sticking to a plan….
An insecure political elite is one which has either no sufficient mechanisms of political power short of the politicization of speech and thought, or is faced by such powerful but somehow never decisively powerful enemies that they need to permanently escalate to a state of vigorous politicization of speech and thought. We can compare this state to “intellectual martial law” for its structural similarity to the physical-security equivalent.
We’re now living under that condition of “intellectual martial law.” The consequent degradation of thinking means that the polity can’t construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to it (or devise a plan for what to do about it). This is exactly the point where the Overton Window turns into an Overton Bubble, as described by Devers. The bubble comprises ideas that are assumed to be self-evident (though they actually aren’t) and notions that are potentially destructive of society, even suicidally so.
Here is a partial list of the current dogmas and shibboleths inside today’s Overton Bubble:
That list defines the general preoccupations of the thinking classes today – to the exclusion of other issues.
Here is an alternative list of matters they are not generally concerned about or interested in:
Now, the question of motive. Why does the thinking class in America embrace ideas that are not necessarily, and surely not self-evidently, truthful, and even self-destructive? Because this class is dangerously insecure and perversely needs to insist on being right about its guiding dogmas and shibboleths at all costs. That is why so much of the behavior emanating from the thinking class amounts to virtue signaling — we are the good people on the side of what’s right, really we are! Of course, virtue signaling is just the new term for self-righteousness. There is also the issue of careerism. So many individuals are making a living at trafficking in, supporting, or executing policy based on these dogmas and shibboleths that they don’t dare depart from the Overton Bubble of permissible, received thought lest they sacrifice their status and incomes.
The thinking classes are also the leaders and foot-soldiers in American institutions. When they are unable or unwilling to think clearly, then you get a breakdown of authority, which leads to a breakdown of legitimacy. That’s exactly where we’re at today in our national politics — our ability to manage the polity.
Read Neal Devers’ excellent article, The Overton Bubble.
July 12, 2017
The circus act that is the mainstream media these days has created total disillusionment among many in the United States. No longer can Americans trust their favorite news outlets to tell them the truth because of the widespread purveyance of fake news.
July 07, 2017
(Natural News) The circus act that is the mainstream media these days has created total disillusionment among many in the United States. No longer can Americans trust their favorite news outlets to tell them the truth because of the widespread purveyance of fake news. And many in the “alternative” media are now declaring that this must come to an end – and as quickly as possible – if there is to be any chance at preserving even a shred of journalistic credibility in today’s news climate.
Leading the charge to stamp out fake news once and for all is Project Veritas head James O’Keefe, who recently released undercover video footage depicting a CNN producer openly admitting that the Atlanta-based network publishes and airs fake news. Pretty much everything that CNN put forth as news over the past year concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election, for instance, was completely false – a fact that was essentially proven when three CNN employees suddenly decided to “quit” their jobs.
CNN and others have been endlessly repeating the now-debunked claim that President Trump was somehow involved with Russian efforts to turn American voters against Hillary Clinton. The failed Democratic presidential candidate has continually alleged that she lost not because people didn’t like her, and thus didn’t vote for her, but rather that Russian agents somehow mind-controlled enough people to vote for Donald Trump.
It’s a wild conspiracy theory that’s completely without merit, of course. It even sounds crazy without having any evidence whatsoever to the contrary. But the fact remains that there’s no evidence to support it, and yet CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and countless other news outlets picked up the story and ran with it, to their own demise.
“I think this is the year that we end fake news,” O’Keefe told Raheen Kassam, Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart London, during a recent airing of Breitbart News Saturday on Sirius X.M. radio.
Knowing what we already know about the fabrications that have surfaced concerning the Russia conspiracy theory, it’s clear that the mainstream media has utterly failed to perform due diligence in fact-checking what it publishes. But O’Keefe says there’s a whole lot more where that came from, and that his group plans to release even more damning information in the coming days.
“All these media companies will be exposed one by one,” he added about the intolerable prevalence of fake news.
Concerning President Trump’s willingness to take a public stand against this fake news, O’Keefe added the following about its impact:
“He is forcing the media to report on things that otherwise they would not report on. This is going to expose the propaganda apparatus for what it is, and that’s a great thing for the rest of civilization.”
The Times voluntarily retracted its own fake news story this past week after it was no longer possible to publicly defend it without becoming the laughingstock of the world. The paper reluctantly admitted in an article footnote that its claim of “17 intelligence agencies” that had supposedly confirmed Russian hacking of last year’s election – a completely made-up conspiracy theory concocted by none other than Hillary Clinton herself – was, indeed, false.
The Associated Press (AP) issued its own retraction as well, admitting that it had published fake news about the “17 intelligence agencies” on at least four separate occasions – including on April 6, June 2, June 26, and June 19. However, the AP still insinuated that the information it published about alleged Russian ties to election tampering may have been valid because the Director of National Intelligence “represents all U.S. intelligence agencies.”
Sources for this article include:
This morning, just after eight, BBC Radio 4’s John Humphrys interviewed an American ‘expert’ – didn’t catch the name – on the first meeting, today, of Trump and Putin. In the time between my reaching for the bread bin, and two slices of the moderately browned popping from the toaster, said expert had presented as incontestable truth – no need to back up such a claim – Russia’s ‘aggression’ as against America’s ‘caution’.
People buy this crap, you know, if only subliminally. Why? Because the west, anglo saxon west in particular, long ago traded independence of foreign policy for favoured status in Washington, so framing the boundaries for mainstream discourse on global affairs. And because, thanks to English as world lingua franca, most of us grew up on a cultural diet of the US as force for good: the orientalist corollary being the inscrutable asiatic; untrustworthy and capable of unspeakable acts.
(Nowadays no one says such things out loud of course. An age that’s given rise to so many new and useful terms – blowback and spin spring to mind – now gives us dog-whistle.)
Those two realities underpin projection and reality inversion on a colossal scale; variations on the Shoot Out at the OK Corral theme of good, dependable and peace loving America morally compelled once more to heave reluctant sigh, strap on the Colt 45s and step out into the latest high noon (Syria say) or deep shade (Yemen) to face down the latest bad guy. It’s an immensely durable narrative, remarkable in its ability to shrug off a wealth of counter-evidence. Up against powerful myth, truth is always the underdog.
To these two factors we can a third, exemplified by Humphrys’ unsurprising failure to challenge his interviewee’s self satisfied claims. He might have asked what’s so cautious about shooting down a Syrian jet in airspace where America has no lawful business, and the world’s second military power is there on the invite of Syria’s elected government. Or how firing 59 Tomahawk Missiles, while saying Damascus has ‘again’ used chemical weapons, is a sign of restraint.
(It’s useful to keep in mind, at times like this, that “we have evidence” is not evidence.)
But Humphreys asked no such question. Nor – since jet and Tomahawks can after all be laid by the only partially gullible at Trump’s door – why US and UK arms suppliers have for years made fat profits from slaughter in Yemen. Nor why we should fear Pyongyang’s tiny nuclear capability but not America’s huge one. He might even have asked how many nations have been invaded this past twenty years – let’s be generous and exclude the covert stuff in such as Ukraine and Honduras – by cautious America; how many by aggressive Russia.
But again he didn’t. Why? Here I’m accused at times of conspiracism; of supposing thousands of journalists like Humphreys to be consciously mendacious. In fact no such supposition is needed. My insistence that ‘our’ media are not fit for purpose stands up to Occam’s Razor, resting on but few premises:
“…one shouldn’t put one’s trust in speeches like that from the gentlemen, for on such occasions the gentlemen liked to say agreeable things, but they had little or no significance and, once uttered, they were forgotten for all time, but admittedly, on the very next occasion one got caught again in their trap.” (Franz Kafka)
With these words Kafka described the modern condition, each one of us trapped in the sticky web of technology and deceit designed to manipulate us to act and think against our selves, to accept the role of monkeys offered bananas in a cage, surrendering the struggling to escape it.
The most dangerous element of that technology is the constant and increasing flood of images of war, of “terror,” of cities destroyed, cultures erased, entire progressive socio-economic systems torn apart, or threatened with destruction, not by the “terrorists” but by the states that declared their “war on terror,” by the states that in reality created the terror in all its forms; the worst being the constant threat of instant and universal annihilation in a nuclear war.
That threat, the threat of nuclear war is more dangerous with every passing day as we see the NATO build-up along Russia’s western borders echoing the Nazi build-up before their invasion in 1941, the rolling invasion of Syria by American and allied forces, the hysterical rhetoric and military movements against North Korea, and the increasing contempt for Chinese sovereignty. Any of these threats from the United States could lead to nuclear war but the threat that concerns all of us is the one against Russia because a nuclear war with Russia is, as President Putin pointed out recently, not survivable. Yet, it is the threat against Russia that is building, building, building; increased military pressure on all fronts, increased economic warfare, called “sanctions,” increased hybrid warfare ranging from hacking of Russian computer systems, to direct attacks on Russian forces in Syria, from expulsion of diplomats to verbal abuse against and assassination of ambassadors. But the extent of the danger is to be seen not outside the United States but in the internal political turmoil that is taking place inside the United States.
Their propaganda against Russia as the “enemy” trying to destroy America through various forms of subversion is daily fare in all the mass media. The alleged subversion is stated as fact. The fact that the allegations are patently absurd means nothing when those who mould opinion refuse to say so and openly lie to the people with every word they utter. But the level of the threat against Russia is signalled by the willingness among the war faction to sacrifice anyone, no matter who they are or what position, in order to advance this propaganda. We now watch as the US Congress holds hearings in which senior government officials are called to defend themselves against charges of having had Russian connections. The President of the country is himself subject to a barrage of accusations of treason.
This scandal is not just about the bickering between the losing party in the US elections and the winning party with the losers willing to risk the security of the people of the country in a bid to take power denied them at the ballot box. There is an element of that. The war faction does want to have its finger directly on the button. Elections and democracy mean nothing to them so long as they take the power. But they could have used any scandal to try to do that. They have concocted the “Russian threat to democracy” because they want war with Russia and to convince the people of the United States and the world that this war is necessary and just, are willing to destroy even their own leaders, and their country’s democratic system, as weak and non-representative of the needs of the people as it is, in order to achieve their purpose.
The longer this spectacle in the United States goes on the worse it is going to get. But those under attack do not seem to understand what is happening to them, that they are being used to advance this propaganda, that they are being set up as scapegoats and in fact they even play along with the game, with Jeff Sessions, the US Attorney-General, today, the 13 of June, telling the US Senate Intelligence investigative committee that the accusation he “colluded” with Russia was “an appalling and detestable lie” but playing his role in this propaganda show by adding,
“that he was concerned the President did not realise the severity of the threat from Russia interference that can never be tolerated.”
The former FBI Director James Comey, a man with deep state connections, testified to the same committee that he was fired because of his investigation into the Russian allegations even though he provided no proof there was anything to investigate. Again, the facts don’t matter. The only thing that matters is the impression left, that Russia has and is attempting to subvert the United States and has succeeded in infiltrating its agents into the presidency and senior government and military levels.
To further advance this propaganda theme purges are necessary to add to the drama and we have seen Comey leave, General Flynn resign and others forced out of office or threatened with it. But the main objective of these hearings and the mass media coverage of them is to generate peoples hostility towards Russia, and this seems to be succeeding, as polls indicate. The next level of the propaganda war will be to create such an intense situation in the United States that the calls for war by the people will be the natural reaction of their outrage and, in any case, this is what the war faction and media will tell us, that the people demand action.
President Putin can meet with celebrities like Oliver Stone to correct the facts and state the truth. He can successfully dance circles around bubble headed American journalists in interviews, but he cannot control the mass media in the west that rarely allows Russian points of view to be heard. Still the attempt must be made.
The United States is in a crisis. The games being played there are dangerous for its people. The logic of the demands made by those making the allegations means that President Trump must resign or be charged with treason. If he refuses to go there will be attempts to force him. If he is forced out, the people that voted for him and support him will feel rightly cheated and they will react. And who is to replace him? It can only be one of the war faction or a puppet and if that cannot issue be resolved peacefully then the military could step in to “manage” things in a time of “threat” and “urgency.” There have been coup d’états before in the United States. We are witnessing another now.
The United States is in a crisis generated by people who have no idea how to control all the possible consequences of the events they have begun and because of this they are very dangerous to themselves and to the world. While the Russians prepare for the worst and hope for the best we in the west must do what we can to challenge the war propaganda, the propaganda of hostility and hatred that is inflicted on us by the criminals in control of the western governments and western media. Each of us is just one voice, but our voices united become a shout and with our shout we can level the walls of hostility that keep us from the peaceful coexistence that the peoples of world need to continue the struggle for economic and social justice, for real democracy, for progress, against the forces of reaction and fascism that always threaten us. Let’s not get “caught again in their trap.”
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds”. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
Featured image: New Eastern Outlook