Sunday, April 05, 2009

What a Modern Media Muzzle Looks Like

In September 2008 I returned to university to complete my degree in Journalism, which I began in 1997. After such a long absence from school, and from my field of study, much has changed. I certainly notice that I am very unlike my student compatriots in age and stage of life. It's much fun though.


Those of you who've been reading me since the beginning will have noticed a distinct shift in what I've been writing about, a shift that happened somewhere in 2006.


Two things have converged to bring me to writing this post; one of my classes was Journalism Theory and Practice, which was interesting if not depressing, considering the state of the media. The other thing was that I had promised my prof that I'd give him my blog's web address, but at the end of classes so as not to put any more fuel on the fire that is my opinionated self.....



Classes ended this week past so he is now in possession of the website, caution be damned. The rest of this post is what began as a paragraph or two to him by email about my blog, what it is, where it started and why it morphed... I'm not good a short pieces... So, here’s a bit of background on what happened to my blog and why it morphed from general observation to politics. The last bit of this post has links to most of the stuff I’m going to refer to, so if you print this to read, hang on to the digital format so you’ll have the live links.


Most of my readers know I'm a single parent with three kids (20, 22 and 25). I come from a culturally religious family with a long tradition (about 180 years and counting) in the ministry. I married a ‘christian,’ whose family was part of the Aberhart/Manning religio-political machine. We, he and I and his family and I, were instantly at odds because I am bilingual, speak French whenever possible and am sympathetic to the separatist point of view. I am not aligned with any party but I was a Liberal way before I knew it myself. I knew things were not going to go well when I found a copy of “Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s Plan to Ruin Canada,” in their bookshelf….


My dad, a preacher’s kid from Nova Scotia, was a cultural, religious and political conservative. He was a teacher most of his life, was an RCAF cadet and did a stint at General Motors to pay for university. He taught for 35 years, the last 15 of which he was a principal at two schools in this city. He retired in 1989 and went immediately into rural politics, where he spent 12 years as an uncontested counsellor his area.


He was a brilliant man with a questioning mind, but the extent to which he was comfortable questioning was very much informed by the values of the family he grew up in, his innate conservatism and his astounding willingness to ignore the obvious when it conflicted with his world view. I can put that down to a very human wish to preserve those views because the alternative is an abyss. I am sure the human fear of that abyss is why most people are so resistant to questioning in general. But, as he was armed with an agile and questioning mind and spent his life learning and teaching, it is telling to note which subjects he absolutely would not question. If such a brilliant man would not consider possibilities, how much more so the general, ‘average,’ putting-food-on-the-table, loyal, working, voting public?


My dad died from lung cancer in September 2004. He was a lifelong athlete and never smoked. My step-mom is a rabid – and I mean rabid - health-obsessed person who oversaw every morsel of food and every chemical that my dad ingested or came into contact with. That such a man, who wouldn’t eat in a restaurant where there were smokers and would exit a room where anyone lit up and who, among the many committees he was on, chaired The Seniors Anti-Smoking Committee, should die from lung cancer – of the smoker’s brand – well, suffice to say, I have many, many lingering questions about the cancer industry. I wrote a column on this for my blog.


My dad and I had, at best, an adversarial relationship, despite that we loved each other with a deep passion. I am as far left as he was right so it was war from the time I could question. I know he was always in full support of me and my writing, which, every time anything was published, he would copy and post to all our relatives, even when we weren’t speaking to each other, silent truce being less mortifying than war….


At any rate, all that set the stage for me being very comfortable questioning everything and being resigned to the reality that even very smart, educated, interested people sometimes lack the wisdom - and the courage - to question.


In 2006, I was introduced to a benign, unassuming and unremarkable (looking) man, a dentist. You would pass him on the street and not notice him at all beyond thinking he looks like Billy Crystal. He is, however, the most well-read person I have ever met. If you consider that my step-dad read six novels a week and that my dentist friend bests that in two days, whilst running a full-time practice, you can begin to understand the un-fillable well that is his mind.



My friend is a ‘conspiracist,’ which in our culture is a pejorative, one applied so that anything that issues from such a person’s mouth, mind or pen is dismissible. We are taught to discount anything that comes from the ‘conspiracist’ point of view and further to know that we are suspect if we put even the smallest stock in anything a ‘conspiracist’ says. It will not surprise you to know I ate up everything he said and devoured two books he gave me.


At first, my interest was only for-fun but thanks to my friend’s two-minute long soliloquy on the Kennedy assassination (which, at first is just funny but leaves one’s eye’s buggin’ out at the end), my interest rapidly passed into research. Meeting my friend was the point on which my blog posts began a shift away from curmudgeonly satire to “Hey, what the hell is going on here?”


When judged against the research of others who make it their full time work, mine is decidedly minor; however, I am every day dumfounded by what people don’t know about things, places, people, politics and the workings of the world and even more astounded by what they do not want to know. As examples, two issues in which people are completely invested but know absolutely nothing about are the “Climate Change” and “Cancer” industries…. Worse, I am saddened, and I would call it a desperate sadness, by how angry people become when their paradigms are confronted. Try questioning the gospel of “Global Warming,” or ask where all that cancer research money is going (given the unimaginable increases in cancer rates in the last 20 years). Instant outrage.


As this relates to the media, I am convinced that the state of it as researched by Pew Institute and others is absolutely the tip of what’s going on. I am convinced (and yes, I know many think I presume) that what is happening to the media is by design, not by happenstance. It would take much more space than I’m sure you have time for to explain my point of view but just this; what has happened to investigative journalism – its disappearance – has more to do with the speed at which information can be transmitted, the numbers of people that can receive that information and, specifically, to who wants what known, than it has to do with money or lack thereof. It has to do with the reality that what we think we know is a house of cards – used, trick cards – that we must carefully tend lest it blow down and show itself for what it is; a pile of stultifying nothingness.


The demographic that consumes the bulk of what passes for news is old enough to remember WWII Germany and the USSR and how their media was controlled. We are mostly all aware of how the media is overtly controlled now in a variety of other countries, North Korea, for example. We can agree that North Americans would not knowingly allow their media to be controlled by the government – or its agents, yes?


So how then can those interests control the media? (this is a video link to a GREAT interview by the first two recipients of the I.F Stone Award). By cutting it off at the knees: no money, therefore, no means of investigation; keep reporters busy 16 hours a day, seven days a week, on call, reacting to breaking ‘news’ so they have absolutely no time to step back and ask “What is really going on?” And make sure they’re Barbie-doll gorgeous so that people barely listen because they’re taken by how much that anchor’s face doesn’t move….


Those who investigate absolutely threaten the status quo. The rocks under which resides reality are not cemented down; they are easily turned, so access to the rocks must be prevented. Enter in “The-media-is-in-crisis,” and “There’s no money for investigation.” It amazes me, though, how there is endless money for pursuit of celebridiots. Why is there $40,000 for a photo of the Jolie-Pitt twins and unlimited funds for hundreds of ‘journalists’ to follow Madonna to Malawi – twice.


But there is no money at all to talk to people who observed bombs going off in the basement of WTCI and WTCII a full half an hour before the planes hit either building; none to find out what happened to the man whose legs were severed by the blasts … in the basement… half an hour before the planes hit; none to discover how a ‘terrorist’s” passport survived a plane crash, a huge explosion, an inferno and a completely pulverised building but fluttered to the ground with nary a scratch; none to understand how a 757 and its two titanium-steel engines entirely incinerated - to dust - but enough biological (human) material is left to identify, by fingerprints, the passengers on that aircraft….


Yes, I can ask those questions and write about it all – I and loads of others have. Will the media publish any of that information? No. Our own CBC Calgary’s Donna McElligott has, on many occasions, terminated callers to her show when those callers veer off into 9/11 ‘conspiracy’ talk. I clearly remember, last year, her saying to one caller, “We’re not going to go there,” as he was cut off mid sentence, thanks to Carolyn Smith’s quick finger on the “kill” button.


Unless one is willing to even consider there is an abyss, it makes no sense at all that people like Bill O’Riley should have the most-watched program on television or that Rush Limbaugh should have any access at all to the public eye or ear. Those ‘men’, two of hundreds like them, make me stand back in awe at the illogic of it all. But it is logical if one steps towards the abyss and asks “WHY?” and “HOW?” and “By who’s design?” How does Bill O’Riley speak for the US public when honest questions about 9/11, for instance, are immediately drowned, much like the debris from WTC site (which now lives at the bottom of an ocean somewhere). The media is under siege. From whence that siege originates is the question all of us should be asking.


You’ve probably heard me mention Jim Marrs. He is a prolific researcher and writer. He is a ‘last man standing’ kind of investigative journalist. He goes where angels fear to tread because their absence gives him more room. He has been cast as the weirdest of the weird, the conspiracist’s conspiracist, so no, the mainstream probably has never heard of him. He’s the conservative’s equivalent of Hustler…. His site is www.jimmarrs.com.


All his books absolutely deserve reading and two, which, if I had my way, would be required parts of journalism coursework - are Rule by Secrecy and The Terror Conspiracy. Both are doors into the abyss. Unless one is already, or, after reading, chooses to be, intellectually numb, those books withdraw the means of retreat from the abyss. I say go, but go with care.


Also have a look at the archives on the main page of www.jimmarrs.com. There are articles there contributed by all sorts of people who are, but who have yet to suffer the label, conspiracists. In particular, the third article speaks to how the current financial crisis was planned, when that planning began and why and what other previous ‘practice sessions’ this one is based on. (Catherine Austin Fitts - 2009-02-02). Our own government was involved as far back as during the brilliant sleight of hand called “The Sponsorship Scandal.”


Google Video has many short and long videos of Jim speaking at various events. I am sure most people won’t even venture in due to which organisation supports and hosts Mr. Marrs: The UFO Congress. I can feel your eyes rolling…. Anyway, here’s the link to one of his talks.

You could skip the first 14 minutes, although if you’re not familiar with the organisation, that segment provides some background. I chose this particular video because it links three “completely unrelated” subject areas and shows not only how but why and for whose purpose they are related. I am absolutely sure it will all fall well outside of comfortable and believable for you but I hope you’ll dive in anyway.


There are three films, also on line, that have been widely viewed by ‘youngsters’ (meaning those who have little political understanding or clout) and which are widely ‘discounted.’ By who? Who knows. Articles discounting the films are signed but, given my own nom de plume…. Carolyn Dunn says CBC’s comment boards are rife with political people skewing the argument so why would the internet or the rest of the media be any different?


These films are; (these links are all live)

Loose Change

Zeitgeist

The Great Global Warming Swindle. I have interviewed one of the experts in this film. His reply to me is on my blog: click here


As this relates to many of my readers I am aware that this stuff is potentially insulting on all counts and that many find it all offensive. I know you’re busy with life but I hope you’ll consider having a look into the abyss if for no other reason than you dared.