If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. For the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state.
-Dr. Joseph Goebbels
Uncommon Sense Today
Due to natural circumstances gliding through the natural order of things we now know the names of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Depending on perspective, these respective men are deemed either enemies or heroes. It is my opinion, that in order to arrive at those conclusions, one must first make a decision on what they did. And what these two men did were to disclose government activities that were meant to remain a secret. But in a constitutional republic built on the principles of individual sovereignty, why would it be necessary for the people serving the people to perform acts that required secrecy?
It might be painful for those in uniform (military or law enforcement) to engage these disclosures. It might be painful or embarrassing for those who work in the federal government of the United States to engage these disclosures of government activities as well. But it would be difficult if not impossible for a passer-by to ascertain the true feelings of these aforementioned people by their actions or body language. As a matter of fact, one could come to the conclusion that the American government employee condones these said actions perpetrated by the United States government.
Before we go any further, let us deal with the term government or state. In sociology there is a subset called Group Dynamics. Although academia may use or teach Group Dynamics in different manifestations; it was originally meant to discover the pathology of the individual by observing and measuring their actions within the abstraction called the “Group”. This was based on the theories of the Rorschach Ink Blot tests. The premise being that as the individual could project themselves on abstract ink formations, the same behavior pattern could be manifested within a group dynamic. The individual could perform certain things and take no responsibility for them as they projected the cause upon the group. The group relieved the individual of any wrong doing by removing the line of sight from cause to effect.
The term “Group” could mean family, county, corporation, country, club, unit, division, or any number of things currently used to describe a collection of people joined for a single or multiple purposes. Often times, when studied in great detail, even the most complex Groups can be atomized to a single core or nucleus goal: the one thing all participants want at some level that keeps the Group together.
So, if the government is a Group, then what exactly do the men and women currently working for the United States government want? What is their goal?
If the media is another group, then what exactly do the men and women currently working within journalism want? What do the owners of the media want? What is their goal?
Guardians and the last check on Power
It has been argued in classrooms around America since our beginning who is the author of this country? Thomas Jefferson…James Madison…Alexander Hamilton…John Adams…
The consensus usually finds its way to one man: Thomas Jefferson. It is a logical choice, and one that makes perfect sense with empirical data to back up the claim. The others mentioned most definitely played crucial roles in our development as a nation. But for myself and a few others we choose another Thomas: Thomas Paine. Most arrive at Paine due to his discourse to the common man through his work “Common Sense”. I am not going to repeat that work here, but to simply acknowledge what most people acknowledge: Thomas Paine, on paper, stoked the fires of revolution as to inspire the colonist to revolution.
The colonies were used to the wit of Benjamin Franklin and Olympian prose of Thomas Jefferson. The colonies were used to the thunder of Patrick Henry and John Adams. But it was Thomas Paine who most endeared the colonies to the idea of revolution. And it was the mode of this discourse that found its way into the Constitution.
In the entire document, which is not exactly a long read in its original form or its current form, there is only one non-governmental occupation mentioned: journalism. You can find it referenced as the Freedom of the press. And free is the key word as the founding fathers subsidized the press as to make the newspapers free to all with no conditionals as to content. The newspapers could publish whatever they wanted to as long as they did not charge for the newspaper. It was war. And this was a new kind of war for a new kind of nation. This was news wrapped in emotivism and sensationalism as to move people. This was much more than writing about crop harvests or whose house had burned down. This was a newspaper publication meant with one thing in mind: revolution.
The founding fathers knew how powerful the newspapers were prior and during the revolutionary war. But as an unofficial check on the machine which would become the United States government, it was left to the journalist to dig deep and listen to the shadows in order to uncover corruption, cronyism, and political games of power. This is the reason there is no Department of Journalism stated in the Constitution. The newspapers and those that worked for them had only one mandate: Truth. And to seek out this truth would take the greatest courage of all; more courage than a President; more Courage than a Supreme Court Justice; more courage than a speaker of the house; more courage than a soldier on the frontline.
The journalist had to report on Americans serving Americans who might be serving themselves along the way. The journalist had to report about backroom deals and monies exchanged under tables. The journalist had to report on political rent seeking and log rolling. And the journalist had to do all of this in an environment which reeked of a constant perfume of corrupting the pen and the heart of the journalist.
The journalist had to stave off attempt after attempt of favors for looking away or losing proof. The journalist had no choice but to work in the mire of government gardens of power. The journalist had to acknowledge their own reality: it is unhealthy to fight the machine, but it is better to die a journalist than live as a propagandist.
In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed into law the Telecommunications Act which allowed corporations to purchase and own media outlets. This meant that it was legal for a corporation to own all the media outlets in a domain or region. So General Electric could buy NBC, and Disney could buy ABC, and Viacom could buy CBS.
This deregulation also marked a change in government attitude as it noted access to the world wide web. There was major concern over the ownership of the internet. If the corporations could buy major news outlets, then they could control what was news and when it was news. The internet was brand new and an unknown variable. No one could really comprehend its affect on people’s perceptions of events when they were seen on the same screen as their latest term paper or email. It was left entirely up to the viewer.
The American people were running out of pure fountains of drinkable information about domestic and worldly events. This legislation made major news outlets portals for entertainment and opinionated talking heads. And these opinions were biased towards the events taking place at home and around the world. In some cases you might get someone’s “take” on the event before the viewer could get all the facts about the event itself.
The eventual speed allotted by the internet made checking references and sources an antiquated form of journalism. With almost immediate real time access to events the portal to this access made all the difference.
The Telecommunications Act removed journalism from an open recruitment center for guardians, but rather, a producer of the next big thing. The viewer had no choice but to be told how and what to feel about the event through the delivery of the event.
If the people wanted blood, then they got blood.
If the people wanted a hero, then they got a hero.
If the people wanted a puppy, then they got a puppy.
The entire practice of journalism had become one giant format of advertising.
He was a revolutionary
In 1971, in the town of Media, Pennsylvania; a group called Citizens’ Commission to investigate the FBI broke into a FBI office and stole over a thousand files of classified information. They sent the files to several news outlets, but no one wanted to publish them in fear of retribution by the FBI.
Unknown to the members of the group, they had uncovered the most UnAmerican program since the Woodrow Wilson presidency: it was called COINTELPRO.
COINTELPRO officially existed from 1956 to 1971. It was born out of a fear of communism in America, but it became something much more horrific. It was more treacherous than any other government program in the 20th century. It resembled the activities of the Gestapo.
COINTELPRO actually stood for Counter Intelligence Program. Its main agenda was to gather information and disrupt the communist sympathizers throughout the American landscape. It kept growing and growing as the FBI found new enemies to investigate. The main problem with COINTELPRO was that it operated outside the guidelines of the law. Its members would eventually wiretap, give false testimony, wrongly incarcerate people, and eventually kill several members of groups that were seen as enemies of America. No group suffered more from the actions of COINTELPRO operators than the Black Panthers.
Disclosure of actions taken by members of COINTELPRO would eventually admit to threatening Martin Luther King Jr. just prior to his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. It was also discovered that, with the aid of local law enforcement officers, that operators within COINTELPRO orchestrated the killings of several Black Panther Party leaders. One of these leaders was named Fred Hampton.
Fred Hampton was young, intelligent, caring, and most of all a very powerful speaker. He was the Deputy Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was considered a supreme organizer and was inspiring a merger between two separate groups which would almost double the size of the Black Panther Party in Illinois. Fred Hampton was so good at his work that he was deemed dangerous by the FBI. The members of COINTELPRO joined the Chicago Police Department in orchestrating a raid on Hampton’s apartment in which Fred Hampton was shot several times in front of his fiancée, and then dragged away as to allow the Chicago Police Officers to shoot him two more times in the head.
The Media, Pennsylvania break-in uncovered a paper trail that tied COINTELPRO operators to the killing of Fred Hampton. The break-in at Media disclosed that they had a detailed map of Hampton’s apartment as well as documentation to disconnect the FBI from the Chicago Police Department during this time.
The FBI is made up of men and women that consider themselves Americans. These Americans believe in law, order, and due process. J. Edgar Hoover decided who was an American and who was an enemy. It is unlikely that George Washington would’ve authorized such a government program.
The Church Committee initiated by Senator Frank Church of Idaho began the arduous task of lifting the veil of secrecy around the American intelligence community which included the National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Fred Hampton had been dead for six years before the hearings started.
Cracked in the center, twice
The story first ran in the San Jose Mercury under the title of “Dark Alliance”. It was a year long endeavor by a reporter named Gary Webb. The premise of the three part series dealt with the connection between crack cocaine use in Los Angles, California and the Contras of Nicaragua. The story’s main antagonist would be the CIA. Gary Webb had found a connection between two very large drug dealers in Los Angeles and their relationship to the Contras fighting the Sandinistas. The two drug dealers seemed to be getting product and protection from a higher power. Gary Webb believed he had found that higher power.
The story became a problem when Webb was able to prove that the CIA was turning the other cheek in regards to the drug trafficking of crack cocaine, because it was quite clear that the Contras were being funded by the sale of the illegal drug. Its largest customer base was the United States of America. American foreign policy was indirectly affecting the lives of Americans at home. The greatest victim of this alliance was the African American.
It started out innocent enough. Gary Webb was sent out to answer a question: where did all of the crack cocaine in Los Angeles come from? The reason for the question was due to the damage done to the African American communities. Families were being torn apart as one or both parents went to prison for long periods of time. Property in those areas known as crack havens went into permanent decline. The residuals of drug use became noticeable almost right away: homelessness, property theft, prostitution, spread of STDs, and an overall break down of the African American quality of life. Crack cocaine destroyed everything it touched.
At first the series didn’t register on the big radars of other major print media. But eventually it did, and when it did, the windfall appeared to never end. The African American community protested and wanted answers. Eventually there would be congressional hearings about the relationships involved.
Dark Alliance was also the first major media piece to have an internet presence. The San Jose Mercury put up a website devoted just to the series. At its apex, the site had one million hits a day. But the fervor caused by the story quickly turned on its author.
The rebuff started in Webb’s own field. Other major print media began questioning Webb’s reporting. They then began to tear into the heart of the series. Many doubted Webb’s sources as reliable, and then they went directly after Webb himself questioning his professionalism as a journalist. The backlash became so severe that the San Jose Mercury recanted and admitted that there were editing issues that they should’ve identified right away which would’ve kept the series from running. Gary Webb went from hero to zero even in his own yard. His own paper refused to back his work.
The CIA only worked with media outlets willing to strike out at Webb’s story. And it was true that the story did have problems, but that is what the media focused on: the logistical aspect of writing, rather than the core of the story line itself. The CIA were inadvertently aiding in the sale of crack cocaine in southern California and didn’t seem to care enough to do anything about it as long as the outcome of Nicaragua was undecided.
Gary Webb was now a pawn in a game he was never going to win. His life was never to be the same again. The story ran in August of 1996. It was about 20,000 words long. And although Webb would defend his work, he himself would eventually lose everything. With the backlash in full fire the San Jose Mercury let him go. Webb did write two books about Dark Alliance and his life after Dark Alliance. He eventually found work in the California State Legislature, as a freelance writer, and took a post at an alternative newspaper.
On December 10th, 2004 Gary Webb was found with two gun shots to his head. It was ruled a suicide. When the CIA and the major media print outlets took his credibility, they took his life. Two shots…one dead journalist. One more dead guardian.
It should’ve been the Turkey
With a topic such as modern media there can really be no conclusion or end to the discussion. This post is no different. But I would remind the reader of a few things before we depart.
America was founded as a constitutional republic based on individual sovereignty. Many of the early amendments found in the Bill of Rights were a reaction to what the British took away or censored from the colonists. Journalism is the only non-governmental occupation noted in the constitution. The journalist was to be the final check on those who had ascended into the halls of power; a power which was to remain forever in the hands of the people.
To prove that the power has mutated into a deformed mass of deceit and dishonor would not take long; which is why America needs a new legion of journalist with intellect, honor, and courage. The readers must rebirth a concern for the truth and seek it out at every opportunity. The thing that is missing from America is nobility; for those in power are in the muck of bovine defecation, and they are taking us, the constitution, and the Liberty with them.
Our Liberty depends on Freedom of the Press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.