The mainstream media has always been biased, but it was never monolithic, as part of the claim of objectivity was to include alternative opinion. The main newspapers during the Cold War made sure to include critics of American Cold War policy along with conservative critics of progressive social policy. The television chat shows made sure to have at least one conservative on the panel. There was always a bias and a lack of balance, but alternative voices did have a place.
Somewhere after the Cold War this ended. It is hard to pinpoint the exact date, but pretty much every terrible media trend started with the Clinton Crime Family blowing into town, so that is a good bet. In the first Gulf War, CNN worked hard to be a legitimate news organization. A few years later they converted themselves into the Clinton News Network and they have never recovered. Outside of staged debates, the mainstream media is a monolith now.
You see that with the Ukraine war. Here are some headlines Drudge has been pushing the last few days. “Russia Tank Fury!” is linked to this post in the Daily Mail, claiming the Russians are going crazy about the latest wonder weapons. Under that one was this post labeled by Drudge as “Nazi Scumbags!” Beneath that one was this one labeled “Nuke Berlin!” which links to this post in the UK Mirror. In the top right was this CNN post, “Fierce New Step By The West.”
On the one hand, these absurd stories can be dismissed as the work of people who know very little about their topics. People working in the mass media are jarringly obtuse and usually assigned to topics about which they have no knowledge, so it follows that their “reporting” is childish and stupid. They have bosses though and they must know that these whoppers about Ukraine are nonsense. Someone in these organizations knows how to use the internet.
More importantly, every mainstream news outlet has at least one government intelligence officer inside the organization. Hundreds of former secret police agents work in American cable news channels. They may be retired from the secret police, but they still have connections, which is why they were hired. On top of the secret police, there are hundreds of retired generals on contract. In fact, there are more retired generals in media than active generals in the military.
That means an airhead like Allison Quinn can pen nonsense stories for the Daily Beast, but CNN has people on staff to check the work of Nick Paton Walsh. There are people hired by the company who had long careers in the military and they can explain to Paton why a handful of tanks is a meaningless gesture. They can use the last year of such gestures to explain this to him and his editors. In other words, there is no excuse for these nonsense stories about miracle weapons.
Of course, this latest batch of just-so stories come at a time when things are looking rather grim for the Ukrainians. Their third defensive line, they have four lines, is about to crumble in the city of Bakhmut. German intelligence is warning the government about the heavy losses the Ukrainians are suffering in this battle. In the south of Ukraine, reports are coming in about Ukrainian units defending positions with nothing but small arms as they no longer have working equipment.
Getting firm numbers on the losses in this war is difficult, but the best estimates say that the Russians have lost up to twenty thousand men. Ukraine may have lost ten times that number, based on their own accounting. They started the war with about 300,000 soldiers. They have had multiple mobilizations over the last year and they now say they have 200,000 soldiers. Then you have the thousands of pieces of equipment Ukraine has lost, which is why they need new equipment.
The question that naturally arises is why is the mass media unanimously repeating this latest batch of fantasy tales? There must be people inside these organizations who know what is happening in Ukraine. There have to be plenty of generals that could explain the idiocy of sending modern tanks to Ukraine. There has to be someone working at these places who can use the internet and check this stuff. Yet, it is an amen chorus across the English speaking media.
The standard argument is that this is intended to keep the people in the dark about this latest bloody boondoggle. The trouble with that is the media hates the people and takes pleasure in mocking the rubes. The people in charge certainly have no concern with public opinion. If they wanted to sway public opinion, they would return to the old model of mock debates in which their preferred side looked the best. This was the Cold war model and it worked reasonably well.
Instead, we get something closer to Soviet media model. Colonel Douglas Macgregor went off script early on and was sent packing. He now does YouTube shows with other former cable employees who went off-script. In other words, it is not just that the media sings with one voice now. They are enforcing the narrative on their own people. Is it fear of the secret police minders in their ranks? Is it access journalism? Are we simply seeing the full blossoming of the hive mind?
Maybe all of those things play a role, but there may be something else going on that reaches beyond the mass media. Across the managerial class, we keep seeing confusion between narrative and reality. Someone produces a pleasing explanation for something and everyone jumps on it. That narrative to explain some vexing event becomes reality. In other words, in this increasingly insular world, narrative has replaced reality as the standard of truth.
Every system has a selection pressure. A system is rules and the rules favor some things and disfavor other things. Over time, the favored things will increase and the disfavored things will decrease. If you live in a system disconnected from reality, like the political-media complex, the rules can also be disconnected from reality. The resulting selection pressure can favor that which is odds with reality. Over time, you get more unreality and less reality.
Given that this is a human system, it means the system has been selecting for people who favor unreality over reality. Over time, it ceases to be a competition around specific reality but reality itself. The people who prefer spinning and embracing fantasy get rewarded while those stubbornly clinging to reality are boiled off. We may have reached the point where unreality is the benchmark. The story that is most pleasing and least truthful is what wins the fitness battle.
Another good example of this is Covid. During the panic, the mass media was like a murmuration of starlings, darting from one fanciful story to the next. The whopper that best flattered the people inside the media bubble was the winner. It was if there was a contest to see who could come up with the most ridiculous claim. That may have been what was happening. The selection pressure for unreality drives these people to the most fanciful narratives.
Whatever you favored explanation, we have reached a point where the mass media is mostly self-parody. If you want to know what is happening in the world, you are best to ignore the mass media. Maybe you start there in order to first find out what is not happening in the world. At least you narrowed the possibilities. Otherwise, our media is not even propaganda. It is a weird game of make believe designed to please the people inside who seek a life of unreality.
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