You who plot deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. Psalm 55:2
A functioning democracy is based on freedom of speech. Freedom of the press follows close behind. But what happens when media picks sides and only “reports” opinions and advances narratives but not facts?
Peter Fischer, my daughter’s father-in-law, has a Ph.D. in Russian Language and Literature from Harvard. His family fled Poland to Austria when WWII broke out and later emigrated to America.
Peter taught Russian at three American Universities. He became the Russian interpreter at the Moscow embassy during glasnost, assisting the US Ambassador with increased contact and outreach to a previously locked-down Russian society.
Peter submitted a piece to the Wall Street Journal hoping it would find its way to the Opinion page. It wasn’t published. It was titled: “Fairytale: A Brief Primer on Socialism and the Current State of the U.S. Media”. It chronicles the downfall of the U.S.S.R. (the second “S” stands for “Socialist”).
He quotes Winston Churchill: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” Peter adds: “If, in our current political debate, we willfully ignore the lessons of history and give credence to the Left’s clamor for socialism as a solution to our problems, we do so at grave peril.” This from a man who has experienced the failure of socialism during his lifetime.
Peter thinks that the leftist push today for utopia only results in dystopia. He described how the U.S.S.R. used “control of public information to keep the populace ignorant and brainwashed.” The press and media spoke with one voice shaping the narrative.
There were two newspapers in the soviet world: “Pravda” and “Izvestiya” which in Russian means “The Truth” and “The News”. Irreverent Russians joked that there is no “Truth” in “The News” and no “News” in “The Truth”.
He notes the irony that we are “confronted with a weirdly inverted mirror image of how the press and mass media functioned in the now defunct U.S.S.R.” The two leading newspapers (Washington Post and the New York Times) have morphed into “ideological bastions of the left”, willfully and deliberately slanting the ‘news’ and ignoring or upending the ‘truth’ “.
Even Thomas Jefferson was skeptical of media when he said: “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in the newspaper. I will add that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads one.”
Today, 90% of all media outlets are controlled by five media “behemoths” (Comcast, Disney, Newscorp, Viacom and Time Warner) according to Matt Talibi. He goes on to say that “if you don’t trust the news, you have good reason”.
If you add in social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter, each of which have liberal leanings, you have American media control similar to the old Soviet media. Social media, besides promoting a left leaning agenda, also acts as a censor of conservative thought or what they term “misinformation”, which is not misinformation at all, but a different viewpoint.
Today, you cannot post to YouTube any story about “election fraud”, notwithstanding that there is a case in the U.S.S.C. on this very topic. That’s a fact and not “misinformation” as claimed by YouTube as if we are in an alternate reality.
They do it by scrubbing a post, canceling access (which happened to the New York Post recently), or shadow banning. As Talibi notes, “any ‘triggering’ content is quickly gunned down by trigger happy censors.”
A New York Post story is an example. Epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford University wrote that Sweden’s model of obtaining herd immunity was the best public policy for COVID. That view broke with “conventional wisdom” of the CDC. The Post, the 4th largest paper in the U.S., had its twitter accounts blocked when it ran the story.
What makes this vexing is that the media bias is not due to government control as in China or Russia. In Cameroon, stories of deaths caused by civil unrest in the Anglophone region have been suppressed by the government for years. Instead, this is an ideologically driven phenomena, where only one side’s narrative is told, and the other side’s is suppressed.
How do you find news you can trust? Matt Talibi, along with other investigative reporters have begun to flee from media giants and are now independent. That’s a good sign, but it’s a little like David fighting Goliath because they don’t have the bandwidth of the media giants.
Alex Berenson, a former NY Times reporter, found that his books on Unreported Truths about Covid-19 were initially censored by Amazon, even though it cites published medical studies and research and the World Health Organization.
These are examples from the medical field. It gets worse when one strays into politics and public policy. John Inazu wrote that we will have a vaccine for COVID-19, but the “information virus” has no vaccine.
Inazu’s remedy? Get back to face-to-face relationships which “force us to confront complexity rather than caricature, and who challenge [us] to maintain friends, not just followers.” That’s a call for mentors to speak into the lives of the next generation.
The challenge here is that the next generation is absorbing news, often in snippets or headlines, from a biased media. They don’t read, relying on crowdsourcing and emotion to make decisions, instead of facts, reason, logic or critical thinking.
It’s no wonder the next generation favors socialism rather than capitalism. That’s all they have heard because that’s what the media wants them to hear. Developing a relationship with them is something that is sorely needed to challenge them.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Mentors need to be clear eyed when it comes to news. They need to separate fact from opinion with their mentees and help them with develop critical thinking.,
FURTHER READING: If You Don’t Trust the News, You Have Good Reason – Talibi
The Virus Without a Vaccine – John Inaza
ADVENT SONG: Emanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) – Chris Tomlin
MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.
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