Journalism

You who plot deceit, your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor. Psalm 55:2

Journalism is defined as “the activity or profession of writing for [media] or preparing news for broadcast.”  The operative word is “news”, which is based on fact and truth. At least it used to.

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

 Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World –  Murray

Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents – Dreher

The Virus Without a Vaccine – John Inaza

How the Hunter Biden Story was Suppressed Until After the Election – NY Post

YouTube to Delete Videos that Allege Fraud, Errors that Changed the Election – PC Magazine

ADVENT SONG: Emanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) – Chris Tomlin

MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

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I Can See Clearly Now

For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?  Esther 8:6

This post is more than just the title of a popular song.  It is the culmination of my research and posts on cultural trends over the past couple of years. Increasingly, we are seeing a drift towards socialism by the next generation and a Marxist agenda gaining a foothold.  It is dangerous to our democracy and our nation.

Rod Dreher has written Live Not By Lies. The title comes from the last book written by the anti- communist critic, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, before he left Russia.  Dreher believes we are facing something called “soft totalitarianism”.  His book is in two parts, the first of which is to describe surveillance by large tech companies and a compliant media, academia and corporations. 

Doublethink takes two contradictory beliefs and accepts both of them. If ideology demands it, you will be taught that 2 + 2 = 5. Truth is a falsehood; “freedom” is slavery. Good is now bad. 

We are compelled to engage in “doublethink” every day: “Men have periods. The woman standing in front of you is to be called ‘he’. Diversity and inclusion mean excluding those who object to ideological conformity. Equity means treating people unequally, regardless of their skills and achievements, to achieve an ideologically correct result.”

Dreher’s book contains anecdotes and interviews of people from formerly communist countries who have lived under totalitarian rule.  Those refugees recognize the danger signs and say, “It can happen here.”

Dreher outlines our drift towards socialism and ultimately totalitarianism:

  • The lack of truthful and objective journalism by mainstream media. They have become intolerant propaganda machines for the progressives. They even force a getting Bari Weiss  to resign from the NY Times for not being Woke enough. 
  • Suppression of contrary thought by big tech, either by algorithms, shadow banning or by deleting accounts of selected individuals. Shadow banning refers to the ability of companies like Google to control what you see, or in this case, don’t see. A recent example is the Great Barrington Declaration which was written by epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford. 
  • An increase in a number of Marxist organizations flying under the radar such as Black Lives Matters organization which was founded by three avowed Marxists. A fund raiser for the BLM organization is a former Weatherman terrorist, Susan Rosenbergwhose 57-year sentence was commuted by Clinton on the last day of his Presidency.
  • The cancelling of conservative views on college campuses, sometimes by violence.  A number of conservative speakers have been denied permission to speak across this country. Only one viewpoint is permitted. 
  • The rewriting of American history by the historically inaccurate 1619 Project into a singular tale of racism so that there are only two sides – the good and the bad.  If you are white, you are in the latter camp even though you may have never committed a racist act in your life. This is being sold under the guise of “white fragility”.  It is being used in 4,500 public schools.
  • Surveillance capitalism by Google and others that track everything you do on every visit to the internet.  They justified their tracking as a way to permit vendors to reach interested customers through their buying habits. Now, it goes much farther into to what you think or your political inclinations. 
  • Public social media shaming for those who dare to exercise their first amendment rights, such as the CEO of Mozilla who was shamed on social media because he had made a small personal contribution to a pro-life organization.  He resigned as a result.
  • The denial of personal property as something that is valuable and protected as understood by John Locke and the Framers of our Constitution. Instead, if you are wealthy, “good” victims are justified in looting as reparations.  
  • An increasing postmodern antipathy towards Christianity and Judaism.  Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.  That antipathy includes attacks on the nuclear family.

In Orwell’s Ninety Eighty-Four, all residents had a telescreen in their apartments which  delivered propaganda and monitored residents, “allowing the totalitarian state to invade the privacy of people’s homes”. Today, we have consented to being tracked by our smart watches, apps on phones, Alexa or anytime you go on the internet. Orwell’s “Big Brother” is watching you in the guise of creating a better consumer experience.  

Harvard’s Soshana Zuboff wrote that Surveillance Capitalism is undermining personal autonomy and democracy. Every email on Gmail is processed by Google without your consent. It is a form of surveillance. There is no supervision of how they can use that data. At least not yet.   Remember, 90% of all searches worldwide are done on Google, and they track every one of them in your “data file”.

Most surveillance takes place without our knowledge or even permission. Totalitarian regimes try and control the populace, and one way is through surveillance. In pre-tech days, it was through your neighbor spying on you as in East Germany through the Stasi (secret police).

As Dreher suggests, pandora’s box has been opened to unleash unseen ways “to manipulate individuals into thinking and acting in certain ways”.  That is scary. Dreher ends the book with a call for Christians families to become “resistance cells” powered by our Christian worldviews.

The next generation has no historical perspective and have been manipulated by social media into believing what is being fed them. They favor socialism, but their idealism is not based on facts, reason or history, but on emotionalism. They need mentors in their lives to walk alongside who can provide context.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Many in the next generation need a mentor to come beside them and help them understand that ideologies can produce unintended results. 

FURTHER READING:  Live Not by Lies – Dreher

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism – Zuboff 

Twitter’s Partisan Censors – WSJ

Bari Weiss’s Resignation Letter

Are Western Christians Facing a Totalitarian Threat from the Left?  Max

Why Jew Hatred is Always a Hallmark of the Totalitarian Left  Federalist

The Lingering Trauma of Stasi Surveillance – Atlantic

SONG I Can See Clearly Now – Nash

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