By Holly Abernathy –
The face of American media has changed many times over in the last 300 years, from the firsts of New England Courant in 1721 and the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser in 1784 to today with ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The Washington Post, and so on.
Numerous journalists have participated in shaping the thoughts and opinions of the American people. Of course, there was James and Benjamin Franklin in the early days of the country. More recent examples include media giants Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Edward Murrow, Walter Cronkite, “the most trusted man in America,” British journalist and war correspondent Christine Amanpour, most famous for her work in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf, and many others share space on the historical timeline of professional journalism.
But when did supposed objective journalists turn into cultural influencers? When did the profession of American journalism change from an unprejudiced network of fact-based reporters to a political activist conglomerate? Did it even change at all or have we simply returned to a point in a cycle where news reporters are mouthpieces for political and cultural elites, including the media giants you thought could be “trusted?”
Early American Journalism and Today
Indeed, early American newspapers were partisan and spoke out unapologetically against the tyranny inflicted on the American colonies from the unrelenting government “across the pond.” The loyalties of writers and publishers were evident; political interests infused and intertwined facts.
Many journalistic standards we have come to expect today came later, during the 1960s and latter half of the 20th century. Of course, it is naïve to think any piece of information comes without bias, but some were attempting to raise journalism to new and higher standards. These standards were ushered in by respected, influential publishers who were growing in fact-based reporting and balanced-delivery of information to the public.
Radio news broadcasts and of course the extension and growth of network television news drastically changed mass communication. News was considered a public service. News divisions of major networks were not main sources of profit, but rather a central source to inform Americans of current events, supplemented by entertainment divisions. Networks developed a trust with the public based on high quality reporting standards, on both foreign and domestic issues.
In the 1980s, the three major networks gained competition from CNN. News was available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and ABC, CBS, and NBC, had to compete using programming outside of their normal offerings.
Mass communication began to change. As audiences were identified and segmented, advertising changed too. Networks categorized and targeted their viewers in a new way, causing advertising dollars to be more valuable. Advertising budgets began to go further as focus was placed on demographics.
Audience segmentation and demographics continue to drive advertising trends and decisions of news services today.
Technology and a 24/7 news cycle
Technology and social media have launched nations around the globe into a 24/7 news cycle. Respectable journalism has shifted from fact-based, researched reporting to sensationalistic headlines meant to generate “clicks.” Stories are often emotive or melodramatic and justifiably labeled “clickbait.” Reminiscent of “yellow journalism,” today’s news sources echo the sensational press of the 1890s. The media/circulation war between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer underscored the power of the press and its influence in society, notably amplifying calls for American activism during the Spanish-American War. Jingoism, scandalous content, and salacious headlines all influenced the culture.
Historian Chilton Williamson writes of this period, “The presentation of facts simply as facts, editors and writers reasoned, cannot accomplish the exalted goal of saving civilization. To do that, facts needed to be presented according to those rhetorical patterns of thought we call opinions, patterns pointed in some particular direction of convincing an imagined jury.”
From a “yellow kid” paper comic strip character in 1895 to assorted memes and expertly-crafted headlines in the 21st century, the media continues to prove its power and influence over the masses.
Sources of information
Technology has erased the soft borders that once existed between the masses and information, news, and current events. There are more choices than ever – an informational smorgasbord of letters, words, phrases, photos, graphics, and opinions – all available in real time.
There are differing views on the role and function of technology and media, but most can agree on its power and influence to manipulate minds and consequently bend societies to the will of a few.
Here in America, choices exist because the media is not owned by the state, in contrast to communist nations. The term “cancel culture” that originated in 2020 foreshadowed the dangers of censorship in American society.
Controversial Dr. Peter McCullough, cardiologist and Fox News medical expert recently appeared on an episode of the Joe Rogan podcast:
“Censorship that has suppressed for two years information on safe and effective early treatment and censorship on vaccine safety has led to large numbers of deaths, hospitalizations, and permanent disability. There is no bigger public health crisis than the impact of censorship in COVID-19.”
The professional networking platform LinkedIn deleted the account of Dr. Robert Malone after he raised questions about the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine for children, citing “misleading or inaccurate information” about the vaccine. Dr. Malone is an “internationally recognized scientist/physician and the original inventor of mRNA vaccination as a technology, DNA vaccination, and multiple non-viral DNA and RNA/mRNA platform delivery technologies,” according to his website.
More recently, Twitter permanently suspended Dr. Malone after a controversial “fact check” by the AP, claiming Dr. Malone misled people by declaring the vaccines are failing against the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Dr. Malone has consistently challenged the false narratives of the government and media. The ban occurred just one day before appearing on the Joe Rogan podcast, again, challenging mainstream narratives, even stating the Federal Government is lawless and “violating the Nuremberg Code.”
Censorship exists in a press that is independent of the government. As long as there is a free press, there is still the possibility of differing viewpoints. Yet, here in the United States we are dangerously moving toward a press controlled by the government through corporations that share in the political and financial interests and outcomes of the federal government.
Corporate ownership of media is dangerous because, as we witnessed in 2020, when power is centralized, the First Amendment is in danger of becoming obsolete. Corporate ownership and censorship precede, in very short space and time, the state owning the media and consequently the message.
Most alarming of all, state-owned media are nothing more than propaganda tools of the government meant to control and enslave a society.
How communist countries handle media
The press in communist countries is just a political instrument used to control the masses.
Those who control the media influence with their opinion and politics. They use the media for organizing and manipulating thought, as a tool to educate the masses. Propaganda subconsciously mobilizes people to the will of the leaders of the state.
In China and other communist nations, many journalists were sent to reeducation camps (a phrase now frighteningly common in the global vernacular) jailed, grossly executed, or “committed suicide” in communist governments.
The Leninist Theory of the Press illustrates this point:
“The argument put forward by Russian communist leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870–1924) that a radical political newspaper ought not merely to inform its readership but help to organize them into revolutionary activity. According to the Leninist theory, the newspaper of a political organization should follow the party line rather than be a forum for debate.”
That is what mainstream American media has become: Towing progressivism and the democratic socialist party line.
This model was also introduced to China by Chairman Mao Zedong, and is a threat to individual free speech everywhere. This includes America and the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Global Governance of the Media
A global governance of media is on the horizon. Governments partner with corporations, corporations fund the media through advertising, back-door data sharing deals, or information monopolization. At times, tech companies wield more power than the government itself. They are formidable enough to decide what new public opinion or cultural sway needs to be imposed upon the masses, and have the money and the influence to do it.
For example, in 1997, Ted Turner, founder of CNN, donated $1 billion dollars to the United Nations (UN). Mr. Turner, 20 years later on September 18, 2017 stated:
“We are a world of neighbors, and our fates and futures are connected…I believe the UN is humanity’s greatest hope for a better planet for my grandchildren and for people everywhere.”
On June 13, 2019, The World Economic Forum and the UN signed a strategic partnership “outlining areas of cooperation to deepen institutional engagement and jointly accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
The Biden Administration’s “Build Back Better” initiative also mirrors international language used by globalists. Mr. Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs gave the opening remarks at the “SDG Acceleration Actions to Build Back Better” event on July 14, 2020. He stated:
“As we get into the fifth year of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, all countries across the world are now experiencing daunting challenges to their sustainable development efforts. These challenges are being severely compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic – the largest human tragedy since the founding of the United Nations.
As countries struggle to respond to the pandemic and prepare for recovery, it is critical to ensure that we emerge stronger. We must build back better, greener and fairer. We must put people at the center of all our recovery efforts.
We have a shared blueprint for action – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be considered our ‘policy vaccine’ for the worst effects of COVID-19.”
The language is the same. Corporate agendas and access to the UN will put human rights in a shadow of globalist and partnering corporate interests. Individual rights will be lost to the rights of the stakeholder, and the average person is not among that group.
Multistakeholderism is replacing multilateralism. Human rights and climate change issues are ushering in a new way of life, unbeknownst to most. Almost all human beings will be at the short end of a very powerful stick, one that will eventually be used to control dissenters of a small group of powerful, “enlightened” globalist elites.
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A War of Words
The media continues to prove its power and influence, evident by a divided nation, and arguably, a divided world. Here in the United States of America, the war of information points to the blessing of a free press and the constitutional liberty we are afforded by the First Amendment. Yet, a war of words is being fought for the mind of the average citizen, especially children, and for their support of an agenda that eventually equals their own demise. This has been going on for centuries and continues today; the ravenous appetite of power-hungry individuals is insatiable.
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the final, single Commandment read: “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.” Just like in Animal Farm, it didn’t start out that way, but the ending is always the same. Regardless of the ever-changing message, he who controls that message, controls the people.
Holly Abernathy is a communications and creative arts professional. She works in a variety of media and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, visit www.6qCreative.com.