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The End of Public Discourse

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posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 09:40 AM
It's a cliche, but absolutely true, that a free society cannot exist without a free press (for press, you may substitute the word "media"). Whether a story we read or watch or hear is true or false is less important than whether we know WHO the author of the story is. If we hear a radio talk-show host saying that all Democrats are traitors, we can use the fact that the specific host is a right-wing fanatic to filter the information that he's propagating according to our own model of true/false, responsible/irresponsible, dependable/usually wrong.
During the last part of the last century, there was a dramtic increase in the influence of "media professionals" (aka "public relations people" , aka "flacks") on the information we receive through the media. Suddenly, a story on the 6 o'clock news does not necessarily mean that the source of the story is the 6 o'clock news.
I started noticing the phenomena in high school. I liked to read the newspapers and was a news junkie at an early age. It seemed strange to me that on a given day EVERY news outlet carried the same exact stories, even told from the same overall point of view.
Naturally, if there's a plane crash in New York, you can expect to see that story in all the news media. But what about the stories regarding say, IMMIGRATION, or a NEW DRUG, or let's say the ECONOMY. For no good reason, you might see every news outlet carrying a story about how more people are owning homes. Harmless, right? But what's the chance of all these various news organizations having had reporters working on stories about increased home ownership and suddenly they're ready to air them at THE SAME TIME. The simple answer is: "Zero". These stories don't come from the news organizations, they come from a public relations person whose job it is to make sure these stories hit the newspapers, TV, radio, and Internet at the same time, so not a single person can evade that story. This costs money, so who would want to do this? Well, it might be the administration, who wants people to believe the economy is booming, or it might be the housing industry, who wants people to ignore the high costs of housing so they'll buy houses because "hey, everybody else is doing it". The problem is YOU CAN'T KNOW WHO PUSHED THIS STORY.
It's recently been posited by a professor at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism that as much as 80% of everything that passes as "news" is actually the product of a press release from a flack or team of flacks. And it's not just the news media. Whey Jay Leno and David Letterman make a joke about the same thing, there's a good chance that a flack has gotten to someone on each show's writing team. In the last two weeks, Howard Stern has been on almost every major television news/entertainment show, from 60 minutes, to the Daily Show, to Entertainment Tonight, Bill O'Reilly, etc etc etc. PLUS he's been in Newsweek, Time, Billboard, the New York Times, Post, Newsday, etc etc etc. Well, this one's simple. He's moving to satellite radio, so he's got a team of publicists whose job it is to make sure his face is everywhere.
But what about when these stories are not about radio shock-jocks, but what's happening in the war in Iraq? Or in the economy or war on terror. We've learned this year that the Bush adminstration has made far-reaching efforts to influence the news coverage of itself, from actually producing pre-packaged news clips to outright paying journalists (see Armstrong Williams and Jeff Guckert) to say certain positive things about Bush. So, in an environment like this "WHO DO WE BELIEVE"?
I'm putting this out as a question to ATS. We are a group who are singularly sensitive to manipulation of the media. But believe me, the people who manipulate the media are getting better and better and more sophisticated at doing their jobs. I guarantee that we're missing most of what strings are being pulled behind the scenes.
So if a free society depends on a free media, how do we stay informed enough to stay free?

NOTE: the thing that got me thinking about all of this was reading the novel Slick by Daniel Price, which is about a public relations guy who tries to manipulate the media and public opinion to save the butt of a rap star accused of rape. I highly recommend the book, but it will change your perception of the media, and might give you nightmares.


posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 09:49 AM
I agree. I noticed this as well at a younger age. It was amazing to me that on the the night-time news broadcasts ran the same storys every night.

It was very strange and made me feel like I was being fed something.

Then Fox News came into being, and no one can deny that they run different storys than CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS.

That is why Fox News is great it lets different view points into the air waves!

-- Boat

posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 10:12 AM
Excellent post, vuoto (except it sure would be easier to read with spaces between the paragraphs! I had to copy it out to Word to read it...)

But your points are right on. There is no TV news that is exempt from this. That's why I don't depend on mainstream media to keep myself informed. I use it for entertainment and observation purposes only.

And I don't live under any illusions that we are still a truly free society. That benefit started disappearing years ago and only recently has been all but wiped out. Soon even the last holdouts will have to admit that we handed over our freedoms without a fuss.

I get my news from here and other sites on the Internet. At least, for now, there are people still searching for the truth and able to broadcast that search. For now. I have every reason to believe that this open sharing of ideas and news is only temporary.

The format of the Internet is dangerous to those who are controlling the information that reaches the public and soon they will put a stop to it as well.

posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 07:21 PM

How can you say that we don't live in a free society??

-- Boat

posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 01:14 AM
Why is everyone so surprised by this? Have any of you ever worked, or known someone who works in PR for any corporation or institution. Every government department, corporation, acdemic institution, etc. has a pr department. They issue press releases and make friends with reporters.

Press releases get turned into articles. Media events and press conferences provide the basis for stories. Reporters call up the people they know when they want a story. They can then interview them, or just ask them for a story.

Sometimes there is more money involved. Many PR agencies have deals to get wide media coverage on lots of stations. For a fee, you get them to help get the word out. Companies advertise in newspapers. Sometimes they also have deals either explicitly or unexplicitly to get press coverage. Some have gone so far as to pay reporters on the side, or distribute their own 'news'. However, that is just the next step up. The anonymous leaks are the means for government bureacrats and politicians to get out the word out.

Most major newspapers and television stations are funded by corporate advertising. In olden times, ideologies were built up through history. In modern times, we build ideologies through our interpretation of modern events. News sources are just coming together of sponsers of a particular ideology. Sponsers get recognition for being a part of the ideolog, and the news helps explain the pieces of the ideology. Non-profit groups and government institutions often play part of the role of crafting the ideology.

The whole notion of journalistic integrity and stuff is pretty much just bs. Why is lots of information, much of which doesn't directly relate to you important? It is only important in the context of an ideology, a religion, or a worldview. Of course, the most powerful ideologies likely have the most powerful media. Dissident media can only be prominant with there is a difference between the ideology people believe, what they follow and what they claim to follow.

If you don't like the current dominant ideologies, come up with your own. You then have to get other people to accept it, and get it to work. The whole damn thing takes lots of work, and can encounter lots of resistance. Although, there are substantial political rewards. What is stopping you? Are you lazy, or just the typical hypocrit?

posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 05:50 AM
How can I say we don't live in a free society?

"Free" is a subjective word in this context.

Sure, we're free to shop, to write posts on the internet, to be good consumers.

Like the subatomic particle that's free to be anywhere before it's observed (see Heisenberg), by being observed by people in power, we are no longer "free" to be "anywhere" (this gets philosophical, sorry).

A few weeks ago, I counted 21 surveillance cameras on my way from home to work here in Chicago. The government can now search my house without even NOTIFYING me. They can search the public library records.

Most terrifying, since we now have a government that has embraced the idea of out and out propaganda, I'm not sure I'm even free to believe what I thought was a free press anymore. Is the newscaster on my local radio station under the pay of the administration to tell me that we've got a booming economy, so NOW's the time to buy a new car? That cover article on the local FREE(!) paper about the smoking ban being argued in city council... how much of it was written by a flack from Phillip Morris?

Superstores have now completely bought into putting radio transmitters on nearly every product we buy. We are a completely observed culture, being fed information to fit somebody else's agenda. That part that makes us NOT FREE is that we don't know who's doing it.

posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 06:31 AM

Originally posted by Boatphone
That is why Fox News is great it lets different view points into the air waves!

-- Boat

I sincerely hope that this was a sarcastic remark or a joke. If you honestly believe that, then you are missing the point. Fox is one of the most controlled media news outlets in America.

Watching News in Ireland where we can get Fox News along with our Sky News, I can clearly see the slant that these channels put on news stories. I am intrigued when I watch the same news item on three or four different news channels. The slight changes in point of view are clear, depending where you watch.

posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 01:43 PM
All media outlets are controlled to an extent. The conglomerates and owners all have special intersts in mind CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. So you are going to hear what they want you to hear. What I find most disturbing is O'Reilly's bigotry and disdane towards his guest, whom were invited on the show and believed he was to moderate the debate. But I still find Fox news refreshing considering all the other media outlets constantly bashing conservatives. Whatever happened to non-biased coverage?

posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 02:04 PM

Originally posted by Boatphone
How can you say that we don't live in a free society??

The most obedient slave is one who does not see the confinments of his own cage. A free society you say, free to exist within the rules, regulations and accepted behaviors of that society. A bit contradictory don't you think?

However to answer your question more straight forwardly. You learn how to be a member of your own species, in fact of your own community and even gender, by learning (imitating) from those around you. If those around you have been manipulated through the media or expected behavior or social norms they you assimilate to the lies that they have already swallowed believing all the while that it is instead a choice. We all do this just as they have learned from those before them and those before them. It's a cycle where the reasons for behaviors are forgotten, but still acted out through the guise of choice. We are all brainwashed on some level and the only hope we have is to uncover the reasons as to why we feel compeled to actually make the choices that we believe are free in nature.

We are not free for the simple fact that we believe we are, no one is. Every thing in existence interacts with everything else and in turn relies on those things. When you need something else (even to have the ability to make a seemingly 'free' choice) then it is in actuality not a free choice, but conditional on a reliance to said thing.

That's probably further then you were intending to take the question, but I just felt like yammering.

posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 02:06 PM

Originally posted by Jonna

The most obedient slave is one who does not see the confinments of his own cage.

Couldn't have worded it better myself.

posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 02:18 PM

Originally posted by Boatphone

How can you say that we don't live in a free society??

-- Boat

Rigged elections by major manucfacuing corperations at all levels of goverment in most cities, sponsored pushed medical journals for decades on end, the censorship of UFOs in Newspapers since the June 6-7th, 1923 NYC-Centeral Park incident reported by The New York Post, Times, Sun, and World,etc. The Times change the story and the NSA has had control since I guess. Then there's the lack of public opinion for cirrulum in schools unless it's a religious issue like "Elevolution", "Creationism", or "Intelligent Design". What about better History, Goverment, and Economic classes, and allowing more students in school to go into the arts, since ~70% of all college students in a classes dropout, and yet, one must go to college to get a better job?

The 14th Admendment has illegally taken the public's right away to control it's own protection and the 15th Admendment isn't necessary for most of the states in the US. Not to mention, we're having "illegal wars"(not declared by Congress) for some unknown good reason, which I can't really see or fathom, when Congress already has an implied legal right to stop them. I know I'm the "Eminem" of the BSB fanbase, but if it's obvious to me, it has to be unimagationively obvious to everyone here and viewing this site.

[edit on 12/20/05 by bsbfan1]

posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 02:26 PM

Originally posted by Jonna

Originally posted by Boatphone
How can you say that we don't live in a free society??

The most obedient slave is one who does not see the confinments of his own cage. A free society you say, free to exist within the rules, regulations and accepted behaviors of that society. A bit contradictory don't you think?

Will I'm glad I ignored that rule for some time now. I've been able to BSB fans to some small extent to question authority to at least see where there's rights are violated and why, infact I have another "Update" to post later today. But sometimes, someone has to break the "rules" a little, to show why their wrong, and your/We're not.

posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 02:28 PM
Oh, please people...

Of course there must be rules and laws even in a free society! That should be obvious to any sane person.

Our society is the most free of any nation on Earth, i'll put it that way.

Of course no society is perfect because we humans are not perfect.

-- Boat

[edit on 20-12-2005 by Boatphone]

posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 02:35 PM
Okay, here's my two cents,

Some of it is outright manipulation, but a lot of it is also reporter laziness and the centralization of news sources. All of the major media outlets get their stories from the Associated Press, or United Press International or some other news entity, that is why they are so similar. If you read the same story on CBS or Reuters sometimes it even has the EXACT same wording.

All news has bias, there is no such thing as "unbiased" reporting. Even the vocabulary that you use depends on your worldview, philosophy etc. Try these on for size:

"Revolutionaries siezed a cargo ship bound for Venezuala..."

"A terrorist attack crippled a ship carrying vital aid..."

"Two-dozen armed men forced a ship off the coast of Venezuala to..."

Even using neutral language when the actions of parties are clearly not neutral is injecting a bias. If a member of Hezbollah blows himself up and takes 15 Isreali civilians with him is it not biased to NOT report that he was a member of Hezbollah. In some cultures they would say that ALL of our news is biased because it does not say "Martyr destroys bus..." It is only your own bias that determines whether other news sources are biased. It is relative.

If you read the UCLA study about US news having a slight "liberal" bias you will understand that they first had to define the term using a relative scale based on references to think tanks and comparison to the average "liberalness" of members of congress.

There is a another thread discussing how the media seems to ignore real news and create controversy out of nothinghere.

I believe that what I wrote about freeing your mind there applies to this discussion as well.

I believe there are essential steps to reclaiming your mind:

1) STOP WATCHING TELEVISION...... The non-stop bombardment on your senses will numb your mind and open it up to suggestion and manipulation.

2) READ, READ, AND READ SOME MORE...... Not only does reading give a more in-depth and complete story (this applies to books and news print) but it stimulates the mind and forces the brain to think critically.

3) TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE A B.S. DETECTOR...... This is not an easy one for most people. We want to believe people are good. Getting ripped off or conned can really open your eyes.

4) SEEK OUT ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF INFORMATION...... This includes public records, independent news sources (ie internet), and of course our very own ATS (WAY ABOVE).

5) DENY IGNORANCE...... Duh!.

Oh, and quiet introspection doesn't hurt either. Question everything, even your cherished beliefs/values.

posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 03:13 PM

Originally posted by bsbfan1
I've been able to BSB fans to some small extent to question authority to at least see where there's rights are violated and why, infact I have another "Update" to post later today. But sometimes, someone has to break the "rules" a little, to show why their wrong, and your/We're not.

The funny thing about it though is that even when you rebel against a system you are enforcing it by having yourself made an example of what happens when you don't play nice.

The thing to also remember is that all systems allow a bit of flux to the regulations as to let people think they are free to challenge that system. The jokes on us! The system already knew and compensated for our rebelion in a way that still serves that same system. Bastards!

posted on Dec, 21 2005 @ 07:46 AM
thank you my friends for creating an aura of awareness towards this troubleing aspect of society. the manipulation of information in popular prominent media outlets.

there was a story on RFIDs a while back where multitude of radio shows aired the story at the exact same time? coincidence? or consolodated governmental influence?

i dont know...

but what i think...

is that what it really stems from is the distortion of truth among institutions regarding information awareness, pertaining to the actuallity of said events that hold specific influence over sensative material. it surely starts at the top, they tell us what they deem unviable towards their modus operandi of said asset control. economic influence, and its ability to control information.

posted on Dec, 21 2005 @ 06:35 PM
they say here that the deception has turned into a cancer due to black budget secret underground industrial sectors run by the ever illusive shadow government operations!


The majority of people worldwide do not know what the terms Black Operations and Black Sciences mean or how they are used. Black Operations were developed after World War I; but, really flourished after World War II during the Cold War. Congress allocated money to the Pentagon, the CIA and other Defense Department sectors to make the United States military as strong as possible, but certain projects became more secret than others did. The more secret projects were funded by the civilian sector at first - such as "pet peeve" defense contractors already in the loop.

As time went on, the "privy" developed into a real clique of not only specially screened corporations but also choice individuals found by federal talent hunts. A new sub-culture was born with a new personality and belief system - separate from mainstream Americans.

Cutting-edge technology such as stealth aircraft, invisible hovercraft, extremely low frequency mind control, weather control, and cloning became secret sciences. The new knowledge was and still is not available to the regular Army, to Congress, or to any University. The most secret of the secret was in the hands of a power-hungry few that tied itself to the World Bank for the future funding of its projects. They developed "think tanks" - like Stanford and Tavistock - to keep the masses fooled about everything.

The deception grew like a cancer into every area of industrialized society. They moved into everything from the Mafia to Harvard University to International Banking. They learned how to control the media and, thus, they controlled the television, Hollywood, every newspaper, every educational institution and every person's mind - at least to a certain point.

link in my sig

[edit on 21-12-2005 by sturod84]

posted on Dec, 24 2005 @ 10:33 PM
here is another highly fascinating read about the corperate takeover of media, and the oligarchy it is spawning.

the superfaction of a nation

corperate medias wmd, and its all inclusive endevour of profit maximization

What information does not serve the oligarch interest is either suppressed by omission or attacked. Government and corporate interests, such as those prevalent in our occupation of Iraq, prevent realities and truths from surfacing. Instead, propaganda is disseminated that will distort and manipulate the masses into believing exactly what those in power want. Corporate media caters to military interests because in many instances they are part of the military industrial complex. Simply look at General Electric, one of the world's largest military contractors and owner of NBC and its sister stations. Helping manipulate the masses in time of war allows both the corporate media and the government advance their respective interest in subverting public participation and discourse while advancing a perception of consent around the nation. Forming a symbiotic relationship, both now fused into the same two headed beast, one the master of the other, their combined actions undermine the reality of a world not seen by the American public

[edit on 24-12-2005 by sturod84]

posted on Dec, 24 2005 @ 11:16 PM
You folks're discussing ths as thought media manipulation is something new!

Newspapers have had an agenda since before the United States was a country, and folks like Horace Greely in the 1850'sand William Randolph Hearst in the 1880's and 1890's were major contributors to our getting involved in the Civli War and the Spanish-American war, respectively.

I read the headlines from five papers when I first get into work, especially if it's a slow day at the office: Dawn (Pakistan), Asahi Shimbun (Japan), Al-Ahram (Egypt), Ha'aretz (Israel), and The Times (UK). The only American papers I have found to be reasonably unbiased are the Christian Science Monitor (for national news) and the Wall Street Journal (for business news).

But the key lies in reading all sides and figuring out (based on how accurate they've been in the past or are on things you already know) what to accept and what not to. Either way, it's a judgement call.

I consider both Fox and National Public Radio (or any of the Public TV stations) to be hopelessly biased; the first with a right-wing agenda and the second with a left-wing one.

And the less said about Rense, World Nut Daily, Pravda, and the National Enquirer, the better!

posted on Dec, 25 2005 @ 12:14 AM

Originally posted by Boatphone

Our society is the most free of any nation on Earth, i'll put it that way.

If one person put a gun to your head and demanded that you give him all your money, and another person put a gun to your head and demanded that you give him half your money, would you later defend the actions of the second person? Would you say, "Well, he's the most generous thief on Earth?"

The notion that the US is the "most free of any nation on Earth" in no way means, or even implies, that it is truly free-- only that it is less oppressive. If that's enough for you, then your standards must be quite low. For me, I envision a nation in which the people are truly free-- free to criticize, if they feel it's warranted, free to assemble, even if the president doesn't like it, free to defend the Constitution without being placed on a watch list...

This nation might once have been free in that sense, but it becomes less free every day. And the greatest threat to our freedoms-- greater even than those who seek to wield power over all of us for their own benefit, is those among the people who defend and justify their actions with specious arguments like "Of course no society is perfect because we humans are not perfect."

We aren't asking for perfection-- only something better than what we currently have. Is that really so onerous? Is that really a threat, or is the antagonism that many show toward any expression of dissatisfaction the greater threat? What differentiated the US from the USSR more vividly than the contrast between our ability to criticize our government without repercussion, and their inability to do the same? Why should we become more like them, and why on Earth would anyone who nominally appreciates the freedoms of this nation stand by while that happens?

Is "less bad" really the best we can do?

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