We can be certain that when he made that comment, Solzhenitsyn was not thinking of campaigning journalists like his compatriot Anna Politkovskaya. He knew all about the courage required to speak out against merciless powers; to tell the truth with your life on the line at every moment. Which is what Politkovskaya did, until she was gunned down in the stairwell of her Moscow apartment block in October 2006. Her dedication to exposing Putin's brutal conduct of the Chechen war and the systemic corruption of Russian life under his rule had finally caught up with her.
In A Russian Diary, the posthumous record of her harrowing diary entries from 2003 to 2005, she simply records on certain days that a journalist or politician has been murdered. She knew what was coming. Through her systematic and painstaking reports on the heinous violations of human rights in Chechnya from the onset of the second Chechen offensive in 1999, she became a source of moral authority in Russia and internationally. At the same time, she embarrassed the Kremlin by forcing them to participate in a number of court cases that shed light on the repressive and brutal methods of its rule, which gave the green light to psychopathic warlord Ramsan Kadyrov and the Russian army to jointly rape, pillage, torture and murder the local Chechen populace at will.
It was only a matter of time. "Anna had received murder threats for seven years and was afraid," said a colleague at her paper. "But she was able to overcome her fear, because she understood how important her work was."
She even rejected the offer of an academic post in America to stay and write about Chechnya, corrupt ministers, greedy businessmen, murderous secret policemen, cowardly bureaucrats and the crushing of the weak by the heartless and powerful in Putin's authoritarian Russia, where the omnipresent security services have never been more powerful.
But her diary, as her death, is also the story of the breaking of Russia's independent press: part of Putin's drive to eradicate every vestige of opposition. Politkovskaya was the thirteenth journalist to be murdered in Russia since Putin's ascension to power in 2000, as he set about suppressing or closing down independent media outlets. Oligarchs who opposed this push were banished and their media empires, including influential newspapers and television stations, confiscated by the state and forced to spout the party line.
With Russia's three national TV stations already state-controlled, in 2007 Putin turned his attention to Russian radio journalists. In April he decreed that at least half their stories must be given a "positive spin," with items about death, poverty and violence to be replaced by bullish stock market reports and sunny weather forecasts. "Extremist" views of opposition politicians were also banned and the U.S. was to be portrayed as an enemy rather than a partner of Russia. A famous broadcaster, Masha Makeyeva, quit in protest at the censorship. "I voted with my feet," she said. "Almost all the media here are state-controlled. There are not many options left for independent journalists."
The last remnants of independent media in Russia have been subject to increasing repression, with punishments handed out to critical journalists or advertising fees removed from the "offending" newspaper or radio or television channel. Only the minority of Russians with internet access remain well informed but there are signs the authorities will censor websites as well.
Contrary to Politkovskaya's insistence, and as evil as he is, Putin is not the new Stalin. But he has manufactured a media in many ways reminiscent of the worst of the Stalinist period, based on lies and deception and dedicated to the suppression of any news that casts the head of state in a bad light.
Abuse of truth and freedom
If that description sounds terribly familiar (very New Labour), it's because lies and deception and the suppression of news incompatible with the liberal-Left ideology of the mainstream media and its government and business controllers are also de rigeur in the West. Certainly, just as Putin is not Stalin, there is a world of difference in the manner and means by which Communists and the Capitalist-Socialists approach this fundamental assault on the free press. While the Kremlin enforces media subservience with intimidation and state gangsterism, the Big Media conglomerates of the West enforce a universal group-think at the service of their pecuniary interests and ideology. Either way, truth and the common good are the casualties.
As if that similarity with Putin's Russia is not shameful enough, however, consider the moral and intellectual chasm separating Anna Politkovskaya and her butchered journalistic colleagues, so desperate to serve the common good of their country that they give their lives to ensure the truth gets out, and their Western counterparts, blessed with freedoms and comforts denied the Russian media yet blithely complicit in the workaday distortion and suppression of great moral, ethical and socio-political truths. The former are considered heroes and heroines of their craft. In contrast, the latter are seen as untrustworthy cowards by the many Westerners not yet so dumbed-down as to swallow all their partiality and dissembling without demur.
Yet if it is true, as the disgraced Conrad Black once put it, that "a substantial number of journalists are ignorant, lazy, opinionated and intellectually dishonest," it is because they exist and work in a relativistic moral vacuum created by the godless for the godless. Notions of objective truth and balanced reporting of facts pertaining to the truth are not tolerated inside that utterly subjective media bubble - a dictatorial shelter from whence they dispense perverse liberal nostrums without fear of outside engagement or retaliation.
Consequently, instead of being provided with objective information about all points of view, laid out openly and fairly - which constitutes "social communication" properly understood - the media are misused to misinform the public and dismantle the common (Christian) value system inimical to the Liberalism they espouse.
As with so much else that troubles an increasingly dissolute West, the corrosive influence of both Gramsci and the Frankfurt School underlies the media's significant role in the debasement of man and the common good.
Marxist "march" to "cultural hegemony"
A group of German-American neo-Marxist intellectuals boasting many famous and influential members, such as Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Jurgen Habermas, Max Weber et.al., the Frankfurt School, as their critical Marxist theorising was labelled, sought to destroy the moral, intellectual and philosophical foundations of the Christian West by abusing and debasing major institutions - which according to the Marxist agenda, being merely those of a bourgeois state, must be overcome. Through their Social Research Institute, this 'Marxism by other means' had a massive impact on social science, especially in America.
In particular, The Authoritarian Personality, their study which found the assertion of universals, or even truth, to be a hallmark of fascism, contributed greatly to the emergence of the 1960's counterculture, from whence the modern day media elite, like Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jnr., drew their amoral inspiration. The publisher cum editor-in-chief of the influentialNew York Times, "Pinch" personifies the spirit of the anti-Western 60's radicals. According to former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg, Sulzberger "still believes in all those old sixties notions about 'liberation' and 'changing the world man'.... In fact, the Pinch years [he took charge of the Times in 1992] have been a steady march down PC Boulevard, with a newsroom fiercely dedicated to every brand of diversity except the intellectual kind."[Arrogance, Warner Books, 1993]
"It was the Frankfurt School, above all Herbert Marcuse, who taught in California," writes Gertrud Stauffacher, "which conferred upon every sexual perversion the aura of a battle of resistance against the allegedly repressive moral values. The motto was and is: the more perverse, the more progressive. A form of promiscuity emerged which has nothing to do with real love. Coupled with this were all kinds of perversions - so-called sexual 'liberation' - which spread to such an extent on many American university campuses that the ineradicable memories of such experiences still abound in the consulting rooms of psychotherapists several decades later."[Current Concerns, Dec. 1998]
In fact, this moral and intellectual disorder expounded and propagated by the Frankfurt School (embodied in miscreant '60's child' Bill Clinton) still abounds in every conceivable sphere of life, having provided the false intellectual basis for a veritable deconstruction of Western civilisation.
Take the incomprehensibly ugly and degrading phenomenon of 'modern art.' A succinct Wikipedia entry notes that Theodor Adorno, a trained musician, wrote The Philosophy of Modern Music, "in which he, in essence, polemicizes against beauty itself - because it has become part of the ideology of advanced capitalist society and the false consciousness that contributes to domination by prettifying it... This view of modern art as producing truth only through the negation of traditional aesthetic form and traditional norms of beauty because they have become ideological is characteristic of Adorno and of the Frankfurt School generally." Pure Marxism, in other words, which renders obsolete traditional conceptions and images of beauty and harmony.
On its "long march through the institutions" of the West - the incremental rather than apocalyptic Marxist revolution counselled by Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci - the Left captured the media as a major conduit of its destructive agenda. To that end, it worked tenaciously to establish the media as the unelected and autonomous "Fourth Estate" (or "Fourth Power").
By the time conservatives woke up to what was going on and realised the major part played by the media in the power struggle, writes Stauffacher, "all too many media were already staffed with leftist crews on their long march. Financial pressure groups and mergers brought about an ever greater leftist leaning among the once free press... Throughout the sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties the media using scorn and ridicule went about tearing apart Western thought, Christian values and the very substance of Western tradition, replacing them by show business, empty vanity, meaningless affectations, pornography and violence. Television could well have played a different role in the history of this century, and been used to convey knowledge, to stimulate and foster education to bring genuine human culture and humanity to every family."
Instead, as the corrosive impact of the "march through the institutions" took its incremental toll, the noble ideals of "education, information and entertainment" advocated by the BBC's first Director-General, John Reith, eventually, ineluctably, morphed into filth and obscenity. "Useful idiots" like the foul-mouthed, shallow, self-obsessed celebrity Janet Street-Porter laid the foundations long before the arrival of Big Brother. "I want to subvert mainstream TV," she said in the late Eighties when she invented "Yoof" [Youth] TV" for the BBC. And so she did. "In the place of intelligent, thoughtful programming, Janet Street-Porter pioneered the frenetic, abrasive, mind-rotting style of broadcasting that has contributed so much to the cultural decay of modern Britain," writes Amanda Platell. And yet, "instead of being condemned for polluting the airwaves" with a diet of trash, "she was hailed by the bien-pensants as brave, innovative, creative, 'so very challenging, darling!'" [Daily Mail, 20/1/07].
Indeed, the taboo-busting Street-Porter, a counter-cultural media archetype, was feted by the TV industry and even tipped to become head of BBC Arts and Culture! Thus, personifying the Frankfurt School's corrupt theories applied to Western media, she represents the ghastly human face of that Cultural Marxism which Gramsci sought to impose through "cultural hegemony" - control of society's intellectual life through cultural means alone.Alienated elite
For those wedded to the clichéd defence of the media as merely reflecting the world around us and therefore not engaging in ideological manipulation of their audience, the subversive nature of its anti-Christian mindset is clearly (and shockingly) indicated by countless studies over many decades all revealing how radically out of the mainstream and unrepresentative it is.
Indicative of the Western media in general were the results of the exhaustive study of American media attitudes carried out in the early 1980's by S. Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman and a team of social scientists. Some 238 of America's top journalists were interviewed - a virtual "who's who" of the media elite at that time in the press - New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, and television - ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. Each person was interviewed for one hour.
Politically, the survey found that they were overwhelmingly in favour of big government solutions to welfare problems, with almost half believing that "the government should guarantee a job to anyone who wants one." A majority of leading journalists described themselves as liberals with more than 80 per cent of the media elite voting for Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford in 1978. On moral issues the media elite showed even more radical disagreement with mainstream America:
"[The media] emerge from our study as strong supporters of environmental protection, affirmative action, women's rights, homosexual rights, and sexual freedom in general... Ninety percent agree that a woman has the right to decide for herself whether to have an abortion... Three-quarters disagree that homosexuality is wrong, and an even larger group, 85 percent, uphold the right of homosexuals to teach in public schools... 54 percent do not regard adultery as wrong, and only 15 percent strongly disagree that extramarital affairs are immoral."
The gap between this media mindset and that of the American public at large was confirmed in a 1985 nationwide survey of three thousand journalists and the same number of people in the general populace conducted by the liberal Los Angeles Times: 23% of the public said they were liberal, 55% of the journalists described themselves as liberal; 56% of the public favoured Ronald Reagan, 30% of the journalists favoured Reagan; 49% of the public were pro-abortion, 82% of the journalists were pro-abortion; 74% of the public was for prayer in public schools, 25% of the journalists supported prayer in public schools. And so on.
Around the same time, another study by Lichter and Rothman at the Columbia University of Journalism (1982) revealed that the next generation of journalists would veer even further Leftward in the direction of big government than their predecessors: "Only a quarter of future journalists, for example, believe that private enterprise is fair to workers, as compared to 70 percent of their elders in the profession." Seventy percent strongly disapproved of Ronald Reagan, while only thirty percent strongly disapproved of Fidel Castro. And "an overwhelming 85 percent" strongly disapproved of the Moral Majority, while "a mere 7 percent" strongly disapproved of Nicaragua's hard-line Marxist-Leninist Sandinistas.
Those ominous statistical indicators were reflected fourteen years later in a 1996 poll of 139 Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents by the Freedom Forum, an independent foundation, and the Roper Center, a reputable opinion research firm. It found that 89% of the journalists said they voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, compared with 43% of non-journalist voters, while only 7% of the journalists as opposed to 37% of the electorate voted for George Bush.
Now, truth is not "conservative" and one is ever mindful that America, like Britain, often appears to have only one party with two factions that argue over issues that are not fundamental. Even so - eighty-nine percent voted for Clinton! As veteran (liberal)reporter Bernard Goldberg reflects: "There's hardly a candidate in the entire United States of American who carries his or her district with 89 percent of the vote. This is way beyond landslide numbers. The only politicians who get numbers like that are called Fidel Castro or Saddam Hussein." This unholy alliance (replicated in Britain's media-New Labour coalition) represents the Frankfurt School and Gramsci triumphant! Nothing less than the Marxist seizure of political power through "cultural hegemony."
Yet it is only to be expected in the alien world of American media elites where, according to the Roper-Freedom Forum poll, Democrats outnumber Republicans by twelve to one and liberals outnumber conservatives by seven to one. Figures which translate into lives quite different to most people. A more recent March 2000 mini-census of 3,400 journalists by Florida's Orlando Sentinel, for instance, found that they were less likely to get married and have children, less likely to do volunteer community service, less likely to own homes, and less likely to go to church than others who live in the communities where they work.
Conspiracy and conspiratio
These then are the perverse and unrepresentative people who dominate the news and entertainment medium which informs the West. A medium, ultimately, about the justification of their deviant lives. Safe within their bubble where it's always the 60's, insulated from the hoi polloi and those benighted Christian prudes and bigots, they cannot imagine another way of looking at a world; one which they have been called to "change" - with their social awareness and cutting-edge ideas - into a mirror image of their godless selves.
Deluded BBC Director-General Mark Thompson epitomised this insufferable arrogance with his December 2004 claim that the BBC is "perhaps the greatest force for cultural good on the face of the Earth." (Janet Street-Porter would concur.) Martin Baron, the editor of the Boston Globe, on the other hand, was willing to concede that life inside the bubble might actually breed contempt: "We live in other neighbourhoods and we don't visit theirs. And I fear that there is a subtle disdain for their lives, their lifestyles, their material and spiritual aspirations," he confessed to the Los Angeles Times.
In the media's "luciferian conspiracy against the truth," as the great philosopher of the media Marshall McLuhan once put it, only an elite subset of this small, alienated constituency sets the actual news agenda. But this operates at both macro and micro levels.
At the macro level, as we have explained elsewhere, the super-elite power-brokers working behind the scenes conspire with the media to keep their plans and machinations from public view. Trumpeting their "march towards world government," David Rockefeller admitted openly at the June 1991 Bildeberger meeting in Baden Baden that "It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years." ["Satan in the Public Square", CO, April 2004]
This is conspiracy in the dictionary definition sense: "when people secretly plan together to do something bad or illegal." At the micro-level of daily propaganda, however, we are dealing instead with conspiratio, the "breathing together" of like-minded men (in this case the liberal-Left). "It remains a tiny group of journalists who control the cameras and the microphones and the studios and the printing presses," says Goldberg. "And they abuse this tremendous power far too often. They're the ones who decide who gets on their news programs and in their newspapers and who doesn't. In the routine choices they make, they decide which voices and which opinions merit serious consideration. They decide who is mainstream and who is fringe."
Evening Standard reporter Mark Honigsbaum identified one such incestuous, all-powerful British coterie in his article "The TV Clique" [21/1/92]. The sub-heading informed readers that: "David was at school with Michael who plays snooker with Charles who knows Alan who is a friend of Michael. Together these five men form a powerful group who have a massive influence on what you will be watching on television today." These five are David Elstein, Michael Grade, Charles Saatchi, Alan Yentob and Michael Green.
This is how media bias works on a humdrum daily basis: in what they report, how they report it and what they choose not to report. And that is how they create and sustain the news we read, watch and hear - what most of us perceive as reality. In fact, it is a virtual world - Mediaworld - which runs parallel to reality, at catastrophic human cost.
Mediaworld rests on a foundation of serial deception which began when journalists willingly accepted the lies spouted by the pro-abortion lobby. Former abortionist and abortion-rights pioneer Bernard Nathanson, who did 5,000 abortions himself and claims management and supervisory responsibility for another 70,000, has famously described how he and his comrades used the willing news media to implement their radical agenda.
In the late 60's and early 70's Nathanson dreamt up the familiar catch-phrases "Freedom of choice" and "Women must have control over their own bodies." He recalls:
"I remember laughing when we made those slogans up. We were looking for some sexy, catchy slogans to capture public opinion. They were very cynical... We persuaded the media that the cause of permissive abortion was a liberal, enlightened one. Knowing that if a true poll were taken we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls. We announced to the media that we had taken polls and that 60 percent of Americans were in favor of permissive abortion. This is the tactic of the self-fulfilling lie. Few people care to be in the minority. We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program by fabricating the small number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000. Repeating the lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of Americans, convincing many that we needed to crack the abortion law. We lobbied the legislature, we captured the media...." [Aborting America, 1979]
Within two years, Nathanson's pro-abortion vanguard group NARAL had the New York law banning abortion, on the books for 140 years, struck down.
Today, over 40 million surgical abortions later, continued media collusion with the abortion lobby allows 1.3 million American babies each year to be torn apart, suctioned, chemically burned, dismembered or decapitated. They will not present the public with pictures or videos of abortion. They refuse to publicise the proven myriad devastating effects abortion has on women, including the increased risk of breast cancer (meaning more of their readers are getting breast cancer because they believe what the pro-abort media are telling them). They suppress all mention of massive pro-life support or falsely report low figures (like the 2 million strong 30 December 2007 rally in Madrid, either completely ignored or reported as a risible 160,000). Saturation publicity is given to cases of (extremely rare) pro-life violence while suppressing all mention of the thousands of shocking acts of violence routinely committed by pro-aborts (e.g. the July 2001 Abortion Crime Report published by California Right to Life lists a total of 2,297 officially referenced incidents of pro-abortion violence and illegal activities - murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, torture, kidnapping, rape, stalking, death threats, bomb threats (including false-threat reports from alleged pro-lifers), sex crimes, conspiracy, drug crimes. The Report went to every major newspaper in California. They all ignored it.)
Yet how different it could all be! Just as the media helped create the abortion holocaust hand-in-glove with the multi-billion dollar abortion franchise, they could turn the tide simply by telling the gruesome truth. In Poland, honest and open debate precipitated a decline in the number of butchered babies from 105,333 in 1988 to only 138 in 2000. Instead, Big Media continues to portray a victimless virtual reality based on euphemistic lies about "a woman's right to choose" a "safe" and "legal" expulsion of the "products of conception."
In Mediaworld, minorities (apart from unborn babies) are designated as "oppressed" groups to be protected from the "oppressive" majority, so that the tiny sodomite community or migrants or blacks or indigenous peoples become ipso facto "persecuted" groups.
In the real world, however, far and away the most victimised and persecuted group on earth are the Christians. Even putting aside the unrivalled prejudice they now endure within Western nations themselves, for the past hundred years Christians elsewhere have been tortured, shot, starved, clubbed, hanged, crucified and worked to death in the tens of millions. According to Antonio Socci's I Nuovi Perseguitati (The New Persecuted) 45.5 million were killed last century. And still the media ignores this Christian blood-letting, which goes on year after year at the hands of the Communists, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims: in the Molucca Islands of Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, East Timor, Cuba, the former Soviet republics, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries, Vietnam, China and elsewhere.
What a sea change in public understanding, sympathy and admiration for the Christian faith would be effected if Big Media spoke up loudly and consistently about the endless abuses suffered by Christians under Islam - kidnapping, forced conversion, crucifixion, imprisonment, church destruction, torture, rape and execution; if they recognised the hundreds of millions of Christians (mostly Catholics) who face persecution and the hundreds of thousands killed every year, simply for following Jesus Christ.
Media bias and distortion is simply overwhelming. Another egregious example is the daily suppression of truth about adult stem cell research. Acting as the public relations arm of Big Government and Big Business, Big Media feeds the public a steady diet of items about miracle cures and treatments said to be forthcoming from embryonic stem cell research. This Mediaworld fantasy flies in the face of real-world experience, as recently explained by veteran British pro-life MP David Alton:
"Since 1991, at vast public expense, more than 2 million human embryos have been destroyed, cloned, or experimented upon. Now the Government want to change the law to make animal-human hybrid embryos. Yet, not a single cure has been forthcoming anywhere in the world from the use of embryonic stem cells. So far such work has proved enormously costly and utterly futile. It has not resulted in one treatment. Yet, meanwhile, around 80 cures - and 300 clinical trials - have been developed from ethically non-controversial adult stem cells."
The contraception-abortion-eugenics nexus; the personal and social costs of abandoning traditional conceptions of marriage and family; the impact on society of working mothers and institutionalised day care; the case for controlled immigration; the truth about Islam, or homosexual behaviour or the liberal Jewish stranglehold on the news-entertainment-advertising medium.... There is not one primary issue that is treated factually, fairly and comprehensively by the vast majority of reporters, who have become "advocacy journalists" - partial to promoting whatever favours their pet cause or subjective viewpoint, while suppressing information that contradicts them or threatens their career prospects.
A blueprint of advocacy journalism is the way in which American journalists in the 1980's and 1990's lied to the public about homelessness. As with their facile acceptance and promotion of false statistics in their push for abortion, reporters accepted the outrageously false figures released by the homeless lobby - in order to excite public sympathy and demonise Ronald Reagan. Various official figures, easily accessible by reporters, averaged out the homeless figure at around 400,000 and no figure was higher than 600,000. The homeless lobby, who later admitted they lied, randomly put the number of homeless in the millions, which was soon reported as "three million" (CNN) magically jumping to "five million" (NBC) and eventually "nineteen million" (CBS)!
At the same time, Big Media misled the public by blaming Reagan's spending policies rather than the pathologies of the homeless for their terrible situation. In the late 1980's, analysis of 103 stories on the major evening TV news broadcasts and 26 articles in Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report found that: "Only one source in twenty-five blamed homelessness on the personal problems of the homeless themselves, such as mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, or lack of skills or motivation. The other 96 blamed social or political conditions for their plight."
In other words, the public were not informed that the closing down of state mental institutions, the rise in drug and alcohol abuse, and the loss of any stigma attached to living on the streets might have had something to do with the rise in homelessness. And as if to underline the anti-Republican animus that fuelled their "compassion" for the homeless, the million stories on the topic during the Reagan and Bush years literally disappeared from Big Media outlets overnight when Bill Clinton took office in 1995.
Advocacy journalism also tells us little or nothing about the powerful link between family dysfunction and violent crime, school dropout rates and emotional disorders because it is linked especially to fatherless children, particularly among blacks.
Poverty, too, is treated as a class or racial issue instead of being linked with behaviour. Consequently, the American public are not provided with correct information that would inspire and motivate them e.g. that only 8 percent of people end up poor if they finish high school, marry before having a child and don't have that child until they are at least twenty, whereas 79% of those who fail to do those three things do wind up in poverty. Rather, driven by their self-serving white liberal guilt (which makes them feel good about themselves and their mission to save the world) and wedded to the idea of perpetual white racism (which patronises blacks by assuming they are incapable of getting ahead without the white man's help) journalists go to the angry black spokesmen but spurn extraordinary black men and women committed to individual responsibility, to law and order and everyone's responsibility to get an education.
And so it goes. There can never be any serious public discussion of major issues with profound consequences in the real world, and no meaningful progress in terms of constructive public policy, while Big Media continually serves up their distorted virtual world. A construct which politicians are also forced to accept since they have become both dependent upon and subject to the media. Professor Hans Wagner notes in Current Concerns that
"By penetrating every sphere of politics the media almost inevitably turn any politician into a 'public narrator of half-lies' because if he wants to get re-elected, then he will usually have to curtail any public declaration of his politics precisely there where he fears that the journalists and the public, disoriented by the former, will no longer follow his line." [Dec. 1998]
The Media-Government nexus is blatant and shameless. David Alton posted this comment last August on the Joint Parliamentary Committee considering the anti-life draft Tissues and Embryos Bill: "In reading the Committee's report I was particularly struck by the cursory way in which eleven organisations opposed to the Bill were shunted off into one short evening session. By contrast, four journalists were given more time than the opposing organisations to air their views. Politicians and journalists dance around each other feeding off one another. Why should we give greater time, and appear to ascribe more credibility to the views of a journalist rather than to those of an ethicist or a dissenting scientist? Does this pass for serious deliberation?"
Sadly, truthful coverage of major issues leading to "serious deliberation" is now so utterly surprising that it jumps out at you like a Page Three Girl in a parish newsletter.
In recent times, Channel 4 has screened a handful of superb undercover documentaries on pupil misbehaviour and violence in British schools, radical preaching in British mosques and the "The Great Global Warming Swindle." Although the basis of substantial debate, there was virtually no follow-up on these shows by other TV channels or the press.
On the contrary, it seems that a nation which so rarely encounters the truth on film or in print can no longer bear to face it. After the usual Muslim complaints, the police sought to charge the station over its vital Islamic report (for alleged misrepresentation) while the teacher who bravely led the team capturing footage of Britain's anarchic classrooms had to face the wrath of the teaching authorities and a tribunal hearing for her trouble! As for "The Great Global Warming Swindle," a show crammed with experts calling the mainstream media's greenhouse scaremongering into question, it was as if it never aired.
Thus, occasional unveilings of the Mediaworld fantasy are easily negated and countered. Meanwhile, the personal and societal costs of depriving souls of the oxygen of truth continue to mount. Professor Wagner observes that "Lack of enthusiasm for the state, politics and political parties, dissatisfaction despite growing prosperity, fluctuating anxiety neuroses - these are all the result of misleading media coverage and signs of a disappearing awareness of the common good."
The recent Popes, of course, have regularly spoken out against the dangers of the media: its misrepresentations and distortions. "All communication has a moral dimension," John Paul II reminded us in 2004. "People grow or diminish in moral stature by the words which they speak and the messages which they choose to hear." He went on to criticise the media for often giving a positive depiction of extramarital sex, contraception, abortion and homosexuality. "Such portrayals, by promoting causes inimical to marriage and the family, are detrimental to the common good of society," declared the Vicar of Christ. He urged "responsible communicators" to resist commercial pressure and secular ideologies, and called for regulations to stop the media from acting against "the good of the family," although he rejected censorship.
In a further message delivered later that year to the Italian Association of Radio and Television Audiences, a group formed by Italian Catholic Action to influence broadcast choices, the Pope said radio and TV audiences should be "reflective" in using the media, choosing those programmes that are "in accord with the Christian vision of the world and man." He called for a balance between the "legitimate need for information" and the rights of families to preserve their own values and not be subjected to "spectacular and banal vulgarization."
Contrary to the Holy Father's appeal, Big Media interprets the "legitimate need for information" as an uncensorious information free-for-all. However, the following entry under "Journalism" in a 1962 Dictionary of Moral Theology [The Newman Press], compiled in Rome under the direction of the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, develops John Paul's allusion to the inherent duty and obligation of the media:
"A particular sense of responsibility must be displayed by journalists with regard to the respect due to the human person, the family, and society, especially news and comments concerning scandalous deeds, homicide, suicide, adultery, and, generally, all those events which usually stir up public opinion, as peace and war, relations between social groups, and the like. The dignity of Christian life, as a norm of civilised society, the rights of justice and love, must prevail over the rights of information and reporting...
"As in the case of morality in art, the newspaperman must bear in mind that often morality and immorality are not so much in the thing itself as in the manner it is viewed and expressed; in other words, morality does not require that evil be ignored, but that it not be justified, extolled, or praised. It is not wrong to publicise evil when good can be derived from it, but it is an obligation to ignore evil when its publication amounts to its exaltation."
This final passage calls into question the "morality" of the mainstream Catholic press, and most of its journalists. For decades they have also fed their readership a warped and sanitised virtual world where moral, doctrinal, liturgical and catechetical rebellion is presented as "renewal" and orthodox defenders of the Faith are ignored. Locally, this reached new heights with their blackout of the 2000 "Faith of Our Fathers Conference," at which over a thousand orthodox souls called the hierarchy to account.
In 2005, Gabriel Communications, who produce England's Catholic Times and the Universe, actually formalised this ongoing censorship, vowing to report "exclusively a positive and constructive picture of the Catholic Church in England and Ireland." This is literally twice as bad as the recent Kremlin directive to radio journalists requiring at least half their stories to be given a "positive spin." Whereas Moscow requires only 50% compliance, Gabriel Communications declares: "It is now formally Gabriel policy that all of our publications are 100 per cent supportive of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy."
Dancing to the tune of their episcopal masters, the supine Catholic press have covered up their crimes, negligence and abandonment of Catholic children and their families. Concurrently, they have extolled or given voice to those who champion "gay" rights, radical feminism and every kind of dissent and heresy, thus implying moral equivalence between truth and error.
This situation, the Wanderer's Frank Morriss rightly laments, "might be compared to a Catholic London newspaper at the time of Elizabeth ignoring what was happening to the monks, priests, and Catholic laity in the Tower of London and at the Tyburn gallows."
As a result, the majority of parishioners living in this shiny Catholic province of Mediaworld - the dumbed-down smiley-face Catholics - don't even know there is a real-world battle going on for the heart and soul of the Church. Christian Order readers, on the other hand, are the most informed Catholics in the land, enjoying a front-row seat, so to speak, in the excruciatingly intense battle inside the Church and in the Church's socio-political battle with the world. Yet Christian Order has been blacklisted, defamed, slandered and threatened for its stance in exposing corruption and calling for correction and reform, even while accurately forecasting at every stage where the revolution was headed.
Fortunately, there are a lot more people awake to the secular media's deception and they, like those who have abandoned the illusory "Catholic" press for the likes of CO, have massively abandoned the Big Media liars for alternative sources of information: the so-called New Media from whence an astonishing sixty percent of American voters in 2008 will get most of their political news.
In this regard at least, despite the danger of it becoming another 'great gift abused' (with a net detrimental effect on society as per television) the Internet revolution has been a godsend. Furthermore, the relentless consolidation of Big Media into even Bigger Media, controlled by fewer and fewer media oligarchies as barriers against foreign ownership fall, will heighten the Internet's pivotal role in helping souls break out of Mediaworld by maintaining contact with the real world through a free exchange of ideas.
And yet, we should enjoy the liberating Internet option while we can. In the media business, you see, distribution confers even more power than content. And inevitably, as happened to other mass-communications pipelines, there will be eventual control by the media giants of the Internet as they come to dominate the broadband distribution pipelines (cable, DSL and satellite). The media moguls anticipate this control and openly discuss their plans for the Net which are quite different from what we have known. Their efforts are already bearing fruit in legislation such as the 2006 American COPE telecommunications bill, which one congressman said would "fundamentally and detrimentally alter the Internet." It is bound to be a legislative template.
Despite it's blatant flaws, this unfair bill was approved by the House Commerce Committee by a vote of 42 to 12. But it's not hard to understand why. It is being aggressively pushed by cable and telephone companies and other telecom giants who stand to benefit. These huge special interests have been investing in Congress for a long time. Since 1998, just eight huge media corporations and their trade groups alone have spent more than half a billion dollars influencing policies in Washington: more than $460 million on lobbying and nearly $48 million in campaign contributions to federal candidates.
Briefly, the COPE bill opens the door for companies to turn the free and open "Information Superhighway" - where users access any web content they want, post their own content, and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service providers (ISPs) - into a toll road via controlled access to your home page. This will benefit corporation bottom lines through the sale of goods and transmission of television programs, films and games. The bill thereby establishes an information world of 'haves' and 'have nots'. ISPs will be able to charge everyone a fee to ensure that their message can be easily accessed by those who surf the Net. Those groups that cannot pay these fees will be consigned to slower lanes on the information highway, and will be more difficult to find. The thousands of non-profit groups and bloggers who currently prosper because the Internet provides them a low cost forum where they compete for an audience based on the quality of their ideas, not the size of their wallets, will suffer - as we are all re-channelled back into Mediaworld.
Still, whatever happens in cyberspace, at least small samizdat print publications like CO will continue on, as they always have everywhere, safe from such godless coercion for as long as there are God-fearing people who value truth and financially support a free press: one which fills the informative role that justifies its existence and serves the good of its readership with honest and penetrating analysis. (Donations to the "CO Fighting Fund" always gratefully accepted!).
"One word of truth outweighs the world," declares the Russian proverb. Perhaps Russian parliamentarian and billionaire Alexander Lebedev had that in mind last November when he announced his establishment of a Fellowship at Oxford University to study the freedom of the press. "There's never been a greater need for the world to be vigilant of maintaining press freedom," said Lebedev, a man who knows the score. Not only has he survived two assassination attempts himself, he co-owns one of Russia's few independent newspapers, Novaya Gazeta, whose leading investigative journalist was one Anna Politkovskaya: a martyr for the free press; a heroine for real-world reporters.
St. Francis de Sales (journalists & writers), St. John Bosco (editors), St. Clare (television), Archangel Gabriel (radio workers), St Isidore of Seville (Internet) - Ora pro nobis!