Growing up under communism, my father was forced to hear propaganda on a daily basis. The communists announced their agenda throughout the valley at maximum volume over loud speakers, forcibly infiltrating the minds of the people and brainwashing them to believe untruths, manipulating them to support the new regime that was being forced on them from the outside. These events are chronicled in "Midnight Train," and they were insidious.
Flash forward to 2022 America, and something equally insidious is taking place. It is the total degeneration of the US news media, or, as expressed by the 45th President of the United States of America, "Fake News."
It is quite shocking to witness firsthand the complete and total lack of journalistic integrity on the part of many US "news" agencies, agencies which, on the surface appear reputable, but which are, in actuality, little better than tabloids, the distinctive mark confined only to the reputation of their advertisers. Whether this is a recent phenomenon or whether it is stitched into the fabric of the country, is a debate for historians. Thomas Jefferson himself was quoted as saying the "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers." It is therefore possible that shoddy journalism dates back to the founding of the country. Given that the first amendment protects freedom of the press and is intended to ensure a free and open exchange of thoughts, ideas, and information, it is not only possible but likely.
However, there is a difference between a free press and overt lies. The average American will certainly recognized and acknowledge that there exists a vast gulf between spreading thoughts, ideas, and information in contrast with an agency spinning and promoting overt lies, slander, liable, putting words in a person's mouth that were never stated, and a misrepresentation of facts via edits, gaps, creative arrangements of words, and complete omission. In other words, there is a significant difference between the truth of the matter and creative writing or "narrative," a word which has become the colloquial reference to this stylizing of falsehoods.
The news narrative is rampant in the country. The sheer quantity of "news" sources opining on events rather than reporting on them is astounding, and the American people are starting to take note.
In 2021, a Gallup poll reported that people's trust in mainstream media continues to erode. According to the poll, 63% of people stated they had "not very much" trust in the media or had "none at all." That was a year ago. In 2022 according to Gallup, that percentage has increased to 84-89%. In other words, only 11-16% of Americans now trust what they read in the newspaper or see on tv. That is abysmal. With more Americans waking up to the fact that the major outlets are owned by a handful of wealthy corporate elite investors, it is no wonder the landscape for the future of mainstream media is bleak. In the face of emerging local, distributed, and alternative news channels, and in consideration of free speech, this may be nothing short of one of the best things to happen in our country in the last two decades. The majority of Americans are starting to wake up to the propaganda machine.
I personally witnessed this lack of journalistic integrity in my life as pertains both to myself and to my family, and it is a shock to observe such ruthless behavior, blatant vitriol, and overt lying. I never witnessed such behavior in my life apart from these events and certainly had not witnessed this behavior in my countless years in business; but, though it is a business, the media does not operate with the professional integrity common in business. If a company operated like that in the world of every day commerce, it would be out of business.
I plan to write more about this in a sequel to "Midnight Train" and "Liberté." For now, let's just summarize this topic by stating that the US news media operates like a propaganda machine and that the level to which journalists stoop is appalling as they fabricate words that were never said, opine without direct quotes, and rely on the opinions of other news sources as if they are facts. It's a disgrace to what should be a noble and just profession. Is this the type of behavior colleges and universities are promoting to journalism majors, or is this the type of trained behavior that comes with the job? Do journalists even know the difference between a fact, a quote, and an opinion anymore in the face of these blatant lies, untruths, misquotes, word shuffles, and personal attacks?
To call certain "news" agencies "fake news" is an understatement. They are little better than the loud speakers in my dad's village, broadcasting propaganda, spinning a narrative, promoting an agenda, and manipulating people to support a certain point of view. The only difference? In my dad's village the citizens did not have a choice. They had to listen. The beauty of America is that we have a choice. Do we choose the lie, or do we choose the truth? I firmly believe that Americans are choosing fact over fiction, truth over lies, and integrity over manipulation. They see the man hiding behind the curtain, and they are outraged by his shenanigans. They are leaving the fairy tale version of someone else's point of view to plant their feet firmly in the truth and walk in the light of concrete facts.
The beauty of America is in the Constitution, Innovation, and Common Sense. As I stated many times, I stand firmly behind those values. As someone whose father escaped communism with no money, no job, no language skills, and a warrant out for his death as chronicled in the book Liberté, I hold firm to those principles. That's why I spent years of my life writing my dad's story. We must know the past, else we risk repeating it in the present. What happened in my dad's village should never happen again and certainly should not happen in the United States of America.
It is inspiring that so many people all over the world are deselecting fake news, propaganda, and fiction in pursuit of truth. As it says in John 8:32, "the truth will set you free." Many Americans do not have the resources, time, and money to correct the news media over defamation of character, but we can still take comfort in knowing that God sees all and knows all, and that in God, all things are possible, even the emergence of more objective news sources and higher journalistic integrity in the United States of America.
Please note that at the time this blog post was written, all links were tested and working. If the links no longer work, it is evidence of censorship.