The Origin Of Conspiracy Theory.

by Jerry Alatalo

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Alphabet Professor of Media Studies at NYU Mark Crispin Miller gave a very interesting talk in the past days at the Left Forum in New York City. He describes how the Central Intelligence Agency in 1967 sent a memo to all of its station chiefs worldwide to use propaganda and media connections to discredit anyone disputing the findings of the Warren Commission on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as a “conspiracy theorist”. This was in response to a number of published books which questioned the “lone gunman theory” and became bestsellers. Before 1967, published media reports rarely used the term “conspiracy theorist”, but after that CIA memo Miller argues the derogatory term has become used to shut down credibility of left critiques or discussions of government misbehavior/crimes.

Professor Miller wonders why the left isn’t talking about 9/11, when there is “copious evidence that the official 9/11 story is preposterous.” He wonders “why aren’t we all talking about this, why aren’t the American people talking about this,  and why hasn’t another (9/11) commission been convened?” He shares a woman’s review of a film he appeared in where she discounts his contribution because he is a “9/11 truther”, although the film had nothing to do with the events of September 11, 2001.

Before 2007 and publication of Mr. Miller’s book “Fooled Again” where he makes the case that the 2004 presidential election victory by Bush/Cheney was stolen, Mark Crispin Miller was a regular on TV and radio talk shows. After the book came out, he says that he was effectively blacked out, and the phone became silent from those who invited him for discussions on-air. A friend helped him prepare advertisements for the book on the local National Public Radio affiliate, only to be told “We’re not going to advertise just any book. We wouldn’t publish Mein Kampf“. Miller was “stunned”, especially since the book was taken by a mainstream publisher, and he associated with the publicist of Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

The official truth is the truth, everything else is conspiracy theory

Professor Miller describes use of the conspiracy theorist meme as “the most effective propaganda campaign in American history – maybe even the history of the world”.  Unfortunately, the campaign has resulted in a “profound change in the worldview of the American people”, disrupting a centuries-old American tradition of natural, healthy suspicion of actions taken by powerful government officials, the executive branch,  and wealthy elites. The term conspiracy theorist has become weaponized as means to silence dissent, even though time and time again through history intentional provocations (false flags) were used to initiate wars of aggression.

He shares an exchange between American psychiatrist G.M. Gilbert and Nazi leader Hermann Goring at Nuremburg Prison after Goring was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity:

Gilbert: “In a democracy, the people have some say through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare war”.

Goring: “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders – that’s easy. All you have to do is tell them that they’re being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country”.

British Prime Minister David Cameron compared conspiracy theorists to ISIS at last year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting. French leader Francois Holland compared conspiracy theorists to the Nazis. Mr. Miller believes some people on the left aren’t really leftist, and pointed out that the founder of the influential democratic politics website Daily Kos was trained at the CIA, and refused to allow any editorial posts suggesting election fraud during the 2004 presidential election. The Nation and Progressive magazines have attacked those questioning the official 9/11 Commission Report, while the Nation, Mother Jones and Salon dismissed the analysis in Mark Crispin Miller’s book “Fooled Again”.

Lance deHaven-Smith invented a term for use instead of conspiracy theory: SCAD – State Crime Against Democracy.

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“Fooled Again” (2007) by Mark Crispin Miller:

http://www.amazon.com/Fooled-Again-Real-Electoral-Reform

“Conspiracy Theory in America” (2014) by Lance deHaven-Smith:

http://www.amazon.com/Conspiracy-Theory-America-Discovering

(Thank you to johnmiglietta at YouTube)

Danny Schechter (1942-2015)

by Jerry Alatalo

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Alphabet Danny Schechter died at the age of 72 on Thursday March 19, 2015. He had pancreatic cancer. He was a good and decent man.

Danny Schechter was a writer, author and documentarian whose greatest contribution could have been the communications work/actions he carried out which played a significant role in exposing to the world, then ending, South Africa’s apartheid system. For those increasing numbers of men and women around the world wishing to end the apartheid system in Israel with its decades-long oppression of Palestinians – a situation which according to Bishop Desmond Tutu is many times worse than in South Africa shortly before apartheid ended there – there are great lessons to learn from Danny Schechter.

Mr. Schechter and his fellow anti-apartheid friends helped produce the news program “South Africa Now”, which went on to become broadcasted on over 150 PBS stations in America and seen in some 40 nations around the world. The news program should rightly be remembered as a decisive factor in educating the world’s people about what was really occurring in South Africa, igniting a worldwide awareness and activism, leading to enough pressure on both supporters of apartheid from America and other nations, the South Africa apartheid regime itself, and then the eventual dismantling of the racist system.

Danny Schechter had inside understanding of mainstream corporate media after working in that industry. He spent a short time working on ABC’s “20-20” where he won two Emmys, and at CNN during that network’s beginnings. He left the corporate media industry and went on to write articles and books, as well as produce a number of highly acclaimed documentaries.

The memory which stands out most for this writer about Danny Schechter was his friendly, likeable demeanor. He must have been a lot of fun to spend time with, aside from his admirable, honorable, truthful writing and filmmaking. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the first person greeting him in the afterlife, seeing the good difference Danny Schechter’s efforts made to the lives of the people of South Africa, was Nelson Mandela. Their shared joy upon meeting on the “other side” can only have been immeasurable.

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From The Progressive Radio Network website prn.fm:

Danny Schechter, host of The News Dissector, passed away March 19th, 2015. We will continue honor his legacy, by broadcasting best of performances of his show at it’s regularly scheduled time.

Danny Schechter is a journalist, author, television producer and independent filmmaker who also writes and speaks about economic and media issues. He is the executive editor of MediaChannel.org, the world’s largest online media issues online network, and recipient of many awards including the Society of Professional Journalists‘ 2001 Award for Excellence in Documentary Journalism. His latest films are “Barack Obama, People’s President (2009), an examination of how Obama won and “IN DEBT WE TRUST:” America Before The Bubble Bursts,” (2007) an investigation of the impact of credit and debt on American society. The film was one of the first to expose subprime lending and warn of an economic crisis. He was a Director on “Viva Madiba,” a feature-length biopic tribute to Nelson Mandela on his 90th Birthday. (2008).

He is the author of ten books including Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books, 2008); Squeezed: America As the Bubble Bursts (ColdType, 2007); “The Death of the Media” (Melville Press); When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War (Select Books); “Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception: How the Media Failed to Cover the Iraq War” (Prometheus Books, October 2003); “Media Wars: News At A Time of Terror (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003); “The More You Watch, The Less You Know” (Seven Stories Press) and “News Dissector: Passions, Pieces and Polemics” (Akashic) Books and Electron Press).

Schechter is co-founder and executive producer of Globalvision, a New York-based television and film production company now in its 21st year. He founded and exec-produced the TV series “South Africa Now” and co-produced the series “Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television. He has specialized in investigative reporting and producing programming about the interface between human rights, journalism, popular music and society. His career began as the “News Dissector” at Boston’s leading rock station, WBCN. Later, he moved into television as an on-camera reporter for WGBH (Channel 2) in Boston and then as a producer for WLVI (Channel 56) and WCVB (Channel 5)Schechter then joined the start-up team of CNN and later became a producer for ABC NEWS 20/20. He produced 50 segments for ABC NEWS and won two national Emmys and was nominated or two others.

He has produced and directed many TV specials and documentary films, including WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception) on the media coverage of the Iraq War; “Counting on Democracy” about the electoral fiasco in Florida narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee; the post 9-11 film We Are Family” (2002) shown at the Sundance Film Festival; “Nkosi: A Voice of Africa’s AIDS Orphans” (2001) narrated by Danny Glover; “A Hero for All: Nelson Mandela’s Farewell” (l999); “Beyond Life: Timothy Leary Lives” (1997); “Sowing Seeds/Reaping Peace: The World of Seeds of Peace” (1996); “Prisoners of Hope: Reunion on Robben Island” (1995, co-directed by Barbara Kopple); “Countdown to Freedom: Ten Days that Changed South Africa” (1994), narrated by James Earl Jones and Alfre Woodard; “Sarajevo Ground Zero” (1993); “The Living Canvas” (1992), narrated by Billy Dee Williams; “Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy” (1992, co-directed by Marc Levin and Barbara Kopple); “Give Peace a Chance” (1991); “Mandela in America” (1990); “The Making of Sun City” (1987); and “Student Power” (1968).

He has spoken at scores of universities—from Harvard to Hamline, from Minnesota to MIT, NYU to Georgia States, Santa Monica to the University of Hawaii, Princeton to Cornell.

A Cornell University graduate, he received his Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and an honorary doctorate from Fitchburg College. He was a Neiman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard, where he also taught in 1969. After college, he was a full time civil rights worker and then communications director of the Northern Student Movement, and worked as a community organizer in a Saul Alinsky-style War on Poverty program. Then, moving from the streets to the suites, Schechter served as an assistant to the Mayor of Detroit in 1966 on a Ford Foundation grant.

Schechter has reported from 61 countries. He was an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and taught investigative reporting at the New School. Schechter’s writing has appeared in leading newspapers and magazines including the The Nation, Newsday, Boston Globe, Columbia Journalism Review, Media Studies Journal, Detroit Free Press, Village Voice, Tikkun, Z, and many others.

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To listen to past editions of Danny Schechter’s radio talk show , please visit: http://thenewsdissector.podbean.com/

(Thank you to democracynow at YouTube)

Power To Speak Truth.

Posted on August 16, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

pictured-1“The function of the press is to explore and investigate events, inform the people what is going on, and to expose the harmful as well as the good influences at work. There is no higher function performed under our constitutional regime… A reporter is no better than his source of information. Unless he has a privilege to withhold the identity of his source, he will be the victim of governmental intrigue or aggression. If he can be summoned to testify in secret before a grand jury, his sources will dry up and the attempted exposure, the effort to enlighten the public will be ended…”

“The intrusion of government into this domain is symptomatic of the disease of this society. As the years pass, the power of government becomes more and more pervasive. It is the power to suffocate both people and causes. Those in power, whatever their politics, want only to perpetuate it. Now that the fences of the law and the tradition that has protected the press are broken down, the people are the victims. The First Amendment, as I read it, was designed precisely to prevent that tragedy.”

– William O. Douglas (1898-1980) U.S. Supreme Court Justice (Dissent, Earl Caldwell case, 1972)

What has Pulitzer Prize winning journalist James Risen in hot water, and journalists everywhere upset, is his refusal to name the source of so-called classified information from Mr. Risen’s 2006 book “State Of War”. The information published in the book – which represents the classified leak – was the CIA’s 2000 botched attempt to get a former Russian nuclear scientist to transfer intentionally messed-up blueprints for building a nuclear bomb to unknowing Iranian government officials. After Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden, the government has passed rules for national security employees to prevent similar leaks, and increased the amount of information that becomes classified.

First, what determines whether information becomes classified or not? An obvious case for classified status is information that includes nuclear bomb blueprints which are real, or not intentionally “messed-up”. Using a simple analogy, the father of four sons aged 7, 8, 10, and 11 who owns handguns “classifies” them in a locked safe where they won’t be touched by the boys. Whoever told James Risen about the faked blueprints was transferring information which leads one to question first: why was such an idea cooked up to begin with? and second: shouldn’t Americans know about the questionable actions carried out by its government?

The first question – why the idea became cooked up – is almost impossible to answer without speaking to the idea’s originator. Perhaps it became considered feasible to throw off the Iranians if they had designs on a bomb. If Iranians, as they claim, have no desire to build a bomb, then messed-up drawings are irrelevant. Using another simple analogy, a husband who isn’t sure, but thinks, his wife might be planning to poison him for the insurance money could “innocently” hand his wife an internet printout on gardening that just “happens” to include a bogus, harmless recipe for a poisonous-to-humans concoction. Whether or not his wife actually planned on poisoning him, he’s covered the worst case scenario, just as the bogus bomb blueprints.

Getting to the point, with regard to government classification of information, is it possible that there is “honorable” classified info and “dishonorable” classified info? Returning to the dad with four sons, imagine that dad has through the years of running his restaurant contracted hit men to murder his competitors or blow up their restaurants. For dad, with his sons, this is “classified information”. So, his “classification” of handguns through placing them in the safe is “honorable”, but his murderous/criminal actions are “dishonorable” classified.

The U.S. government’s applying of “classified” to real nuclear bomb blueprints is “honorable”, but video of American troops from the sky mowing down non-combatants in Iraq, and unconstitutional spying on Americans without their knowledge, is “dishonorable”. A number of questions arise when considering these situations. What percentage of all U.S. classified information is “honorable” or “dishonorable”? Are as yet unreleased files on the murder of President John F. Kennedy filled with classified documents that meet the standards of “dishonorable”?

Does the government have in its possession classified documents related to the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King which any reasonable person would decide belong in the “dishonorable” category? Or Robert F. Kennedy, or Senator Paul Wellstone…? These questions lead one to wonder whether now debated “shield laws” which would allow journalists to keep identities of sources confidential would be better off called “Dishonorable Classification Journalist Act of 2014” or “2014 If It’s Dishonorable Classified You Can Work Freely With Journalists Act” and so on.

The point is that persons who leak classified information of the dishonorable variety are, from a moral and ethical standpoint, worthy of respect, honor, and admiration – certainly not punishment. It is because of dishonorable actions taken by America’s leaders that the United States has suffered a loss of its reputation; allowing the nation to “admit” those dishonorable actions – apologizing in each instance while making proper amends –  would begin a process of rehabilitating America’s reputation, while preventing further instances of actions which hurt that same reputation.

It is unknown how many men and women employed by the U.S. government with familiarity of classified documents have considered meeting with journalists because they’re aware of information which is “dishonorable”. James Risen published information which has yet to become determined honorable or dishonorable. If, after examining the specifics of the event he published, it becomes clear the classified info is of the honorable variety – that’s one thing. If the original event becomes judged as dishonorable, Mr. Risen needs to be released from any further legal proceedings.

In the cases of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, information they leaked is viewed by reasonable men and women as “classified dishonorable”, so they should rightly be released from legal consequences. The phrase “don’t shoot the messenger” is appropriate in the case of Manning and Snowden. In the case of Mr. Risen, probably appropriate as well. In the age of instant, worldwide dissemination of information, “my country right or wrong” has become an anachronistic phrase no longer of any value. Holding on to the idea of “my country right or wrong” only maintains the potential for unfortunate further erosion of America’s reputation through acceptance of the “wrong” – the dishonorable.

Legal scholars, with regard to whistleblower sources/classified information/journalism, should seriously consider advocating addition of the honorable/dishonorable dimension.

The best argument for doing so is the Iraq War, based on lies – a historic, horrific human catastrophe — which damaged America’s international reputation in immeasurable ways. If journalists had reported the most consequential “wrong classified information”, provided to them by sources who understood the difference between honor and dishonor, then one million men, women, and children would still be alive today.

Journalists’ ability to protect identities of their sources is essential for citizens’ right to “speak truth to power” – at times corrupt power. That journalistic privilege – without which corrupt power can “suffocate people and causes” – gives both journalists and the people power to speak truth.

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(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

CNN Flight 370 Music Tribute.

Posted April 3, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

– John Swinton (1830-1901)  Editor, New York Sun

Television has been called “The Vast Wasteland”. Certainly many men and women reading this have noticed CNN’s wall-to-wall coverage of disappeared Malaysia Flight 370. The amount of air-time CNN has devoted to the story has to have broken some type of television news records. After a few days one thought that they would have resumed normal coverage of world events. But Flight 370 has gone on and on and on at CNN. There must be people out there who are asking themselves why the corporation has decided to cover this story for such an excruciatingly long, overly concentrated time. The Daily Show with John Stewart did a piece the other night about CNN’s coverage. The way the company has decided to devote so much time and resources to such an extraordinary, prolonged, triviality-laden series of TV journalism broadcasts makes people think about why.

There are important events occurring on this Earth.

However, for their record-breaking, ceaseless, persistent, tireless, enduring, indefatigable, tenacious, steadfast, continuous reporting on Malaysia Flight 370 we present this musical tribute to CNN.

A classic, essential case study for the journalism textbooks.

One for the record books.

(Thanks to Simen Fjellstad at YouTube)