“We're an empire now,” Karl Rove nefariously asserted in 2004, “and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Rove might have said that 12 years ago, but the words hauntingly describe our situation in 2016 — Oxford Dictionaries, incidentally, named “post-truth” the international word of the year — with facts seemingly relative, truth debatable, and a falsely-premised war on fake news, Orwell must be rolling in his grave.
In fact, given these telling circumstances, perhaps Oxford Dictionaries didn’t go far enough — this year epitomizes a new era of post-coherence. Rove and his ilk — the dynasties Bush and Clinton, reigning powers for nearly 30 years — must chuckle behind closed doors as Americans quarrel savagely over the authenticity of falsehoods and facts, alike.
With ostensibly everything now up in the air, the U.S. power apparatus has inarguably ‘created a new reality’ — one in which doubt has been so instilled as to obstruct and thwart the dissemination of accurate, factual information.
This purposeful manipulation of perception, in other words, does exactly what Rove and the aptly-termed “history’s actors” intend — it keeps the rest of us confused — and bitterly arguing over what’s actually going on.
Online communication facilitated this madness exponentially — it’s doubtful such disorientation would have occurred decades ago, when social media didn’t have critical influence.
Of course, this tumult and turbulence isn’t manufactured without reason — it allows the surreptitious and sometimes flagrant distribution of propaganda favorable to the American political establishment to circulate largely unhindered.
But those aspects of post-coherence unintentionally also gave rise to a furious backlash — the Internet might facilitate confusion and propaganda, but it is, after all, a global library of information — and wary independent and alternative media outlets immediately tear apart false information published by collusive corporate media presstitutes.
With all of this in mind, the following are just a smattering of many outrageous examples of how the Fake News narrative brought us post-truth, intentionally shaping the events of 2016 — and promises to continue the inanity far into the future.
Perhaps the most laughable Fake News came to us courtesy of CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who warned the planet amid ongoing publication by Wikileaks of documents deleterious to the credibility of the Democratic establishment to “remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents. It’s different for the media. So everything you learn about this, you’re learning from us.”
Cuomo’s conspicuous ploy to limit the spread of the actual documents — and win CNN additional reader- and viewership — constituted a reckless foray into censorship of information.
Of course, CNN didn’t proclaim the leaked emails verboten for nothing — the outlet bears the snarky moniker, Clinton News Network, as its parent company, Time Warner, donated over $400,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — and was exposed by alternative media countless times for cutting off reporters who dared criticize its darling candidate or report on revealed corruption.
Further, CNN’s pernicious claim came as the documents revealed the outlet and others colluding with the Clinton campaign to report news portraying Democrats in a favorable manner — of course, those who took Cuomo’s warning to heart and relied solely on the Clinton News Network would never know that pertinent detail.
Other mainstream media outlets who coordinated with the Clinton camp struggled to accurately report the contents of the Wikileaks documents — when they bothered covering the revelations. Corporate propaganda’s spin machine seemed to be on overdrive for the duration of the election cycle — and has reached the level of absurdity following Donald Trump’s win.
Because, according to corporate media — who ignored the depth of corruption exposed by Wikileaks — the election of Trump was so anomalous, there had to be an explanation beyond the fact the American people didn’t find Hillary qualified for the job.
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Enter The Russians.
Taking cues from the era of McCarthyism and leading the new Red Scare with a bullhorn is the once-illustrious Washington Post, who first posited, without any evidence sans statements from unnamed CIA officials, that the Intelligence Community had reached a consensus — Russian hackers had interfered in the election to install Trump.
Famously in lockstep, the New York Times quickly parroted the same assertion as if it were steel truth — neither outlet, however, bothered consulting officials from the 16 other agencies comprising the U.S. Intelligence Community.
In actuality, no such consensus had been reached — not even inside the CIA. Shortly after the Post’s shameful scare piece was published, the FBI came forward to denounce the Russian hacking theory as “fuzzy” and “ambiguous” — showing the lack of cohesion amongst intelligence officials, as well as the rush to shirk blame for the lost election.
Wikileaks, itself — the one organization with insider information — has vociferously and repeatedly denied their source hacked anything, is not Russian, and that the documents were leaked by an insider.
Nonetheless, news of the report went viral and furthered current administration’s agenda to both paint Russia as a villain and Trump as having somehow stolen the election.
Indeed, the utterly unproven Russian Hackers theory provided the impetus for President Obama to an embarrassing diplomatic meltdown this week, announcing the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, sanctions, and the shuttering of two compounds owned by Russia.
While that move could have easily brought the two superpower nations yet closer to military conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin allowed cooler heads to prevail, went against the fury of other officials, and announced there would be no diplomatic tit-for-tat — no United States diplomats would be expelled from Russia.
Incidentally, the mainstream press jumped the gun again, publishing the statements of Russian officials claiming the country would be mirroring moves by the U.S. — before Putin announced Russia would not be stooping to such diplomatic pettiness.
While these points show the unseemly power of misinformation and make the corporate media a soft target for ridicule, it’s imperative to understand these false and misleading news items amount to government propaganda — the more the public buys the preferred narrative, the easier it will be to shove unsavory actions, including war, down our throats.
Labeling some 200 independent and alternative outlets as Russian propagandists and Fake News was another feat the Post underhandedly managed in 2016 — and, thanks to its efforts, Obama officially wrote into law, in essence, a Ministry of Propaganda to putatively combat foreign State disinformation. Of course, considering the Post’s owner, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has received $600 million in CIA funds, albeit ostensibly for a stand-alone project, this hardly comes as a shock.
With truth in the balance, 2016 seemed to be a year plucked straight from the pages of George Orwell’s 1984 — perhaps lightly edited by Aldous Huxley.
We don’t need censorship from Facebook’s neoliberal Fake News slayers or the U.S. Ministry of Truth — but in this new era of post-coherence, the masses fell for the trick, and now believe themselves incapable of discerning fact from fiction despite the still-accessible, voluminous information available on the Internet.
If the somnambulant masses were coherent enough to see through the ploy, freedom of speech and the press wouldn’t currently hang in the balance. An idiotic need to be spoon fed information could quash the institutions at the heart of our supposedly-free society.
However, until the government acts more drastically, we still have independent media — whose integrity has a phenomenal track record of refusing to publish bogus information, or retracting any items later found to be mistaken.
In the very near future — without hawk-like vigilance — dissenting opinion and reports accurately depicting corruption endemic in government may become a thing purely of the past.