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Is NY Times Complicit in Right Wing Propaganda?
Fascism! It’s everywhere you look these days. Unless you’re a newspaper headline writer. In which case it still exists, but you probably call it something else because if you call it fascism you aren’t being objective.
Over Veterans Day, current GOP frontrunner Donald J Trump unloaded his most Hitleresque utterances to date on Truth Social. It’s worth quoting in full:
“In honor of our great Veterans on Veteran’s Day, we pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our Country, lie, steal, and cheat on Elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America, and the American Dream. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave, than the threat from within. Despite the hatred and anger of the Radical Left Lunatics who want to destroy our Country, we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The NYT headline about this story reads, and we are absolutely not making this up:
“Trump takes Veterans Day speech in a very different direction”
Different direction. That’s like saying the Hindenburg takes the zeppelin business in a different direction. It’s such a massive, avalanche level burying of the lede, as to become almost maliciously misinforming. Different direction. The New York Times is beyond parody, a water carrier and obfuscator of the highest order, nearly as dangerous as outlets like Fox News. At least Fox News doesn’t get mistaken for being liberal from time to time.
What’s the holdup on calling a fascist a fascist, anyway? The media falls down flat on this front, and unless they’re sending out a fundraising text or email, so do the Democrats. This is hardly the first inkling of fascism from the ole former chief executive, current chief seditionist. It’s kind of his whole thing. It’s the whole thing of the Republican Party.
They’re fascists. And unfortunately for all of us, the slide into fascism isn’t strictly an American affair. Across the pond, the United Kingdom is in the throes of their own authoritarian yearnings. The recent sacking of Suella Braverman for inciting a mob to attack peaceful pro-Palestine marchers on Armistice Day is a prime example. India? Going fascist. France, Germany, Greece? All seeing resurging right-wing movements.
Everywhere across the collapsing neoliberal order, the ascendance of the right. If you’re a regular reader of Revelatur, it’s not news to you that we have a fascism problem.
So, a common argument you might hear out there these days, and we’ve heard it plenty - is that IF the Republican Party is this dangerous, we must all take our lumps and cease calling attention to the deep problems with the Democratic Party. That now is not the time to criticize the system, rock the boat, ruffle feathers.
It’s precisely because the stakes are so damn high that we are OBLIGATED to criticize the system. The structural flaws in everything are HOW we end up with fascism. The failings of the neoliberal social order allow fascists to capitalize. Fascism is everywhere, and despite recent electoral gains by the Democrats in the last elections, the danger has not gone away. Not at all.
And as you can read about in our other piece in this edition, the information and action ecosystem most of us inhabit in the United States is wholly unsuited to responding.
Trump and Congress and the New York Times, Oh My!
Apparently, we’re supposed to be outraged by Trump going Full Tilt Nazi by using the term vermin, threatening to open concentration camps and toss his enemies in them, intimidating witnesses, planning to export non-citizens, plotting to dismantle the Merit-based aspects of the Federal Government Executive Branch, and calling Hamas smart -- and American Jews disloyal.
Just as certainly it’s the media’s intent that we: be glad justice is coming for Santos and Tuberville; be relieved that the Federal Government did not shut down; reconsider our enmity towards Mike Johnson; and be appalled by MTG’s ignorance and lack of decorum.
And finally, we’re evidently expected to be outraged by the unflinching “centrism” and bothsidesism of the New York Times, which recently: was forced to deny that it knew in advance about the Hamas attack; was accused by Biden and multiple media outlets of being too accommodating to Trump; and was charged by its own staff members with unenlightened coverage of LGBTQ issues.
I use the terms “supposed to,” “it’s the media’s intent,” and “evidently expected to” because that is how I feel viscerally upon reading about those subjects. And now I’m “expected to” do something – not sure what exactly – it's kind of a subliminal thing, based on those feelings. In any case, my feelings and subsequent actions are proof that the media has “done its job” from its publishers and advertisers’ perspectives. But not so fast.
We’re not in the visceral response business here at Revelatur, we’re in the intelligence analysis business. And from that perspective, things look quite different.
From our structured analytical perspective, we consider it likely that such content, and we just scratched the surface of it above, is designed specifically to do two things, and neither is to inform readers of reality with fact-based insights.
First, a certain amount of content is required to fill content channels – the length of news broadcasts and linear space of print media across the breadth of all outlets. Content filling requires plausible, not accurate content, and if it can be left somewhat ambiguous, the door is open for similar content to fill the same channels tomorrow and the next day. Thus, the structure of media creates a requirement for a quantity of content that can’t be guaranteed by real events, and mitigates against concise, unambiguous reporting.
Second, there are no mechanisms in the media to prioritize content by importance, or to place it in context. And there are no sanctions for failing to do so either. In fact, as we pointed out earlier, the incentives work in the other direction. Without those guardrails, content producers need only avoid jail and bankruptcy, and with the internet and social media, nothing prevents the race to the bottom we are now experiencing.
What’s the point? Well, as a former member of the profession of arms, and a highly decorated member of the intelligence community, as well as a highly credentialed project management professional, even the best media does not merit the term professional, and thus its output should primarily be considered data, at best information, but never knowledge. The problem is it wants you to consider it knowledge, and to pay for it and treat it as such. It’s a profound expectations mismatch, and it’s one of the fundamental disconnects in American society.
I’ve been the senior intelligence officer in many operations centers in my career. That job entails many things, but the primary objective is to provide Commanders and policy makers with Actionable Situational Understanding so that they can act with a higher probability of success than is possible otherwise. This is accomplished through briefings and reports. If the war to preserve democracy had such a center and Commander, none of the information at the beginning of this piece would be included in any briefings or reports – because none of it brings us any closer to an understanding of the enemy, and none of it is actionable.
What the notional Commander needs to know is what the bad guys are going to do next, where are they vulnerable, and what counterstrategy is likely to be most effective.
If you’re wondering what the answers to those questions are, we’ve reported that information extensively in the past dozen or so newsletters. Our purpose here is to point out that because our time, attention and energy are limited, and much of the media content is biased and orthogonal to our objectives, that our time is better applied by reading and rigorously analyzing multiple sources of fact-based content – performing “intelligence work” as it were. Everyone in the military does intelligence work, and in the Army, it’s said that “every soldier is a sensor.” Bottom line, for you to be properly informed and more effective as a soldier in the war to protect democracy you’ll need to get more serious about both your information sources and your analysis.
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