The history of “leaking” information to the press as a means of shaping public policy is nothing new.
As far back as George Washington’s administration, Thomas Jefferson and his party surreptitiously provided media outlets of the day with information regarding a secret treaty as a means of stirring mass outrage.
Today, leaks of misappropriated private information or purloined government documents can be facilitated at the speed of light, and disseminated to millions, literally at the touch of a button.
Raw information – unfiltered by the slant and opinion of media moguls with a political agenda.
And for good or for ill – the revelation of bare and unvarnished facts often changes minds – and it helps explain what Justice Brandeis meant when he said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
In Barker’s World, I am fortunate to have a precious few very smart and extremely loyal friends who enjoy engaging in wide-ranging, critical discussions of the topical issues of the day. They serve as a resilient sounding board for my thoughts, fears and delusions; and they are intelligent enough to point out the error in my thought process – and have been with me long enough to correctly identify the origin of a particular bias.
Although my confidants and I rarely dabble in national or international politics, a close friend has been prompting me to write down my thoughts on the current presidential election.
After several fits and starts, you know, sitting down at the desk and staring at a blank page, wondering what in the hell I could possibly add to this godforsaken mess, I think I may have finally found a message:
If nothing else, this bizarre contest has cutaway our self-denial and exposed the rancid malignancy on the American political system by mega-media conglomerates – and nothing will ever be quite the same again.
Love him or hate him, Julian Assange – the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks – has changed the rules of the game forever.
We now live in an age where hackers and fringe outlets with misappropriated information may well replace traditional media sources as disillusioned citizens are incipiently drawn to these increasingly “trusted” alternate information sources.
In years past, whistleblowers went to The Washington Post or the New York Times, now those august media outlets have lost all credibility – co-opted by their blatant skewing of the facts in an attempt to protect the establishment and promote select candidates – like Hillary Clinton.
In my view, when once venerated media outlets begin misrepresenting the facts in a coordinated effort to sway the outcome of a national election – the future of our democracy is in jeopardy.
After all, once this base form of mass deceit has been exposed, the national press corps will never again enjoy the public’s trust, and that is a dangerous proposition for our Grand Experiment in democracy.
While there has always been a subtle lean to most media outlets – for example, The Washington Post to the left, The Washington Times to the right – based upon recent events, it appears once respected media organizations, and even individual reporters, have simply thrown off the self-regulatory traces and openly breached journalistic ethics and standards under some weird “the ends justify the means” strategy of protecting us from ourselves.
Regardless, these emerging ‘media’ sources aren’t squeaky clean either.
It is well known that WikiLeaks has been the subject of a continuing federal investigation into various international cyber crimes – to include publishing information held secret by the United States government – and Assange himself has been named in a rape indictment in Sweden (a crime which he denies.)
In early October, Assange vowed to publish leaked emails from the Clinton campaign “every week” leading up to election day.
This hasn’t gone without response.
Among other attempts to kill the messenger, the Clinton’s campaign has speculated that WikiLeaks has been working directly with the Russian government to help Trump secure victory in November.
I don’t know if reading the WikiLeaks Clinton document dump makes me part of the problem (as CNN claims), but the information has damn sure shined a bright light on the inner workings of our nation’s political elite when the stakes are high – and they don’t get much higher than the Presidency of the United States.
From the emails that I have read, the prevailing and continuing theme of these misappropriated communiques continues to reveal the overweening bias and wholesale complicity of the mainstream media – not to mention the ugly quid pro quo negotiations of high-ranking members of our government to limit Mrs. Clinton’s exposure in her gross mishandling of classified material during her service as Secretary of State – among other distasteful revelations.
Clearly, our most trusted news sources have been exposed as mere shills for a political campaign.
They have worked hand-in-hand to stage both the political landscape, and position stories that show Mrs. Clinton in a favorable light, while denigrating all things Trump.
In my view, it doesn’t matter which candidate you support, this wholesale revelation of coordinated media prejudice and favoritism should chill you to the bone.
Will you ever trust anything you read, watch or hear from corporate media again?
How can you?
Regular readers of this forum know how I squawk-on, ad nauseum, about the basic unfairness of our local electoral process – a bastardized system where uber-rich insiders pump unnatural sums of money into municipal and county elections as a means of controlling their personal and professional environment.
Well, bump that up to the national level and add the open collusion and power of once trusted information sources and you get the idea that we are in real trouble here.
The public’s trust in traditional media is lower than whale shit and has been for some time – that’s not breaking news. But, in my view, the open manipulation of the American political system by billionaire media moguls is.
This campaign coverage is not like watching sausage being made – it’s like watching the corpse of Walter Cronkite being exhumed and hung by the ankles in front of CBS News headquarters in Washington – it is the death of a national “trust” playing out before our eyes, and it is horrifying.
If this is how our nation’s political elite react when the status quo is challenged, imagine what else they are capable of?
To say they have stacked the deck is an understatement – national media outlets, both print and electronic, have exposed themselves for what they truly are – and there is no going back to the way things were “before.”
As reporter Jordan Chariton, writing for the online political commentary, The Young Turks, so aptly pointed out:
“In the end, corporate journalists receiving checks from multi-billion dollar conglomerates have become just as out-of-touch as politicians receiving hundreds of millions from billionaire plutocrats.”
And that may well be the biggest story of this, or any other, presidential election in our lifetime.