The News That Isn’t: How We Are Fed False Stories Driven By Missing Information

300px-IRSThe news is coming to us hot and heavy these days. There is scandal after scandal, outrage after outrage. The media playbook treats it all as a way to build audience,  and raise ratings (and revenue) by polarizing opinion.

Conflict sells.

Here’s what the Republicans say; here’s how the Democrats respond.  Obama is good; Obama is bad. So and so says this; so and so fires back Its mostly heat, not light.

There are rarely any other views, or ways of understanding events presented.

News programs are the new wrestling shows, a noisy battleground, in the morning, on the Sunday shows, and all day long on cable networks. The goal is not to explain, probe, or ask questions.

No, its to squeeze a repetitive and narrow narratives into a morality play that provokes as much emotion as possible.

Its been said we live in an era of “missing information” and the news is the best arena that defines it—not by what’s being reported, but how its being reported, and mostly by what’s not being reported.

Lets look at current major “stories”—stories is an appropriate word—to show how this process works.

1. The IRS

At issue is the decision of one office of the IRS to target small Tea Party Groups.  They are now apoplectic, using the incident to picture them as martyrs while launching campaigns to raise money for them as victims.

The President is apologizing, “accepting resignations” from temporary officials. Yada Yada Yada.

Unmentioned; This is not the real tax scandal focused on the way big money has taken over the electoral system using non-profits and anonymous sources with the Federal Election Commission and the IRS looking the other way.

The IRS of course has been a favorite tool of punishment since the days of Al Capone. Remember the Nixon enemies list?

•How many peace and justice groups experienced the same treatment? For how many years did the IRS go after leftists? Did anyone in our fearless media ask?

•Did the right-wingers now crying bloody murder ever speak up when the IRS harassed its enemies?

Do I even have to ask?

Why isn’t Karl Rove’s “dark money” manipulations tied to this? William Boardman writes: “Karl Rove is the real poster boy for the so-called IRS (Internal Revenue Service) ‘scandal’ of taking a closer look at applications by political organizations seeking a 501(c)(4) tax status that not only makes them tax exempt but protects their donors with anonymity.”

Sheila Krumholz, of the Center for Responsive Politics, the group that tracks all money in politics wrote (with her board chairman) in the New York Times:

“With the surge of dark money into politics, we need to ensure that the I.R.S. is capable of rigorously enforcing the law in a non-partisan, but also more effective, way. While we focus on the rickety raft of minor Tea Party groups targeted by the I.R.S., there is an entire fleet of big spenders that are operating with apparent impunity. “

Unfortunately, this real problem it is not yet news.

And, for that matter, do all the corporations who get away without paying any taxes rate this type of media treatment too? Why isn’t that a mega scandal? Just asking.

2.The Boston Bombers

It was left to Russ Baker of the small WhoWhatWhy website to catalogue the many unasked and unanswered question about what really happened in one of the most “covered” recent news spectacles.

He writes before sinking his teeth into the substance:

“Most of the national and international media have left Boston—and essentially moved on from the Marathon bombing story. Most of the national and international media have left Boston—and essentially moved on from the Marathon bombing story. But at WhoWhatWhy, we’re just getting started.

Why? Because we see a lot of problems with what we’ve been told so far. We’ve been disappointed that the media have failed to demonstrate healthy skepticism while passing along, unchallenged, the (self-serving) assertions of “the authorities.”

It is the job of journalism not only to report what authorities say, but also to confirm their claims, and address anomalies, errors, inconsistencies, outright lies, and cover-ups, large and small.”

3: Spying on the Associated Press

It turns out there is much more to the story about the government investigating leaks to the AP. It turns out the news and the government had been negotiating, about when to release the story, and the AP had held its story for five days and was wrangling with the White House over who would break it suggesting that there may be questionable practices on both sides.

Andrew Beaujon of the Poynter Institute that covers media practices reported:

“The Associated Press held its story about a foiled underwear bombing for five days, Carol D. Leonnig and Julie Tate report in The Washington Post. But on Monday, May 7, “CIA officials reported that the national security concerns were ‘no longer an issue,’” they write. Then the government began jostling with AP over who would get to break the story.

When the journalists rejected a plea to hold off longer, the CIA then offered a compromise. Would they wait a day if AP could have the story exclusively for an hour, with no government officials confirming it for that time?

Then an administration official called, saying, “AP could have the story exclusively for five minutes before the White House made its own announcement. AP then rejected the request to postpone publication any longer.”

The AP may be our leading news agency, and a cooperative no less, but it has a long history of collusion with power, belittling opposition movements worldwide, echoing US government claims and skewing the news.

This goes way back—here’s a story I found from 1914 from the Radical magazine “The Masses.”

“Last summer, after a number of publications, including Collier’s Weekly and The Independent, had delicately intimated that the Associated Press gave the country no fair amount of the struggle between labor and capital in West Virginia, THE MASSES decided to look into the case. It decided that if this thing were true, it ought to be stated without delicacy.

The result was a paragraph explicitly and warmly charging the Associated Press with having suppressed and colored the news of that strike in favor of the employers. Accompanying the paragraph was a cartoon presenting the same charge in a graphic form.

Upon the basis of this cartoon and paragraph, William Rand, an attorney for the Associated Press, brought John Doe proceedings against THE MASSES in the Municipal Court of New York. Justice Breen dismissed the case.

Rand then went to the District Attorney. And the District Attorney considered the case serious enough to receive the attention of the Grand Jury. He secured an indictment of two editors of THE MASSES for criminal libel. Max Eastman and Arthur Young were arraigned on December 13, pleaded not guilty, and were each released on $1,000 bail. The date for the trial is not set. The penalty for criminal libel may be one year in prison, $5,000 fine, or both.”

So much for Freedom of the Press! In this case, critics were demanding freedom from the press.

4. Benghazi Blunders

The government has released emails on Benghazi, The Republicans want more. The issue is defined as one of bad security by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Once again, there’s been no independent investigation. It has become a partisan football while skirting deeper issues.

Former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman has come forward to question whether this office in Benghazi was really a consulate but an “intelligence platform” for use in a covert war that the sacking of the embassy became part of. He writes:

“When U.S. personnel were airlifted from Benghazi the night of the attack, there were seven Foreign Service and State Department officers and 23 CIA officers onboard. This fact alone indicates that the consulate was primarily diplomatic cover for an intelligence operation that was known to Libyan militia groups.”

So again, what’s offered up as news may be a way of masking the real news—and/or truth—information that the government and other interests want to conceal, with most of the media looking the other way playing games.

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  • Simon Valentine

    the Jurassic Park DNA spiral line “it’s full of …. *unheaving sigh* holes”

    the (philoso)raptor fences aren’t in keeping with the natural selection finding a weigh

    “It has become a partisan football while skirting deeper issues.”
    best. line. evar.

  • sgtdoom

    The Day Before

    Whether a certified fraud examiner, an actual investigative journalist, or a volunteer activist (such as yours truly was for many a year in their spare time), the crucial thing one learns is when any nonsensical news event, or momentous event occurs, it is always best to look closely at what transpired the day before.

    On May 10th recently, an old IG report was dredged up referring to several IRS agents who targeted Koch brothers’ front groups (which newsies reports as Tea Party outfits?) and immediately received, or was mandatorily given, focused and massive national news attention!

    So what occurred on May 9th? On that day, a press release at the IRS web site announced the largest tax investigation in history, an international joint effort between the tax administrations of the USA, Australia and the UK, looking into those untaxed trillions of dollars parked in offshore tax havens from information leaked to them.

    This would be the most momentous event on behalf of the citizenry, and against the super rich since the Kennedy and Roosevelt administrations, yet nary a word was mentioned in the national media about this epochal announcement?

    On 9/11/01, an airliner crashed dead center into the Pentagon’s west wall, killing almost their entire auditing team (DIA’s Financial Management staff), and severely injuring the rest.

    So what occurred on 9/10/01, the day before?

    On 9/10, the Pentagon’s comptroller announced that the very same auditing team had uncovered the unaccounted for sum of $2.3 trillion of DoD funds; that is, $2.3 trillion in DoD funds were missing and unaccounted for.

    Always examine the events of the day before for the most interest causal factors!

    http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS,-Australia-and-United-Kingdom-Engaged-in-Cooperative-Effort-to-Combat-Offshore-Tax-Evasion
    http://www.icij.org/blog/2013/05/authorities-announce-tax-haven-investigation

  • Anarchy Pony

    Mainstream news’s biggest trick is the simple but relatively effective lie of omission.

  • DrDavidKelly

    I hardly watch any msm news these daze … ultimately things in life are either interesting or not and I found news to be the latter for just some of the very reasons outlined in this article. They never ask the questions I want hear, so I end up becoming frustrated with what began as an interesting story.

    A few months back two elderly brothers, surnamed Streeter, were murdered on a remote property in Australia. Turns out it was the son of one of the men who killed them. These were simple farming folk, been in the community for generations. The mainstream press reported the murder, the apprehension of the son and then dropped the story. It just screams out for a why.

    Recently there was the ‘prisoner X’ fiasco where an Australian spy was found dead in an Israeli jail. I expected this story to also fade to black but to my surprise there was follow through with a full account being given by ASIO. Turns out he hung himself in a ‘suicide-proof’ cell with mulitiple cctv cameras and hypersensitive microphones … well at least they went that far but failed to ask why no one was watching when he killed himself. The question just seems so obvious?

    So msm to me is more of a frustration and it’s not necessarily always their fault. When you have 30sec to give a story you’re going to leave out loads of information but the devil is always in the detail. The ongoing Syrian conflict is another excellent case in point.

    • kowalityjesus

      Not only the fact that Australia has spies but also that some of them spy on Israel is a completely unprecedented notion to me.

      • DrDavidKelly

        Oh yes we have ASIO – at least that’s what the government acknowledges as our intelligence division. I may have made an error here though … I do believe he was a Mossad agent but an Australian citizen – just to clarify. The story only came to light because an Australian journalist dug it up. Otherwise ‘prisoner x’ would have died in Israel and no one would have heard a thing.

  • echar

    Yes but the Biebs has 24 hours to get his monkey out of German customs or it’s going to a zoo.

  • Juan

    Don’t/can’t watch tv. I get way too agitated at the obvious propaganda and mind control.

    • kowalityjesus

      I wonder what kind of evil mind games it played with me before I installed some important patches to my bullshit detector.

  • Heather Turner

    Otherwise known as understanding the “agenda setting” function of the news media. I’ve seen quite a few J school kids just never quite catch on to it.

    Good article!

  • David Duke-Astin

    “balance” is what ruined news. they repeat press releases (no expensive reporters needed) and then put some talking head consultants (paid per appearance, much cheaper and often better-looking than actual journalists. the result is infotainment and the rest of us have to read UK and Russian papers to find out what is actually going on.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Not that I give a flying f*ck about this anymore, but you might find this amusing:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/05/18/irs-scandal-planted-question/2216747/

    You could look at it as an epic example of incompetence. I’m pretty sure that’s the preferred narrative.

    I, however, suspect that it was perfectly timed to take our eye off the ball. Maybe something to do with Iran or Syria, but my gut tells me it most likely is as simple as Obama wanting to defeat the tax and campaign finance reform movement without his fingerprints on it.

    Yeah, it might look like a defeat on the surface, but look at the long term. He needs to maintain his victim status in the eyes of rank-and-file Dems in order to defeat potential leftward defections.

  • Noah_Nine

    The IRS is like the bulldog sicked on “enemies” of those pulling the levers…. I am reminded of the Peter Gatien fiasco…. When the Guiliani mafia couldn’t make the drug charges stick, the next course of action was the good old IRS… Sandbagged by NYC…

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