A very uncivil war...

I

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II

The Wall Street Journal dishes on Vice and their thwarted blossoming relationship with the Saudi regime.: I found this passage interesting:

The talks with Vice about a business partnership are unlikely to move forward, according to the people familiar with the discussions. Vice said it was reviewing its deal with government-controlled Saudi Research and Marketing Group, or SRMG, to produce documentaries about Saudi society.

How nice. No special interests, just pure facts and objectivity here, kids.

And then who should bluster into this narrative but Big Tech’s Bad Boy:

Amazon Inc. founder Jeff Bezos on Thursday pointed to additional efforts on the part of Saudi Arabia to polish its image in the Western media. In a blog post, Mr. Bezos alleged National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. had tried to blackmail him and potentially colluded with Saudi Arabia to damage his reputation. The National Enquirer last year published a front-page cover of Prince Mohammed and nearly 100 pages dedicated to his kingdom’s reform efforts. Saudi individuals also have held talks about a possible investment in AMI, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

When asked on Friday in Washington whether Saudi Arabia played any role in the dispute with Mr. Bezos, Adel al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, said: “As far as I know: flat no.”

Oh my, oh dear.

Legacy media tattling on digital media who are getting exploited by Big Tech. Because there is economic troubles and danger, all of a sudden, the knives come out, and they are cannibalizing each other.

Vice hooking up with a regime? Not surprising as its daddy is shedding a few assets, but everyone here has their own interests and survival they’re fretting about, and there are no halos in this batch to root for…

Vice Media strikes out at the Supreme Court of Canada

Not a surprising turn.

The old “chilling effect” gambit doesn’t work. You can’t go on fear-mongering and think the government gives a flying fuck.

And when journalists and their overlords constantly act like paupers begging for government dough, they set a precedent: they have no autonomy and no say over anything anymore.

I have always said that journalism is slavery.

And now the Supreme Court of Canada codified it…

Vice Media facing 15% job cuts.

The smug Disney-backed rubbish bin is sucking at business, like everyone else in that industry.

Disney hedged their bets spectacularly wrong. Vice is hype, nothing more, but Disney thought the magic wand they appropriated from Cinderella’s fairy godmother worked on other misogynistic properties — too bad she got woke somewhere along the way and let them all face reality…

When you become what you hate: Has Graydon Carter become a Spy-worthy parody of himself?

Spy magazine was one of the publications I loved with a passion...but always worried about its ways at the same time. It is like a great love that makes you wonder if it is all too good to be true, or is there some sort of hidden flaw that will get exposed and corrupted, ruining everything you cherished.

I loved Spy, but like all great loves, it was met with parental disapproval. My mother could not understand what a nice girl like me saw in such a nasty publication. Not that she didn't think the people who got roasted in it didn't deserve it, but somehow, she thought Spy was just cruel in the wrong ways.

Spy was jealous at its core, she said, but she agreed that when it came to asking the hard questions that exposed those blowhards and grifters it relentlessly picked on, the pickings were slim, as in, it was the only game in town. Spy magazine was like Wonder Woman -- it truly wasn't any of the good, groundbreaking, progressive, and noble stuff it proclaimed to be, but as there wasn't any alternative out there that truly was, you took what you could get, and it got your love and admiration for at least drawing attention to those qualities.

Humans settle, and then try to justify their settling, building things up, and setting a bar both too high and too low at the same time.

But I always wondered if Spy magazine would become what it hated because on some level, it was jealousy and not truth that guided it. Spy folded before that question ever got answered.

But for one of its co-founders E. Graydon Carter, the answer seems to be yes. After he ran away from Spy, he eventually jumped into the arms of Vanity Fair and became its editor.

Vanity Fair was all about applauding limousine liberalism as it paraded starlets who had to endure the Harvey Weinsteins to get there. All the pretty and rich white people in Hollywood had their free advertising in those pages, but there were at least some think pieces from the old liberal white men to make it readable. It was not progressive, but it had a patina of youthful beauty and seasoned old wisdom to seem like it was the package deal.

It was still more readable than most of the other magazine offerings in its day -- if you could stomach the arrogance and obliviousness of it. It had gall and chutzpah, but like the Fox News Channel, it had first-rate production qualities that allowed things to slide because it was so pretty on the outside.

Carter eventually ran away from that rag, too, just in the nick of time when its coolness factor was one step away from being revoked by reality.

And now, according to the Daily Beast, he wants to run back on stage:

Ex-Vanity Fair Editor and Trump Nemesis Graydon Carter Plots Comeback

From the South of France, one of America’s legendary magazine editors thinks about a return to media with the same people who invested in Vice.

Oh, this is rich.

Yes, from the South of France! With the investors who got played and sank money in the sexist propaganda outlet Vice. 

How very wonderful.

Just to get back at Donald Trump? The same target of jealousy Spy went after, what, decades ago?

Some limousine liberal can't let go of a grudge.

Spy failed to destroy Trump.

Vanity Fair became a bygone relic of a world most of the planet would never see, and in #MeToo, discovered that they wouldn't want, either.

Carter became someone who in another time and place, would have been torn to pieces in the pages of Spy: some uppity geezer whining as he is sipping his champagne about some other old geezer who has more money and power than he does, and he decides to furiously plot his inexplicable enemy's downfall from the rich part of a foreign country by courting people with money who either funded trash like Vice -- or sank money in a losing outlet, such as Univision -- the same people who thought acquiring mindless life-sink site The Onion was a good idea.

How the mighty have faded away to become media lounge lizards.

My younger self would have been very disappointed that her worst fears came true, and that her mother's assessment of the whole jealousy thing was probably right...

Vice was built on "smoke and mirrors"? You don't say, New York Post and New York magazine!

I love an obvious story, and the New York Post has one as does New York magazine, too on how Vice Media did some very dodgy optical feints in order to seem more successful to potential investors than they were -- getting money all while, of course, poorly-paying and sexually harassing their female employees.

Yeah, that was always more than obvious. Their product was always male self-adoration narrative trash that was scant on facts and heavy on childish sophistry that thinks it is hip and edgy because they flip the bird in photoshoots.

Nah, that is what unoriginal grifters do hoping you will be shocked and not take a closer look at the shoddy work of the drivel they puke out.

That journalists have just clued in now is hilarious. They never learned to question those cocky white boys because they may be the Next Great Man or Visionary.

Please, grow up ad grow a pair of ovaries.

They never learned to question, think critically, form a hypothesis, and conduct and experiment that tell them if what they see is real or a bluff, and in the media industry, puffing is just a way of saying hello.

Anyone who thinks Vice has any value is naive. It never did. It is just peddling a fairy tale narrative to pacify the boys who never became hip and edgy rock stars.

It's just silly, but it is always a hoot to see the extent of journalistic gullibility show its empty head every once in a while...

A peculiar publicity stunt...

Masked men storm a newsroom, make mess, and go out of their way to give them a bad "award" for their negative coverage.

As an intimidation tactic, it is a very poor one. Charlie Hebdo it is not. It is far too immature and cringeworthy to be anything but a stunt.

In fact, it guarantees a news outlet will write about it, whine about it, thump their chests about it, and then other media outlets and organizations will howl in unison.

Vice will milk this for all it is worth to build up their image which has taken a beating in the last couple of years with a reputed editor drug dealer and sexual abuse in the workplace. It works in a media outlet's favour; so much so that you don't see those old movie throwback gambits these days.

Yet it is not unprecedented, but you may be surprised to know the context was not an extreme right wing group, but a feminist Left that took place on March 18, 1970, when a group of over one hundred feminists stormed the offices of the Ladies' Home Journal to make demands that the nearly all-male staff have a better grip on women's coverage and issues.

It was an all-day affair and three years later, the first female editor took the helm of the magazine.

The reasons were different. The method was very different. And the outcome was also different. In the 1970 Sit-In, it placed the heat on the magazine and made them accountable. This latest stunt -- and it is a stunt -- works in the publication's favour. Only someone who wasn't media-savvy would think such a move would frighten a publication or make them look bad...

Does the state have the right to look at a reporter's notes of a named source?

Vice was always an unreasonable facsimile of journalism, and now they are throwing a temper tantrum all the way up to the Supreme Court because they interviewed an accused terrorist on the record and the RCMP wants access to the unused information the reporter has.

This is an interesting case, and it is definitely a game of chess. When you do not understand the nuances and the landmines of being a fact-gatherer as you focus on sensational aspects of a story, you become vulnerable to those who see opportunities and grab them. The execution of the story was a tactical error, and watching the fallout is instructive.

The RCMP didn't ask for secret sources, and that is important to note -- it's a new twist, but Vice is using old scripts to fight their case:

Still, the media group said there will be a “chilling effect” if people involved in potentially illegal activities fear their comments to a reporter will be used against them in court.

This argument is nonsense, given that people in "potentially illegal activities" have to fear any and all of their comments to anyone will be used against them in court. You talk to a reporter who can choose to publish anything or everything you say, you are taking that risk for a reason. You are an adult. 

Yet this issue is not as cut and dried is it appears. Discount the "chilling effect" babble Vice is using, especially as their workplace was abusive, and had their own troubles with an editor trying to use his position to help his drug dealing.

But it is also the standard non-reason journalists whip out whenever they are asked to do something they do not want to do.

The issue isn't about protecting anonymous sources: it is about whether or not unused data from sources who are speaking on the record can be used by police. Sometimes, the information doesn't fit with the narrative of the article. Sometimes the editors cuts it because there isn't the room. Sometimes the reporter is saving it for a book or documentary. Sometimes the information would undermine the angle of the article. And sometimes, it would prove the article isn't true.

Vice's argument is curious: “This case involves conscripting the media as, in fact, the investigative arm of the state,” as their lawyer argued...

...And yet, journalists, for decades, have conscripted the state as the investigative arm of their industry. When there is a court-issued publication ban, journalists throw fits. When police hold back information, they thump their chests. They liberally use police as sources, and crib from their press conferences and media releases.

The problem is when you make demands from one side, they want the ability to do the same to you.

Should the police have the right to take the unused information from an already published story, even when it is a fishing expedition? 

That also is not a simple question to answer.

The world has recruited journalists for espionage over the decades. Sometimes spies have used the cover of reporter to do their jobs. There have been laws preventing the practice in some countries, but it is no guarantee that those laws will stay on the books.

Journalists have also swapped information with the state in order to get other information. "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours," is a gambit that often nets scoops and exclusives, but at a moral price.

In the US, there is the nebulous Espionage Act of 1917, that penalizes those who leak classified information. The Obama Administration had used the law more than any other administration, and there is always a chance a journalist will be prosecuted, even if it hasn't happened yet, and given today's political climate, it may happen sooner than we think.

What does that have to do with the current case? A lot.

The state will have disinterest in the vast majority of stories journalists do, and if they want access to what journalists have, there are numerous ways of obtaining it without the journalist ever handing over those notes and missives -- or even being aware it is happening.

There are only three places where the state is going to care: crime stories, terrorism, and classified information. It is the latter two where we can expect outside interests to meddle, and the state can use it as an excuse to want to see whether something sensitive has been leaking out.

With the Russia hysteria going on right now, the story journalists have been overplaying can come back to bite them. If the Russians, for instance, are so adept at propaganda as to alter the results of elections, then it stands to reason, they've been doing the same to reporters, and hence, their work has to be vetted, as perhaps something in the unused pile may have something more sinister that the hapless journalist missed, and when your story is about a terrorist propagandist, it sets up the perfect excuse for rummaging through your laptop.

The source wasn't afraid to talk to Vice. He wasn't afraid to burn up his Canadian passport on YouTube. I am not surprised the RCMP picked this particular story from this particular pseudo-journalism outlet to push for the right to look at anything an outlet chose not to publish. The usual sanctimonious journalistic babble rings hollow in this case. The story was used for shock value and to maintain that edgy persona. No one at Vice actually thought the angle of this story through.

If the Supreme Court decides the state was within their rights, it won't much matter because journalism has been weakened to the point of being inert. It is not much of a victory. If the Supreme Court takes pity on the profession, the state can always find another way to get what they want, as they make hints that the reason reporters didn't do the "right" thing was that they are a little too sympathetic to terrorists. When it is a forced choice between freedom of the press and personal safety, there is no competition to the middle class: they abandoned the news, but will still march for gun control.

For journalists, they lose even if they win.

In a world where privacy is a quaint and almost non-existent notion, any alternative to journalism has to take that reality into the equations because the old guard never did...

The long, slow death of the Communications Industries: It is not just print music journalism. People cannot see past their own selfies.

There is a cultural shift in North America that bodes ill for many industries that hinge on progress, and you see it in countless little meme posters that have a very passive and static belief system that is best described by this one: 9a17a1a03b0e6cda2b3b99350968e289

Never improve your lot because you should be grateful. Never look at the negative or what is missing or you will never be happy. Never change yourself because you are perfect just the way you are.

Welcome to the selfish mindset of the Fairy Princess whose very symbol is One with social media: the selfie. It's all about you, and anyone who veers off your personal heroic narrative is to be dismissed as a villain out to make trouble.

The problem is the one who does not make personal changes in any narrative is not the hero. It is the damsel-in-distress, who needn't lift a finger for an outside force to get her out of the scrapes of her own making -- and since she is rewarded despite her numerous mistakes, her dysfunctional ways are rewarded with safety and even romance, and she doesn't need to alter herself in any way. The hero does all the work, and yet she is right up there with the hero at the end, all smiles and mugging for the audience.

That narrative has leeched into to modern Western ideology. You can never improve on things because you see curses as blessings. You never have to question your own selfish and toxic ways because people you hurt are the villains for not drooling all over your arrogance. Things are good enough just the way they are.

And so, when you crash, be grateful for it and don't change the circumstances or yourself.

Never take a risk. Never be an innovator. Never question yourself. Never push your limits. Just dream, be happy, and accept fate because karma will take care of the rest.

It explains a lot about what happened to journalism.

It bought that garbage for the last couple of decades, always seeing the positive side to everything, inside of looking realistically and seeking improvement.

Because you are perfect just as you, you can make all sorts of unreasonable demands on the public:

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Why would we make her famous? Why does she deserve it? Who owes it to her?

No one.

If the meme gives their best argument, they missed it. These are me-focussed things. Einstein changed the world with his work and contributions to the world. He wasn't famous until he did something of value to earn it.

This has been the unfortunate byproduct of the socially engineered cultural shift brought about by social media.

You plaster your social media feed with your selfies, and then think you are on the cover of some magazine, and deserve things.

No one owes you fame.

Once upon a time, the American Dream was if you worked hard and made the world better for others, they would reward you with fame as a token of their gratitude for your contribution to the evolution of humanity.

Now, it has completely foregone the hard work and altruism, and just wants to grab the fame just because the person is stupid enough to believe they are special.

Journalism has had this mindset entrenched in them, and their hubris began to infect the information stream.

You have Torstar demanding that the government fund their newspaper just because they are the Toronto Star. There is huffy indignant bluster at the suggestion that they ought to be questioning themselves, seeing their flaws, and then trying something fundamentally different to be more in tune with the present landscape.

But because social media has completely taken away the currency of fame and broadcasting, the value of notoriety has almost completely vanished. Part of the power journalism once had was to reward fame to people, and then designate them as a Titan of Industry, a Visionary, and even a Great Man.

Now, it means very little.

You see it in the decline of craftsmanship in music, writing, dance, storytelling, and acting because everything is now good enough. Hollywood now recycles old television shows the way the recycle old movies for remakes. We are supposed to be impressed that a movie that once had an all-male cast has been redone with an all-female cast. It is meaningless and a cheap stunt.

True progress would have women making their own studio and original content done in original ways that differed from the old guard.

But the brand is good enough, and those new faces are squatting in broken down structures that no longer had the power to hold up to modern sensibilities.

It goes deeper than that. When Vice Media got in trouble for their structural and brazen misogyny, the company decided to replace on make co-founder with a woman. The shallow window-dressing is just good enough. There is no hint at improvements because everything is good enough as it is -- bring in someone from A+E even though that's the network that's brought nothing original that has a shred of utility, let alone dignity, and let's hope no one notices that nothing actually changes.

It's a mere cosmetic airbrushing, the way people airbrush their selfies.

But it is not just journalism that is suffering from the strategic self-absorbed passivity. Communications in general is a victim to its own hubris coupled with the ennui of an audience who no longer desire to make other people famous when they are comparing the Instagram likes to celebrities.

A recent column laments the demise of print music journalism (as Frank Zappa once quipped, "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read”), and yet it should be no surprise. Any garbage band can had a Twitter feed and their own web page promoting their own music. Anyone can live out their fantasy, and any attention is good enough, and is a blessing. You may never make any money from it, but it is enough to boast and admire as you look at your selfies on the screen at the tattoo parlour as you get your band's latest logo seared on your chest.

It will all be good enough. It will all work out in the end...the propaganda meme says so.

Social media built a stubborn fortress that has cult-like properties of pushing away the evidence of reality to find truth.

Journalists created that fortress first, however. They led by example. They never sought to improve their methods, and when social media came along, people used a template, and what they had was a single one: the one that never saw past its own notoriety and never admitted to a single flaw.

Journalism preferred fame over facts, and narrative over logic. People forgot why we had journalism in the first place because journalists forgot first.

We are now living in times where no one needs to admit they were ever wrong. They can airbrush their selfies and admired them as they stare at their smartphones. They can pretend having a hundred likes or a thousand followers means people actually looked at what they presented on their walls.

The apathy can only go so far for social media -- journalists embraced passive positivity and selfishness to their own destruction, and the disconnectedness of social media is beginning to show. People buy fake followers, for instance, to prop up and cover the truth about their notoriety.

Sooner or later, there comes the revolt against that disconnect and lack of progress -- because when you are not progressing, you are not merely stagnating, but regressing -- and will be forced to look at why. The finger-pointing begins -- but as no one thinks they are doing anything wrong (calling their blunders heroic and amazing), they will villainize those who see their deficits, and then the clashes explode.

Humanity goes through these cycles. The question is whether there will be a new form of communications that can pick up the torch from the one that lost its clout and credibility, and will come soon enough before clashes turn to war because no one had the courage to see where they were going wrong, and what they could change about themselves to improve the world around them without expecting applause or fame for it.