Memo to New York Times: Who shilled for war more than you? Weapons of Mass Destruction? That was YOU. Enough about Facebook, you jealous tyrants.

The Gray Lady's anti-Facebook temper tantrum continues, with this propaganda fear-mongering:

Where Countries Are
Tinderboxes and
Facebook Is a Match

False rumors set Buddhist against Muslim in Sri Lanka, the
most recent in a global spate of violence fanned by social media.

The New York Times should have just gotten Judith Miller to write that diatribe with the headline, "Facebook: The Real Weapon of Mass Destruction."

Who sparked more wars than the press by just cribbing from press releases, and with rumours, bad and skewed information, and flat-out lies? The first Gulf War sparked when the babies and incubators hoax was reported as true. How about the fun and games Ruder Finn had spreading brazen illogical lunacy during the Civil War in the former Yugoslavia that the New York Times swallowed and regurgitated?

There should have been many New York Times' reporters sitting in The Hague for the bloodshed they enabled and outright caused. Do not think that everyone has forgotten.

Let us not pretend we never had such a thing as tensions, clashes, and war -- and that happened before the invention of the wheel and discovery of fire.

Gray Lady, stop blaming Facebook, and trying to use this as a way manipulative way to try to get back the power you squandered peddling lies.

Because you do not have the actual intelligence to fool all of the people all of the time...


The inherent violence of journalism: It was always about war. It is time to create the communications of peace.

The Monkees had it right with the song Zor and Zam. [youtube]

It is an astute song of two little kings who decide to declare war on each other; except no one shows up to fight.

Because the only people who benefit from war are those who call it.

The song could very well be the anthem for the radical centrist -- and political atheist.

The one who doesn't pick sides because it is a rig and a ruse with the same end result of dragging you into a battle where you lose your free will and then are discarded.

Politics is a form of war, but so, too is journalism.

It has always thrived in wars, even if the coverage is pure propaganda.

Especially if the coverage is pure propaganda.

Journalists love a patriarchal narrative the breeds wars: good guy up against the faceless enemy who has no redeeming qualities, and victory is the complete submission and subjugation of the villain.

Look how journalists are going after Facebook and Russia -- would you think either had a single positive trait if you went by the news stories?

Or that journalists ever did anything wrong?

We are now seeing the most extremist coverage in journalism in the history of its existence. I study propaganda and have since I was an undergraduate psych student, and I have read hundreds of journalistic war stories over the decades.

And nothing compares to the extremist narrative journalists are churning out every single day.

The question is why.

Simple: because journalists know their fortunes tend to rise when the use that patriarchal and antagonistic coverage that sparks wars, suppresses common sense, and incites people to cheer the destruction of complete strangers who never did any harm to anyone.

But a very weird thing has been happening: the war cries aren't doing it.

Their secret deadly weapon suddenly isn't doing its trick. At all.

Which presents a very interesting shift in the world that hints at some sort of evolutionary upgrade: that old method is now out of tune with us, making journalism obsolete.

But it doesn't make information obsolete.

The problem is we now have a void where we need some other structure and form to get informed.

And journalism isn't it anymore.

Because journalism itself is inherently violent. It discriminates, demonizes, manipulates, and forces rigged choices and outcomes.

Like Zor and Zam, their influence is gone and their spell is broken.

Because it is time for a communications based in peace, not war.

One where war is exposed as are all of its tricks so that we all can benefit from the bounty that comes from the tranquil chaos of peace instead, of being at the mercy of the greedy who thrive in secret order of war...


Beware of opinionists who have anti-Eastern Orthodox bigotry: Guardian, stop demonizing Slavs. Even if the PR firms tell you it's okay to do it.

During the Civil War in the former Yugoslavia, some of the warring sides spent money, and lots of it on public relations firms to win the war. Journalists back then were illiterate to the language, customs, history, geography, and psychology of that region, and took whatever narratives they were spoon-fed by these professional propagandists, and completely got away with it.

Fast forward to 2018, where the profession lost clout, but still crib from PR firms to tell them what to spew.

And they are playing the same old bigoted script.

Such as the Guardian with a piece of manipulative and illiterate garbage trying to sound learned, when it is just demonizing propaganda to once again slag the Serbs who are not kissing up to Western journalists because they have self-respect and exercise free will.

And they are Orthodox Christians, and Western media has an absolute burning hatred for Slavs. Serbs get the worst of it, even though they tend to be the least racist nation in Europe, a knee-slapper of an irony to say the least.

The dreck demonizes Slavs to such a disturbing degree that this is hate speech.

"Chameleon"? Really? What about those pretending to be journalists, who are actually propagandists spewing uninformed hate to poison global opinion with vile babble?

But there is a very selfish reason why the press keeps demonizing Serbs, and Russia has nothing to do with it.

Journalists won the war in that civil conflict. They were the biggest winners and benefitted the most from it. They had actually shamelessly cribbed their propaganda, and got away with it, even though the errors they made in their coverage would be torn to shreds today.

As in, mislabelling mass graves of Serbs as Muslim, even though those graves had crosses with Cyrillic writing. 

But they got away with being hateful and subjective. They got away with having no facts or context. They got away with owning the illogical narrative and financially profiting with raises, promotions, awards, and prestige.

Those were the good old days for that profession, when they could corner a beleaguered nation that was broke and broken, and just slap them around, and get the entire planet to cheer that bullying.

So now journalists are trying to go back to what worked, and they are eyeing Serbs once more as their villains.

But this is 2018, where journalists are weak, and their glaringly embarrassing cultural illiteracy can be exposed, as their past sins are brought back to light.

It is also the reason why the press dusted off the old playbook, and pick on Russians: it worked for them before, and it seems like a good idea to jump start their profession's dead corpse.

And yet, it is not working.

Notice how the Guardian has to always beg for money with every article.

Once upon a time, that kind of propaganda sold newspapers.

And now, nothing.

While journalism's fortunes have crumbled to nothing, their trusty Slavic target of torment are doing quite well for themselves.

The profession would be better off educating themselves on tolerance and fact-gathering, rather than PR firm-cribbing.

Enough is enough.

Where there is Propaganda, there is a War going on. In this case, it is a war against social media.

The fear-mongering against Social Media goes on. Bloomberg has one propaganda piece, and NPR has another, with the typical bigoted Left-wing chauvinism against anyone who is an Orthodox Christian. Right-wing partisan press have their targets as Bogeymen to be feared.


But the Left partisan press are also out of control.

You have national media acting like hayseeds and yokels, by pretending that they do not know that their own government -- as well as every other country on the planet -- also engages in propaganda. All the time. They engage on it with foreign countries -- and on their own people. Articles such as the two cited above suffer from a severe confirmation bias: they look at the Them, and conveniently ignore the cases of Us.

If we are exposed to propaganda from every angle, then we can expect some people to take one side, and some will take the opposite, and you will have another group who see through both scripts and think for themselves.

If we are not exposed to propaganda, people to take one side, and some will take the opposite, and you will have another group who see through both scripts and think for themselves.

In other words, we seek propaganda that seems to be convenient to our egos, beliefs, actions, and life.

Propagandists must appease the target audience, not the other way around: they must tell us precisely what we want to hear.

We like to see ourselves as being superior to Them.

And in this case, journalists do not want to hear the truth -- that they have been weakened because their structural deficiencies and arrogance did them in.

That is not the fault of social media that had far less experience than journalism.

That also is not the fault of Russia because their own propaganda during the Communist era was so "effective", that their people didn't believe it, laughed at it, and then the Communist Era fizzled out.

Russian propaganda has always been vastly inferior to Western propaganda.

Take their ineffectiveness at beguiling their own people, and then couple it with trying to beguile a foreign country with vastly different thought processes.

I have met young adults who immigrated to Canada from former Communist countries -- they openly laughed and referred to their nation's newscasts as "the propaganda" -- and not one was older than eighteen. They couldn't even con children. That is like fearing a really bad magician is tricking children into believing in witchcraft.

But there is a true fear in North American journalism, and you cannot blame them for running scared. They screwed up their profession beyond repair, and they did so spectacularly. They strutted around making decrees for decades, deciding who people would cheer as a Great Man -- and who they would shun as a pariah.

They know the ways of propaganda as well, as their narratives were nothing more than manipulative yarns.

It didn't help them, either.

They still collapsed, and are now trying to wage a war against social media, Donald Trump, Russians, and the citizens of their own countries who discover to use the platform to do their own talking.

Propaganda can be effective, but its potency is a fickle one. So long as people want to believe it, it works.

But once they see there is nothing to be gained by believing that lie, they suddenly walk away from it.

As they should laugh at this latest attempt at The Propaganda, and walk away bravely and happily...

Deconstructing Propaganda, Part One: There is They. There is Them. They are very different, but neither One exists. There is only Us in the Infinite.

Propaganda works because it offers two seemingly desirable things: (a) someone to blame for all of your screw-ups, and (b) someone to clean up your messes and save you from yourself. It works because it uses intellectual sleight of hand, and does it effectively, but when you think about it, even though its results end up bloodshed and destruction, how it tricks people is very funny.

How so?

Propaganda thrives in Us versus Them. Us is good. Them is bad.

It sounds simple.

But Them and They are not the same groups in propaganda.

Them we blame, but They will save us.

They should do something about it. They ought to make a law. 

So while we see Them as the enemy, They are a benevolent and hyper competent and efficient organization whose sole purpose is to fix everything so that we do not have to do it ourselves.

We have no responsibilities. We are without blame or fault.

We see this faulty and self-serving theory all the time in the news. We can look at US students protesting for gun control. They should take gun away from Them.

Notice that there is no Us in this equation. Us aren't shooting guns. Us are not the ones to do the heavy lifting to make things safer.

In this case, it is a Divine Us: it's everyone else's fault and everyone else's responsibility.

There is no why are we killing each other? It's Them. They are the killers. There is no what can we do to reduce violence?

We used to ask about the Us and even the We. It doesn't happen. We have lots of Me's out there, as in #MeToo. It is not Us, however. It is not We. That implies no solidarity.

It is all about the Me. That is the reason #MeToo never had a face or an official spokesperson. It is a selfie-spawned movement. Leave the face blank and insert-your-own-face-here.

Just like Time magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.


But there are plenty of Them. Harvey Weinstein was the first one of Them. Kevin Spacey was one of Them. We had many lesser-known Them's.

But no Us. Just MeToo.

Why is this happening?

Because it is the Age of Propaganda.

People are divided by every imaginable factor, from race, gender, and political affiliation.

And while every one of these splinter groups have different Them's to blame, fear, and hate, strangely enough, these same groups have the identical They that is expected to change everything to the in-group's vision of Utopia.

Propaganda seemingly thrives in the Manichean universe of binary groups. Us. Them. Propaganda works precisely because it forces all of our attention away from Us, and strictly on Them.

But there is also They. They will change things based on our demands so it is absolutely what We demand, and we vanish as we no longer have the power to improve or solve, but must be dependent on They to do it for us.

Yet They and Them have lots in common. For starters, They are all walking lockstep to the demands of Us. Them are also all alike and all out to get Us. Even though They and Them imply plurality, both are seen as One.

A patriarchal narrative.

Which means They and Them do not actually exist. There is no They to clean up your messes. There is no Them out to get everyone.

There is only Us.

And We are Infinite.

We are the architects of our society. We live in society, not outside of it, even if We believe We are a fringe group.

The allure of They and Them is a mirage -- a defence mechanism we have so that we do not have to admit any wrongdoing, as we can expect someone else to correct things for us.

And that is a childish and unrealistic assumption.

You want change? You have to stop thinking in terms of They and Them.

And understand it is about Us.

We are Infinite, but we are sharing the same planet.

Every one of us needs to carry our own weight to ensure we are not at risk of getting overburdened by those who mistake us for They, and then pile their demands and dictates onto us.

When we think in those terms, we do not create artificial linear divides.

But most importantly of all, we regain control of our lives, learn from our mistakes as we change and improve -- and we do not fall for propaganda that pretends it is all about Them, when it is a question of Us turning on each other for some nonexistent gain...


Is #MeToo war propaganda?


So many scared sycophants say it has gone "too far."

Whatever that means.

Apparently, men in positions of power should be able to rape women at their will.

And women should just sit in silence and take it.

But let's ask real questions.

Since #MeToo, how many laws have changed?


How many arrests?


Oh, I see.

Nothing has changed, but people think it has gone too far. Nice try.

Actually, it has gone nowhere.

Some creeps have been fired (but still are wealthy), and many, many of those men admitted to wrongdoing.

Wow, and people say it was a witch hunt.

Yet, I have said from the beginning, there are elements of #MeToo that do not sit well with me.

Do not misconstrue my sentiment or twist my words: I have no tolerance of sexual terrorism anywhere, and that includes the workplace manipulation.

It is not sex: it is war strategy. Freak out the woman so much at work, that she will be too scared to think or take you on.

But also, it is a form of blackmail: if push comes to shove, the man can pretend the woman is a willing participant and ensures her silence.

He may even manipulate her into thinking she was a participant, not a victim.

Gaslighting for the ignorant.

So I applaud those who speak out.

Yet, from the beginning, there were things that never sat well with me, and I resent it.

Because this movement isn't about liberating women.

But using them as pawns in a bigger game.


Most of those on the #MeToo Hitlist come from Hollywood, journalism, and a dash of politics.

I find that very interesting. Silicon Valley is rife with sexism, yet it was spared for the most part. Fortune 500 companies also weren't outed, and for all folksy talk, most local stories never took. Legal and medical industries also got a free pass.

Both journalism and Hollywood are veterans at using PR firms and image consultants as well as crisis management -- yet they are the ones taking the hits that less seasoned industries aren't getting.

The arc is very specific. Certain people were targeted, even though there are industries, such as law enforcement where there is an established history of sexual harassment.

What happened?

It is hard to tell. Unlike many social movements, #MeToo has no leader. Rose McGowan isn't organizing or stumping. Who is at the forefront? Who is the face, the voice?

That's a red flag in many regards. Something that powerful needs a driving force of one, or a cluster of people. We can proffer a theory that this movement is taking place on Twitter, and it is a mosaic of voices speaking out.

If that were the case, we'd have a wider variety of industries taking a hit, but that's not what we're seeing at all.

It has struck at the beautiful people, not the women next door.

And for the illusion of McGowan of being at the forefront, she wasn't invited as any actress's guest at the Golden Globes where most of the women wore black.

So she's not it.

And neither is Ronan Farrow.

Both have commendably pushed in different ways: Farrow is still after Weinstein. McGowan is ensuring the movement doesn't fade without proper fixes.

Yet nothing congeals, and in my experience as a journalist, a movement without a leader means something else is at play. Who coordinates? Who is working the phones? Who is getting the lobbyists and the rallies ready to make the most of public goodwill?

We don't know -- and that's a huge void, and one that makes me question how safe are women with #MeToo.

Remember in the 1960s and 1970s when Women's Liberation broke through, and even during the Woman's Suffragists movement decades earlier that got women the right to vote: there were definite leaders guiding and pushing because they had a plan.

Where are the strategists?

And what is the actual plan?

That's the missing variable, and that's reason I cannot give any of it the benefit of the doubt.


A lot of the optics of #MeToo remind me of World War II propaganda posters.

Aside from the vile and overt racist underpinnings, there is something else: the women under attack look very attractive...and yet while the initial reaction is to feel that lust, another look, and the young childless man to whom these posters targeted are inciting him to hate enough to kill strangers.

The posters aren't about liberating women or giving a damn about their rights. They are to be seen as victims, and the point is to scrounge up enough soldiers to defeat an enemy force.

The women are mere pawns of convenience.

‘Enlist’; poster by Fred Spear, 1915. ‘The unspoken reference,’ James Fenton writes, ‘is to the sinking of the <i>Lusitania</i>, an event that made it hard for America to stay out of the war.’

And that is what has been sticking in my craw about #MeToo from day one.

I do not doubt Ronan Farrow. I do not doubt Rose McGowan. They have no reason to play games.

But the fight was co-opted along the way: a legitimate grievance and outrage was turned into an instant movement, but one with a more smug purpose: getting rid of Donald Trump before the next presidential election.


It is very doubtful that gambit is going to work. It did not work in 2016 when there was that little recorded exchange between him and Billy Bush, but perhaps if it was made into a more powerful movement, perhaps...

Perhaps nothing. It is akin to having cancer and someone giving you a little bit of antibiotics to cure you.

It doesn't work in a small quantity and it won't work in a bigger one, either.

Trump never pretended to be a feminist choir boy. His core will not be bothered at all.

And the press never learned from their past.

The late Toronto mayor Rob Ford was caught on camera hanging out with drug dealers smoking crack cocaine while in office.

The local press hated his guts to the point of being irrational, but had he not be stricken with cancer, he would have sailed to a second term.

On crack.

He could have smoked that pipe in front of reporters, and he would have won.

But the Canadian media just kept up their "ewww, gross" narrative of Ford.

The US press had done the same, but then Ronan Farrow got it in his head to expose Harvey Weinstein for the untalented predator that he is.

And someone saw an opportunity for a little game of war.

But what worries me is that once it becomes obvious that Trump is not going anywhere, and can sail into a second term even if he smoked a crack pipe in front of reporters, that those who spoke out during #MeToo are going to get abandoned and then punished for not doing what they were "supposed" to do for someone who fancies himself as a strategist and puppet master.

And women will be set back once again, not roar forward.


It is for this real threat that anyone who believes in the rights of women be more proactive about the next critical steps. With discipline and a plan of action. What should now happen? What laws need changing? How do we deal with predators who have money, connections, power, and control who can save himself through a crisis management firm, or through the court system? How do we bring equity in those areas?

To make a difference where it actually counts, it means taking control away from those who decry that the movement went "too far."

Or that it has become a "witch hunt."

It has been neither. No laws have been changed, for instance. There has been no calls for immediate legal reform. Corporations have not come out with a workers' bill of rights with improved protocols to combat abuse. We have not heard from any Fortune 500 company making any pledge to increase the number of women getting promoted into positions of power, or how they will ensure sexual harassment doesn't happen.

If some super-rich robber baron wants to get rid of Trump because he is afraid of losing a few billion dollars that he was never entitled to own in the first place, let him do the dirty work himself out in the open like everybody else.

Women are not pawns to be exploited and discarded. There is too much about the movement that leaves it vulnerable to be misused, and then discredited.

It is a real threat -- a pseudo backlash when #MeToo doesn't prove to be some way to weaken a political rival.

Because any society that mistreats women, it is not a society worth bragging about.

It's just war propaganda: The REAL Story Behind TIME's President Trump 'Year One' Cover.

Time magazine can prattle all it wants. trump-yearone

They are now out and out war propagandists.

The image is pure agitprop, nothing more.


It adds nothing to a discourse, and is only used to incite irrationality.

(See photograph of Laura Hale's answer to How do American people feel when they see anti-USA propaganda? on Quora)

But Time magazine has had a long track record of being more propagandist's vehicle than real news source.

This is not journalism. It's extremism.

What I find interesting is that the US media is beginning to attack itself, the way the Soviets attacked Americans during the Cold War.


American journalists need not blame the Russians for polluting the information stream.

They are the polluters themselves.

They should at least own up to it.

Podcast 9: Journalism and the Secret Language of War

How Art Nouveau and World War One explain why modern North American society is getting increasingly hostile -- all thanks to a desperate news media. Is a similar implosion right around the corner? Podcast is here.

Transcript is here.

The Art Nouveau essay that I am referencing can be found here:

Greenhalgh, P. (2000). "A Strange Death…". Art Nouveau, 1890–1914, London, V&A, pages. 429–36.

The collapse of journalism in an age of propaganda

Social media feeds are filled with DIY propaganda posters, but many people think what they are presenting is the Truth. us_propaganda-29

It is just a warning to save you from some scary monster robot zombie who has no redeeming qualities.

And they are just trying to build an army to resist those people on the other side of the ideological fence.


They will pretend, of course, to be appealing to you from strength, and flatter you.


And your are told there are strength in numbers.


A fight to the finish! Sink or swim!


It is all about love and peace, after all.


Because everyone wants a winner.


Prove yourself by unleashing your most primal drives.


Speak your mind, so the word gets out before it's too late.


But not too much, of course.


Give all you have and more.


And it is all in the name of a good cause.


It is panic in the streets right now. Middle class people with first-world mindsets who are absolutely scared right out of their wits.

Because journalists have used fear to grab audiences with scars, panics, hysterias, and other war games.

They have called for wars, demanded civilians be bombed back to the Stone Age, and have called slaughter the moral thing for a nation's leader to do as they claimed they were the light to guide their citizens to safety.

Washington Post propaganda

The power of the press has diminished, but the fear persists. It perpetuates on social media, where those who have no idea about the consequences of fear-mongering and panicked messages litter their feeds with anger, hate, and fear.

Because journalists never took it seriously, either.

They never truly understood the concept of balance and ideological responsibility.

The irony is there are two factions fighting for power and control.

Two sides inciting their own with propaganda, but are too blind to see that what they see their enemy doing, they are doing as well.

Without a free press refusing to play those games, the fear explodes as rationality vanishes.

And wars begin.

Harvey Weinstein's war tactics are nothing new: How war propaganda has been working for decades

Kudos to Ronan Farrow for exposing Harvey Weinstein's war tactics. People not schooled in the ways of journalism are surprised, but may not get all the nuances of what Farrow's piece is actually telling you: that those who live in the public eye seeking publicity do an awful lot to manipulate the battleground to get all the fawning advertising-press, and will resort to war tactics to keep their ugly truth from the public. Here is a man willing to demonize those he preyed on. Let that sink in how far he was allegedly willing to go. All while you thought how cultured and refined you were for raving over a disposible Miramax movie, there was some serious and dangerous war games going on behind the scenes. The movie was the distraction and the misdirection. The power was the goal.

Now all along, journalists informed the little people that it was a good thing to rave about these movies. They did not inform the public their patronage was supporting something horrific. You were giving money to a villain who you thought was a good guy, and he became rich and tyrannical at your expense.

That should make you very nervous.

But that is nothing compared to what entire countries and robber barons do in order to rig a war to fix an outcome.

Wars are fought on multiple fronts, but the media front is the most important one. Reporters cover wars, telling their audiences a story that may have nothing to do with what is actually happening.

If one movie studio owner can fool (read: dictate and manipulate) them for decades, an entire government can do a lot more damage. In the United States, at least, since 1938, there is a way to find out whether or not a certain foreign company might be playing those same games.

It is this Justice Department web site.

It is a very exhaustive database that spans back years. You can look up a country, and see which US-based public relations firms, law firm, lobby group, and the like, they have hired, and when.

Because wars have been won because vested interests hired these firms to make their case to the public in order to influence US foreign policy.

It is essential reading for people who want to know how lies become news. In fact, I would go here before I went to traditional news sources. Warring countries hire multiple firms to ensure they win a war and make the world believe they are justified in harming people whose life requirments differ.

Both Gulf Wars and the Civil War in the former Yugoslavia had fought this way -- and each case, the designated villain in these stories did not have a PR firm to fight for their image.

Weinstein merely took a page out of their books.

Journalists are not supposed to fall for those games. They are not supposed to play those games, either.

But they still do -- choosing a side that pays money to make sure the press swallows their narrative without question.

And way too many times for comfort, they do swallow it.

But there are Ronan Farrows out there who question the narratives of the tyrants and push forward to tell the world to stop sleepwalking and accept things without question.

The problem is many people prefer to ignore those warnings and think it is only a one-off, and that some mysterious organization called They will make it all better.

There is no such group, and if there was, They owe you nothing.

And the tyrants keep getting away with it for far too long.

Memo to The National Post: Yes, you do have to rudely question "credible" authorities so you don't appeal to them: Understanding how war propaganda hijacks critical thinking

Journalism has always had a horrendous time during war and civil unrest. I have always said that The Hague should be filled with countless pseudo "journalists" whose irresponsible ways directly caused the senseless and unnecessary murders of hundred of thousands of civilians as it whipped people up into an irrational frenzy. Bad journalism has lured, primed, groomed, and incited otherwise normal people to kill other innocent people all in the name of a good story. If left unchecked, reporters can be the worst bottom feeders you can imagine. Public relation firms and lobby groups have gotten away with bloodshed because the press aids and abets them. It is not some sort of vast "conspiracy": it is simply the oblivious nature of journalists who are self-obsessed, unschooled in information verification, and desperate for the next headline that make them prime pigeons for any propagandist who wishes to lie to a public, and get normally rational and peaceful people to advocate killing complete strangers in the name of morality.

Before getting to the offending article in question, let me discuss the problems journalists have when covering wars and why they are so problematic:

  1. Journalists, by default, operate on a binary level. If there is a "good guy", there must, by default be a "bad guy." The good guy must be presented as faultless and pure as driven snow, according to the journalistic narrative, and the bad guy has to be demonized to be some sort of psycho-sicko without a single redeeming quality. This dynamic is often on the money on one-on-one circumstances (such as looking at child molesters and their victims), but once we start making those assumptions to collectives, all bets are off. But journalists cannot help themselves, especially during times of war -- or politics: they sucker people in by generating stories with familiar narratives, even if the truth of a chaotic and prolonged situation is more complex than that.
  2. Reporters also conveniently ignore outside "help" warring factions employ (often with stolen blood money) to bolster their case. They act as if public relations firms and lobby groups do not exist. Oh, they do. And journalists very well know which ones are paid to enhance the optics, considering these firms send them press releases and video news releases. Remember Nayirah? Most likely not -- or you weren't even born yet. But suffice to say this so-called testimony justified a war that killed scores of innocent Iraqi civilians, even though what she said was not the truth -- and journalists ran with it despite it being released by a firm known to take up such cases. Reporters are not babes in the woods when it comes to the ways of PR, and war-mongers often use multiple firms at a single time to push their agenda, and you can bet they are not going to give any unflattering information about their clients to the press, or allow a narrative where an opponent may have valid points. No, no, no.
  3. Then there is their blind adherence to "authorities." It is pathological, and a topic I have written on here. Journalists love groups, experts, and groups of experts, and treat their word as divine, when nothing could be further from the truth. Authorities told reporters that Richard Jewell was likely a bomber, that Private Jessica Lynch escaped a war zone like Rambo, and that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction ready to blow up blonde, blue eyed babies with gummy smiles. They also sang the praises of Bernie Ebbers and Kenneth Lay. I have written extensively on these hoaxes in my first book...but don't think those were the only cases. For decades, "credible" authorities also told reporters that women were inferior to men, that homosexuality was a mental illness, that Aboriginal Canadians should be kidnapped from their homes, converted to a more "acceptable religion" and be held captive in residential schools, and that various ethnic groups were people in need of Eurocentric meddling.
  4. War time and civil unrest is rife with propaganda on all sides. People lie and lie frequently because (a) they are in survival mode, and whatever gets the job done fast looks like a good idea, and (b) people are competitive and want to win at any cost. The problem is reporters are historically illiterate, do not know the language or its nuances, and are not familiar with the culture of the other sides. And now they are parachuted in expected to find truth in an anarchy of lies. They don't think about all the foreign mercenaries who parachute in to grab power. They don't consider the prisons where that area's most dangerous predators are now abandoned and those thugs are running loose on the street. They also don't disclose  that professional propagandists have literally (yes, literally) set up tents in the war zones to give overwhelmed news producers processed news for their stories.
  5. In times of war, it is too easy to get into mama bear-protective mode and get offended by people asking rude questions, such as wondering if there might be some lies coming out of a chaotic and violent situation. All of a sudden, skeptics are cast into stupid, evil, and crazy troublemakers who dare question unverified information and rumours. Well, no one said polite people have an inkling of what it means to find the truth. As someone who worked as a journalist, people who suffered a tragedy (a real one) still lied to my face and covered up even minor lapses in judgement -- and often, that lie and/or cover-up buried a very important truth essential to understand what really happened. Something bad may have happened -- and genuinely happened to a person, but even genuine victims may be conniving, and as a truth-gatherer, you have to find that truth to see reality, even if you have to be rude about it. Otherwise, you are contaminating information that can lead to unforeseen and terrible consequences later on. If we had more nuanced understanding of conflict, then we will not give one side a free pass and then come up with a solution that cannot work because it was made to fix a different reality other than the one presented. Humanity has to learn how to assess without being judgemental or trying to milk a narrative, and we can't do that if journalists keep shaming people who are skeptical and demand more facts. Once upon a time, questioning a Catholic priest's morality could ruin your life, but eventually, the truth came out about children whose lives were forever ruined by those in power molesting and terrorizing them. That bygone era's massive journalistic failure must always be in the forefront of every reporter's mind (and heart) whenever covering any story. There are no sacred cows.

So what does this all mean?

Well, if it isn't obvious, the short answer is that every story must be weighed individually, without assumptions or passively looking at authorities to do all of our thinking for us as we take their word as God. A good news report (let's get away from the concept of "story") tells us what has happened -- not who to blame, who to pity, and how to feel about it. It hunts for specifics -- and then tries to corroborate every single fact, letting news consumers know what they can take to the bank -- and what still needs verifying. So while it is well and good that a reporter has three experts and organizations to tell him that X happened, he still hunts down as much as he can to make certain X really did happen, and happened the way those authorities said it did, because very often, you have several experts singing the same song, only for people to discover later on that they all relied on the same primary source for their information.

Which brings us to the shoddy reportage of The National Post. 

According to this article, there is a clueless professor who has the gall to question the reports of rape coming out of troubled Myanmar -- as if propaganda of this variety never happened. Worse, this lone wolf is challenging the narrative of several "credible" organizations.

Well, how politically incorrect.

War propaganda has been something I have been studying and researching since I was a psych undergrad in the early 1990s. I was taken by how many hoaxes and propaganda revolved around rape. In a time of anarchy, that kind of abuse would be used, as well as every other kind, but as a piece of propaganda, it served a very real purpose: get the women to be so terrified of a faceless enemy, that she would willingly agree to sacrifice her son to go get himself killed in war. Every war had false stories of this ilk. Do not tell me that this kind of lie never happens. I am a radical feminist who thinks women's shelters are concentration camps for abused women that enable abusive men; so to suggest I am being archaic and anti-woman is absurd. If you are offended by the notion that women's primal nightmares are exploited in war propaganda, then you have serious reality issues you need to work through, and if you think women never fib about sexual assault, does Rolling Stone have an answer for you.

Were women raped there in unrest? Of course, just as there were women raped there when there wasn't unrest. Hollywood does not have the monopoly on raping women for kicks, but it is important to know that there will be those who lie about getting raped, just as there are women who will lie and say it didn't happen -- and PR firms who invent nonexistent figments to inflate their narratives. War is not just ugly with body counts, but with the truth in general. That is the reason we have to be ferocious truth-finders in any chaotic situation. Underreporting and exaggerations alike can lead to the same pile of dead bodies.

So, on the one hand, we have a knowledgable professor asking hard questions, which is absolutely fair and justified. It does not matter what two groups of people are in conflict, we have to ask questions -- not to dismiss them, but to understand the truth and reality of any given situation.

It does not even have to be about war or violence. In the 1980s, there had been a slew of reports of people finding all sorts of objects in their cans of Pepsi. It was national news and there was a real panic. The victims were consumers. The aggressor was a corporation. In the end, most of the consumers who reported tainted cans lied. They saw an opportunity to sue a company with deep pockets and took advantage of it.

Now, let's take another consumer nightmare story from the same era: the Tylenol tampering terrorism. Here, people died, and we could confirm those people died from the same root cause. In this case, while it was tampering, the company had been lackadaisical with how they packaged their product, and made people vulnerable to a sicko's whim. It forced companies to repackage their wares in such a way where there would not be a repeat.

Two cases with two very different causes: the former where a lot of strangers all lied for a common goal and were not victims, and the latter where these strangers were real victims. We do not go in with some mindless default assumption that people are always lying or always telling the truth. Sometimes it is in-between. Sometimes people lie. Sometimes people tell the truth. You don't know unless you are rude enough to ask the questions to find out. Political correctness and insincere empathy are tools people use to hide truths, not find them.

But the scribe in the Post article appealed to authority after authority, deeming them all "credible" without actually proving that any were credible. That is not journalism, but stenography. I don't care about an organization: I care about the facts. I do not want a journalist to commit a logical fallacy because he cannot be bothered to dig. Find the victims. Interview them. Verify their accounts.

The professor in the story asked perfectly legitimate questions. If you do not like what those questions imply, find the hard data to answer her questions. The story has some uncalled for manipulations in it -- at one point the professor in question uses the number "70,000", and the reporter sniffed that none of the organizations used the number in their reports...

Well, okay, you interviewed the skeptical professor, didn't you ask her where that number came from? Did she mean the number literally -- or figuratively? And just because no organization has a particular fact on file, does not mean the fact does not exist. They are not gods whose purpose in life is to do all of the reporter's legwork for them.

Not once in this article does the journalist bother to inform readers which PR firms and lobbyists are working for which side. We need to know as news consumers who is managing the optics of this conflict -- one way or another.

This is not to say violence isn't happening or that the violence isn't lop-sided or even one-way: but no journalist can take any narrative as the default. You dig. You find facts. You verify facts. You find more facts. You verify those facts. You compare and contrast your facts. They will not fit neatly into a perfect little jigsaw puzzle. You do not gloss over facts that prove a heart wrenching yarn to be a lie. You do not appeal to authority. You do not appeal to sympathy. You do not commit a confirmation bias in some de haut en bas manner. You are mindful of Ockham's Razor, meaning you do not explain away or justify facts that go against your working hypothesis of a situation that magically proves that you are holier than the skeptic. You agonize as you keep digging, unconcerned about the toil and filth you have to wade through, unconcerned about whether you are going to get a cookie for being "sensitive" enough. You worry about every word you write, wondering what are the long-term consequences if you didn't dig deep enough or misinterpreted reality.

You do not look down your nose on someone who dares challenge an accepted narrative. You listen with an open mind. You look at multiple alternate theories and you keep digging to open the truth, not burying it with some sort of manipulative narrative no one will have the courage to question.

So shame on the National Post for using feints and ruses to attack a skeptic instead of rationally looking for primary sources (and sorry, organizations and experts are not primary sources) to answer the questions without arrogance or judgement. We should not be threatened by questions. When we have truth, we can deal with reality. When we have lies, we have narratives that hide the solutions reality has in plain sight.

Journalists are supposed to be the jerks who snatch the paper crown off your head and examine it as they then tear it up. They are not supposed to be impressed with your awards and titles. They have the mandate of finding the truths that paint the most accurate picture of reality. That means their atom of existence is facts. Not narrative.

Not narrative.

How many people were harmed in a conflict? Journalists have to push through PR and lobby groups, let alone image consultants. No one gets a pass because they have a title or are a politician or tycoon. Truth is the equalizer. They must resist the temptation of narratives that establish a convenient pecking order and filter of how to see the world.

If we had journalists like that, we wouldn't have toxic tripe in the Post. We wouldn't have skeptic-shaming. We'd have facts.

And with facts, we'd have real answers, and far less bloodshed in the world.