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Wednesday, October 26, 2016
All the News That Fits
You're probably appalled at the American media's shameless whoring for Hillary Clinton, asking yourself why they would so thoroughly debase their much-touted journalistic ethics. President Obama has answered that question.
As reported by Agence France Presse, during a recent speech in Pittsburgh he postulated:
"We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to.
"There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard, because they just don't have any basis in anything that's actually happening in the world."
Set aside the outrageous, un-American gall in proposing that any central authority should "curate" information put out to the public, and walk with me for a minute down a meandering path of speculation.
It is, or course, the World Wide Web in which Obama's informational "wild-wild west" exists. This is the realm of Breitbart, Cybercast News Service, the Drudge Report, World Net Daily, American Thinker, and other non-establishment outlets that persist in making the president uncomfortable.
And what has happened recently to affect the World Wide Web? The U.S. government has handed over control to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the nonprofit agency that assigns website domain names.
Is it in the president's mind that ICANN might someday assume the "curating function" he sees as necessary to insure "truthiness" in web-based news reporting?
Well, according to ICANN Board Chair Stephen D. Crocker, diverse membership in the organization makes such a thing unthinkable. Quoted by the tech site C/NET, Crocker said:
"This community validated the multistakeholder model of internet governance. It has shown that a governance model defined by the inclusion of all voices, including business, academics, technical experts, civil society, governments and many others is the best way to assure that the internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the internet of today."
His confidence is echoed by the Internet Governance Coalition, a group of technology firms that includes Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon, among others. They issued a statement that lauds ICANN's "strong accountability measures" and upholds "the bottom-up approach that embodies the very nature of the open internet we experience today.…"
Pardon the skepticism to which I've become increasingly prone, but this sounds very much like the "collaborative" concept of governance that prevails in the academic world.
If you've ever applied for a position at a college or university, you know that what a search committee wants most urgently to know about you is whether you have a "collaborative style" of working.
What exactly is a "collaborative style," as understood in today's academic world? It means that you won't do anything to contradict the orthodoxy in thought and procedure reigning on campus -- in other words, that you are "politically correct" in your outlook.
Despite all the assurances about ICANN, it seems to me that the possibility of pressure (if not outright restrictions) being placed on Internet content providers is very great. Especially so, given the "inclusion" of foreign governments in ICANN's "multistakeholder model of internet governance."
And what does this have to do with the mainstream media and their devotion to Hillary Clinton?
The Internet has wreaked havoc on the media. It has robbed audience and ad revenue from broadcast outlets. It has destroyed newspapers in every part of the country. In combination with overall decreased literacy, it has reduced book publishing to a shadow of its once-great self.
Only a handful of very large and diversified media conglomerates are thriving. And the various mergers, reductions and recombinations that have taken place among them suggest that their long-term prospects are far from assured.
While the American press has always been partisan -- and in latter decades predominantly liberal -- journalists and their management have tried to make at least token efforts at evenhandedness, in appearance anyway.
Not so this election.
The wanton suppression of negative stories on Clinton (these they leave to the National Enquirer and the British press); the virtual blackout of the Wikileaks disclosures; the constant drumbeat of stupid, overblown "revelations" about Trump (including the most lurid and petty irrelevancies); the mischaracterization of poll results, the mysterious technical difficulties that interrupt radio and TV interviews; and much more -- all of this leaves no doubt that the media are willing to abandon every last shred of professional ethics to put Hillary in the White House.
We could generally chalk it all up to the pervasive ideological madness of our time. But that's not a sufficient explanation. It doesn't ring true to my experience.
Having begun my career as a reporter and then practiced public relations and institutional communications, I've worked with news people throughout my professional life. I've known many fine men and women in the field -- moral, diligent, ethically sound -- many of whom I've disagreed with politically but admired nonetheless.
The explanation for the gross malfeasance we see today -- being carried out on an industry-wide scale -- does not lie primarily with the ideological predilections of journalists.
The key is what Obama said about "curating" the news. He was signaling a promise to the mainstream media organizations -- a promise which the politics of this moment don't permit Hillary to make openly herself…
The Internet will be "curated." The non-establishment news providers will be squeezed out. The mainstream conglomerates will regain their traditional exclusive control over the informational gates and the revenues they generate.
That's the plan.
It will take time, of course. It may be done with the connivance of ICANN. It may be done through the imposition of censorship laws such as those that already exist in Europe, Canada, and other places around the world. It may require a combination of both avenues.
But that's the plan.
Bill Kassel is a writer, communications consultant, and media producer. His essays and random rants can be found at his blog, "The Guy in the Next Pew" (billkassel.com). The latest of his novels, MY BROTHER'S KEEPER, has recently been released as an eBook.