Friday, January 1, 2021

Observations About the "Mainstream Media", And Much More

I see a lot of claims coming from all over the political right,  about the "mainstream media" being "fake news".  Details vary,  but the common thread is that they are left-wing (or are controlled by the far left) and they are very untruthful,  especially regarding President Trump.  

The "far left" is NOT the same as the "mainstream media",  despite the false claims.  Ultimately,  these false claims derive from far-right or extremist sources coming off the internet.  There are several,  but perhaps the best known of late is the Qanon internet community,  which has fed claims to many others. 

In contrast to the claims about the media being "fake news",  here are some observations of my own about the "mainstream media":

There are 5 national TV networks that offer news.  Each has a cadre of professional journalists,  and each has an overt or covert editorial slant,  imposed from above in the case of the 4 commercially-owned networks.  My own evaluations of these features follow:

NBC News,  good quality journalism,  openly left-wing editorial slant,  but not really far-left. 

CBS News,  good quality journalism,  rather centrist editorially.

ABC News,  good quality journalism,  centrist editorial slant,  entertainment news overprioritized by ownership (unsurprising since that ownership is first and foremost an entertainment company:  Disney).

Fox News,  good quality journalism,  openly right-wing editorial slant,  with rather far-right opinions freely and frequently mixed in with the news.  According to its founder (Rupert Murdoch),  it was actually created to be right-wing entertainment,  not news. Yet there really is news content. 

PBS Newshour,  excellent journalism,  mostly centrist in editorial slant (NPR radio is more left-wing,  but it is not far-left).

As for the cable news services,  I don't often see them anymore,  not having cable TV out here on the farm.  But when I do see them,  I am NOT impressed!  Dilute content repeated endlessly,  for the most part.  Some (most egregiously the cable outlet for Fox News) freely intermix opinion with news as if the opinion were fact,  when it is not.  I do NOT consider these outlets "mainstream" despite their prevalence.

I don't consider radio much of a news source anymore.  Especially not "talk radio".  That stuff is all opinion,  and usually quite extreme.  Factual content is very,  very low.  Such is true whether right-wing or left-wing,  but my impression is that right-wing talk radio dominates the field.  None of this qualifies as "mainstream media".  

Newspapers seem to be a mixed bag.  Those few I am familiar with seem to report accurate news,  colored somewhat by one or the other editorial slant.  Usually,  with newspapers,  it is clear what is opinion,  and what is presented as fact.  

My own hometown paper seems rather centrist in its slant on its op-ed page (despite many letters to the editor claiming otherwise),  and I cannot at all quibble with what it publishes as actual news facts. Those facts seem quite consistent with the facts reported on the "mainstream" TV network news shows. 

Media vs Covid-19 Vaccines

I have even seen one claim coming from a far-right source that the "mainstream media" are the ones saying the new Covid-19 vaccines are unsafe.  That is patently ridiculous,  as direct observation easily confirms.  

The "mainstream media" (meaning only the 5 broadcast networks offering news!!!) all repeatedly point out that a big fraction of the public are reluctant (or worse) to take the new Covid-19 vaccines.  They repeatedly ask proper health industry or government sources why this is so,  and if the vaccines are actually safe.  While opinions vary as to why there is vaccine hesitancy,  the media repeatedly and uniformly publicize the answers about vaccine safety:  that no corners were cut,  that they really are safe.  

NONE of these mainstream news networks make any claim that it is unsafe!  NOT ONE!!!  It's right there in the public records for anyone to go and see for themselves.  Any such claims are therefore (by my own direct observation) NOT (I repeat NOT!!!) coming from the "mainstream media" (as defined just above). 

How This Relates to Qanon

Most of the disinformation about these new vaccines being unsafe (or the closely-related claims that the disease is not the threat that it really is) come from the social media sources that I personally despise as "propaganda-liars-for-profit",  and ultimately it traces (if you bother to trace it) to the far-right extremists running the Qanon (and closely-related) sites,  which all exist fundamentally to make a profit from sowing division and discord.  

These extremists and the allied neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups are collectively what the FBI recently classified as likely sources of domestic terrorism.  I think the FBI is quite right about that. Believers in this stuff have recently committed more murders than any leftists I ever heard of,  over the same time span of the last few years.

The Qanon sites were the message boards 4chan,  then 8chan,  then 8kun,  in turn feeding disinformation content to a variety of monetized blogs and youtube channels,  such as "the X-22 Report".  People forward me youtube videos like that all the time.  They are filled with egregious nonsense.  

The anonymous poster (or more likely posters plural) who is "Q" seems to have been relatively quiet posting on 8kun,  ever since the election that Trump lost.

People otherwise smart enough to know better,  spout this Qanon-based bullshit at me all the time!  They are all strong Trump supporters.  They are not dissuaded from believing these lies by any facts,  because this is NOT a knowledge system,  it is a belief system,  almost a religious cult!  And a very dangerous cult at that!  It inspires violence in its most rabid followers.  We have already seen it.

Is Russian Disinformation Involved?

It would NOT surprise me in the least to learn that one of the multiple entities masquerading as "Q" on these "sources" turns out to be (at least sometimes) one or another of the Russian intelligence groups planting disinformation to divide us.  They've been all over the other social media giants for at least half a decade now,  doing exactly that.  

I've seen some of the same disinformation claims on the likes of Sputnik and RT ("Russia Today"),  which are known Russian propaganda organs freely operating legally in the US (something I'd like to see changed).  

Their modus operandi is to mix big lies with some kernels of truth,  to make the lies seem more credible,  then rely on repetition to create the illusion of total truth. Sound familiar?  Both the Nazis and the Russian communists used this propaganda tactic,  along with many other evildoers. 

So,  The Vaccines Really Are Safe Enough

Operation "Warp Speed" is one of the very few really good things that Mr. Trump did while president!  By guaranteeing to buy the vaccines whether they were approved or not,  this program cut years off the usual development-to-deployment schedule.  With profit guaranteed,  the companies were well-motivated to expend the resources up-front,  to do this job as fast as they have.  

No corners were cut,  not by the companies,  not by the regulators,  and not by the advisory groups to those regulators,  despite the unethical political pressures that got applied.  

The two vaccines so far approved are indeed safe enough,  and a lot more effective than most of the ordinary flu vaccines.  That is remarkable!  And more are coming.  There were half a dozen or more,  still in development when the first two were approved. 

Whether these vaccines remain effective as the virus mutates with time,  remains to be seen.  So far,  the thinking,  and what little evidence there is,  would suggest they still are effective.  

Conclusions Regarding "Mainstream Media"

The vaccines are safe and people should take them.  So say the experts,  and so say the reports coming from the "mainstream media",  as I defined them here for this discussion.  These reports seem reliable enough to me,  on this (and most other topics).  Which means those far-right claims of "fake news" really are the utter bullshit that I said they were,  just a few paragraphs above.  

And that judgement includes Mr. Trump,  who has used the phrase "fake news" in mistreating reporters,  ever since he took office.  He has since added "coronavirus hoax" and "stolen election" to the claims he makes,  all of which started with the Qanon community.  

That is enough to conclude that many of his beliefs are driven by the those of the Qanon community.  And that is quite dangerous for a person in his job,  those all being disinformation. No one can make good decisions based on false data.

Final Comments

This "exrocketman" blog is about my own opinions,  and about what I do factually know that folks might find useful in some way.  I try to distinguish opinion from fact (this entire article is an opinion piece,  except for facts noted as such).  

Fact:  This blog is NOT monetized!  I make NOTHING from these postings!  Include THAT in your judgements about what I have said here! 

There is a closely-related article that goes into more detail about Qanon and the threat it poses with the lies it spreads.  It is "Q As A Threat to the US",  dated 18 December 2020. 

There is another closely-related article that documents my analysis of leader cults (which Trumpism definitely is),  whether political or religious or both.  It is "Beware of Leader Cults",  dated 13 February 2020.

Update 1-10-2021:  there is also "It Ain't Over Yet!",  posted 1-10-2021.

Update 1-17-2021:  add "Sometimes You Simply Must Do What Is Right"  published 1-17-2021. 

The easiest way to find these articles is with the navigation tool at the left side of this page.  In general,  you just need the date and title to find something very quickly.  Scribble it down so you don't forget.  Click on the year,  then click on the month,  then on the title.  You're there.

One Final Thing:  

The Qanon aspect of this topic is very important;  and here is why:  since the election loss,  the Qanon community has been pushing for Mr. Trump to declare martial law prior to the scheduled transition January 20th,  using falsely-claimed election fraud as the excuse.  This would be to re-run the recent election "under military supervision",  presumably to see that a Trump "win" results.  Given sufficient military support,  he could thereby become a dictator over the US.  

Unfortunately,  there are those in the military that might actually support this overthrow of representative democracy,  they being part of the Qanon leader cult!  Retired Gen. Michael Flynn is one example we already know from news reports,  there are others similar to him ***,  and some others who still serve on active duty.  

If this martial-law-based attempted coup actually happens (nothing is certain),  it could easily lead to some sort of civil war!  

Don't ever say I didn't warn you!  Because I just did!


***PS - Besides retired Gen. Michael Flynn,  there are other military officers and civilian figures who have embraced Trump's adoption of the Qanon nonsense (first "fake news",  then "coronavirus hoax",  and now "stolen election").  Flynn is the one along with former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell,  who called for martial law and a re-run of the election overseen by the military.  

Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been a vocal Q advocate,  but seems to have backed off from the martial law coup prospect,  according to some reports.  

3 other military officers who are known to be part of this group of Qanon advocates are retired Gen. Anthony Tata,  retired Gen. Thomas McInerny,  and former USAF Captain Scott O'Grady,  recently nominated by Trump for an Assistant Secretary of Defense position.  Some Special Forces vets say that there are many more.  

When flag-rank military officers believe in this bullshit,  we really do have a problem on our hands!

Update 1-3-2021:  

The recorded phone call now widely publicized is a slam-dunk case of Trump pressuring an official to overturn the results of an election.  That is a crime under both Georgia state law,  and federal law,  and state law in most of the rest of the states.  No presidential pardon can save Trump from prosecution under state laws.  It is felony-level,  I believe.  

I think the Georgia secretary of state's rebuttal of election fraud claims was right on the money.  The source of those false claims is ultimately the on-line Qanon community,  and it is clear that too many Americans believe that trash,  including President Trump himself. 

My interpretation of this is that this egregious and obvious illegal action is Trump's "next-to-last" desperate attempt to stay in power after January 20th.  These clearly-illegal attempts at pressuring officials to overturn their states' election results will be rebuffed.  As well they should be.

The last desperate action available to Trump for staying in power,  is to declare martial law and try to use it to effect a military-supported coup,  thus establishing the Trump dictatorship that I warned you about.  There are still 17 days left in which Trump might yet make that last desperate move.  

If he does,  and it is successful (given sufficient military backing,  as I also warned you about),  it may well precipitate civil war.  A real shooting war of a civil war.  Beware!

Update 1-6-2021:


The coup to try to take over America as a Trump dictatorship began today,  but it failed! Trump supporters storming the Capitol is proof of what I have stated in this article and the two related articles referenced here.

Had there been sufficient violence to be the excuse,  the next step would have been for Trump to declare martial law nationwide.  He only drew tens of thousands of his followers to DC,  and only some of those actually stormed the Capitol.  Not enough. 

The step after that would have been to assess how much of the military would support Trump in his coup attempt. Without that,  the takeover would fail anyway.  So far,  it appears our military supports our Constitution,  and not Mr. Trump. 

But that risk is really there,  as I have pointed out,  because there really are flag-rank officers who believe in the Trump falsehoods about the election.  Those ultimately come from the on-line Qanon community,  as I have pointed out. 

We have,  by the narrowest of margins,  avoided going down the same path to hell that Germany took in the 1930's with Hitler and his Nazi party!  All should mourn with me,  that so many wanted to willingly follow Trump down that well-known path to hell. 

It is sad,  but also extremely dangerous,  that these Trump supporters so honestly believe the falsehood that the election was stolen from Trump,  that they would commit violent insurrection!  That is criminal seditious behavior,  something close to treason.  

Mr. Trump must now account for his own seditious (or possibly treasonous) deeds,  along with many other known misdeeds during his term.  Two more weeks is too long for this man to remain president.  

He is simply too dangerous to remain freely at large in America,  much less remaining our president.  He currently still has his finger on the nuclear trigger,  although he is demonstrably unfit,  as this failed coup attempt proves.  

An example must be made of him.  That might shake his supporters out of their leader cult delusion.  Although I doubt it will work.

Update 1-8-2021:

It ain't over until it's over!  There are still 12 days remaining in the Trump presidency,  unless he is successfully removed from office in some way.  His fearless leader cult,  the Qanon community,  are pushing for him to declare martial law,  despite the failed coup attempt on the 6th,  now to be justified by the supposed presence of "Antifa terrorists" masquerading as Trump supporters,  who supposedly actually started the break-in as a false-flag operation.  

I got this first hand from a youtube video from known Qanon outlet (David Zhang's "Beyond the Noise"),  forwarded to me by a friend whom I know to be a fervent Q believer. 

By way of reality check,  there is no one,  or even a few,  official organizations that could be called "Antifa".  That is merely a label applied to an unorganized and rather varied class of leftist extremists.  Some of these are no doubt terrorists,  but they are more of an individual threat,  not an organization to be feared,  as the Qanon community is claiming. 

The real threat here is the Qanon community itself,  which is a definite (if informal) organization,  now communicating on the GAB and PARLER services,  having been chased off Twitter and Facebook.  (They were removed for being a dangerous organization promoting violence.)   And,  they have been identified as a serious domestic terror threat by the FBI,  a designation already seen to be true,  with the events of the 6th.  (Update 1-23-21:  Parler is now off Amazon.)

Here is the danger:  the only people still close to President Trump are those advisors who are known to be Qanon believers.  Their falsehoods are essentially all he hears.  And we know already that those falsehoods can incite violence out of people.  

12 more days in which more chaos might break out!


Update 1-23-21:  Mr. Trump is now an ordinary civilian,  and he is facing a Senate impeachment trial in February for his part in inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on the 6th of January.  Mr. Biden is now president,  and doing the people's work as best he can.  

Chaos can no longer break out,  although there can still be violence perpetrated by Trump supporters.  The biggest risk of that violence is right after the Senate impeachment trial ends,  particularly if there is a conviction.  And a conviction is richly deserved,  in my opinion.  

There are federal cases being built and filed against the insurrectionists.  It is my hope that there will be similar consequences for those in Congress or the police forces or in Trump's inner circle,  who might have aided and abetted the insurrectionists.  

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