Media as the Cloud Factory

And so you come up with stories you tell
Eyes are open wide
When you tell them about the sky’n
All that beneath resides

There is a factory clouds are made in
They make ’em big and blue
The factory eats you, it swallows you whole
It fills you with conceit
And never lets you leave

If you ever dream at the end of the day
That you’re gonna live as a free man
There is no hook, no sinker, no line
And you will never leave
The cloud factory

  • Sonata Arctica, ” Cloud Factory”

Above song, by Sonata Arctica, tells a story of a father who sees that his son will go to work in a factory where he himself is working, and where his own father and grandfather had worked. This family “tradition” is a closed circle, with no change and no end.

But there is another meaning as well. For centuries, grown-ups had made up stories to teach children, but also simply to entertain them and deflect their attention so that kids would not annoy them with questions which adults considered irrelevant, or to which they did not know the answer. Such stories, created to calm down the children and satisfy their curiosity, are nothing new. This is the origin of the Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and so on.

“Journalism is publication of that which somebody, somewhere, does not want to be published. Everything else is public relations.” – unknown, maybe William Randolph Hearst

Today however, the entire society is a kid that is being told stories. Where parents entertain their children, mainstream media entertain the whole population. There is a clear distinction between journalism and the public relations, as outlined by the previous quote. But today, that distinction is often hard to tell in practice. Journalists are not infallible, and they are liable to get things wrong. But when all the errors lie in the exact same direction, and media do not acknowledge them, then these errors are no longer errors – they are lies.

Now, the issue with the media is not so much factual errors. Rather, it is the interpretation of facts, “skewing of the lenses” so to speak. As Takimag has put it, “millions of loyal readers were shocked by the jury’s courageous acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse because they had come to believe in the antiwhite male mythos peddled by the press”. Press had been, for decades, peddling the idea that armed while men are The Problem, and thus acquittal of a white male using a gun for self defense became something unthinkable.

The mainstream media do exist, and they are defined by following an ideologically progressive (Marxist) narrative. Being an element of the Cathedral (more about it some other time), they cannot do anything but. In the United States, traditional lead dog of the media pack is New York Times. Other major outlets are The Washington Post, the Associated Press, CNN, NPR, and the broadcast network news. They usually do not lie, but half-truths and omissions are used to paint the narrative – something may be technically true, yet still be a lie. For example, when a murderer is white and victims black, then race is brought to the forefront – even if murder is not actually a murder, but rather an act of self defense. When it is reverse, however, race of the perpetator(s) is usually not reported at all, or at least hidden. For example, nowhere is it mentioned that Waukesha suspect is black. Of course, it is all but spelled out in the following: “In rap tracks he posted to a SoundCloud profile, he described himself as growing up in a dangerous Milwaukee neighborhood and having trouble with the legal system. In one video he posted online, he appeared to rap alongside a maroon Ford Escape.”. But a person who had been taught their whole life that stereotypes are false will never have picked it up.

By contrast, media articles writing about Kyle Rittenhouse were very concerned to make it sure readers knew Kyle was white, as seen from this New York Times extract:

“KENOSHA, Wis.—The Justice Department on Wednesday announced a civil rights investigation into the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis., as new details emerged in the case, a white teenager who confronted demonstrators was arrested in connection with two deaths, and protests spread to athletes in three pro sports leagues. Protesters have poured into Kenosha’s streets to decry the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black father who was partially paralyzed after a white officer fired at him in front of his children… The authorities were investigating whether the white teenager who was arrested on Wednesday, identified as Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was part of a vigilante group.”

Of course, New York Times failed to mention that the victims were also white, leading to an implied assumption that Kyle had, in fact, shot blacks. As Sullivan also noted: “The MSM took the ludicrous story of Jussie Smollett seriously because it fit their nutty “white supremacy” narrative. They told us that a woman was brutally gang-raped at UVA (invented), that the Pulse mass shooting was driven by homophobia (untrue) and that the Atlanta spa shooter was motivated by anti-Asian bias (no known evidence for that at all). For good measure, they followed up with story after story about white supremacists targeting Asian-Americans, in a new wave of “hate,” even as the assaults were disproportionately by African Americans and the mentally ill.”

Jussie’s story seemed plausible to many, simply because it was presented as such by the mainstream media, and the mainstream media are, as we all know, the height of journalistic and ethical integrity… they aren’t, but they present themselves as such, and worse, some people believe it. And the press had long been hyperventillating about the white supremacist MAGA lynch mob lying around to lynch everybody in the name of white supremacy. At the same time, the epidemic of hate hoaxes had been either ignored, or people who pointed it out declared racists and/or conspiracy theorists.

The line between journalism and public relations has nearly disappeared. This was, perhaps, inevitable. After all, the line between the two is very thin indeed. Journalists are humans, and for this reason, it is impossible for them to be objective. Consciously or unconsciously, with intent or simply for a lack of a perspective, journalists will take one side of an argument. But even when trying to be impartial, objectivity is impossible as all sides and views cannot be included, for various reasons. Irrespective of how many viewpoints are included, many more will be discarded, simply for reasons of practicality. Therefore, the main difference between journalism and propaganda is in truthfulness and honesty: journalists honestly believe that what they are writing is true, and have done their best to ensure that their beliefs actually are in accordance with truth. Propagandists have done neither, and moreover will try to avoid discussion and shut down the opposing viewpoints with force. Further, propagandists will never admit that what they say might be wrong, as in their eyes, this will undermine their authority. And this will happen even if they do not actually believe in what they are saying.

All of this is especially dangerous in the modern society. More than ever, people today are reliant on the mass media to understand what is going on. Global events in particular cannot be understood merely through information available to any one individual without media. Yet media themselves are governed by commercial and ideological interests, and thus cannot be relied on to provide accurate or truthful information, let alone commentary or critique. Even when there is no pressure to intentionally mislead the public, pressure to gain information before the competition means that media are incapable of properly assessing its reliability and truthfulness. All to often, modern media are merely loudspeakers for various public relations offices, merely transcribing statements instead of contextualizing, analyzing and checking them.

Public relations services are exploiting this state to full. PR personnel know how journalists think, and thus design the events so that they receive maximum coverage. As a result, even the news that was not outright written by PR agencies are still influenced by them. And because news written by the PR offices and agencies look like journalistic news, readers simply cannot tell the difference between the two. Television is also vulnerable to this, despite being a visual medium.

PR personnel also fully exploit the distinction between “truth” and “true information”. They publish the latter, but present it as former. But such partial truths are far more dangerous than outright lies, because they are much more difficult to detect.

From its beginnings in 1920s, PR had spread through the media, using them to direct people what they will believe, think and say. And because PR has infiltrated even the media seen as highly reliable – and in fact the reputation for reliability may have been manufactured by PR – this strategy is highly successful, while being nearly unnoticeable. Good example are feminist movements, which were manufactured by PR in order to expand the market for goods and services by turning everyone into clones. In 1929., when women who smoked were seen as prostitutes, 30 young women from New York paraded through the Fifth Avenue, smoking Lucky Strike cigars as a “sign of defiance and emancipation”. Journalists were told that the cigars were “torches of freedom”, and like good parrots, the media all across the United States repeated this news.

There was only one problem – it was all fake. Fake news, in today’s parlance. The “brave women” were in fact fashion models hired by a publicist Edward Bernays, who at the time was working with the American Tobacco Company. Goal was to increase cigarette sales, and this goal was successfully fulfilled. Media did not protest the lie, and on that day the public relations industry was born.

Edward Bernays was a nephew of Sigmund Freud, and based his own reputation on his uncle’s achievments. In his work “Propaganda” from 1928., Bernays wrote that “Conscious and intelligent manipulation of organized habits and opinions of masses is an important element of the democratic society. Those who manipulate this invisible mechanism of society thus form the invisible government which is the true ruling force of our country… Our minds are being molded, our tastes shaped, our ideas marked and we ourselves ruled by the people we have mostly never heard of. This is a logical consequence of the manner in which a democratic society is organized. Huge number of people must cooperate according to this model if they want to live together as a smoothly working society”.

From the above, Bernays logically concluded that “In nearly every act of our everyday lives, be it in politics or business, social conduct or ethical thought, we are dominated by a small number of individuals… who understand mental processes and social patterns of masses. They are pulling the strings which control the public opinion…”.

Modern-day propaganda includes obvious, paid propaganda (marketing) and the unpaid propaganda (public relations). Public relations also offer many services, such as crisis management, industrial espionage, organized censorship, as well as infiltration of citizen and political groups and organizations. And the only requirement to access all these services is a deep pocket and lack of moral standards. In United States in 1980., there were 1,2 public relations expert for each journalist. In 2015., this number was 4,6, and in 2019. public relations personnel outnumbered the journalists at a ratio of 6,4 to 1.

Within industry, it is an accepted fact that media do not cover the media. Exceptions happen only in cases of major breaches of ethics, such as literal espionage – and even then only occasionally. But this makes the media structurally vulnerable, and when PR establishment places lies straight into the media channels, the media simply present these falsehoods as facts. Further, the big capital had bought the media and reduced the numbers of employed journalists, and thus very few are available to fact-check the information. Instead, the media rely on news and information bought from the infromation agencies such as Associated Press or Reuters, which themselves are owned by plutocrats. In the most esteemed British newspapers, 60% of news were copies of news provided by agencies, 20% had elements of agency / PR news, 8% could not be sources, and only 12% were actually written by journalists. Many smaller media have literally no news written by journalists at all, with a consequence that privately written blogs are often a far better source of information and analysis than any of the mainstream media.

Overall, in the modern-day media, actual journalism is an exception, not a rule. In both traditional and electronic media, journalists are being fired while shareholders are receiving bonuses. Forget investigative journalism: even normal reporting is too difficult to do now. In 2006., ITV cut the budget by 100 million pounds while giving shareholders additional 500 million on top of what they were already receiving. BBC dismissed a significant number of employers at the same time it switched to 24-hour broadcasting.

Reporting also received a new form, called “advertorial” or “sponsored content”. This is public relations content which intentionally imitates journalism in its forms. And it has become very popular indeed: New York Times has expanded its “content studio” while at the same time it fired 100 journalists and editors. In many media there is no separation between the journalistic and PR elements of the studio, and it is likewise almost impossible to separate journalism from sponsored content. Media companies had for years now been firing journalists and editors when their work conflicted with interests of sponsors, or even just potential sponsors.

Tendency of the new media to promote ignorance is a direct consequence of the behaviour of corporate bosses, who had reduced the cadre, increased output, and added a new imperative of speed. This is partly a consequence of modern way of life, but at any rate the outcome was clear: news media became a news factory with literally no journalistic work – that is, research and fact-checking. Journalists merely recycle news served to them by the PR offices and news agencies, and both of these exist not to provide truthful information but rather to promote material and ideological interests of their owners. Informative agencies likewise have no obligation to check the reliability of the information they are providing, with the result being that the media simply recycle garbage. GIGO, or “garbage in, garbage out”, as programmers say. News of Associated Press and Reuters are being consumed by millions, and the public relations industry exploits this fact to the full.

Technology likewise moved this balance in the favor of unfiltered corporate propaganda. Propaganda and PR campaigns today can reach their target public directly. This information however is heavily censored: not based on how factual it is, but based on the interests of corporations that are providing the mass media and social platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter). At the same time, PR productions now have higher production values than journalistic equivalents.

As Joseph Pulitzer had predicted in 1904: “Cycnical, mercenary, demagogic press will create, over time, people as slimy as itself”.

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