I was listening to the Pat Thurston show on KGO radio. As part of the annual 9/11 fluff job, she was talking to someone about the various and sundry lies the US government told the American people to get us into George’s illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place. The question came up, did the people spreading the falsehoods knew they were falsehoods or did they really believe the stories they were telling? Every time I hear this line, people seem to settle on, “Well, we just don’t know. They SEEM to have really believed…”
They didn’t. They knew better. They just stuck to their story. 43’s administration made a concerted effort to exaggerate (or just make up) threats and to significantly downplay (or just make up) mitigating information. We were told, for example,that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (he didn’t). The international weapons inspectors on the ground in-country kept trying to push back, insisting no such WMD’s existed in Iraq. American media gave the naysayers short shrift. We were told that George’s misadventure in Iraq would pay for itself with Iraqi oil (it didn’t). None of them ever talked about how oil was going to compensate a family over a lost loved one – a soldier who answered their country’s call.
Most people know, now, that the American War in Afghanistan and Iraq was based almost entirely on lies. Even the New York Times got in on the act. There was plenty of evidence the administration AND the media knew lies were being hyped even then but the overall message we were being lied to was buried under an onslaught of pseudo-patriotism. The warmongers got away with it because they had effective control over the media.
It started with Ronald Reagan eliminating the Fairness Doctrine. Bill Clinton put the final nail in the coffin of independent journalism by eliminating the rules of ownership, allowing now five companies to have so much control over the media they effectively control the message from sea to oily sea. It’s why we rarely heard anything about Afghanistan while the profits were rolling in and, now that those profits have been interrupted, we’re hearing almost daily about Taliban atrocities. Media Manipulation.
I’ve always kind of privately enjoyed the reality that the one percent tested their market control over the media by impeaching Clinton. Poll after poll showed that people – sometimes as high as 85% of respondents – did NOT think his personal peccadillo with Monica rose to the level of impeachment. But pushing for impeachment in the media went forward. Over time, enough people were convinced by media misinformation. Clinton was actually brought to trial. Pure media manipulation – and a complete success. The media did the same for 43 when he was trying to sell his wars for profit – because, well, profit.
In a kind of ‘War is Peace’ moment, I noticed that every time a big company bought a smaller company – reducing competition – the merger was approved under the idea that increased competition is good. Well, yeah, it is. We should have some. But we don’t. Instead, we have a conglomeration of rich people delivering an ongoing message: what’s best for rich people is best for every body. (It isn’t.) But they didn’t leave it at that. They began to use their outsized voice to sow division. They know that Lincoln (citing the Bible) was right, a house divided cannot stand – against them. Cleverly, one segment of our society was co-opted and conditioned to always take a contrarian viewpoint – ALWAYS. Nothing mattered except the contrarian message.
I used to say that under the right conditions, conservatives would kill their own grandmothers. I thought I was being facetious. Then COVID hit. By then, I was quite comfortable with my observation about the conditioned conservatives. It holds up over and over and over again. It can even be fun, playing the ‘How Are Cons Going to Contradict’ game. One can ALWAYS predict how cons will obstruct by figuring out the contrarian message. So I understood the one percent’s quandary. I thought they were trapped. COVID-19 would kill their audience (and loyal foot-soldiers). How, I wondered, would they take a contrarian position? At first, THEY wondered, too. There was a brief moment – maybe three days – when even conservatives knew to protect themselves and others from the virus. Anecdotally, even Tucker Carlson was said to have told higher-ups at FOX “News” the message HAD to be to work against the virus.
But that would have meant unity. It would have meant listening to experts and taking science seriously. In short, it would have undermined everything they had been creating in the conservative bubble for 40 years and, they seem to have understood, even a moment of unity could be dangerous – to them. So? Bye bye, grandma. (And uncles and aunts and sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, and now children.) No masks. The virus is a hoax. They’re coming for your freedumb.
Most people delivering that message got the jab. Some had to. FOX has a policy, they followed the policy. Most (likely all) of the politicians in thrall to the one percent got the jab but pretended otherwise in order to keep the acolytes stirred up. Hell, Donald Trump got the jab while it was still in experimental stage. It hadn’t even been approved for emergency purposes, yet. But he took the shot and then called the virus a hoax.
You can talk about any issue, the cons will take a contrarian viewpoint, no matter what. It’s the message they receive. It’s the message they believe. But it’s a message that deceives. So, what do we do? There IS an answer and it’s pretty straightforward. We need to return to the rules of media ownership Bill Clinton destroyed and return the Fairness Doctrine Ronald Reagan destroyed. But in order to do that, we’d need politicians, now owned and operated by the one percent, to do the right thing. We’ve seen – in abundance – that isn’t going to happen.
So, COVID will keep killing. Climate change will keep killing. The American War will find a new country to profit in and keep killing. The American Experiment continues it’s decline. But, hey, the DOW is at record highs, right?