Before 2015 or 2016, you could read whatever you wanted on the Internet without much disruption. That has since changed, as propagandists have infiltrated the media and, along with other major players like big tech and the government, are trying to control information.
It’s all a Trick
Fact-checking – a once obscure term that has become mainstream – is part of the campaign to control what you see online and, by extension, what you think and how you perceive reality – but it’s all a trick.
In a conversation with Jan Jekielek, executive editor of the Epoch Times and host of the program “American Thought Leaders,” investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson explains how virtually everything you see and hear online has been appropriated or taken over to serve a larger agenda:
It’s important to realize that almost any kind of information has been appropriated if it can be appropriated by a group. This is also true of fact checks, which in many cases have been hijacked or created for the purpose of spreading narratives and propaganda.
And your common sense is right when it tells you that the way they chose this fact check and the way they worded it so that they could say this thing is not true, when in fact it really is true, but the message they are trying to convey is that you should not believe this, your common sense is right.
That was created as part of a propaganda effort by somebody, somewhere, as part of a narrative to get it out to the public, so virtually any information that can be co-opted has been.
The Information Landscape is Controlled
Attkisson cites several common online sources that are heavily manipulated – Wikipedia, Snopes, and most “fact checkers,” to name a few, as well as HealthFeedback.org, a fake science group used by Facebook and other big-tech companies to debunk science that is actually true.
Fact checkers are often called scientists, but this too is “part of a very well-funded, well-organized landscape that dictates the information we should have.” While there have always been efforts to influence the information disseminated by the media, reporters used to push back against organizations to ensure that the public got the other side of the story.
In the early 2000s, Attkisson found that it was no longer just about influencing information, but also about preventing certain information from being reported at all. This was especially true for the pharmaceutical companies she was covering at the time. Attkisson described “the efforts of these large global PR firms hired by the pharmaceutical industry and government partners working with the pharmaceutical industry to prevent the story from being reported at all.
So suppressing and censoring information that those in charge don’t want to hear is quite common. Attkisson believes this practice really took off in 2015-2016, “when Donald Trump proved to be a unique threat that was perceived by both Democrats and Republicans, and by that I mean the interests that support them and pay for them to be in office and make certain decisions.”
With a wild card in office, a campaign was organized that took advantage of an already conflicted press that was less inclined to report what was actually happening. “It all led to this crazy information landscape we have today,” she says. Instead of journalists trying to get to the truth, we have “writers trying to spread what established scientists or politicians want them to say, uncritically and often at the expense of accuracy.”
Instead of real journalists and reporters, the media is now infiltrated by propagandists who dictate what is and is not “fake news.” Many believe Fake News is a product of Trump, but Big Tech got involved early in the campaign. A behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign of propagandists met with Facebook and said, “You have to start censoring and verifying information,” Attkisson said.
The term “fake news” became popular after Trump’s election, but it was actually coined before then – it was an invention of the political activist website First Draft News, which is funded in part by Google.
Inviting Propagandists into the Newsroom
We are in the midst of an information war in which it is difficult to distinguish truth from fiction or lies. Journalists are no longer the watchdogs; instead, they take information from obviously contradictory sources and then try to convince the public of a particular point of view. Other information that contradicts is censored or “debunked.”
It is an unusual time in history to even attempt to manipulate the public into censoring their information and valuing third party “fact” checkers that have been introduced as a tool to further confuse and manipulate the public.
But when you only hear one side of the story and have no access to contrary information, it is almost impossible to find out the truth – and that is the point. Is it all just because reporters don’t know how to think critically and ask the right questions, or because they think they’re doing the right thing?
Attkisson thinks it goes much deeper than that. Many propagandists have become part of the media, and while there used to be a firewall between reporters and the people they cover, “it’s long gone.”
Not only have we invited them to influence our coverage, but we’ve hired them, not just as experts and analysts, but as reporters. They are editorial presences in our newsrooms. Now we are one and the same.
It’s hard to say that in many cases there is a distinct difference between the people who are trying to spread a message and the messengers in the media who should be doing a more independent job and reporting accurately.
The COVID Misinformation Campaign
In early 2020, as the pandemic began to brew, Attkisson spoke with everyone available to her, including government and non-government scientists. “Pretty quickly, I was able to see that certain things that were being said publicly turned out to be untrue, and that certain things that other scientists were telling me privately were true and actually turned out to be true in retrospect.
Early on, some scientists she spoke with questioned the advice of government scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and lead spokesperson for the President’s COVID response.
She asked them to say something and comment on their concerns, but they all responded with the same answer:
They said they dared not speak out because they feared being controversial and being called coronavirus deniers, because that term was increasingly used in the media. And second, they feared contradicting Dr. Fauci, who they felt was being praised or canonized, as it were, in the press for reasons they could not comprehend, because they really did not believe that the evidence he was giving publicly was the correct one.
Certainly these scientists deserved to be heard, but the fear of speaking out silenced them. They feared losing their grants because most research grants are funded by the government. If the government doesn’t like what you say or do, you can be fired or never receive grants again, which means the end of your career and threatens your livelihood.
“That’s a really dangerous environment when respected scientists who have valuable information and opinions are afraid to voice them, and instead we hear a party line that many of them disagree with but won’t say it,” Attkisson said.
She mentioned the controversial U.S. government funding of gain-of-function research in China and the suggestion that SARS-CoV-2 may have come from a Chinese lab – both of which are glaring issues that no one wants to talk about.
“These are the things that have been kind of red flags to me from the beginning, telling me that someone is trying to influence the information,” she continued. “They’re using reporters to do that. In some cases, there are public health people involved, and that’s where I want to know what’s really behind this.
The ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Was Invented by the CIA
The term “conspiracy theory” is used today to dismiss narratives that go against the grain. According to Attkisson, this is intentional, as the term itself was developed by the CIA in response to theories about JFK’s assassination.
“It’s been shown in documents that there was a suggestion that agents go out and talk to reporters about these things as conspiracy theories – and again, common sense should tell you, as it did me, I’m married to a former law enforcement officer who told me many times, you know, the term conspiracy theory doesn’t make sense in its use. Virtually everything is a conspiracy.
Anything that involves two or more people is technically a conspiracy, but when people hear the term, they’re conditioned to think it’s false. “That’s to turn off that little part of the brain that says, ‘That’s not true.'” When Attkisson hears the term, however, she thinks that information may well be true. “When someone tries to debunk it, it usually means there’s a powerful interest behind it, and that makes me want to look for more information about it.”
The term “conspiracy theory” has become less meaningful because it is used so often. “Debunked,” “quackery” and “anti-vaccination” are all terms that are similarly used as propaganda tools. “There’s a whole series of propaganda terms that I’ve outlined that are used as buzzwords. When you hear them, you should think, ‘I need to find out more about this,'” Attkisson says.
Fact Checkers Pounce on Accurate BMJ Investigation
Another example of the lengths to which fact-checkers will go to discredit a story – even if it is true – is an article published in the BMJ titled “COVID-19: Researchers blows the whistle on data integrity issues in Pfizer’s vaccine trial” The article, written by investigative journalist Paul D. Thacker, details a series of problems with laboratory management and quality controls at Pfizer subcontractor Ventavia Research Group, which tested Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
According to a regional director formerly employed by Ventavia, she witnessed falsified data, unblinded patients, inadequately trained vaccinators, and inadequate follow-up on reported adverse events. After repeatedly informing Ventavia of her concerns, she filed a complaint with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – and was fired the same day.
Shortly after Thacker’s investigative article was published in the BMJ, it was “fact-checked” by a group called Lead Stories, which labeled the investigation a “hoax alert” at the appropriate URL. In addition to “setting the record straight” on statements Thacker had not made, Lead Stories disparaged the investigation as “lacking context,” but as investigative journalist Matt Taibbi explained, “lacking context” has become a term used to denigrate reports that are true but inconvenient.
Lead Stories also took aim at the BMJ investigation because it was shared by people like Dr. Robert Malone and Robert F. Kennedy, who have themselves been targeted by fake fact checkers.
The real problem with Thacker’s article is that it went viral and was shared by the wrong people using Twitter. As Lead Stories noted with clear disapproval, among those who continued to spread this tweet were people like Dr. Robert Malone and Robert F. Kennedy. To them, this was a clear indication that the article was somehow bad, but the problem was that there was no indication that the story was untrue.
Thacker also called the “fact check” against his BMJ investigation “insane” and told Taibbi:
Here’s what they’re doing. They’re not fact-checking. What they are doing is checking narratives. They can’t say your facts are wrong, so they say, ‘Aha, it lacks context.’ Or, ‘That’s misleading.’ But that’s not fact checking. They just don’t like the story.
Reality is being Changed in Real Time
Currently, information is changed in real time to suit the common agenda. This includes definitions in dictionaries and on official government websites. Examples of definitions that have been changed recently include those for pandemic, herd immunity, vaccines, and anti-vaccination.
Virtually every form of information and source that can be co-opted already is. That includes dictionary definitions; that includes everything because these are important ways to influence thinking. Language is very powerful. People don’t want to be associated with certain names and labels.
It reminds me of “1984,” George Orwell’s story about the futuristic society where history was rewritten in real time to fit the version the government or party wanted. Definitions are now being rewritten and changed in real time to match the vision that the establishment wants people to believe.
Right now, you can still use the Internet Archive, commonly known as Archive.org and IA, as a historical archive. Archive.org not only houses more than 1.4 million books and other documents, but also acts as a historical vault for the Internet, storing cached versions of websites that are no longer accessible to the public.
Archive.org’s Wayback Machine preserves digital information that has been removed or deleted, either intentionally or for other reasons, but it too may one day disappear.
It’s a fascinating way to prove the attempt to change our perception of things and reality and what we thought we remembered from the past, because all we really have now is, by and large, the electronic record, and if that can be tampered with, there could be a time when – if they do away with the Wayback Machine, for example – we won’t be able to prove that anything was different.
Attkisson keeps a running list of things that the media or public policy got wrong during the pandemic that can still be verified using the wayback machine, but that have not been acknowledged as wrong or corrected by the press.
- Claims that the laboratory theory of coronavirus release had been debunked, even though it had not been debunked
- Public health officials claiming masks don’t work, then saying masks do work
- Fauci testified before Congress that the mortality rate for coronavirus is 10 times higher than for influenza, but Attkisson found a published
article by Fauci in which he claimed the opposite, that “the clinical consequences of COVID-19 ultimately more closely resemble those of severe seasonal influenza”
- It was wrong to send infected people from hospitals to nursing homes
- It was wrong to isolate people at home and close parks and beaches; early data from New York City showed that the vast
majority of people who came to the hospital with coronavirus were isolated at home, while people outside did not get sick
- It was wrong to tell people to wash off their food to prevent COVID-19.
- It was wrong to claim that COVID-19 vaccination prevented infection and transmission, and that vaccination prevented 100% of hospitalizations and deaths.
- It was wrong not to focus more on therapeutic interventions before and after vaccination.
You can be Controlled if You Live in the Box
Attkisson points to an entire generation of people who live in the “box,” that is, on the Internet. Those who rely solely on the Internet for information are at serious risk of being controlled.
You didn’t know a time when you got information elsewhere by looking around and seeing what you heard, seeing what you saw, talking to the people around you and looking at books and research and so on.
And the people who want to control the information understood that if they can control just a few basic sources-we’re talking about Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia-they have the information in their hands because we’ve all been steered to those few sources, and that was the goal.
So in that sense, there are a whole lot of people who pretty much get everything they know from the Internet. And the goal of the people who are trying to tell the story is to get people to live online and believe that that’s the reality.
The danger of that is that the Internet paints a picture that is different from reality. You might read something that doesn’t quite ring true or that you disagree with, but the Internet makes you feel like you’re in the minority – even if you’re not in reality.
“Understand that you may actually be in the majority,” Attkisson says, “…but the goal of what they’re doing online is to make you think you’re an outlier when you’re not, to make you afraid to talk about your point of view or your opinion because you may actually be the majority opinion, but they want to control that and make you think you’re the one who’s crazy.” The solution? Live outside the box:
You can be made to believe that – if you live inside the box. That’s why I keep telling people to live outside the box. Yes, you can get information there and do what you do online, but trust your cognitive dissonance, talk to the people around you. When you travel, talk to the people in the places you visit. You will get, as I did, a very different picture of what is really going on out here than if you go online to find out.
The Truth Finds a Way to Be Told
Although powerful forces are at play that control information, all is not lost. Attkisson knows of three organizations that are actively working to find a solution, including:
- Investors looking to invest in independent news organizations
- Techies trying to invent platforms that can’t be controlled and deplatformed by Big Tech
- Journalists who want to work for or contribute to these efforts
Magazines like Substack and video platforms Rumble, Bitchute, and Odysee that don’t censor video for ideological reasons are actively circumventing Big Tech’s censorship, and Attkisson believes these efforts will grow in the coming years.
She goes on to say, “The propagandists may have overdone it by being so heavy-handed and obvious about controlling information and censorship. This can no longer be denied. Even people who want to gather their own information can’t always get comfortable with the idea that they won’t get the whole story or just one side of an issue.”
Ultimately, she adds, “I believe the truth will find a way to be told … it may take some time, and there may be a lot of people who don’t want the truth to come out, but we as humans inherently seek it.” On a personal level, following your own common sense and reason can go a long way toward finding the truth, and Attkisson agrees.
“I always say do your own research, form your own opinions, think for yourself. Trust your cognitive dissonance, use your common sense. You will be right more often than you think, but open your mind, read a lot, think a lot, and don’t believe the prevailing narrative at face value.
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