The U.S. election never ended. By that I mean the relentless public battle for power and status, as opposed to confronting what actually ails the nation, has continued, unabated since November 8th.
Despite a clear cut and decisive win for Donald Trump, Americans have been incessantly bombarded by reckless calls for an electoral coup from figures like the certifiably disturbed former sports host Keith Olbermann, to the formerly respectable professor of law, Harvard’s Lawrence Lessig, who has in my view totally torched his credibility as a result of his participation in this stunt.
Since I never considered the elector coup a real threat, I haven’t written anything about it on these pages (though I’ve tweeted plenty on it). Nevertheless, the fact that people seen as thoughtful and serious about the state of the Republic even entertained such a disastrous ploy is a terrifying thing to contemplate. Even former advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod recognizes the extraordinary irresponsibility of such a tactic. The Hill reports:
Democratic strategist David Axelrod on Monday said an Electoral College revolt against President-elect Donald Trump would be “destructive” for the country.
“Look, Alexander Hamilton conceived of the Electoral College and the founding fathers as a buffer against democracy run amok, as a safe guard against someone who was unsuited for the office to take the office,” Axelrod said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“But it’s never been used in the history of our Republic,” he continued.
“To have it happen now, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and all that’s swirling around with Russia and so on,” he said, “I believe would split the country apart in a really destructive way and it would set this mad cycle in which every election the Electoral College vote would be in question.”
Although Axelrod deserves credit for acknowledging the sheer stupidity of the thing, if Trump had actually been denied the Presidency in such a manner the situation would’ve been far worse than what he envisions. Indeed, we’d have been on a fast-track to some sort of Civil War/disintegration of the union. Unfortunately, as dangerous as the attempted electoral college coup was, it’s far from the most concerning thing I’ve witnessed since the election.
Taking a step back, it was those who understand how much trouble the country is in who most accurately predicted the success of Donald Trump. While an out of control military-industrial-intelligence complex chased disastrous and wasteful wars abroad, and above-the-law Wall Street oligarchs ran amok making billions upon billions rigging every conceivable market, countless American communities slid further and further into the ravages of financial destitution. The writing has been on the wall for a very long time, and anyone who didn’t see it either wasn’t paying attention, or didn’t want to pay attention. As Upton Sinclair so poignantly observed:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
There is no group of individuals that can be so perfectly characterized by the above quote than the U.S. mainstream media. Our illustrious “fourth-estate,” which is supposed to be speaking truth to power, has essentially (with exceptions of course) been reduced to a cadre of professional ass-kissers and terminally wrong pundits, who very much like the worst amongst America’s corporate criminal class, is not only never held to account, but is often handsomely rewarded for repeated incompetence.
To summarize just how remarkably skewed U.S. media was in the run-up to the election, let’s take a look at how the endorsements of the top 100 newspapers by circulation came in via data compiled by UC Santa Barbara:
Considering Donald Trump received 63 million votes and won the election, what does the above graphic tell you? It tells you, in no uncertain terms, that 63 million Americans have effectively no voice within the mainstream press. It tells you that the media is entirely disconnected from, and oblivious to, the concerns of about half the voting public. This actually speaks to a lot of what’s going on — for example, it explains the continued rise of alternative media sites such as this one.
By labeling independent news sites such as Liberty Blitzkrieg “fake news,” the mainstream press is simply trying to come up with any excuse possible to justify its historic failure, as well as promote censorship in a pathetic attempt to regain its former position of cultural influence. Unfortunately for them, this fabricated narrative has it all backwards.
The American public wasn’t simply living the dream before a plague of “fake news” and Russian hacking ravaged the land, ushering in the deplorable, “post-truth society.” No, that’s not what happened at all. What really transpired was a systematic looting of the public by a small group of politically powerful, ruthless, unethical, white collar super-predators who have gotten away with their crimes largely thanks to a compliant, disconnected and arrogant press. Rather than hysterically complaining about Russia 24/7, there are all sorts of far more important things the media could be focused on right now. Such as the following development, via The Intercept:
It’s now tine for us, as a nation, to come together and congratulate the winner of the 2016 presidential election: Goldman Sachs.
But that was then. As Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund manager and top adviser to Trump, as well as a former Goldman Sachs banker himself, put it Thursday: “I think the cabal against the bankers is over.”
The headlines on Friday were that the director of Trump’s National Economic Council will be Gary Cohn, the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, Trump’s pick for treasury secretary is Steven Mnuchin, a one-time Goldman Sachs partner whose father was also a Goldman partner. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, also once worked for Goldman.
Of course, a Hillary Clinton win would have been a victory for Goldman Sachs too. She was paid $675,000 by Goldman for three speeches, had previously received large campaign donations from Blankfein, and her son-in-law runs a hedge fund whose investors include Blankfein.
Goldman also won the election in 2008 and 2012. Barack Obama received more money from Goldman Sachs employees than any other corporation. Tim Geithner, Obama’s first treasury secretary, was the protege of one-time Goldman co-chairman Robert Rubin. Obama’s Justice Department never went after Goldman criminally, despite the copious evidence from a Senate investigation that it had broken the law.
Before that, Goldman won the election in 2000 and 2004. George W. Bush plucked Hank Paulson directly from Goldman — where Paulson was chairman and CEO — to be his treasury secretary. Paulson then oversaw the huge Wall Street bailout that kept Goldman from collapsing (so it could later make Blankfein a billionaire) with help from former Goldman banker Neel Kashkari. And they were just two of the voluminous number of Goldmanites staffing the Bush administration.
Goldman’s 1992 and 1996 victories manifested themselves when the president before Bush, Bill Clinton, made Rubin his treasury secretary. Rubin played a central role in the repeal of Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era banking law that separated commercial and investment banking. During the 2008 Goldman took advantage of the absence of Glass-Steagall to turn itself into a bank holding company, giving it additional access to lending from the Federal Reserve.
All the above has had a far more devastating impact on the economic and social fabric of these United States than Vladimir Putin ever could, but is the media constantly yelling and screaming about Wall Street? Of course not. As I noted in February’s post, A Detailed Look at The New York Times’ Embarrassing, Deceitful and Illogical Endorsement of Hillary Clinton:
In its endorsement of Hillary, the New York Times editorial board did such a sloppy job I can’t help but think it may have done permanent damage to its brand. Upon reading it, my initial conclusion was that the editorial board was either suffering from Stockholm syndrome or merely concerned about losing advertising revenues should they endorse Sanders. Then I thought some more and I realized my initial conclusions were wrong. Something else is going on here, something far more subtle, subconscious and illuminating. The New York Times is defending the establishment candidate simply because the New York Times is the establishment.
One of the biggest trends of the post financial crisis period has been a plunge in the American public’s perception of the country’s powerful institutions. The establishment often admits this reality with a mixture of bewilderment and erroneous conclusions, ultimately settling on the idea people are upset because “Washington can’t get anything done.” However, nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to corruption and serving big monied interests, both Congress and the President are very, very good at getting things done. Yes it’s true Congress doesn’t get anything done on behalf of the people, but this is no accident. The government doesn’t work for the people.
With its dishonest and shifty endorsement of Hillary Clinton, I believe the New York Times has finally come out of the closet as an unabashed gatekeeper of the status quo. I suppose this makes sense since the paper has become the ultimate status quo journalistic publication. The sad truth is the publication has been living on borrowed time and a borrowed reputation for a long time. Long on prestige, it remains very short on substance when it comes to fighting difficult battles in the public interest. Content with its position of power and influence within the current paradigm, the paper doesn’t want to rock the boat. What the New York Times is actually telling its readers with the Hillary Clinton endorsement is that it likes things just the way they are, and will fight hard to keep them that way. It is as much a part of the American establishment as any government institution.
The real dirty secret is that The New York Times and pretty much all the other major U.S. newspapers believe in the righteousness of Goldman Sachs. They also believe in the CIA, unconstitutional NSA surveillance, the military-industrial complex, fake corporate “free trade deals” that hollow out U.S. manufacturing, and the omnipotence of central banking. Their belief in these establishment conventions borders on the religious, just like they unquestioningly believed the fairytale of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This is why virtually no papers could bring themselves to endorse Donald Trump, and it’s also why so many of them vigorously opposed Bernie Sanders months before. The U.S. media immediately saw who the most reliably status quo candidate was, then totally attached itself to her and never looked back. Following her loss, the press has decided to lash out like a temper tantrum throwing toddler, and is once again betraying the American public in the process.
Russia didn’t make the U.S. government invade Iraq. Likewise, Russia didn’t cause the financial crisis, force U.S. taxpayers to bail the banks out with zero consequences, and it didn’t destroy the twin towers. Indeed, 9/11 is one of the most instructive episodes when it comes to how dishonestly the media operates. Think about how the media responded when the formerly classified 28 pages showing Saudi involvement in the attacks were released. As I noted at the time in the post, The 28-Pages Are Way Worse Than I Thought:
Shortly after the release of the infamous 28-pages earlier today, the White House issued a statement dismissing allegations of Saudi involvement in the attacks of 9/11. I believe such assurances are intended to prevent people from reading it in the first place, because if you actually read them, your mouth will be wide open the entire time in disbelief.
There are only two conclusions any thinking person can come to after reading the 28-pages.
1. Elements within the Saudi government ran the operations behind the 9/11 attack.
2. The U.S. government covered it up.
Go ahead and read those 28-pages and substitute Russia for Saudi Arabia. Can you even begin to imagine the CIA-media outrage that would’ve been directed toward the Kremlin in such a scenario? But alas, since the terrorists are allies of the U.S. government, there was barely an outcry.
This is how the U.S. media operates. There’s a predetermined agenda and then news is filtered and presented specifically to fit this prepackaged narrative. As Michael Cieply, a 12-year veteran of the New York Times who left this past July recently noted:
It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.
Reality usually had a way of intervening. But I knew one senior reporter who would play solitaire on his computer in the mornings, waiting for his editors to come through with marching orders. Once, in the Los Angeles bureau, I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”
The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”
Having lived at one time or another in small-town Pennsylvania, some lower-rung Detroit suburbs, San Francisco, Oakland, Tulsa and, now, Santa Monica, I could only think, well, “Wow.” This is a very large country. I couldn’t even find a copy of the Times on a stop in college town Durham, N.C. To believe the national agenda was being set in a conference room in a headquarters on Manhattan’s Times Square required a very special mind-set indeed.
That agenda never has anything to do with what’s best for the American people, but it has everything to do with the promotion of whatever “elite” agenda happens to be en vogue at the time. I think it would be pretty easy to argue that if we had a halfway decent press in America, the nation wouldn’t be in the distressed state it is in today. This is where alternative media comes in.
Alternative media didn’t suddenly appear out of nowhere and hypnotize millions of patriotic Americans into becoming Kremlin-puppets. Alternative media didn’t find Americans, Americans found alternative media. Reality on the ground simply wasn’t fitting into the narrative being pushed by the major press, so people became hungry for a different narrative. As the gap between what the press was saying and what the people were seeing in real life continued to grow, alternative media became more powerful and influential. This all culminated in the victory of a person the mainstream media insisted was not just unfit to lead, but also incapable of winning. The media was wrong yet again.
As such, the media still can’t let the election go. In its obsession with “fake news” and Russia, the U.S. press is once again betraying the public trust. It is once again demonstrating that the primary purpose of American mass media is a perpetuation of the status quo narrative. The media can’t let the election go, because any acknowledgment that Trump’s victory was a reflection of public unease indicts the media for failing to validate and report on the extent of this unease and its causes. After all, it’s so much easier to just call 63 million Americans racists, misogynists and Putin stooges. Which brings me to the final point.
As is the case with the vast majority of our problems, if we want to zero in on the much bandied about “threats to democracy,” we don’t need to look abroad. Moscow didn’t force the DNC to sabotage Bernie Sanders, and it didn’t force Donna Brazile to hand debate questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign either. Putin didn’t nominate Hillary Clinton in an election year that was obviously amenable to populist messaging. No, the Democrats did all that, with a huge heaping of assistance from the mainstream media. Which is precisely why neither group can let the election go in order to focus on our very real, and very extensive national problems.
Don’t expect the media to change course, however. Pandering to the establishment and copy/pasting government press releases is the only thing many of these people are capable of doing. As a result, our press has entirely embraced an insane and dangerous narrative in which any non-U.S. government approved perspective is simply branded Russian propaganda. We can only hope enough of us are smart enough to see through it.
Contributed by Michael Krieger of A Lightning War for Liberty