From Bill Ivey to John Podesta
“And as I’ve mentioned, we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. This problem demands some serious, serious thinking – and not just poll driven, demographically-inspired messaging.”
WikiLeaks Email ID: 3599
The problem in question, circumventing “poll driven, demographically-inspired messaging,” to reach a broader audience meant that a new strategy had to be implemented. The answer was to create a manufactured controversy with an easily understandable moniker: fake news. The shrewdness of this move is not to be underestimated. Its brilliance is in its simplicity.
The internet has been rife with misinformation since its inception, but controls were not necessary in a free and open internet because individuals accepted or rejected content based upon their own judgment. Online political censorship was unthinkable. The only way that Americans might embrace such an idea is if they truly believed it was in their best interest.
The way to sidestep actual censorship was to create an online environment that discourages debate and promotes compliance with a left-wing narrative. The public was sold on the idea that Russia might be behind dissenting opinions found online, so Google and Facebook have stepped in to help. Their proactive approach will strangle content deemed as fake news by restricting ad revenue.
Facebook has taken it a step further through their soon-to-be implemented labels on articles that are deemed fake by their hand-selected fact checkers. Questions about the bias of these fact checkers have been answered with assurances that they pledged to remain neutral. In effect, they will be christened as arbiters of truth, which eliminates the need for critical thinking amongst the “unaware and compliant citizenry.” If the flow of information can be controlled by the shame of sharing an article that is clearly labeled as fake news, then the message contained within is neutralized, thereby creating an echo chamber of thought.
Muting dissention will prevent another election outcome that requires plentiful excuses; Russia, WikiLeaks, election rigging, James Comey, racism, and fake news. The problem with the fake news narrative is that the scapegoat is WikiLeaks. The raw look inside government machinations through the communications of John Podesta was provided without bias. They were simply emails without commentary. The contents were never disputed; however, a smokescreen was needed as a distraction. A 21st century Red Scare was contrived. If an impression could be made on the public’s psyche that Russia was WikiLeaks’ source, then a marketable fear can be sold to the public throughout Trump’s Presidency.
A leap of faith was made that Russian actors were WikiLeaks’ source, which is a claim that WikiLeaks has repeatedly denied. There is no proof that Russians obtained information to hand over to Assange. It is a conclusion that has been created for the “unaware and compliant citizenry,” without validation.
Many Republicans have been compliant with the smokescreen out of ignorance or possibly a need for a cover of their own. The recently signed, bipartisan Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Bill, was sponsored by Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Chris Murphy. It expresses that Congress believes that Russia and China have used propaganda to undermine the national security objectives of the United States. It contends that the government must plan a strategy to counter propaganda from these countries by developing government initiatives to expose and counter foreign propaganda and “delegitimize false narratives coming out of Russia, China and other nations and increase access to factual information.”
Interestingly, this bill was introduced on March 16, 2016, which was the same day that WikiLeaks published a searchable archive of 30,000 Hillary Clinton emails. Though the archive contained information provided by the US State Department via a FOIA request, the date of the bill and its insistence that there has been foreign intervention and propaganda makes the leap of faith in WikiLeaks’ sources even more curious.
Portman was one of the Republicans who refused to endorse Trump as the nominee. We also know that the DNC planned to connect Trump to Russia in April, which was long before the DNC and Podesta emails were released. This bill was introduced three days after the Bill Ivey email to Podesta warning that “The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly,” and that the problem required “serious thinking” to rein in the noncompliant.
What does this mean for citizens? All stories by independent journalists are fair game to be labeled as propaganda that must be counteracted and replaced by narratives provided by the government. Analyzing information might not be necessary for the “compliant citizenry,” because Google has the power to restrict revenue for alternative news outlets, Facebook plans to shame users for sharing unapproved content, and the government has the final say in what is fact-based. We must be proactive during the Trump administration to stay abreast of obstructions by calling our representatives to ensure that they are truly representing the direction that we want for the country.