As the 2016 election post-mortem results rolled in, Americans learned the Main Stream Media (MSM) is largely in the tank for the left. For example, CNN/ABC’s Donna Brazile and fellow Democrats were caught red-handed with emails released by WikiLeaks that showed they were providing Hillary Clinton with pre-debate questions and/or a healthy dose of negative news for Mr. Trump.
However, the fallout from the media bias may not be what the voters think, as Ms. Brazile’s and the media’s outing produced no firings, instead, Congress rewarded their behavior by creating America’s first “Ministry of Propaganda.”
If voters prefer Russia’s or Turkey’s state-run media, they will be pleased with the new law enacted by Congress, and signed into law by President Obama as an add-on buried in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The Friday night before Christmas, President Obama quietly signed into law the $611 billion, 1,576-page 2017 NDAA that included the controversial assault on America’s media status guaranteed by the First Amendment.
During the brutal 2016 presidential campaign, many Clinton supporters argued or tried to sell the American population on the postulation that Hillary Clinton was the prohibitive front-runner, but once the results were in, they claimed it was the so-called “fake news” that undermined the election process and gave Mr. Trump the win.
Dubiously dubbed the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act,” the bipartisan amendment demands through a new government tax that the new federal program will “educate” journalists, media outfits, and other so-called propaganda outlets what exactly the news is and relinquish media’s control to the US government’s interpretations of facts or fiction.
The sponsors insist the new program will only promote the beltway’s “foreign policy goals,” whatever that means. The potential for government cover-ups of embarrassing actions under the guise of national security will force all journalists to tow the proverbial line and destroy an adversarial media.
According to the new law, the Global Engagement Center should “develop, plan, and synchronize … whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign propaganda and disinformation directed against United States national security interests and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests. It should also work to establish cooperative or liaison relationships with foreign partners and allies … and other entities, such as academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.”
Many critics argue that non-profits, businesses, universities, K-12 schools, could be reigned into the campaign and forced to promote any presidential administration propaganda.
This latest hoopla centers on Russia. The Ruskies are the easiest boogieman, as America’s old Cold War foe has become a reliable enemy to keep the US military machine cranking out billions in weaponry contracts.
“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”
But as the post-election autopsy highlights, it was the Washington Post and the New York Times that the voters thought were disseminating “fake news.” WikiLeaks provided ample evidence the traditional media were trying to protect their access and secrets.
In an attempt to protect those potential career-ending mistakes, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced controversial legislation, H.R. 5181 and they say is a “whole-government approach without the bureaucratic restrictions to counter foreign disinformation and manipulation, which they believe threaten the world’s security and stability. As Russia continues to spew its disinformation and false narratives, they undermine the United States and its interests in places like Ukraine, while also breeding further instability in these countries,” Kinzinger explained in a statement. “The United States has a role in countering these destabilizing acts of propaganda, which is why I’m proud to introduce [the aforementioned bill]. This important legislation develops a comprehensive U.S. strategy to counter disinformation campaigns through interagency cooperation and on-the-ground partnerships with outside organizations that have experience in countering foreign propaganda. From Ukraine to the South China Sea, foreign disinformation campaigns do more than spread anti-Western sentiments — they manipulate public perception to change the facts on the ground, subvert democracy and undermine U.S. interests,” Congressman Lieu said. “In short, they make the world less safe.”
The Bill charges the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and a Broadcasting Board of Governors to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response, to rid their idea of disinformation, in an effort to “develop and disseminate fact-based narratives.”
According to the bill’s text, the goal will identify “current and emerging trends in foreign propaganda and disinformation, including the use of print, broadcast, online and social media, support for third-party outlets such as think tanks, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations, and the use of covert or clandestine special operators and agents to influence targeted populations and governments in order to coordinate and shape the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures to expose and refute foreign misinformation and disinformation.”
A companion bill, also named the Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S. 2692), was introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-OHIO). “These countries spend vast sums of money on advanced broadcast and digital media capabilities, targeted campaigns, funding of foreign political movements, and other efforts to influence key audiences and populations,” Portman explained, adding that while the US spends a relatively small amount on its Voice of America, the Kremlin provides enormous funding for its news organization, RT. Surprisingly, there is currently no single US governmental agency or department charged with the national level development, integration and synchronization of whole-of-government strategies to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.”
If these reports are true, Americans should worry that free speech may be regulated by the Broadcasting Board and therefore, not the arbiter of watchdog journalism the founding fathers promised.
According to a New American article, the founders insisted, “Journalists and pamphleteers were certainly vital to spreading the ideas of American rebellion against the English—names like Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams were nearly synonymous with the American Revolution, and they certainly weren’t alone. Though propaganda and distortion of the news were common as well. When the framers of the Constitution met to discuss the construction of the new government at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, freedom of the press and what it would mean for the future of the country was certainly on their minds.”
Even an observer of American values, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville concluded the importance of free speech. “When the right of every citizen to a share in the government of society is acknowledged, everyone must be presumed to be able to choose between the various opinions of his contemporaries and to appreciate the different facts from which inferences may be drawn. The sovereignty of the people and the liberty of the press may therefore, be regarded as correlative, just as the censorship of the press and universal suffrage are two things which are irreconcilably opposed and which cannot long be retained among the institutions of the same people.”
The cornerstone of America’s free spirit and perpetual growth rests with the freedom of all media. In fact, it’s enshrined in the First Amendment to emphasize governmental misdoings no matter the political party in charge.
As of late, the MSM is happy to propagate that it is President-elect Donald Trump who will violate and punish journalists he does not agree with, but ultimately, the MSM journos can blame President Obama as he signed the new program into law. The same new government program will have the power to decide whether or not to throw a whistleblower in jail for disclosing embarrassing facts to the media or if the government chooses to spy on reporters seeking to uncover corrupt politicians.
Nonetheless, President Obama has pushed back on his critical actions against members of the media. “I am a strong believer in the First Amendment and the need for journalists to pursue every lead and every angle,” he told a Rutgers University paper. “I think that when you hear stories about us cracking down on whistleblowers or whatnot, we’re talking about a really small sample. Some of them are serious. Where you had purposeful leaks of information that could harm or threaten operations or individuals who were in the field involved with really sensitive national security issues.”
However, the new freedom of press law could prevent the information from ever being disseminated to the general public in the first place.