The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

Mainstream Media: A Multi-Headed Special Interest Group


There is a moment in everyone’s life when they have an Ah Ha! about something.  A revelation that changes their outlook in a fundamental way about a persistently difficult situation and allows them to deal with it in novel ways because they now understand the problem correctly for the first time.  I recently had one of those ah Ha! moments.  It occurred while I was following the story of the CDC whistleblower in the pro-safe vaccine movement.  After the safe-vaccine crowd made a concerted effort to inform the mainstream media only to have the story twisted and corrupted by them, I practically slapped my head and yelled D’oh!  It was a revelation that I probably should have had long ago.

It was that example that finally pushed my perception of the mainstream media completely over the edge.  This wasn’t the stubbornness of skeptics, reporting incompetence or laziness.  The mainstream media wash’t swayed by a particular point of view either.  They flat out refused to cover the story in an impartial way because they are a special interest group pushing a particular point of view.  It doesn’t have a lot to do with being liberal or conservative; it’s not terribly political, but when you look at the mainstream as protecting the interests of big business then you start to see where the line is drawn.  On the political front we’ve seen this in the coverage of 99 percenter’s protests and the way labor leaders have systematically been shut out of debates that they were central to.  This was outlined in Herman and Chomsky’s “The Propaganda Model

In their 1988 book ‘Manufacturing Consent – The Political Economy of the Mass Media’, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky introduced their ‘propaganda model’ of the media. The propaganda model argues that there are 5 classes of ‘filters’ in society which determine what is ‘news’; in other words, what gets printed in newspapers or broadcast by radio and television. Herman and Chomsky’s model also explains how dissent from the mainstream is given little, or zero, coverage, while governments and big business gain easy access to the public in order to convey their state-corporate messages – for example, ‘free trade is beneficial, ‘globalisation is unstoppable’ and ‘our policies are tackling poverty’.

We have already touched upon the fact that corporate ownership of the media can – and does – shape editorial content. The sheer size, concentrated ownership, immense owner wealth, and profit-seeking imperative of the dominant media corporations could hardly yield any other result.

Michael Parenti, in an article for Media Alliance titled Methods of Media Manipulation had this to say:

I would argue that the media’s misrepresentations are not all the result of innocent error and everyday production problems, though such problems certainly exist. True, the press has to be selective–but what principle of selectivity is involved? Media bias does not occur in a random fashion; rather it moves in the same overall direction again and again, favoring management over labor, corporations over corporate critics, affluent Whites over low-income minorities, officialdom over protesters, the two-party monopoly over leftist third parties, privatization and free market “reforms” over public-sector development, U.S. corporate dominance of the Third World over revolutionary social change, and conservative commentators and columnists like Rush Limbaugh and George Will over progressive or populist ones like Jim Hightower and Ralph Nader (not to mention more radical ones).

The corporate mainstream media seldom stray into territory that might cause discomfort to those who hold political and economic power, including those who own the media or advertise in it.

The autism-vaccine debate crosses one of those lines.  Vaccines are a $52 billion dollar cash cow for the pharmaceutical industry, so it’s logical that they would go to great lengths to protect it.  There is much money to lose if alternative medicine is accepted, especially homeopathy.  Furthermore, parapsychology is a threat because if it is accepted, it opens the door to theoretical acceptance of information transfer as a healing mechanism, the basis of homeopathy and many alternative healing practices.

Similarly, Bigfoot is a threat to mining and timber interests because any land where it was found to be living would certainly be off limits for these activities.  They would be an indigenous people and would therefore have a claim to that land.  If it were to somehow be discovered that 9/11 was a planned internal attack on American soil to start a war, this would undermine the oil and defense industries.  Similarly LENR is a threat to the oil, gas and coal industries.

So if you look at the areas where alternative and controversial topics hit a brick wall with the mainstream media, you’ll see a strong connection between big money and what gets attacked or ignored.  The mainstream media is, in the strictest sense of the phrase, a special interest group.

While I don’t think that most people have given this much thought, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t already skeptical of the mainstream news they get.  This has led to the steady rise of alternate media as a source for news.  The good news is that this is pretty much unstoppable, the bad news is why it is unstoppable.  It is composed of literally hundreds, if not thousands of socially important news sites ranging from specialty blogs like mine, to specialty news sites on a dizzying array of topics which all have one thing in common:  they are shut out of the mainstream press for one reason or another.  It makes for some very strange bedfellows.  bigfoot researchers, 9/11 truthers, homeopathy and alternative medicine practitioners, labor leaders, libertarians, right wing Christians, parapsychology scientists, autism groups, LENR entrepreneurs and many others find themselves together in the same virtual room.  It is unrealistic to expect these various groups to band together; no news site is going to carry all of this and there is no way anyone has time to research all these various topics to find out everything that the mainstream media is either leaving unsaid or distorting.  Some of these topics conflict with one another.

To make matters more complicated, there are also social sites that provide pseudo news and information, such as Wikipedia, The Smoking Gun, The Skeptic’s Dictionary and Quackwatch.  You cannot trust alternative media any more than you can trust mainstream media without critical evaluation skills, and a lot of time.  The truth is out there, but it’s not readily apparent what it is or even where to find it.

The good news is that these things eventually sort themselves out over time.  From a social perspective, our new over-exposed and over-connected society is still coming to terms with what it is and what it is capable of.  New avenues of communication are developing and better information is slowly filtering through.  It is slow because it is an emotional change.  When you get beyond the mainstream, everyone suddenly has a voice and they all rise into one ginormous monotonous deafening roar.  In this environment, no shortcuts work because only critical thinking skills, an ability to spot bias, both in the media and in one’s self, an ability to spot truth and a desire to pursue truth can get you there.  It is HARD to get good information and it often requires advanced search skills and persistence.  Search engines seem to go out of their way to provide you with crap.

There is a steep learning curve involved in understanding the social milieu in which we live.  If my search results pull up a bunch of skeptical sites, I have to learn about them and their point of view to put them in proper context.  (Although I think for most people landing on one of these sites accidentally it’s simply a matter of “nope, not what I was looking for” followed by going back to search.)  People have to learn not to trust Wikipedia and even expect it to lie when it’s always at the top of search results and to understand when and where to trust mainstream media sites.  It’s a lot to ask.

But ever so gradually, our society is learning to create these new connections and become more sophisticated in searching out information.  This has the effect of gradually watering down the impact of mainstream media.  Another effect of this has been the creation of the two headed media system.  We have the mainstream press . . . and everything else, ranging from comments on mainstream articles, to Facebook, to blogs, to the alternative press.  It’s kind of like a controlled economy with a black market.  You can go the traditional route, but the really good stuff is going to take some time and effort to get.

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9 comments on “Mainstream Media: A Multi-Headed Special Interest Group

  1. Tom Butler
    October 20, 2014

    Craig, you said, “The truth is out there, but it’s not readily apparent what it is or even where to find it.” In the paranormal community, I see a proliferation of wikis, aggregator sites and individual blogs. All of them are potentially useful and important to a person’s understanding, but as of yet, there has been no effort to create a clearinghouse for the information.

    The problem of who to trust is probably even greater. I have learned to trust much of what you talk about about because you are an excellent researcher and your moral compass is well evolved. Hummm … at least it seems to point about the same direction as mine. 🙂

    I see that others have included your blog in their lists of resources, some of which are in the dedicated search tool at http://atransc.org/links_community.htm I have started. it has 20 or so sites. But such a search tool is just a bandage at best. The more logical step seems to be personal aggregator bots which can be programmed by the individual to focus on what the person want to know. There are a few out there such as http://news360.com/ and http://www.fark.com/ but I have not tried them.

    The need is for a way for someone such as you to find a good one and set it up to find what you are looking for, People who trust you might copy your filter to their own bot and further modify it to their taste.

    The bottom line is that I agree with you. A function of community is to help members of the community gain understanding. But even the best intentions can stray from the greater good when the community as institution become the purpose of the community, rather than focusing on the members. If that is true, then even a reliable source of information needs to be continuously tested.

    • craigweiler
      October 20, 2014

      I have to run, so this comment is unfortunately brief, but I think what is needed is a mainstream type news site that also publishes balanced articles and won’t print the crap. A site that people can go to every day for news and know that it’s not going to censor what they see.

  2. MNP
    October 19, 2014

    Wow you are just getting it? Well wonderful and I hope your essay touches all those others who still believe what they read in the papers to be the truth. Thank you for your effort. If you have never seen the movie “Thrive “, http://www.thrivemovement.com/ then by all means do,it will surprise you and validate even more what you have discovered. There is a wold wide movement of awake people .linked . Love and Light

    • craigweiler
      October 19, 2014

      Yeah, I can be a slow learner. 😉

  3. Mark
    October 19, 2014

    Great article, Craig. Some of the things that you are saying are starting to sound similar to a post I made on another website. (which seems to be lost to history, at this point, unfortunately) I was saying that, although I don’t know if this could ever happen, we should try to get these disparate groups together to fight, not for any one of the groups, but for basic principle and policy changes to enact in our society, like making it easier to punish the mainstream media organizations, or any media organizations, when they misbehave blatantly when it comes to alternative subjects, like this:

    Costello should have been fired for this one, and if it was a mainstream subject she just might have been fired, or, at least, punished. It is unacceptable for media organizations to call into question the credentials of scientists for no other reason than because the scientists are asserting something that is out of the ordinary.

  4. SuzanneTaylor
    October 19, 2014

    We are having a case of propaganda and manipulation in California around Proposition 45, with a heavy duty ad campaign that is all deception. Here’s a great piece that was written about that, which should be required reading — it is eye opening in revealing tactics that are used: http://tinyurl.com/nunw9cp

    • craigweiler
      October 19, 2014

      That’s a good article Suzanne. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. donsalmon
    October 19, 2014

    Wonderful essay. Hope you don’t mind – I’ve reposted it over at bernardo kastrup’s forum.

    • craigweiler
      October 19, 2014

      Cool. Saves me the trouble. Thanks.

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