It’s been there since the day you were born.
The mainstream media. The authority that tells you about the world outside your personal bubble. Your entire nation - millions of people - are informed by it.
There it sits. On our TV screens. On our laptop screens. On our smartphone screens. Beaming information through into our consciousness. But what exactly is the mainstream media?
Everybody tell you not to trust the media. Everybody tell you that the media lies. Some will call it The Liberal Media. Others say that it brainwashes the population.
But very few people can actually tell you: How?
That’s what I’m here to tell you.
"The general population doesn't know what's happening and it doesn't even know that it doesn't know" - Noam Chomsky
Too many people passively accept the messages given to them without ever noticing the strangeness of what they’re looking at. Too many people are so completely confused by the mainstream media that they can’t tell which way is up and which way is down. Too many people have wildly inaccurate perceptions of the world around them.
People continually vote against their own interests. People continually let their behaviour and their speech be controlled by the powerful. And people continue to be completely oblivious of the reality of the world around them.
Nobody trusts the media. And yet everyone continually falls for it’s tricks. Because they underestimate how deep the rabbit hole goes.
This article is split up into 5 parts:
Part 1: The News Marketplace
Part 2: Who Owns The News?
Part 3: The Framework Of Discussion
Part 4: The Journalists
Part 5: The Smear Campaign
It’s my hope that by the end of this article you will have a framework for how the media actually works.
And it’s my hope that you can use this framework to understand the media for the rest of your life.
This is The Brutal Truth About The Mainstream Media
part 1: the news marketplace
The news is a product to be sold. It’s not a reflection of reality. That’s the first thing you need to know about media.
In the world there exists an endless number of possible stories to be chosen as news. There was a car crash in London today. Poverty in Indonesia is down by 4%. Brittany Spears shaved her head. The president tweeted something. David drank a coffee in Starbucks today. The war in Yemen is escalating. Liverpool won 2-0 against Manchester City.
But out of all the possible stories in the world, only particular stories are chosen. Some stories are discussed relentlessly while others appear as crawls at the bottom of the screen.
So how do journalists decide which stories to focus on? You would hope they would choose based on which stories are the most relevant and helpful to the general population. This isn’t the case.
Stories are chosen based on what brings in the largest audience
(This is true in the outer ring: “News Marketplace” but not necessarily true when the story is inside the inner ring: “Centre Of Power”.)
Mainstream news costs more than consumers could ever hope to pay. You watch the news for free. So how do they afford to keep producing news day in day out? How do they afford to pay the thousands of staff members? How do they pay for the studio, cameras and other technology?
By selling their audience to advertisers. In other words: by selling you to advertisers.
"It is the consumer who is consumed. You are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer. He consumes you" - Richard Serra
Fox news pulls in around 2,434,000 views during prime time. That’s a lot of eyeballs. Advertisers will pay a lot of money to have their product showcased to 2.4 million people. And so Fox News earns millions of dollars by selling their audience to advertisers.
A good story is worth millions of dollars. That’s why mass shootings get such extensive coverage. Because a dramatic story like a mass shooting pulls in large audiences. And large audiences mean large profits.
That’s why celebrity gossip and scandals get more coverage than the looming superbug crisis. That’s why sports get more coverage than rising obesity rates. Because the news selects stories that will bring in the largest audience and make the most profit.
So most stories are chosen based on profit. This leaves the viewer with an incredibly distorted sense of reality. (One effect this has is making the world seem scarier than it really is bemcause fear draws lots of attention)
Most news is left in the hands of the news marketplace. But there are certain stories where different rules apply.
Part 2: Who owns the news?
(While this section will focus primarily on America, a similar pattern can be found in all countries in the western world)
You may think there are plenty of news sources available to you, but in fact all of the mainstream media in America is owned by only 6 companies. A small number of elites have the power to control the narrative of entire nations.
In capitalism, monopolies are inevitable. In all areas, eventually power consolidates into the hands of a small number of people. Media is no exception. That’s why the 50 companies that used to control the media in 1983 gradually merged together to become 6.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And monopolies are dangerous.
When monopolies are formed, it’s the government’s job to break up these monopolies. The problem is, these media monopolies have influence over the government.
This creates a group of elites consisting of people in powerful positions in government, CEOs and other people with incredible wealth. A group of elites who have complete control over the mainstream media and the narrative that comes out of it.
No matter which country you live in, whenever a story comes close to the centre of power it will be controlled by the elites.
While they’re perfectly content to let the majority of news be left to The News Marketplace (The outer ring), when a story comes close to the The Centre Of Power (The inner ring) the narrative will be controlled carefully. (How is the narrative controlled? See Part 3: The Framework Of Discussion)
War, Big Pharma, Lobbying, The Arms Industry. If these issues are discussed freely, the population may begin to realise the evil and injustices that occur in these areas.
You may think all this talk of “elites” and “controlling the narrative” sounds like an insane conspiracy theory. But just take a second to consider exactly what’s at stake.
We’re talking about having influence over the minds of millions of people. Entire nations. The military force to destroy entire countries. And ultimately, control over the human race.
Every human society in history has been ruled by elites. In the past, we were ruled by kings and emperors. All human societies that have ever existed have had a pyramid-like power structure. With a small number of elites controlling the rest of the population.
You think about the peasants of the past who were controlled by their kings and imagine it as a world of the past.
But it’s not only our past. It’s our present too.
Of course, our quality of life has dramatically improved thanks to technology. But we still have rulers. It’s just not as obvious as it used to be.
These rulers have an incredible tool they never used to have: Mass media. The ability to send messages to millions of people that was never possible in the days of kings and emperors. They use this tool to control thought about any issues that are close to the centre of power.
And once you know what to look for, you will be able to them exercise their power over the narrative in real-time while watching the mainstream media.
When Julian Assange reveals government war crimes, the elites take control of the narrative and brand him as rapist and a criminal (How do they do this? See Part 5: The Smear Campaign)
When Edward Snowden reveals that the NSA is spying on all of us, the elites take control of the narrative.
When it comes to war, the elites take control of the narrative.
The elites will control the narrative only when it comes to the really important issues close to The Centre Of Power. The rest of the news is left to The News Marketplace
Part 3: The Framework of discussion
"The media may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about” - Bernard Cohen in 1963.
The media doesn’t tell you what to think. It tells you what to think about.
Gay marriage. Abortion. Presidential debates. Transgender neutral bathrooms. These issues will be talked to death on mainstream media. This then becomes part of the cultural conversation. Everyone starts talking about these things.
People will argue about the details of each of these issues. And everybody thinks they’re an informed citizen.
Never realising the far more important questions they’re not talking about and never even considered thinking about.
Why is the entire mainstream media owned by only 6 companies? - This question will never be asked on mainstream media. In fact, you probably weren’t even aware of this fact before reading this article. You probably never even considered who owns the media you’re consuming because the subject is outside of The Framework Of Discussion.
Did the Iraq war create ISIS? - This question will also never be asked on mainstream media. We can talk about the individual terror attacks. We can talk about Islam. But suggesting that the America may have created ISIS? The idea is never discussed because it’s outside of The Framework Of Discussion.
The media sets the framework for discussion. An invisible set of boundaries that can only be seen by the few who know what to look for.
The mainstream media truly is a mind control tool. The media has the ability to control where our attention goes and therefore it controls our minds. For most of the population, it controls what they think about. But more importantly, it controls what they don’t think about.
The elites at the top of society have the ability to control what the mainstream media focuses on and what it doesn’t focus on. (Because the elites have full control over the media). Therefore, these elites have the ability to control the minds of their populations.
If a news item is covered frequently and prominently the audience will regard it as important.
In presidential TV debates, some questions are never asked:
What percentage of your money came from Wall Street? What would you do about tax avoidance from the top 1%? What would you do to combat junk food corporations who are making the country sick? Do you think the Iraq war was a war crime?
The moderators in these debates only ask questions that are within the framework of discussion. The people listen to the candidate’s answers and make their voting choices based on what they hear.
After the debates, all of the news outlets discuss the answers each presidential candidate made. And at no stage has any topic outside of The Framework For Discussion been mentioned.
But it’s not only on the news that the framework for discussion is controlled.
Talk shows are also stay inside the framework of discussion.
All mainstream talk shows are owned by one of the big 6 media conglomerates.
The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is owned by Comcast. The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and the Ellen Degeneres Show are owned by National Amusements. The View is owned by Walt Disney Company.
Every talk show you see on mainstream television is confined to The Framework Of Discussion because they’re owned by the very same media conglomerates as the news is.
Talk shows will never discuss American war crimes, Tax avoidance by the richest 0.01% or any other topic that could harm the elites (With the occasional exception of Real Time with Bill Maher)
And it goes further than that. Films, TV shows or documentaries that discuss topics that threaten the elites will not be shown either.
Every single thing you see on a mainstream network is inside the The Framework For Discussion.
If you watch the mainstream media, what you think about and what you don’t think about is being controlled.
Part 4: The Journalists
The 6 big media conglomerates are controlling the narrative. But what about the individual journalists themselves?
If our media was being controlled by the elites, wouldn’t there be plenty of journalists ready to expose their methods?
Absolutely not. Because of the following reasons.
The darwinian process
The journalists you see on mainstream media are not the most talented, they are simply people who hold the correct views.
Every journalist on mainstream media goes through a kind of darwinian process. By the end of the process the only journalists who are left on your screens are those who hold viewpoints that please the elites.
Any journalist who has views that the elites don’t agree with will never be hired in the first place.
There are talented journalists who do real independent research, report honestly on war and have a commitment to finding the truth. These people aren’t allowed on mainstream media.
The journalists you see on mainstream media are the sub-par journalists who have beliefs that the elites approve of.
Journalism cannot be a check on power. Because the very system encourages complicity. Those in power and those who report on power are on the same team.
If you want access to the most important sources, you need to tell the story how the elites want you to. Without access to particular sources, it’s very difficult
Access is the holy grail for journalists. Access means having prestige. Access is the mark of a successful journalist. Access means you get invited to the private parties.
If you don’t have access, you don’t get the prestige and you’re not invited to the parties.
The journalists with access think they’re the best of the best. When in fact they’re simply the most obedient. The prestige of a journalist is based on how obedient he is to the elites.
The most insidious kind of censorship is self-censorship.
Journalists know that there are certain issues they simply aren’t supposed to cover. There are unwritten rules surrounding covering topics the elites don’t want talked about.
Consciously and unconsciously, journalists will talk about the things they’re supposed to talk about.
In totalitarian societies, journalists will self-censor in fear of being killed for broadcasting a message their government doesn’t like. These societies exist in our world today, throughout the world.
But journalists in western societies self-censor in fear of other things. They self-censor in fear of losing their access, being subject to a smear campaign (See Part 5: The Smear Campaign) or in the recent case of Julian Assange - being put in jail for revealing the truth about their government.