SATIATING THE AMERICAN ADDICTION TO CONFUSION
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
Last night I stayed late at the office to do some catching up on News stories that were filling my news bin. It takes time to review them for content and at times it becomes daunting and I see stories from what can be called credible legacy news outlets that are literally reporting stories out of context and using misleading pictures to push an agenda and to confuse the public.
Many listeners to my show know that I have beaten the dead horse of saying that mainstream media gets everything wrong, and it is easy to do, however, it is perceived that when you do it you are becoming an apologist for President Trump.
I always say that I am not defending Trump, I am trying to out report a media that has already surrendered itself to being part of some trumped up hashtag activist resistance. Then I realized that is the point.
It is the hashtag that is the clue – it is the social media platforms that are now controlling the information and the media exploits it in order to confuse people.
Because gone are the days of “if it bleeds it leads” – it is now evident that if it confuses people it will be the lead story and within context of a certain political view it will remain a confusing news story until the media decides to either abandon it or explain it further with a panel of deeply invested political pundits willing to confuse the issue even more.
It is a conspiracy of obfuscation – and that is the point.
Information networks like Twitter and Facebook were created to feed us mountain of information with very few words to explain the information clearly. It is then followed by a hashtag or a shortened addy or an innocuous headline.
For some people, the headline and the hashtag are enough information to form an opinion on the story. The headline may be out of context or geared towards a political bias. If the headline tells you all you need to know, you can either click it or ignore it.
The Internet has given us a way of grasping at any moment quickly – but with this quick grasp, we do not get all possible perspectives. News reporters and others are also doing this. Instead of using the platform as a tip for further investigation we are satisfied with just a small amount of information to satiate us, however, we are seeing that the lack of interest in taking the time to analyze has created a rush to judgment on intentionally flawed stories.
The sick part is that we accept this happily and willfully, without discernment assuming that we would know what to do with the news reports, and the ideas they provide.
Lately, we are now realizing that perhaps we are spiraling into contextual death where these platforms have left us utterly and completely puzzled.
Instead of questioning social media’s offerings, we carry on; mistakenly believing the solution to this problem will come with even more information. We are caught in a contextual death spiral — a bottomless gyre in which we tumble forever disoriented, helplessly drinking water to save ourselves from drowning.
As long as we continue to rely on these platforms for clarity, we’ll never find it.
It is time to realize that they are not designed to deliver anything but pure information, which fuels our desire for more. There are no answers in the depths, no matter how far down we go into the hashtag rabbit hole.
We are trapped — and that’s the point. We are confused and it is by design. We are puzzled and that is what keeps us going back to our screens to find out more and more.
Americans are now becoming addicted to confusion –and making up our minds before the full story is heard.
There have been so many
stories that have been batted back and forth in the media that prove this point – and perhaps while the truth is glaring at us in our face we need to exploit it in order to show the ugliness of political theater and the tactics that were once described by George Orwell in his book, 1984.
One of the key themes in 1984 is that the Party can do and say whatever it wants. And more importantly, you must believe it, with all your heart. No matter how absurd.
That’s doublethink. It is impossible for two plus two to equal three, four, and five simultaneously.
But if the Party says it is so, it is so.
If you can’t make yourself believe two contradictory facts simultaneously, that makes you a thought criminal — an enemy of the Party.
For example Climate Change. It is a loaded term that now has a double meaning that causes doublethink. It is a fact that climate is constantly changing and is measured over time. It is a naturally occurring event in a world that is complex.
If you state that you don’t believe in Climate Change ignores a factor in the circle of life.
However, Climate Change is also defined as a political term which describes a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular, a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
Which definition do you believe? When you are asked if you believe in Climate Change do you say yes or no? The context is never clarified and it creates an assumption with political repercussions.
Now, this poses a schism.
It is confusing enough to create division and doublethink.
This is the point.
Some say that if you question you are a science denier.
Another example is the position on vaccines. In many cases, vaccines are used for good in preventing the spread of disease and many of us have been vaccinated against many diseases. This should be enough to say that vaccines are effective.
However, there are many studies that show that many vaccines are not effective, that they have ingredients that cause marked side effects in children and adults. This has forced people to reconsider the necessity for vaccines in every instance.
People who question the benefits of vaccines are called, Antivaxxers; a general pejorative that again is given to someone who had committed what Orwell called “Thoughtcrime.”
Thoughtcrime is thinking any thought that contradicts the Party or in this case the technocratic consensus.
Other Orwellian terms like Facecrime and Newspeak can be used to illustrate the confusion in the story of the Kentucky Catholic school students that stood accused by the media of mocking a Native American man who was beating a drum in the face of a young boy who was smiling at him.
Facecrime is when you have the wrong expression on your face — the expression and its meaning or intent is decided by the Party.
Newspeak is the language of the Party – one that has painstakingly been removed of unnecessary words, or words or images that might contradict the Party’s ideals.
In the case of the Young boys wearing MAGA hats – what we saw in the video was the boys from Covington Catholic School surrounding Nathan Phillip in Washington, D.C.
The hats the boys are wearing immediately registered a bias politically.
But something beyond the biases we carry is at work here. Namely, how we became aware of the incident.
It was first seen on social media. It can be compared to a Rorschach test as its performance on social media acted like a perfect psy-op.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram had its own agenda – it wanted to keep the public confused by adding a video or a picture out of context.
Twitter suspended one of the accounts that helped the original, cropped, video which was lifted from the Instagram account of someone who was there go viral.
That account was supposedly run by a high-school teacher in California — a woman named Talia with the handle @2020fight, who’d garnered 40,000 followers. The clip “she” posted was shared thousands of times and had views in the millions.
But CNN discovered the account’s user photo was actually that of a blogger in Brazil, raising questions about its veracity and purpose.
This is the new landscape: where bad actors or bots and algorithms monitor us and appropriate content that creates confusion for an agenda. They know how to get it where they need to go so it amplifies naturally. And at this point, we are all conditioned to react and engage or deny in specific ways.
And we all did.
In the past the search for further context used to be a sign of an open and enquiring mind.
But for many others engaged in the unending daily information war, seeking more context has come to mean finding further ammunition for one side of the argument. And there’s already too much to work with.
There are more videos, many of them leaving out important content that gives us the full story.
They form different angles, and at different times, all we were given at first was the mob of boys surrounding Nathan Phillips as he sang.
There are videos that show the Covington students being taunted prior to the encounter with Phillips by members of the Black Hebrew Israelites. There is also video purportedly showing the Covington boys shouting at young women.
We did not see how the boys actually were dancing in support of Nathan Phillip –and we were told that a young boy in a MAGA hat smiling constituted a mocking.
When it was realized the media misinterpreted the video – some news outlets retracted their statements about it including CNN.
However, news outlets that leaned liberal were not satisfied that this was taken out of context and proceeded to report that some students from the school donned blackface-like makeup at a basketball game.
There is also the matter of a high-powered PR firm stepping in to represent the Covington students, and of Nick Sandmann — the young man at the center of the frame, and thus the controversy — landing an interview on the Today Show.
And there is, of course, the @2020fight account, perhaps a bad actor, a deliberate misinformation channel or bot — the story still remains a confusing allegory that can be seen either way by the party.
Here is another example of how confusing a story furthers an agenda of division and hate.
George Mendonsa, who maintained for decades that he was the sailor in an iconic 1945 Times Square photo, dubbed “The Kiss,” that came to symbolize the end of World War II, died, his family says. He was 95.
The photo of “the kiss” was shown all over the internet and on news programs. This story got the attention of some militant hashtag activists of the #metoo movement who believed that the nurse in question was actually sexually assaulted.
The next day a statue in Sarasota, Florida depicting this kiss was vandalized. Hashtag Me Too was sprayed on the leg of the nurse depicted in the sculpture.
Another case that is now being put into the news cycle to intentionally confuse people is the Jessie Smollett case. Smollet, an actor who stars in the TV show, Empire, claimed he was beaten by two men in Chicago, had a noose tied around his neck and also was doused with bleach. He also claims that the two men were wearing MAGA hats and yelled racial and gay slurs at him as they beat him.
Police investigating the case and started to realize that the story was falling apart. The two men that beat him turned out to be two men who were cast members of the TV show. They were allegedly paid over 3000 dollars each to beat Smollett.
The “narrative” only seemed “cut-and-dry” to people who were looking at the case through lenses clouded by their anti-Trump bias. It seemed made up to those who noticed that Smollett’s allegations were outlandish, implausible and riddled with inconsistencies from the beginning.
The Associated Press had this to say about the incident:
“The national outrage that simmered after actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked by people shouting racial and anti-gay slurs was fueled in part by celebrities who spoke out loud and strong on social media.
But the outrage has now been replaced by surprise, doubt and bafflement as the singers, actors, and politicians who came out in support of the “Empire” star struggle to digest the strange twists the case has taken. Some conservative pundits, meanwhile, have gleefully seized on the moment.
The narrative that just a week ago seemed cut-and-dry has become messy and divisive — and it’s all playing out again on social media.”
Now pay attention to that last line—“it is all playing out on social media.” It should have been revealed in the mainstream press but it wasn’t.
The reason it wasn’t is that it is meant to confuse you. This is so different political sides can keep their version of the story intact to save face — and anyone who questions it gets accused of Thought Crime.
Celebrities including Ariana Grande, Zendaya, Kerry Washington, Shonda Rhimes and Andy Cohen rallied behind Smollett immediately. They focused on the alleged hate crime as a microcosm for the ills of America in 2019 and how intolerance can lead to violent acts. Smollett’s own celebrity and activism for the rights of the LGBTQ community helped raise the profile of the case even more.
Ellen Page appeared on the Stephen Colbert show and in tears laid all the blame for the attack on Mike Pence and President Trump. She urged the audience to “connect the dots” between Pence and homophobic attacks.
Colbert did not challenge her about how the case is still under investigation for fraud.
He let her speak about it as a conspiracy – in order to keep the public confused.
Finally, there is yet another story that comes from my home city of Portland, Oregon.
Many people have become aware nationally that Portland has been a haven for warring political groups who stage protests and wind up having the city shut down.
The two well-known groups are the Conservative Patriot Prayer group and their adversarial group, Antifa.
In an article headlined “Portland police texts with far-right group spark probe” by the Associated Press it reads:
“The city of Portland, often in the spotlight for its liberal leanings, has been roiled by the revelation that a police lieutenant in charge of containing protests texted repeatedly with the leader of a far-right group involved in those demonstrations.
The mayor asked the police chief Friday to investigate “disturbing” texts between Lt. Jeff Niiya, who is the head of the Police Bureau’s rapid response team, and the leader of a Washington-based group called Patriot Prayer that has repeatedly crossed into Oregon to stage right-wing rallies and marches.”
The events in Portland and other West Coast cities routinely draw crowds of self-described anti-fascists, who show up in force to try to shut down leader Joey Gibson and his followers.
Police have struggled to contain the violent clashes and residents have grown used to events that shut down streets for hours, leave downtown windows shattered and end in open brawls, fires, injuries and dozens of arrests.
The text messages, first obtained by the Willamette Week newspaper through a public records request, show Niiya communicating with Gibson before, during and after those clashes.
In texts spread over months, Niiya at times details the movement of a rival anti-fascist protest group, warns Gibson by text that a friend of Gibson could risk arrest by showing up in Oregon and congratulates Gibson on his decision to run for an open U.S. Senate seat in Washington State.
One of the text is quoted: January 22, 2018. “The hate against me will multiply because I am running for office, so when I come into Portland and Seattle the energy will be high. I know it’s a pain in the ass for you guys, but I will do the best I can to work with you.”
It’s not unusual for police to talk with those organizing protests in advance to work on planning.
However, the Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, is now demanding an investigation into whether or not police are being biased against what media calls a “hate group.”
Patriot Prayer is not considered a hate group, nor is it listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is an organization that tracks hate groups and extremist activity.
However, the story that was filed by the associated press showed a photo of masked protestors holding a Nazi flag. They did not specify that the protestors holding the flag were Antifa members.
In a statement, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said police must remain objective and that the texts appear to “cross several boundaries.
Others appear to be angry over the possibility that police officers are sympathizing with what they call, alt right white supremacist hate groups.
Again, Patriot Prayer is not listed as a hate group.
But the confusing thing is that the media and Mayor Ted Wheeler wants you to think so.
It appears that we will not learn our lesson any time soon the lessons of misinformation and manipulation, have not been learned because, on the platforms, all information is still treated the same way. We will absorb whatever is there, whether it’s been deceptively edited or not. As long as it’s information, it will flow.
Gluttons, we will guzzle confusing information will take sides and confuse the context.
It is a conspiracy to confuse and no one wants to admit it.
It is evil and deceptive.
It breeds cynicism and crying wolf takes the value out of the real issues that are supposed to be reported with accuracy and with care.