KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES
OUR RED FACED CANARY IN THE COAL MINE
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
Yesterday, I was asked to appear in a video shoot and as I was being photographed and recorded, I was asked to just talk into the microphone and do an impromptu monologue. I was actually very tired and told the cameraman that it is too early for me to just spit out something.
He laughed and said well how about doing a rant on the recent censorship issues with the various tech platforms. I obliged; however, I did ask if I could at least go over a few notes in order to have a little direction so the video had a modicum of intelligence, rather than having me prattle on without any real direction.
I quickly took out my phone and searched on Google for something quick. I was surprised that an essay I wrote in 2015 popped up, and so I looked it over to get a base to jump from and then I would just improvise from there.
Of course, I began my short rant talking about the First Amendment.
The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech individually and for the media, stating that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press.
From there, I gave an impassioned rant about how objective reporting in lieu of selective reporting is key to the survival of the public’s right to know. I also stated that the silencing of the independent journalist and the blocking of speech in the cyber public square will have a negative impact on the future of our culture and the body politic in general.
I emphasized that dialogue about controversial subjects and uncomfortable speech is what is lacking in talk radio and in the various social media platforms, and, that silence is acceptance even when it is mandatory.
I said afterward to the cameraman that I just did a condensed version of my show.
He said he liked it; that it was exactly what was needed for the video he was making as it was going to be a presentation at a well-known media awards luncheon.
I was relieved that even though I was tired and without caffeine, I was able to satisfy the producers of this little film.
I realized it was a slow news day and thought that I could keep my enthusiasm going and maybe present it for the days show.
I was rationalizing it was a dry news day and that again, I could cry out to the choir over material I was becoming really good at ranting about – I gave it a rest and decided to talk about something more paranormal.
It was a good thing that I waited because circumstances changed and my producer Ron Patton got a call from none other than Alex Jones. Alex apologized for not coming on the show last week and wanted to give it a try again.
He was really eager to come on so I decided that perhaps it would be interesting to talk with him now that most of what he has been going through has settled a bit.
I started thinking about that essay which popped up from 2015 – it was called “Unprivileged Belligerent: Pentagon Kills The Radio Star.”
The title itself was unintentionally prophetic as the entire presentation was about policies that were about to be implemented during the Obama administration that set out to silence journalists, talk show hosts and others that were seen as a threat to national security.
Before Donald Trump was cited as the president that attacks the media, Barack Obama was the president that wanted to silence anyone who The Pentagon thought was generating content that would be considered a threat to national security.
The World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies.
In an unstable environment, the media becomes a strategic goal and target for groups or individuals whose attempts to control news and information violate the guarantees enshrined in international law, in particular, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Protocols Additional 1 and 2 to the Geneva Conventions.
In June of 2015, I reported that there were rumors and threats that various tech platforms were about to enforce their terms of service and censor what they considered controversial and uncomfortable speech from independent journalists.
I suggested that the biggest indicator that the information well was about to dry up was the slew of journalists quitting, retiring or being fired from their jobs because they would be told to comply with “safe zone” programming and news reporting.
I compared it with Argentina’s Dirty War where journalists, actors, comedians and musicians were silenced through methods of intimidation, character assassination and suspicious deaths.
At the time of my presentation, Jon Stewart, host and editorialist of the “Daily Show” on Comedy Central told his audience at a taping on February 10th, 2015 that he was leaving the show. Later he told the Guardian that he realized that the political climate in the country was changing and the ironic cruel humor of political satire was going to become less funny and more of political grandstanding and harsh commentary on the state of American affairs. He just felt he could not do it anymore…and looking back, he left at just about the right time.
David Letterman left his show as well, again noting that Americans were becoming less tolerant of humor aimed at politics; that the loss of irony and satirical views in the media had been replaced with emotional editorialized opinion that could not be grilled without attack.
Political commentaries, both in criticism and in satire was being slowly killed off and most of the politically moderate hosts of talk shows were shown the door or had quit, only to be replaced by mostly liberal leaning hosts who were preferred by the left to push an agenda that was at the time held close to the vest.
Before Donald Trump was the poster child for ugly politics and the accuser of “fake news.” Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the National Press Club and warned reporters against coverage which “has a negative impact on the national security of the nation.”
Holder conceded that the US is not yet “in a time of war,” but cited censorship during World War II as an example of the government’s ability to clamp down on the press when they feel it necessary.
The Pentagon issued a 1,176-page “Department of Defense Law of War Manual” and in it there was a passage on how to deal with rogue journalists whom they feel a threat to national security.
The manual states that:
“In general, journalists are civilians. However, journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents,” the manual states.
The term “unprivileged belligerents” was also equated with the term “enemy combatant.”
The Pentagon did not specify the exact circumstances under which a journalist might be declared an unprivileged belligerent.
During the Obama administration, the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency wanted to send researchers into news rooms to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.
The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, was to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
The controversial plan was tabled; however, it was later indicated that what was not controlled on the airwaves could be controlled on the internet and the surveillance and monitoring infrastructure put technical platforms like Facebook and Twitter on notice.
The Pentagon and the Attorney General at the time were going to great lengths to curtail subversive material on air and online – subversive material, of course, was actually right-wing or libertarian views that questioned the motives of the Obama administration.
So as I reported, the conspiracy to shut down certain views dates back to the beginning of 2015, and it was the government that was behind it.
So this would mean that while Facebook , Twitter and other platforms had the option to shut down Alex Jones because of terms of service – the government and the state arm of the media was responsible and therefore his First Amendment rights were violated according to what is the letter of The Constitution.
Ben Wizner, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s speech, privacy and technology project, warned that bans against Alex Jones and Infowars could set a dangerous precedent.
Wizner stated that the hate speech policies many social media companies cited when they banned Jones can be “misused and abused. Wizner said companies had a right to regulate speech on their platforms, but added that hate speech “turns out to be an extremely subjective term.”
However private tech companies holding the power to define ambiguous thought crime appear to be complying with what was proposed and attempted to be enforced in 2015- the year many talk show hosts and journalist started to flee their positions in order to avoid being termed an unprivileged belligerent.
This move to censor and shut down people’s press media groups is actually a product of years of collaboration between Big Tech and the Pentagon which arguably is in control of media giants like CNN – it was media outlets such as these that played a role in shutting out Infowars.
It was an attempt at “unpersoning” Jones – a tactic that was carried out in Soviet Russia and in South America during the Dirty War.
Social platforms like Facebook can hide behind the claim that they are making these decisions based on what’s in their financial interest, but that is only one factor that has been considered.
What I am revealing now is that corporate censorship is now the cover for state censorship, which is most definitely a violation of the First Amendment and the rights of Alex Jones and his form of journalism.
We are now seeing what can be called ambiguous extrajudicial decisions being made by tech platforms under the cover of corporate policies and terms of service.
There is also the scapegoat called “community standards” that is being used to target political ideologies or contested facts that challenge state power.
If the technical platforms want to be “media aggregators” then perhaps they should be entirely objective and neutral.
It is obvious that Facebook has to answer their advertisers and shareholders, but it is also important that they answer to the public, as the public is the sole reason they are in business.
The public are simply resources that benefit them.
Just to be clear they are free to dictate their Terms of Service as they see fit.
They can be the thought police and control the speech on their platform according to their own standards and they hand out disciplinary actions if they so choose.
However, now President Trump has also expressed his own concerns about platforms’ attempts to police content.
He has said that it is “dangerous” for Facebook and Twitter to limit who can and cannot speak on their platforms.
There is also division in the ranks of Facebook as dozens of employees have decided to unite to challenge the left-wing political bias deeply ingrained in the company. Although the post went up quietly on Facebook’s internal message board last week, it quickly took off inside the social network’s inner sanctum.
Titled “We Have a Problem with Political Diversity,” the post took a shot at Facebook’s intolerant views of differing political opinions. “We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views,” Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer, wrote in the post, which was obtained by The New York Times. “We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology.”
In fact, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, told Congress this year that he wanted the company to “be a platform for all ideas.”
After that, Alex Jones and Infowars were taken down from the platform.
The inconsistency speaks volumes.
Alex remains our red-faced canary in the coal mine and is certainly the victim of the campaign set forth during the Obama administration to single out and censor “unprivileged belligerents.”