Simply ignoring facts, distorting the truth or applying a degree of misinformation has long been the staple content of political discourse. No longer considered a dismissible offence in the British parliament, politicians overstating statistics or simply outright lying nowadays has led trust in them falling to all time lows. Today less people trust government minsters than bankers – that says it all!
In the meantime political surrogates and pundits spread the spin whilst fake news is purported somehow to be a new phenomenon – it isn’t. There is no difference between fake news, misinformation, disinformation or propaganda that government’s have been churning out for years, it is all designed to promote a political cause or point of view. It is not a new battleground.
What is new is the platform that news now rides upon (at incredible speed) – social media. So-called fake news, made to look like credible journalistic reports are easily spread online to large audiences, and one has to say to a largely naive and willing audience who end up spreading it. The Facebook news feed, Google searches and Tweets are game changers simply because of their sheer scale and ability to spread information.
The parallels between Trump’s somewhat sensational victory and the vote for Brexit have been well-documented, particularly as we can now sit back and see the results of the autopsy. When we cut away, what we find is a cancer dubbed “post-truth politics” which are finely tuned and sophisticated appeals based around people’s fears and emotions rather than facts and the policies required to make informed rational decisions. In other words propaganda. Again, it’s not new.
The biggest political decision for a generation in the UK was based on ‘post-truth politics’ about £350m that the NHS will never see and ironically, the very people whose generation voted for it, who need it the most, will never see either. The immigration debate was another scapegoat used by politicians to whip up a storm of disinformation that focused on emotion not fact.
It’s not just politics though, it’s now everywhere. So much so, most people who like to think they are informed are now overwhelmed and confused as to what is true and what is not. A good example is a story TruePublica revealed back in August 2015 that went on to be voted by Project Censored as one of the most censored stories in 2016, The Lies Of Evidence-Based Medical Studies.
In that article we reported that Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet – considered to be one of the most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world recently published a statement declaring that a lot of published research is in fact unreliable at best, if not completely false.
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”
Newspapers play a significant role in the distortion of evidence based information with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance in a desperate attempt to drive traffic to their failing organisations, called ‘click-baiting’. In the case of medical reports, tens of millions of people change their behaviour believing they are doing the right thing or something better.
In just one example of literally thousands online a “Study says there’s no link between cholesterol and heart disease” the Daily Mail reported. What the Daily Mail conveniently overlooked was that nine of the authors are members of THINCS – The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics. Professionals in the health industry roundly berated the newspaper for its deadly interpretation.
By far the worst fake news stories to have been peddled have been by government though. None greater in post war times than that of the illegal attack on Iraq. The now famed Dodgy Dossier was entitled “Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation” which was a 2003 briefing document for the British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour Party government.” The government conned not just Britain but aided America’s own efforts, that subsequently led to the near destruction of the Middle-East, now spewing over into Africa and increasing political tensions in Europe over a migration crisis.
Another huge government lie, replicated across the European Union is the need for austerity. Austerity is not a policy, it is an ideology designed to make the rich and powerful more rich and more powerful. Economics.Help explains this nicely, thus:
“Let’s start with a fact that should be on billboards across the land. As a proportion of GDP, Britain’s national debt has been higher than it is now for 200 of the past 250 years. Read that sentence again. Check it on any graph by any historian. Since 1750, there have only been two brief 30-year periods when our debt has been lower than it is now. So we can afford to run a deficit, if that has a positive effect. If we are “bust” today, as George Osborne has claimed, then we have almost always been bust.”
Margaret Thatcher has been heralded as the sole driver of the renewal and political renaissance in Britain. Yet Thatcher and Reagan’s ideology of neoliberal capitalism and globalisation has been one of the greatest lies ever told to citizens of the world. The hollowing out of the industrial base in Britain, Europe and America has led to Brexit, Trump and quite likely far-right leader Marine LePen in France next April. Trump, May and LePen are all talking of re-skilling, re-equipping and re-industrialising their homelands and all are talking protectionist policies and curbing immigration – an absolute reversal of the experiment we were all mis-sold for forty years.
Thatcher and the successive political parties that followed (both sides of the Atlantic) did little or nothing about our international decline in terms of skills or schooling whilst deregulating the banking sector that directly led to the 2008 financial crisis that has cost taxpayers in the West trillions. That epic event is still unfolding a decade later, its lingering effects continue to negatively affect almost everyone and many economists believe it is far from over.
John Major, the PM that followed Thatcher was quoted as saying “We Conservatives have always passed our values from generation to generation. I believe that personal prosperity should follow the same course. I want to see wealth cascading down the generations. We do not see each generation starting out anew, with the past cut off and the future ignored.” One cannot read these words without thinking of the crisis of everyday life for millions of Briton’s who face a housing crisis, rises in homelessness, poverty and the escalation of inequality that took hold with privatisation and deregulation at the heart of economic policy from the 1980’s – and the subsequent misery delivered via austerity.
Trickle-down economics, the effects of neoliberal capitalism and globalisation espoused by government’s no matter what tribal colour they sported has been described as the “greatest broken promise of our lifetime.”
Oxfam reported that 85 people have the same wealth as half of the entire world’s population. Never in history has inequality been so vulgar, and so public in its display to taunt all those left behind. Credit Suisse estimates that the world will have 11 trillionaires within two generations. Only 15 countries in the world have a GDP larger than a trillion.
Probably the biggest lie in modern history was the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930’s. Whilst the Jewish people had suffered a long history of prejudice and persecution, the Nazi’s created a system of fake news that manifested itself as a sweeping national policy known as “the Final Solution,” which we now know sought to eliminate Jews from the face of the Earth. Hitler asked the world to take all the Jewish people living in Germany, even offering to pay for transport, and almost universally this offer was rejected (YouTube Video Noam Chomsky Migration Crisis). We are not told this story in our schools. It is reported that 6 million Jews lost their lives in the genocide that followed.
Hitler and his cronies orchestrated what they called “the big lie.” This theory, well documented, states that “no matter how big the lie is, people will believe it if you repeat it enough.” Hitler even reasoned that everyone tells lies, but few have the guts to tell colossal ones. “Because a big lie is so unlikely, people will come to accept it”.
Such is the ‘big lie’ that we have all been told wars in the Middle East were driven by ‘humanitarian’ need. These lies have concluded with an estimate that 6-8 million have lost their lives in the region (and still counting). The terms “War-on-Terror” and “Humanitarian Bombing” invented by representatives of government could not be more duplicitous and dishonest. The death toll from the holocaust and todays body count in the Mid-East are similar in more ways than one.
Richard Keeble, professor of journalism at the University of Lincoln, … has written on the history of the links between journalists and the intelligence services. … He quotes Roy Greenslade, who has been a media specialist for both the Telegraph and the Guardian [and is a former editor of the Mirror newspaper], as saying: “Most tabloid newspapers – or even newspapers in general – are playthings of MI5 [Britain’s FBI].” Keeble goes on to say:
“Bloch and Fitzgerald, in their examination of covert UK warfare, report the editor of ‘one of Britain’s most distinguished journals’ as believing that more than half its foreign correspondents were on the MI6 payroll”
“Fake news” has beaten “alt-right” to be given the 2016 Word of the Year honours by Macquarie Dictionary. In Britain at least, Fake news websites have failed to get a grip in the political arena. This is because traditional British news outlets, are already highly accomplished at stretching the truth to its limits and yet still get away with it.