Why U.S. ‘News’ Media Shouldn’t Be Trusted

The great metascientist and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb headlined on November 22nd a devastating takedown of U.S. ‘news’ media and academia, «Syria and the Statistics of War», and he began there by exposing the highly honored Harvard fraud, Dr. Steven Pinker, but then went pretty much through the entire U.S. ‘intellectual’ Establishment, including all of its major ‘news’ media, as being untrustworthy on the part of any intelligent person. (Regarding Professor Pinker specifically, Taleb linked to this scientific paper that Taleb had co-authored, which shredded one of Pinker’s highly honored and biggest-selling books. Taleb and his colleague mentioned there an article that had appeared in Britain’s Guardian raising serious questions about Pinker’s work, and they were here offering statistical proof of the fraudulence of that work.)

The scenario of exposing intellectual fraud is so common: the only reason why it’s not better known among the public is that usually the disproofs of highly honored work have no impact, and fail to dislodge the prejudices that the given established fraud has ‘confirmed’. Another good example of that occurred when the University of Massachusetts graduate student Thomas Herndon issued his proof of the fraudulence of the extremely influential economics paper by Kenneth Rogoff and Carmine Rinehart, «Growth in a Time of Debt», which had been widely cited by congressional Republicans and other conservatives as a main ‘justification’ for imposing draconian economic austerity on the U.S. and other nations during the recovery from the 2008 economic crash. Years later, that graduate student is still a graduate student (i.e., unemployed), while Kenneth Rogoff remains, as he was prior to his having been exposed: one of Harvard’s most prominent professors of economics, and a member of the Group of 30 — the world’s 30 most influential and powerful economists. Carmen Rinehart likewise retains her position also as a Harvard Professor. Previously, the Harvard Economics Department had guided communist Russia into a crony-capitalist (or fascist) ‘democracy’, but then Vladimir Putin took over Russia and got rid of the worst excesses of Harvard’s «capitalism» and so became hated by the U.S. aristocracy and its ‘news’ media — hated for having tried to establish Russia’s national independence, Russia’s independence from the U.S. aristocracy (which expected, and still craves, to control Russia). And now after Donald Trump’s victory against the super-neoconservative hater of Russia, Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Establishment, through its voices such as the Washington Post, is trying to smear — like Joseph R. McCarthy smeared America’s non-fascists back in the 1950s — the tiny independent newsmedia that had been reporting truthfully about U.S.-Russian relations and America’s coups and invasions trying to weaken and ultimately to conquer Russia even if that means nuclear war.

Similarly, when George W. Bush and his stenographic national ‘news’ media pumped Bush’s lies about ‘Saddam’s WMD’ in 2002, and were assisted in that by such scholars as the Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Pollock and Michael O’Hanlon, there was no accountability: Bush was re-elected and all of the corrupt scholars kept their jobs and continued to be retained as ‘experts’ by CNN and other U.S. ’news’ media to comment upon foreign affairs — and CNN and The New York Times and other leading ’news’ media weren’t cancelled by an American public who had had enough of being lied-to; Americans wanted to be lied-to more. The public distrust the ‘news’ media more than ever, but do they distrust it enough to quit subscribing to them? No.

The U.S. public have apparently been responding to the election or selection of Donald Trump as the next President, by soaring numbers of subscriptions to the major U.S. ’news’ media, presumably because this is somehow ‘justified’ on account of (as all of those ’news’ media ‘verified’) Trump was lying even more than Hillary — more than the lying by the candidate whom all of the media-moguls had wanted to become President.

In the immediate wake of the election, there have been all-time-record-high numbers of new subscriptions to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and to ‘non-profit’ ‘news’ media such as Pro-Publica, and to NPR member-stationsCNN reported that, “The New York Times has added 41,000 paid subscriptions across its print and digital platforms in the week since the presidential election, representing the largest subscription increase since it introduced its pay-wall in 2011».

During an earlier era, the U.S. public responded similarly to the ‘news’ media that had lied the U.S. into World War I (a conflict where the rights and wrongs were far less clear than was to be the case regarding WW II, but where the Wall Street banks were vastly more invested in Britain than in Germany and so Wall Street’s position on the matter was far more unified then in favor of Britain, and so the U.S. ‘news’ media’s position likewise was). Americans at that time did not lapse their subscriptions to the propaganda media that had lied their country into war. America’s ‘news’ media used similar tactics to get us into WW I to help Britain’s aristocrats, as they used to help U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush’s regime in 1990 to invade Iraq to help Kuwait’s aristocrats (the Sabah family).

However, America’s ‘news’ media don’t all lie in the same direction. For example, when the Republican George W. Bush was in the White House, the most deluded of all the major-media audiences was that of the Republican Party’s Fox News Channel, which audience gave the highest percentages of false answers, because Republican ‘news’ operations were then spouting Republican propaganda about a Republican President — stenographically pumping out Republican propaganda as ‘news’. But when the Democrat Barack Obama was in the White House, the Democratic Party’s ‘news’ media were lying at least as much as Fox and other Republican media were lying when the President was a Republican. None of the major American ‘news’ media, either mainstream or ‘alt news’, can be at all trusted by an intelligent reader, listener, or viewer. A person needs to go instead to the types of news-sites such as publish articles like the current one — and none of those sites has a very large audience. (Most of them ended up on this list of sites the U.S. aristocracy wants banned.) But, above all, nobody should trust any ‘news’ report without spot-checking its linked sources; and, if the main sources aren’t linked, then an intelligent reader won’t trust the article at all. The only way intelligently to trust any news-report is to spot-check its sources and evaluate their credibility on one’s own; and any ‘news’ report which makes that difficult to do should simply be distrusted — and this includes especially newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and other such ‘news’ media, because they rely upon audiences who have no easy means of verifying or else disproving what they’re alleging. All of the best news-sources are thus small-to-medium-sized online-only ones — and those happen to be the ones that the aristocracy (the billionaires and centi-millionaires) haven’t yet taken control of.

By Eric Zuesse
Source: Strategic Culture