If there's one thing the series of crises in 2020 has illustrated, it's that the mainstream media and mainstream politicians in the United States are almost all being manipulated. Few, if any, of their voices are genuinely independent. Most of them - darn near all of them - manifest a controlling hand behind them, spreading a common message, demanding that everyone walk in lockstep to the beat of the same drummer. Individuality, critical thinking and independent responses are not just discouraged, but regarded as social, political and psychic heresy - and heretics are to be cast out, shunned, cut off from society.
In saying this, please bear in mind that I'm neither Republican nor Democrat. I vote for the person, not the party, and on principle, not on party platform. I neither support nor condemn the President or any other politician. I look at their policies, their performance in office, and (very important to me) their integrity as an individual. I weigh those factors against each other and against the politician's opponent, and make my decision based on which better embodies and/or upholds the principles I stand for. I won't be told who to support, or brainwashed into voting in lockstep with the wishes of the political class.
Unfortunately, that's intolerable in today's America. If you, or I, or anybody, dares to think for ourself, we're a threat. We have to be bludgeoned and dragooned into letting others do the thinking for us. Facts and independent judgment no longer matter. Both sides of the political spectrum demand such unthinking loyalty, but it's far more vocal and outspoken on the left than on the right.
The Federalist sums this up with regard to the mainstream media.
It seems no great event or upheaval in our national life can pass now without the media lying to our faces about it.
They lied about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia in 2016. They lied about the Mueller probe and Brett Kavanaugh and former national security adviser Mike Flynn. They lied about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president and the impeachment farce that ensued. They lied about the coronavirus and the lockdowns and the White House response. And now they’re lying about the riots.
In recent days we’ve heard a steady drumbeat of lies, distortions, and disingenuousness from the mainstream media about almost every aspect of the unrest now gripping American cities. The deceit is almost too pervasive and amorphous to describe, but I’m going to try anyway.
Over the weekend we were told, for example, that the looting and violence was being instigated not by left-wing anarchists and antifa groups but by the media’s favorite villains: white supremacists. CNN, whose Atlanta offices were vandalized Friday, went on and on—without a shred of evidence to back it up—about how white supremacists might be infiltrating the protests and stirring up trouble. The New York Times, in a report that even quoted a senior police official in New York City saying outside anarchist groups were coordinating mayhem before the protests began, nevertheless veered into a long aside about how far-right “accelerationists” were hoping the unrest would bring about a long-sought second civil war.
By Monday, no one was talking about the white supremacist agitators anymore. The media had moved on to better, more plausible lies.
. . .
[Repeated incidents illustrate] a broader pattern of opposition to Trump that the media has maintained for years, that whatever might be happening in the country, whether a global pandemic or mass rioting, the most important part of the story is always that Trump is behaving badly—that he’s lying, misleading, undermining democratic norms, tweeting mean things, whatever. Nothing, not even nationwide riots, are more important than pushing that narrative.
You see the media’s obsession with this narrative everywhere, no matter what the actual facts of a story might be ... After Trump’s Monday night walk through Lafayette Park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, the media breathlessly reported stories about violent Park Police clearing peaceful protestors with tear gas. After nearly 24 hours of endless tweets, articles, and cable news stories claiming protestors were tear-gassed for Trump’s “photo op,” the Park Police information officer disproved all prior reports confirming, “No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners.”
One could go on and on with examples like this. Get on Twitter right now and you’re bound to find fresh examples posting every hour as reporters and pundits lie about events that are unfolding in real time.
There's more at the link.
The way the mainstream media march in lockstep, to the bidding of their corporate and political masters, was very well illustrated in 2018 when Sinclair Broadcast Group (a conservative-leading corporation) made its many TV stations read the identical manifesto on air, making a mockery of their "editorial independence". (Yes, this was right-wing, rather than left-wing - as I said, the problem exists on both sides of the political spectrum.) See and hear for yourself.
The resulting mashup made headlines, and rightly so - but those headlines failed to point out that precisely the same thing was, and is, being done by opponents of the President. The problem is universal.
This reality is very clearly illustrated in recent mainstream media news headlines and reports of the rioting. Almost every one circles back to lay the blame for the unrest at the President's feet, despite the fact that he, personally, had nothing whatsoever to do with it. The news media are taking their marching orders from their puppet-masters, both directly through private channels and through sites such as Common Dreams, Think Progress, etc. They're also influenced by discussion among activists on sites such as Democratic Underground. The pattern is very clear. Look at the "leads" and "talking points" being generated on those Web sites, and you'll see them reflected in news reports and opinion pieces in the mainstream media within hours - sometimes within minutes. The same goes for public response to those reports. Those commenting on them all too often parrot the "party line" rather than display independent thought. Everybody has to be "on message". Anyone straying from the "party line" - such as the New York Times publishing Republican Senator Tom Cotton's views on the riots - is rapidly cut down to size by savage criticism, and forced back into line.
Fortunately, this simplifies our response. When we see almost every mainstream media report saying the same thing, and blaming the same people; when we hear almost every politician parroting the same talking points; when we can't hear the still, small voice of reason over the clamor bidding us not to think, but simply to believe and do as we're told . . . then we know we're being misled and manipulated.
The cure is to ignore all those influences, get the facts for ourselves - and yes, that can be hard work sometimes, digging through the dross to find the few nuggets of truth available - and then make up our own minds. Only by doing so can we be the responsible citizens this country so desperately needs right now.
We should also cherish the few objective voices that still exist in the media. There are a few. I personally have come to value the reporting of John Solomon and Sharyl Attkisson. Both try to be as honest and objective as possible. They don't mince their words or pull their punches, and they take on both sides of the political spectrum as and when necessary. That's all too rare these days. (I also value the opinion of Tucker Carlson, who's not a reporter but a commenter on the news. He's conservative, but by no means lockstep Republican, and has criticized both left and right in his analyses. YMMV about his opinions, of course.)
Let's conclude with Sharyl Attkisson telling us "how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests, very effectively manipulate and distort media messages". It's a very good talk, and worth your time, IMHO.
Consider how such influences are currently at work in the news media, and how they're portraying our current crises. They're doing their best to shape and guide our thoughts, rather than allow or encourage us to think for ourselves. Caveat emptor.