Top Censored Press Stories of 2021
Note: To find the top media censorship stories of any year from 2003 to present, click here.
Project Censored specializes in covering the top stories which were subjected to press censorship either by being ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media each year. Project Censored is a research team composed of more than 300 university faculty, students, and community experts who annually review many hundreds of news story submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources, and national significance.
The top 25 stories selected are submitted to a distinguished panel of judges who then rank them in order of importance. The results are published each year in an excellent book available for purchase at their website, amazon.com, and most major book stores.
A summary of the top 25 media censorship stories of 2021 provided below proves quite revealing and most informative. Each summary has a link for those who want to read the entire article. For whatever reason the mainstream media won't report these stories. Yet thanks to the Internet and wonderful, committed groups like Project Censored, the news is getting out. By revealing these examples of media censorship, we can stop the excessive secrecy and work together for a brighter future. Please help to spread the word, and take care.
Note: To find all of these stories and their sources on the Project Censored website, click here. The stories below actually cover a 12-month period spanning 2020 and 2021.
Top 25 Stories of 2021 Subjected to Press Censorship
1. Prescription Drug Costs Set to Become a Leading Cause of Death for Elderly Americans (For full story, click here)
More than 1.1 million seniors in the federal government’s Medicare program could die prematurely over the next decade because they will be unable to afford the high prices of their prescription medications, according to a November 2020 study issued by the West Health Policy Center, a nonprofit and nonpartisan policy research group, and Xcenda, the research arm of AmerisourceBergen, a drug distributor. With the continuation of current drug pricing trends, “cost-related nonadherence” will become a leading cause of death in the U.S., ahead of diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, and kidney disease” by 2030. “Medication adherence” is a term used to describe how well patients follow healthcare professionals’ instructions for taking medications. As medicines become increasingly expensive, patients skip doses, ration prescriptions, or quit treatment altogether. A separate study found that list prices on branded pharmaceutical products in the United States increased by 159 percent from 2007 to 2018.
Source: Kenny Stancil, “High Drug Prices Could Result in Premature Deaths of More Than 1.1 Million Seniors in Next Decade: Analysis,” Common Dreams, November 23, 2020.
2. Journalists Investigating Financial Crimes Threatened by Global Elites (For full story, click here)
In November 2020 the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) released “Unsafe for Scrutiny,” a report about the threats faced by journalists investigating the financial misconduct that lets ‘dirty money’ flow through the world’s most powerful banks. The report reveals that global elites have been abusing their intimidating legal and financial powers by targeting reporters with defamation lawsuits, “cease and desist” letters, social media smear campaigns, trolling, verbal harassment, and even occasionally physical violence. The harassment faced by investigative journalists looking into financial crimes has a chilling effect on reporting about corruption. The report found that wealthy individuals and corporations involved in financial corruption often resort to legal action against underfunded investigative journalists as a tactic to thwart their research into corruption. These frivolous suits, known as “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPPs, are said to “create a similar chilling effect on media freedom to more overt violence or attack.”
Sources: Spencer Woodman, “Threats, Violence, Trolling, and Frivolous Lawsuits Used to Silence Journalists Investigating Financial Crimes, Survey Finds,” International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, November 2, 2020. Michael W. Hudson, Dean Starkman, Simon Bowers et al., “Global Banks Defy U.S. Crackdowns by Serving Oligarchs, Criminals and Terrorists,” International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Sep. 20, 2020, updated Dec. 22, 2020. Nick Cohen, “Are Our Courts a Playground for Bullies? Just Ask Catherine Belton,” The Guardian, May 8, 2021.
3. Historic Wave of Wildcat Strikes for Workers’ Rights (For full story, click here)
After the United States went into lockdown in spring 2020, millions of people were designated ‘essential workers’—individuals who were expected to continue laboring at their jobs as meatpackers, teachers, janitors, delivery drivers, nurses, or grocery store clerks, at the potential cost of their lives. In response, thousands of wildcat strikes erupted to challenge dangerous working conditions and confront chronically low wages for these essential positions. This wave of wildcat strikes has reached remarkable levels. A continuously updated COVID-19 Strike Wave Interactive Map had identified 1,100 wildcat strikes as of March 24, 2021, many of which the corporate media have chosen to ignore. In some cases, workers have engaged in wildcat work stoppages to advance long-standing demands for higher wages, leveraging their increased bargaining power during the pandemic to wrest pay concessions from employers.
Sources: “COVID-19 Strike Wave Interactive Map,” Payday Report, March 2020, updated continuously. Michael Sainato, “Strikes Erupt as US Essential Workers Demand Protection Amid Pandemic,” The Guardian, May 19, 2020. “700 CA. Hospital Workers Strike—UNC May Strike Over Reopening—Sheet Metal Strike in Missouri,” Payday Report, July 23, 2020. Mike Elk, “How Black & Brown Workers are Redefining Strikes in the Digital COVID Age,” Payday Report, July 8, 2020.
4. “Climate Debtor” Nations Have “Colonized” the Atmosphere (For full story, click here)
An analysis published in the September issue of The Lancet Planetary Health shines new light on the outsized role of the United States, European Union and the Global North in creating a climate crisis that, while felt everywhere, is disproportionately harming the Global South. The Lancet study found that the world’s richest, most industrialized nations - including the United States, Canada, members of the European Union, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan - are responsible for 92 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, while the Global South is responsible for only 8 percent. The biggest climate debtors include the United States (responsible for 40 percent of global overshoots), Russia and Germany (8 percent each), the United Kingdom (7 percent), and Japan (5 percent). The results show that the countries of the Global North have ‘stolen’ a big chunk of the atmospheric fair-shares of poorer countries, and on top of that are responsible for the vast majority of excess emissions.
Source: Sarah Lazare, “‘Colonizing the Atmosphere’: How Rich, Western Nations Drive the Climate Crisis,” In These Times, September 14, 2020.
5. Microplastics and Toxic Chemicals Increasingly Prevalent in World’s Oceans (For full story, click here)
Microplastics and a class of toxic chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS) are becoming increasingly prevalent in the world’s oceans and have begun to contaminate the global seafood supply. According to a July 2020 study published in the scholarly journal Environmental Science & Technology, PFAS - a family of potentially harmful chemicals used in a range of products including carpets, furniture, clothing, food packaging, and nonstick coatings - have now been found in the Arctic Ocean. This discovery worries scientists because it means that PFAS can reach any body of water anywhere in the world and that such chemicals are likely present in our water supply. Meanwhile, researchers at the QUEX Institute have found microplastics in crabs, oysters, prawns, squid, and sardines sold as seafood in Australian markets. The new findings suggest that microplastics have invaded the food chain to a greater extent than previously documented.
Sources: Robby Berman, “Study Found Plastic in Every Seafood Sample It Analyzed,” Medical News Today, August 29, 2020. Graham Readfearn, “More Than 14m Tonnes of Plastic Believed to be at the Bottom of the Ocean,” The Guardian, October 5, 2020. Daniel Ross, “More Traces of Cancer-Causing PFAS in Arctic Raise Alarm over Global Spread,” Truthout, October 18, 2020. Sharon Lerner, “PFAS Chemical Associated with Severe COVID-19,” The Intercept, December 7, 2020.
6. Canary Mission Blacklists Pro-Palestinian Activists, Chilling Free Speech Rights (For full story, click here)
For an October 2020 article published by the Intercept, Murtaza Hussain interviewed a handful of pro-Palestinian activists who have been targeted by Canary Mission, an anonymously-run website, established in 2015, that seeks to publicly discredit critics of Israel as “terrorists” and “anti-Semites.” As Hussain wrote, “Canary Mission is difficult to describe as anything other than a blacklist.” One activist told the Intercept that Canary Mission has proven “very powerful in silencing people and making them think free speech is not their right. It instills a powerful sense of fear and paranoia.” Although conservatives decry the development of “cancel culture” and alleged progressive intolerance, “when it comes to Israel-Palestine, full-blown authoritarian coercion, like the blacklisting carried out by Canary Mission, is already well entrenched,” Hussain wrote. Both US and Israeli government agencies have used information from Canary Mission to question pro-Palestinian student activists.
Sources: Murtaza Hussain, “The Real Cancel Culture: Pro-Israel Blacklists,” The Intercept, October 4, 2020. Lexi McMenamin, “Protecting Pro-Palestine Activists Can Feel Almost Impossible—but These Students Succeeded,” The Nation, March 16, 2021.
7. Google’s Union-Busting Methods Revealed (For full story, click here)
Leaked files from IRI Consultants, a union avoidance firm, obtained by Vice’s Motherboard show the disturbing lengths to which companies will go in order to derail workplace organizing. IRI Consultants is one of many union-busting firms that help businesses prevent workplace organizing by intimidating workers, tracking employee behavior, and engaging in workplace anti-union propaganda. The war against workplace organizing in the United States through intimidation and surveillance dates back to the 1870s and the origins of the American labor movement. Google has adamantly denied allegations that it engaged in personal data collection on employees to prevent their organizing, arguing that it enlisted consulting firms for a host of reasons and not for the purposes of union-busting. However, such claims are highly dubious given that Google hired IRI Consultants, which specializes in union avoidance, at precisely the moment when its employees were attempting to organize a union.
Source: Lauren Kaori Gurley, “‘Lazy,’ ‘Money-Oriented,’ ‘Single Mother’: How Union-Busting Firms Compile Dossiers on Employees,” Motherboard (Vice), January 5, 2021.
8. Pfizer Bullies South American Governments over COVID-19 Vaccine (For full story, click here)
In February 2021, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) reported that Pfizer has essentially held Latin American governments to ransom for access to its lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine. In negotiations with Argentina and Brazil, Pfizer demanded that the nations offer sovereign assets - such as federal bank reserves, military bases, and embassy buildings - as collateral for any liability resulting from future legal cases. Officials from several Latin American countries spoke with the BIJ on condition of anonymity, due to confidentiality agreements that Pfizer has required. One national official who participated in negotiations with Pfizer described its demands as “high-level bullying” that “held to ransom” the government attempting to access the vaccines. Consequently, legal experts expressed concern that Pfizer’s demands “amount to an abuse of power,” the BIJ reported.
Sources: Madlen Davies, Rosa Furneaux, Iván Ruiz, and Jill Langlois, “‘Held to Ransom’: Pfizer Demands Governments Gamble with State Assets to Secure Vaccine Deal,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, February 23, 2021. Sarah Lazare, “Pfizer Helped Create the Global Patent Rules. Now It’s Using Them to Undercut Access to the Covid Vaccine,” In These Times, December 17, 2020.
9. Police Use Dogs as Instruments of Violence, Targeting People of Color (For full story, click here)
“It felt like I was being eaten,” recounted Joseph Malott, a 22-year-old Black student who was mauled by a police dog during a Black Lives Matter protest. Later that night, Malott became one of the approximately 3,600 Americans per year sent to the emergency room for severe bite injuries sustained during altercations with police K-9s. Although men and women of just about every age and ethnicity in all fifty states have been subjected to violent K-9 incidents, a series of 13 linked reports suggests Black men have been inordinately targeted. The rate of police K-9 bites in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a majority-Black city of 220,000 residents, averages more than double that of the next-ranked city, Indianapolis. Overall, between 2017 and 2019, Baton Rouge police dogs bit at least 146 people. Fifty-three of those people were 17 years old or younger. A majority of the dog-bite victims were Black, and most of them were unarmed and suspected by police of nonviolent crimes such as driving a stolen vehicle or burglary.
Sources: Bryn Stole and Grace Toohey, “The City Where Police Unleash Dogs on Black Teens,” The Marshall Project, February 12, 2021. Abbie VanSickle and Challen Stephens, “Police Use Painful Dog Bites to Make People Obey,” The Marshall Project, December 14, 2020. Abbie VanSickle, Challen Stephens, Ryan Martin, Dana Brozost-Kelleher, and Andrew Fan, “When Police Violence is a Dog Bite,” The Marshall Project, October 2, 2020. Ashley Remkus, “We Spent a Year Investigating Police Dogs. Here are Six Takeaways,” The Marshall Project, October 2, 2020.
10. Activists Call Out Legacy of Racism and Sexism in Forced Sterilization (For full story, click here)
During the 20th century, at least 60,000 Americans in some 32 states were sterilized without their consent. The majority of individuals subjected to forced sterilization at the hands of the government have been people of color, inmates of jails, prisons, or institutions for people with mental illness or disabilities, and members of other marginalized and disempowered groups. Forced sterilization continues in the United States today. In 2001 alone, 148 women in California prisons underwent tubal ligation or total hysterectomies without their knowledge, and between 1997 and 2010 some 1,400 California women prisoners underwent unwanted sterilizations. YES! Magazine also reported on more recent allegations of forced sterilizations sanctioned by US officials, including charges that between October and December of 2019 an immigration detention center in Georgia “had forcibly sterilized at least five women in the custody” of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Sources: Alexandra Minna Stern, “Forced Sterilization Policies in the US Targeted Minorities and Those with Disabilities—and Lasted into the 21st Century,” The Conversation, August 26, 2020. Ray Levy Uyeda, “How Organizers are Fighting an American Legacy of Forced Sterilization,” YES! Magazine, February 8, 2021.
More of the Top 25 Media Censorship Stories of 2021
11. Seed Sovereignty Movements Challenge Corporate Monopolies (For full story, click here)
Throughout the world, seed sovereignty activists are reclaiming the right to plant, in resistance to seed laws that threaten food security by criminalizing farmers for using diverse crops. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 75 percent of the world’s crop varieties disappeared between the years 1900 and 2000. By reclaiming the right to plant, the seed sovereignty movement helps protect food security in a time of climate change.
12. Grave Threats to Amazon Rainforest from Domestic Industries and Global Capital (For full story, click here)
A 2020 report from Amazon Watch, entitled “Complicity in Destruction III,” shows how global corporations contribute to Indigenous rights abuses in the Brazilian Amazon. The report identifies threats including deforestation, land grabbing, and illegal fires, which, taken together, severely threaten the rights and survival of Brazil’s Indigenous people. Companies in mining, agribusiness, and energy are “directly or indirectly involved in conflicts affecting Indigenous peoples.”
13. Corporate Media Sideline Health Experts during Pandemic (For full story, click here)
Many prominent commercial TV news networks failed to provide much needed coverage by excluding the voices of independent health officials in their coverage of, and discussion panels about, the pandemic. The networks’ disregard for health experts and public interest advocates raises serious ethical concerns, as it exacerbated the risks posed by the spread of COVID-19 to the health and well-being of those watching.
14. US Factory Farming a Breeding Ground for Next Pandemic (For full story, click here)
Over the past fifty years, meat production has increased about 260 percent, mostly in the form of so-called factory farms or confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that fulfill the US and global demand for producing cheap and plentiful animal protein. 99 percent of US meat comes from factory farms where “poor conditions and stress on the animals means that disease can emerge on the farms and spread through the herd at lightning speed.”
15. Thousands of 5G Satellites Pose Risk of Future Space Wars (For full story, click here)
The prospect of Star Wars–esque battles in space has become much more likely with the rollout of fifth generation (5G) wireless technology, powered by tens of thousands of satellites approved by the Federal Communications Commission and on track to be launched into space. 5G wireless technology is a major factor in the weaponization of space. On October 8, 2020 the Department of Defense (DOD) announced $600 million in awards to advance its 5G capabilities.
16. Femicide Census Connects UK Killings with Global Wave of Violence against Women (For full story, click here)
Fatal violence against women across the world is increasing. A November 2020 report from the UK-based nonprofit Femicide Census spanning nearly a decade found that, on average, “a woman was killed by a male partner or ex-partner every four days,” with that number increasing to every three days when the focus is expanded to include killings outside romantic relationships. These killings are typically treated as isolated incidents by law enforcement and legislators.
17. New Wave of Independent News Sources Demonetized by Google-Owned YouTube (For full story, click here)
In February 2021 independent news sources such as Progressive Soapbox, The Convo Couch, Franc Analysis, and Hannah Reloaded were demonetized by YouTube, the latest instance of YouTube penalizing independent and alternative voices by removing entire channels or videos with no explanation, raising concerns over censorship on the platform. The demonetized videos and channels were made ineligible to receive advertising revenue.
18. “Collision of Crises” for Black and Brown Survivors of Sexual Violence during COVID-19 (For full story, click here)
This study titled, “Measuring the Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Survivors of Color,” conducted by the organizations “me too” and FreeFrom examined the “compounding socioeconomic effects” of structural racism and COVID-19 on survivors of sexual violence. The study’s findings revealed a “collision of crises,” involving the intersection of systemic racial inequality with unemployment or unsafe work, food and housing insecurity, economic precarity, and lack of healthcare.
19. European Demand for Biomass Energy Propels Destruction of US Forests (For full story, click here)
Driven by demand in European Union countries, the southern United States is now the world’s largest producer and exporter of the wood pellets used to produce biomass energy. Despite popular beliefs that solar and wind power are its main sources of renewable energy, the European Union (EU) sources nearly 60 percent of its renewable energy from biomass. The true costs of biomass energy are not widely understood.
20. Proposed Domestic Terrorism Legislation Imperils Civil Liberties (For full story, click here)
The violent insurrection of January 6th, 2021, when supporters of Donald Trump unlawfully occupied the US Capitol building, threatened members of Congress, and temporarily derailed certification of the presidential election, has prompted a new wave of federal anti-terrorism statutes. The proposed legislation is unnecessary, because existing laws already cover domestic terrorism, and is especially dangerous given that new laws could be used to repress legitimate political protest.
21. Conservative Christian Groups Spend Globally to Promote Anti-LGBTQ Campaigns (For full story, click here)
Major Christian organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Fellowship Foundation, have together spent close to a quarter of a billion dollars over the past 13 years campaigning against LGBTQ and abortion rights, according to a report by openDemocracy. The October 2020 report exposes “the depth of cash flowing from American Christian anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion groups into dangerous campaigns against reproductive rights and queer rights.”
22. Dataminr Introduces Racial Bias, Stereotypes in Policing of Social Media (For full story, click here)
Dataminr is a New York company that monitors Twitter for “suspicious behavior,” which it reports to law enforcement agencies. Sources directly familiar with Dataminr’s work said that Dataminr has “relied on prejudice-prone tropes and hunches to determine who, where, and what looks dangerous.” Dataminr’s “domain experts” lacked training, creating a powerful but untrustworthy monitoring system made in the image of their own prejudices.
23. Coastal Darkening Threatens Ocean Food Chains (For full story, click here)
Researchers have been investigating how pollution and runoff alter the color and clarity of coastal waters and assessing the degree to which this darkening jeopardizes the health of ocean ecosystems. The research shows that coastal darkening has “the potential to cause huge problems for the ocean and its inhabitants.” Changes in ocean ecosystems could eventually lead to shortages of fish not only for humans, but also for other species.
24. Juvenile Justice Reform Remains Elusive (For full story, click here)
According to the Children’s Defense Fund’s 2020 report, “76,000 children are prosecuted, sentenced or incarcerated as adults annually,” with nearly ten times that number arrested nationally in a single year, and with children of color being “overcriminalized and overrepresented at every point—from arrests to post-adjudication placements.” Children of color are nearly twice as likely to be arrested in comparison to white children.
25. Abusers Benefiting from International Anti-Abduction Treaty (For full story, click here)
The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was created to protect children from being abducted and taken away from their home countries. But abusers are now using this treaty as a way to manipulate the courts and regain custody of their children. An analysis of Hague cases found “that an overwhelming number of ‘abductors’ were really mothers escaping abuse—and that the majority of them were forced to return their children” to abusive partners.
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