Mass Media News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Mass Media News Articles in Media
The White House threatened [on April 28] to exclude The San Francisco Chronicle from pooled coverage of its events in the Bay Area after the paper posted a video of a protest at a San Francisco fundraiser for President Obama last week, Chronicle Editor Ward Bushee said. White House guidelines governing press coverage of such events are too restrictive, Bushee said, and the newspaper was within its rights to film the protest and post the video. Chronicle senior political reporter Carla Marinucci was invited by the White House to cover the Obama fundraiser on April 21. About 200 donors paying $5,000 to $38,500 each attended the event at the St. Regis Hotel in the city, a day after Obama visited Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley touting the proliferation of "new media" breaking the confines of traditional journalism. At the St. Regis event, a group of protesters who paid collectively $76,000 to attend the fundraiser interrupted Obama with a song complaining about the administration's treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who allegedly leaked U.S. classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.
Note: This is an excellent example of how politicians can control the press. Top reporters are under threat of losing their connections to top officials if they report anything negative about them.
Law enforcement deaths this year dropped to their lowest level since 1959, while the decade of the 2000s was among the safest for officers -- despite the deadliest single day for police on Sept. 11, 2001. Through Dec. 27, the report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found [the following]. 124 officers were killed this year, compared to 133 in 2008. The 2009 total represents the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 108 a half-century ago. Firearms deaths rose to 48, nine more than in 2008. However, the 39 fatalities in 2008 represented the lowest annual figure in more than five decades. One female officer was killed in 2009, compared with 13 the previous year. There was no explanation for the decline. An average of 162 officers a year died in the 2000s, compared with 160 in the 1990s, 190 in the 1980s and 228 in the 1970s -- the deadliest decade for U.S. law enforcement. Seventy-two officers died on Sept. 11.
Note: Why wasn't this article titled something like "Law Enforcement Deaths Lowest in 50 Years"? Why is this inspiring news given so little attention? Did you know that violent crime nationwide in the US has decreased by 50% in the last 15 years? Click here to read about this. Why is news that inspires fear given such prominence while inspiring news gets so little notice? For a possible answer, click here.
For generations, The Washington Post has been a scrupulous watchdog over the capital’s cozy world of power networking. For a short time, it almost became the network’s host. The Post decided Thursday to cancel plans to charge lobbyists and trade groups $25,000 or more to sponsor private, off-the-record dinner parties at the home of its publisher, Katharine Weymouth, events that would have brought together lobbyists, business leaders, Post journalists and officials from the Obama administration and Congress. The revelation of the parties early Thursday morning by Politico.com appalled members of The Post newsroom and put the paper squarely in the cross hairs of journalism ethicists. In response, Ms. Weymouth canceled the first dinner, scheduled for July 21. A flier describing the events promised corporate sponsors conversation (“Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No.”) at the Washington home of Ms. Weymouth. Sponsors were asked to pay $25,000 to attend an event, or underwrite a series of 11 for $250,000. The July 21 event, focusing on health care reform, “guaranteed” a “collegial evening” with health industry advocates, Post journalists covering the field and administration officials involved with its policies. The Politico article prompted an immediate newsroom reaction. The Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, wrote on his blog that “this comes pretty close to a public relations disaster.” With the print business in tough straits, many news organizations have turned to conferences and other events to raise revenue and their profiles. But the planned Post events seem particularly audacious, not only acting essentially as a paid conduit between lobbyists and government officials, but also providing sponsors the opportunity to make their case to Post journalists.
Note: This article shows the blatant manipulations going on behind the scenes in our major media. To learn just how compromised the media have been for a long time, click here to read about former Post owner Katharine Graham's connections with the CIA. And to understand how major news is suppressed, click here.
In February 1976, an outbreak of swine flu struck Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey, killing a 19-year-old private and infecting hundreds of soldiers. Concerned that the U.S. was on the verge of a devastating epidemic, President Gerald Ford ordered a nationwide vaccination program at a cost of $135 million (some $500 million in today's money). Within weeks, reports surfaced of people developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing nerve disease that can be caused by the vaccine. By April, more than 30 people had died of the condition. Facing protests, federal officials abruptly canceled the program on Dec. 16. The epidemic failed to materialize. Medical historians and epidemiologists say ... the decisions made in the wake of the '76 outbreak — and the public's response to them — provide a cautionary tale for public health officials, who may soon have to consider whether to institute draconian measures to combat the disease. "I think 1976 provides an example of how not to handle a flu outbreak," says Hugh Pennington, an emeritus professor of virology at Britain's University of Aberdeen. Despite modern advances in microbiology, today's health officials still make decisions in a "cloud of uncertainty," Pennington says. "At the moment, our understanding of the current outbreak is similarly limited. For example, we don't yet understand why people are dying in Mexico but not elsewhere." Howard Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and a historical consultant to the CDC on flu pandemics, says the most vexing decision facing health officials is when to institute mass vaccination programs.
Note: To watch two short commercials made in 1976 showing clear scare tactics, click here. Only one person died from the actual flu in this 1976 "epidemic," yet more than 30 died of the flu vaccine. To explore the serious risks of vaccines reported in the media, click here. For lots more on bird and swine flu scares, click here.
Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? The British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. But behind ... this tale there is an untold scandal. In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas. Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them.
Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest. Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey. General McCaffrey, 66, has long been a force in Washington’s power elite. A consummate networker, he cultivated politicians and journalists of all stripes as drug czar in the Clinton cabinet, and his ties run deep to a new generation of generals, some of whom he taught at West Point or commanded in the Persian Gulf war. But it was 9/11 that thrust General McCaffrey to the forefront of the national security debate. In the years since he has made nearly 1,000 appearances on NBC and its cable sisters, delivering crisp sound bites in a blunt, hyperbolic style. He commands up to $25,000 for speeches, his commentary regularly turns up in The Wall Street Journal, and he has been quoted or cited in thousands of news articles, including dozens in The New York Times. His influence is such that President Bush and Congressional leaders from both parties have invited him for war consultations. At the same time, General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism.
Note: This in-depth article on the "military-industrial-media complex" is worth reading in its entirety. For lots more on war profiteering from reliable sources, click here.
In his new memoir, What Happened, Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary, said the national news media neglected their watchdog role in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, calling reporters “complicit enablers” of the Bush administration’s push for war. Surprisingly, some prominent journalists have agreed. Katie Couric, the anchor of “CBS Evening News,” said ... that she had felt pressure from government officials and corporate executives to cast the war in a positive light. Speaking on “The Early Show” on CBS, Ms. Couric said the lack of skepticism shown by journalists about the Bush administration’s case for war amounted to “one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism.”She also said she sensed pressure from “the corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kind of dissent or any kind of questioning of it.” At the time, Ms. Couric was a host of “Today” on NBC. Another broadcast journalist also weighed in. Jessica Yellin, who worked for MSNBC in 2003 and now reports for CNN, said ... that journalists had been “under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation.” For five years, antiwar activists and media critics have claimed that the national news media failed to keep the White House accountable before the invasion. Greg Mitchell, the author of So Wrong for So Long, a book about press and presidential failures on the war, argues that some media organizations have yet to come to terms with their role.
Note: For a powerful overview of the media cover-up by top, award-winning journalists, click here.
In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantďż˝namo Bay. The detention center had just been branded ďż˝the gulag of our timesďż˝ by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure. The administrationďż˝s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantďż˝namo. To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as ďż˝military analystsďż˝ whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world. Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administrationďż˝s wartime performance. The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants.
On the morning of 9 February 2004, The New York Times carried an exclusive and alarming story. The paper's Baghdad correspondent, Dexter Filkins, reported that US officials had obtained a 17-page letter, believed to have been written by the notorious terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi to the "inner circle" of al-Qa'ida's leadership, urging them to accept that the best way to beat US forces in Iraq was effectively to start a civil war. The story went on to news agency wires and, within 24 hours, it was running around the world. There is very good reason to believe that that letter was a fake – and a significant one because there is equally good reason to believe that it was one product among many from a new machinery of propaganda which has been created by the United States and its allies since the terrorist attacks of September 2001. For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it. The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news. The "Zarqawi letter" which made it on to the front page of The New York Times in February 2004 was one of a sequence of highly suspect documents which were said to have been written either by or to Zarqawi and which were fed into news media. This material is being generated, in part, by intelligence agencies who continue to work without effective oversight; and also by a new ... structure of "strategic communications" which was originally designed ... in the Pentagon and Nato.
Note: This article is an edited excerpt from investigative journalist Nick Davies' new book, Flat Earth News: an award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media. To read about or purchase it, click here. For a highly revealing two-page summary of 20 award-winning journalists describing how huge stories they tried to report were shut down by corporate media ownership, click here.
On what should [have been] a happy day of fundraising in the four boroughs of New York City ... for Rudy Giuliani's 63rd birthday, a few protestors ruined his first event. At City Island's Sea Shore Restaurant in the Bronx, a young woman named Sabrina approached the Mayor with a prepared question, reading it word for word off of a notepad. "You reported to Peter Jennings on 9/11 that the World Trade Center towers were going to collapse. No steel structure in history has ever collapsed due to fire. How come the people in the buildings weren't notified and who else knew about this? How do you sleep at night?" Matthew Lepaceak, who stood on the other side of Giuliani, joined in. "But you said on ABC video with Peter Jennings in an interview that you were aware the towers were going to collapse in advance. Who told you the towers were going to collapse in advance, sir?" During this time, Giuliani had an incredulous look on his face, completely caught off guard. The statement they were referring to is from a phoner Giuliani had with Jennings. "We set up headquarters at 75 Barclay Street which was right there with the police commissioner and the fire commissioner, the head of emergency management, and we were operating out of there when we were told the World Traded Center was going to collapse." After being interrupted again, Giuliani responded with an explanation. "Our understanding was that over a long period of time, the way other buildings collapse, the towers could collapse. Meaning over a seven-, eight-, nine-, ten-hour period. No one that I knew of had any idea that they would implode. That was a complete surprise."
Note: To view a video clip of Rudy Giuliani describing how he was told of the Towers' collapse ahead of time, click here. To watch him deny what he said on this clip, watch this one. When so many have said no one could have predicted the fall of the towers, how is it that Giuliani knew otherwise -- and then denied ever knowing it?
A $300 million Pentagon psychological warfare operation includes plans for placing pro-American messages in foreign media outlets without disclosing the U.S. government as the source, one of the military officials in charge of the program says. Run by psychological warfare experts at the U.S. Special Operations Command, the media campaign is being designed to counter terrorist ideology and sway foreign audiences to support American policies. The program will operate throughout the world, including in allied nations and in countries where the United States is not involved in armed conflict. The three companies handling the campaign include the Lincoln Group, the company being investigated by the Pentagon for paying Iraqi newspapers to run pro-U.S. stories. (Related story: Contracts for pro-U.S. propaganda) It's legal for the government to plant propaganda in other countries but not in the USA.
Colin Powell does not need more humiliation. But yesterday a London jury brought down another section of the case he made for war - that Iraq and Osama bin Laden were supporting and directing terrorist poison cells throughout Europe, including a London ricin ring. Yesterday's verdicts on five defendants ... make clear there was no ricin ring. Nor did the "ricin ring" make or have ricin. Not that the government shared that news with us. The public record for the past three fear-inducing years has been that ricin was found in the Wood Green flat occupied by some of yesterday's acquitted defendants. It wasn't. [Found there] were the internal documents of the supposed al-Qaida cell planning the "big one" in Britain. But the recipes were untested and unoriginal, borrowed from US sources. Moreover, ricin is not a weapon of mass destruction. It is a poison which has only ever been used for one-on-one killings. All the information roads led west, not to Kabul but to California and the US midwest. The recipes for ricin now seen on the internet were invented 20 years ago by survivalist Kurt Saxon. The chemical lists found in London were an exact copy of pages on an internet site in Palo Alto, California. But it seems this information was not shared with the then home secretary, David Blunkett, who was still whipping up fear two weeks later. The most ironic twist was an attempt to introduce an "al- Qaida manual" into the case. To show that the Jihad manual was written in the 1980s ... was easy. The ricin recipe it contained was a direct translation from a 1988 US book called the Poisoner's Handbook. We have all been victims of this mass deception.
Note: As the above link no longer functions, click here for the full article. According to a post on Prof. Michel Chossudovsky's excellent Center for Research on Globalization website and other inside sources, the British government ordered the above article removed from the website within a week of its publication. Someone doesn't want us knowing how we are manipulated into fear. For more on this, click here.
The FBI has shut down some 20 sites which were part of an alternative media network known as Indymedia. A US court order forced the firm hosting the material to hand over two servers in the UK used by the group. Indymedia says it is a news source for the anti-globalisation movement and other social justice issues. The reasons behind the seizure are unclear but the FBI has reportedly said the action was taken at the request of Italian and Swiss authorities. The servers affected were run by Rackspace, a US web hosting company with offices in London. It said it had received a court order from the US authorities last Thursday to hand over the computer equipment at its UK hosting facility. The reasons behind the action against the Indymedia websites are unclear. The group said the servers affected had hosted the sites of more then 20 local collectives and audio streams for several radio stations, as well as several other projects. The seizure has sparked off protests from journalist groups. "The constitution does not permit the government unilaterally to cut off the speech of an independent media outlet, especially without providing a reason or even allowing Indymedia the information necessary to contest the seizure," said EFF [Electronic Frontier Foundation] Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl.
Note: This important news was not covered by any major U.S. media. Why? Is it a coincidence that these websites were taken down shortly after they started promoting a video clip showing President Bush may have been using an electronic hearing aid during the presidential election debates with John Kerry? Website founder Fred Burks had personal experience suggesting Bush may have used electronic feeds in high-level meetings while Burks worked as a language interpreter for him. For more, click here.
Dan Rather, the star news anchor for the US television network CBS, said last night that "patriotism run amok" was in danger of trampling the freedom of American journalists to ask tough questions. And he admitted that he had shrunk from taking on the Bush administration over the war on terrorism. In an interview with BBC's Newsnight, he graphically described the pressures to conform that built up after the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. "There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tyres around people's necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tyre of lack of patriotism put around your neck," he said. "Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions." Rather did not exempt himself from the criticism, and said the problem was self-censorship. "One finds oneself saying: 'I know the right question, but you know what? This is not exactly the right time to ask it.'" Such a confession is astonishing, bearing in mind its source. He said his view of the patriotism differed from that of the administration. "It's unpatriotic not to stand up, look them in the eye, and ask the questions they don't want to hear - they being those who have the responsibility, the ultimate responsibility - of sending our sons and daughters, our husbands, wives, our blood, to face death."
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on media cover-ups, click here.
The US wants to depose the diplomat who could take away its pretext for war with Iraq. On Sunday, the US government will launch an international coup. It has been planned for a month. It will be executed quietly, and most of us won't know what is happening until it's too late. It is seeking to overthrow 60 years of multilateralism in favour of a global regime built on force. The coup begins with its attempt ... to unseat the man in charge of ridding the world of chemical weapons. If it succeeds, this will be the first time that the head of a multilateral agency will have been deposed in this manner. The coup will also shut down the peaceful options for dealing with the chemical weapons Iraq may possess, helping to ensure that war then becomes the only means of destroying them. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) enforces the chemical weapons convention. Its director-general is a workaholic Brazilian diplomat called Jose Bustani. He has, arguably, done more in the past five years to promote world peace than anyone else on earth. His inspectors have overseen the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world's chemical weapon facilities. In May 2000, as a tribute to his extraordinary record, Bustani was re-elected unanimously by the member states for a second five-year term. Last year Colin Powell wrote to him to thank him for his "very impressive" work. But now everything has changed. [But now] the man celebrated for his achievements has been denounced as an enemy of the people. In January, with no prior warning or explanation, the US state department asked the Brazilian government to recall him.
Note: The "coup" was successful. The New York Times, though reporting few of the details above, stated six days after the above article, "José M. Bustani ... was voted out of office today after refusing repeated demands by the United States that he step down because of his 'management style.'" For why this highly revealing story received no media coverage in the U.S., click here. For a top U.S. general's comments, click here.
What if leaders of the world’s major religions got together one day and denounced all religious violence? What if they unanimously agreed to make this plain, clear and bold statement to the world? “Violence and terrorism are opposed to all true religious spirit and we condemn all recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.” It could change the world. More than 200 leaders of the world’s dozen major religions did get together January 24 in Assisi, Italy. Pope John Paul II and a number of cardinals were at the meeting. So was Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians. So were a dozen Jewish rabbis, including some from Israel. So were 30 Muslim imams from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan. So were dozens of ministers representing Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Disciples of Christ, Mennonites, Quakers, Moravians, The Salvation Army and the World Council of Churches. So were dozens of monks, gurus and others representing Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Zoroastrians and native African religions. They unanimously agreed to condemn “every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.” They also said, “No religious goal can possibly justify the use of violence by man against man.” And that “Whoever uses religion to foment violence contradicts religion’s deepest and truest inspiration.” They called their statement the Assisi Decalogue for Peace. Maybe you missed the story. It didn’t even make the newspapers the next day, hidden inside or not. What if leaders of the world’s major religions got together one and denounced all religious violence - and no one cared?
Note: Why is it that news about war and terrorism so frequently makes headlines, but the amazing news that leaders of religions from around the world got together to denounce all violence in the name of God and religion did not even warrant an article or story in any major media?
A keynote research paper showing that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians are genetically almost identical has been pulled from a leading journal. Academics who have already received copies of Human Immunology have been urged to rip out the offending pages and throw them away. Such a drastic act of self-censorship is unprecedented in research publishing and has created widespread disquiet, generating fears that it may involve the suppression of scientific work that questions Biblical dogma. 'I have authored several hundred scientific papers, some for Nature and Science, and this has never happened to me before,' said the article's lead author, Spanish geneticist Professor Antonio Arnaiz-Villena, of Complutense University in Madrid. 'I am stunned.' Arnaiz-Villena has been sacked from the journal's editorial board. The paper, 'The Origin of Palestinians and their Genetic Relatedness with other Mediterranean Populations' [found that] no data [exist] to support the idea that Jewish people were genetically distinct from other people in the region. In doing so, the team's research challenges claims that Jews are a special, chosen people and that Judaism can only be inherited. Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East share a very similar gene pool and must be considered closely related and not genetically separate, the authors state.
The Department of Justice has scrubbed and revised language concerning press freedom and civil rights from its manual for federal prosecutors. In a broad revamping - the first in over 20 years - a subsection titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” was taken out. "The purpose of that review is to identify redundant sections and language, areas that required greater clarity, and any content that needed to be added to help department attorneys perform core prosecutorial functions," Ian D. Prior, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, [said]. "Taken in isolation, I’m not sure how much we should read into the language changed in the DOJ manual," Alexandra Ellerbeck, the North America program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told Newsweek. Ellerbeck pointed out, however, that removing the “need for the free press” section is concerning, considering the level of hostility toward journalists. Since President Donald Trump has taken office, he has popularized the term "fake news". The administration has also made repeated threats to go after leakers, Ellerbeck said. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in November there are 27 open leak investigations. In comparison, Sessions noted that during former President Barack Obama's administration, the DOJ investigated "three per year." Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index last week and cited an increasing sense of “hostility” toward the media. The U.S. fell back two places in rankings.
Note: The NSA recently deleted the terms "honesty" and "openness" from its mission statement. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
Bloomberg Government reports on a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the relatively benign-sounding subject “Media Monitoring Services.” The details of the attached Statement of Work, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide. As part of its "media monitoring," the DHS seeks to track more than 290,000 global news sources as well as social media. The successful contracting company will have "24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database" ... in order to "identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event." The database will be browsable by "location, beat and type of influencer," and for each influencer, the chosen contractor should "present contact details and ... an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer." Increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this. Freedom House ... recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years. The independent watchdog organization blames "new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies" as well as "further crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China."
Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another. Then it is fall. The junior senator from New York State announces her campaign for the presidency. At a diner in New Hampshire, one “low information” voter asks another: “Kirsten What’s-her-name? She’s running for president? Didn’t she have something to do with pornography?” Welcome to the shape of things to come. The technology [is] closer than you might think. And even when fake video isn’t perfect, it can convince people who want to be convinced, especially when it reinforces ... stereotypes. It might be impossible to stop the advance of this kind of technology. But the relevant algorithms here aren’t only the ones that run on computer hardware. They are also the ones that undergird our too easily hacked media system, where garbage acquires the perfumed scent of legitimacy with all too much ease. It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.
Note: Read more about producing fake video with computer programs. While governments have long been developing technologies to produce very convincing illusions, and it has become trivial to edit video footage of a person talking to change their words and facial expressions, this emerging technology makes it possible to manipulate mass media in previously impossible ways.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.