Navigating the news - Or how to cut through media lies
We are swamped with news every single day. We all say that the media lie, but there's a problem: most events are usually portrayed in a contradictory fashion in different media outlets. So while we have access to a lot of information and we know that a large part, maybe even the majority of the reported news in mainstream media (but also in alternative media), is either wrong or plain propaganda - COINTELPRO - how can we know what's really going on?
Take the recent murder of the Russian politician, Boris Nemtsov. Most Western mainstream media squarely point to the Russian state as the perpetrator, or some rogue elements within it, and by extension, to its president Vladimir Putin. At the very least, they suggest it and perhaps attribute some attitude of facilitation or laissez-faire in order to harvest any potentially beneficial political fallout. The other side calls it a false-flag operation, aided and abetted by Western powers to create chaos and inflame tensions within Russia, to create a "critical mass" that would, at some point in the future, get rid of the current leaders of Russia and impose a new government more in line with Western economic and geopolitical aspirations.
How can we ever get a clear idea of the truth behind the news and where the responsibility lies for what happens in the world with any degree of certainty?
In order to get to a reasonable understanding of current - or past - events, and to get to a reasonably well-defined idea of who is pulling the strings behind any given event, we're going to need a useful methodology. Of course, for some events it is easier than others. Sometimes information is scarce and the party responsible will do everything to cover their tracks. Some events are buried in the past and much of the information is simply not easily accessible anymore, altogether missing, or available only to a handful of specialized individuals with the right access and accreditation.
The components of this methodology are the following:
History tends to repeat itself
Facts - especially, early facts
Let's have a look at each more closely.
It is a sad fact, that history tends to repeat itself. For any given event, there is likely another that has been orchestrated in a similar manner. False-flag operations are a good example. The history of false-flag events is as old as human history.
The burning of Rome in 64 AD is commonly attributed to the emperor Nero, although he probably wasn't responsible for the fire. It seems to have been that a combination of strong winds and the geographical location of the fires resulted in Rome burning for 5 days. Nero is often portrayed as a maniacal psychopath who sung from his balcony as the city was engulfed in flames. But whoever Nero was, and whatever he did or didn't do, one thing that Nero certainly did - after the fire was brought under control - was to 'not let a crisis go to waste': if anything bad happens, point the finger at your enemy. Nero's enemy happened to be a new religious sect, whose followers refused to worship the emperor and shunned personal possessions. Luckily for Nero, the presence of this group in Rome gave him the pretext he needed. He spread the rumour that these Christians had started the fire, and ordered many of them to be thrown to the dogs, crucified and burned. Manipulated events and scapegoats used for political expedience go back a long way.
Another well-known false-flag operation was the burning down of the Reichstag, the parliament house of the German Empire in 1933. Hitler assured everyone that 'communists' had started the fire, which the next day led to the proclamation of the Reichstag decree, which suspended most civil liberties and sent Germany firmly down the road to fascism and ultimate destruction. Today it is quite certain that the Nazis were - directly or indirectly - responsible for the fire.
In modern times 9-11 comes to mind. For anyone who has studied the events only superficially, the official version is incompatible with reason, facts on the ground, and even the physical laws of nature. It is almost inconceivable that a bunch of Arab terrorists, armed with box cutters and operating out of caves in Afghanistan, would have been able to dupe and overwhelm the trillion-dollar military and security apparatus of the US. At present it is not entirely clear who really planned and executed the destruction of the World Trade towers (there were three, not two, destroyed in the attack, by the way), and how exactly they did it, but the evidence points to a mixture of 'rogue elements' within the Bush administration (Bush probably being in the know too), members of the financial elite and elements of the Mossad (Israeli secret service).
The point is, if something happens today that seems unique, it probably has happened before. The diligent student of history will be able to see parallels and gain insight from it.
The problem here again is that mainstream historians more often than not just toe the party line. A good example is the history of the First World War. Mainstream history teaches that Germany started WWI. In reality, as Docherty and MacGregor show in their seminal work Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War, a secret cabal of British officials and financiers plotted and advanced an agenda to drag Germany into a war for over ten years before it officially broke out. At the turn of the 19th century, German industry had begun to outcompete the British and made an impact on territories abroad (mainly Africa) that the British traditionally viewed as 'their own'. The authors meticulously describe the strategies employed by this secret elite to further their war agenda.
And the same strategies are in place today, so history tends to repeat itself, as the same time-tested elements of control and manipulation are used again and again on an unsuspecting populace.
Briefly summarized, they are: control of the press; control of the political parties, so that it doesn't matter which party wins; control of the economy through banks and multinational corporations; and buying and corrupting 'suitable' persons of influence, who then (willingly or forcibly) do the bidding of their masters.
And once you know these strategies, you can more easily see through the lies and deceptions. It's an old game.
2) Facts - especially early facts
In the early stages of an event, when everything is chaotic and the pullers of strings haven't yet been able to scrub inconvenient facts and guide the narrative in the direction they want, facts often surface that directly contradict one line of argumentation. They will later be removed from any official record, and will commonly be debunked as "conspiracy". Whenever someone cries "conspiracy theory", you can almost be sure that he is protecting or obscuring some vital information. "Debunking" some inconvenient facts is most efficient when its bearer is ridiculed, so that the information is made unimportant due to the standing of the messenger. Who believes a clown, a crazy nut-job?
Take for instance the 2012 Aurora cinema mass shooting, in which witnesses consistently spoke of there being two shooters present in the cinema during the shootout - a fact that was quickly scrubbed from the internet and newswires. Again, the Aurora shooting had all the hallmarks of a false-flag event, and the presence of two shooters directly contradicted the meme of the "lone shooter" who allegedly perpetrated the crime. So it pays to note any details early on in the aftermath of these events, especially details that might not fit the official narrative. This recurring pattern is itself a clue that the real perpetrators are never uncovered. And those ill-fitting facts will quickly disappear in the fog of unfolding events.
Some facts that reach public consciousness cannot be easily scrubbed, even by the Powers That Be. These inconvenient facts get a special treatment - again a time-honoured process. They either get vastly underreported, swept under the rug, or completely ignored. If that is not possible, they will be discarded as "irrelevant", as an "anomaly", or the media will again insinuate an evil agenda on the part of anyone who dares bring them up for debate. Common practice is to denigrate the questioner as "unpatriotic" or as taking side with the "enemy" - "you are either with us, or you are against us!" Thus a discussion about the pertinence of these inconvenient facts is stifled. These inconvenient facts, once dropped from the official narrative, quickly vanish from public consciousness in our ever faster news cycles. Another item - often very trivial in nature - is wheeled out for public consumption, usually a sporting event, or the misdeeds of some celebrity.
Facts speak their own language, and whoever wants to get to the bottom of things should pay attention to them - especially to those items that seem to suddenly go missing from the mainstream narrative and that are reported at the early phases of an event, when spin has not yet been able to cover the tracks.
3) Cui bono
The third point I'd like to raise is cui bono - Latin for "to whose benefit?" This is probably one of the most important points in analysing events in the world. Very few events - if any, with the exception of accidents - just happen randomly. Most of them are carefully staged and executed. The organisation of such events may be quite complex and require thorough preparation and a considerable amount of money. So there needs to be a benefit for the perpetrators to go to such lengths.
Take the above-mentioned murder of Nemtsov. It just doesn't make any sense that Putin would order this murder (or let it happen), as the Western MSM implies. Nemtsov was a political nobody, even within the weak political opposition in Russia. Russians firmly stand behind Putin, as recent polls have demonstrated - to the tune of up to 85% of the population (compare that to any Western leader!). What possible benefit could Putin ever derive by killing him? He would be pouring oil onto the fire and would make his own position even more difficult.
But now take the Washington elite: they have everything to gain from this assassination. They can point the finger at Putin, again, compare him to Hitler and rouse anti-Russian sentiments, within Russia and abroad. The West is hell-bent on starting a war with Russia - through the Ukraine crisis - because Russia is in the way of the hegemonic plans of the Western elites. The general population's appetite for war is always low; but for psychopathic, neoconservative, hawkish elites in Washington, NATO and the EU, it's always high, now more than ever as they try to prevent the USA's downfall into political and financial oblivion - hence the need for another war. To follow their leaders down the path of war, the people need to be whipped up into a frenzy. The best way to achieve this is through fear of an enemy that has only one wish - 'our destruction'. This legitimizes 'our self-defence', a cause for which millions of young soldiers have gone to war and to their slaughter. War is always a distraction and, according to Clausewitz, the great strategist on war, always serves two fronts - within the country and without. And, for the most part, the inner front is the more important.
So by answering the question 'who benefits most?' from any controversial event happening in the world, we are already a big step closer to understanding who is pulling the strings. This is the extended version of 'follow the money'. Often it is not money directly that points in the right direction, but power over certain groups or countries, and thereby access to resources and potential, future sources of money-making.
Bias is human and affects all of us. Bias is defined as "an inclination of temperament or outlook to present or hold a partial perspective, often accompanied by a refusal to consider the possible merits of alternative points of view". Bias can be overcome by rational appraisal of the facts. When I hold a certain viewpoint, and I am presented with facts that directly contradict this view, and the facts prove to be grounded in objectivity, the obvious thing for me to do would be to change my view. Unfortunately, not all people seem to be able to do that. One personality type especially - the 'Authoritarian Follower', as described by Bob Altemeyer in his book The Authoritarians - is unable to change his of her view in the face of contradictory facts - UNLESS his or her established authority figures change it for them. Altemeyer characterises authoritarian followers as follows:
They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide.
They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather uninclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites.
But they are also Teflon-coated when it comes to guilt. They are blind to themselves, ethnocentric and prejudiced, and as closed-minded as they are narrow-minded. They can be woefully uninformed about things they oppose, but they prefer ignorance and want to make others become as ignorant as they are. They are also surprisingly uninformed about the things they say they believe in, and deep, deep, deep down inside, many of them have secret doubts about their core beliefs. But they are very happy, highly giving, and quite zealous. In fact, they are about the only zealous people around nowadays in North America, which explains a lot of their success in their endless (and necessary) pursuit of converts.
Altemeyer estimates the percentage of these Authoritarian Followers in the US to be about 25% of the overall population - so quite a high number. They will follow what authorities tell and demand of them without much - or any - thought, and without much - or any - moral reasoning. It's enough for them to know that orders 'come from above', from the authorities, whether this be the government, their religion or their boss. 'Daddy knows best!' is their motto. And if they are presented with facts that run counter to their beliefs, they will become very aggressive and 'attack the messenger', and this will paradoxically increase their adherence to their erroneous beliefs.
So the first thing anyone who wishes to get to the bottom of events needs to do is to be conscious of their own beliefs and world views. We take a lot of things for granted, because that is what we were inculcated with in our formative years, and these often don't hold up to scrutiny. To change one's view, to 'kill the sacred cows', is often an enormously painful, but essential, process, if one is to develop the faculty of analysing events in a dispassionate frame of mind. Only when we know our own vulnerabilities, our own mechanical beliefs, are we then able to accept viewpoints that might be contrary to what we held dear up to that point.
This last point is the most vague, and also the most problematic. It is very much under the influence of bias.
Who hasn't heard this small niggling voice - accompanied or viscerally expressed in their gut ('gut-feeling') - telling them that something just isn't right? But we often disregard these signals, if we detect them at all - and wonder, after the fact, why we didn't heed their call. Intuition alone is not very precise and effective, but combined with rational thought it can be quite helpful. Intuition is associated with the brain's right hemisphere, which often can read things the more conscious left hemisphere blissfully ignores.
But to be able to use it in an intelligent way, we first need to be aware of our biases and irrational beliefs, because allowing them to continue running unfiltered and unchecked is to allow them to completely overpower that small niggling voice or hunch.
In the same way, intuition can guide us in regards to information. The right hemisphere is able to recognize patterns that the left hemisphere is unaware of. But to fully engage this process, it is important to make it conscious. Once the pattern has seeped into the conscious mind, it's the left hemisphere's job to validate it with facts and reasoning.
These are the five components I try to engage when analysing news and trying to get a handle on complex events that unfold 'in real time'. More often than not, you will see the MSM trying to obscure the facts, and if that fails, they'll just 'disregard the screamers'. The MSM in our world are largely controlled by just six behemoth corporations, and they are all firmly entrenched in the military-security-industrial complex. In that sense, the internet is a boon and a curse - a boon, because we get access to news agencies and bloggers outside the direct sphere of influence of the MSM; a curse, because the Powers That Be have of course realized the same thing and are actively managing and influencing discourse on the net by inserting trolls, attacking dissenters and creating controlled opposition, thus effectively neutralising and drowning out opposing voices.
And that is the reason why we need a methodology to sift through the heaps of rubbish, to extract that grain of truth that will lead us to a better understanding of current events.