Tag Archive | media manipulation

A Letter to Glenn Beck

While doing my usual “scroll through Facebook to make sure the world still exists” thing this morning, I stumbled across two interesting things from the very same source: The Blaze. For those who don’t remember, The Blaze is a cable news network started by former Fox host Glenn Beck, a Mormon with a decently good head on his shoulders, but with a lot of socially conservative leanings that I can’t get on board with. Conservatism, as we understand it in the U.S. today, conflicts with itself–they want “small government,” except that they want the government to impose social conservatism.

First I saw this well-phrased, well-written emotional appeal to the American public to stop the divide, to reach across the aisle, and to heal the country:

Well, I’m sorry, Glenn, but you don’t get to be the Voice of Reason right now.

I’ve noticed many people on the left and right pulling this schtick, where, after years, if not decades, of peddling divisiveness and hysteria (remember The Blaze and Michelle Bachman’s attempts to link President Obama to the Muslim Brotherhood?) and then, when you see that the mess you’ve been creating is getting ready to implode or explode, pull a 180 and try to take the highroad, saying, “We have to stop this!”

You. We have to stop you.

You, Glenn Beck. You, Rachel Maddow. You, Milo Whateveranis. You, The Young Turks. You people now trying to act like this mess isn’t of your making–you are the ones who must be stopped, because this mess is of your making.

This random guy being attacked by his own allies because of his appearance? You created this. You paved the road here, you sat us down in the vehicle, and you drove along that road until we reached this point. You did it knowingly and deliberately, to boost your ratings, and now you’re saying “No, we shouldn’t be divided. We’re all humans”? Where was that spiel when you were trying to link Obama to the Muslim Brotherhood?

You monsters did this. You created the circumstances, you lied, you manipulated the facts, and you misled everyone, waiting to release critical information until the most opportune moment, and this hysteria that you’ve created is a direct result of all of that. I wrote about how the news purposely and deliberately withheld information about rotting farms across the country until the most opportune time, and they decided that time was when they could blame it on Trump’s immigration policies instead of droughts, wildfires, and government interventions paying farmers to grow crops regardless of whether the crops survive. All of this has been happening for years. But now that the media can blame it on Trump and ask if he’s going to claim responsibility for the famine–because, yes, people really are that hysterical–we hear about it.

And what about the fact that critically important news items seem to pop up and vanish just as quickly, keeping the masses in a paralytic state of paranoid fear? This was the entire point of your attempts to link Obama to the Muslim Brotherhood. You know it, I know it, and everyone knows it. You rode that “Obama is a Muslim Kenyan” line every bit as hard as Donald Trump. In fact, I lost a longtime friend with whom I used to play in a rockband, because of his constant peddling of Glenn Beck bullshit, telling me that I needed to be afraid of the Muslims who were infiltrating our government. You did that, Glenn. You took over his mind and replaced his rationality with fear by exploiting his vulnerabilities.

And now you want to say “We’re all humans”?

No, because you’re not. You’re not a human. You’re an immoral monster. You’re a disgusting, mutant salesman obsessed with your sales numbers, and you didn’t give a damn how much damage you cause to humans while you attempt to sate your ravenous hunger.

The alt-right for years, Glenn–for years has been calling Obama a Muslim and a Kenyan hellbent on destroying America from within. If that sounds familiar, it’s because you have a documentary that asserts that very thing. You can’t just distance yourself from it now that it’s grown beyond your control, because you planted the seeds that became that tree. And you’re still doing so, you slimy toad.

What is this shit, Glenn? That article was released yesterday. Yesterday, Glenn! On your website.

This diehard, rightist propagandist, wacky, inaccurate, nonsensical article propagating the notion that transsexualism is a new thing that should be condemned rather than allowed appeared yesterday, 24 hours ago, on your website. And now you want to say “We’re all humans”? What about transsexuals like me, Glenn? Are we “all humans” too? Because this article on your website from yesterday suggests otherwise. “Trans people should get back in the closet and shut up,” is what this article from yesterday on your website asserts.

You want to dance in Romulan territory while proclaiming your neutrality, and it doesn’t work that way. Libertarians are in the neutral zone. You, though? You cast your lot with the Romulans a long time ago, just as the leftists cast their lot with the Federation. And I’m over here like, “No… Why did we let people like Glenn Beck push this to the point of war?”

Because you did, Glenn. You and the leftwing media both. You did this.

Now we jump from war with Syria (which, it’s time to confess, we are fighting) to war with North Korea to trans military bans to Nazis to possible trade wars with China to raging anarcho-communists in the blink of an eye. You won’t let people sit down and take a deep breath and remind themselves that “We’re all humans,” because you’re too busy peddling fear trying to keep their eyeballs glued to their television screen and listening to you prattle on about Obama’s ties to the freaking Muslim Brotherhood.

You don’t have the right to stand there and appeal for calm now, Glenn. Neither you, the Nazis, or Antifa have the right to do that. You’ve all taken your sides. Maybe you didn’t have the foresight to see where it would go. Maybe you didn’t realize what you were doing. I could accept that. But you’re still responsible for his mess. You can’t just pretend like that isn’t true. If you want to call for calm and unity now, that’s great–you can join the call of libertarians and anarcho-capitalists who have been calling for calm, liberty, tolerance, and love for years. At this point, though, you’re tainted by the circumstances you’ve created, and you owe the world an apology if you want to change your tune now.

You directly contributed to this. In fact, wasn’t it because you wanted more leniency to say wild, speculative things that you formed The Blaze in the first place? And you continue to dance in the redzone of conservatism–the very same redzone that created the alt-right that morphed into Neo-Nazism, as that lunatic article from yesterday shows. Of course, trans people have always existed, Glenn. The only question was whether we had to pretend otherwise, or whether we could embrace it. Through most of human history, it was “pretend otherwise.” This led to many suicides and many problems–like with a guy you may have heard of named J. Edgar Hoover.

If you want to appeal for calm, that’s great, but you’ve got to extract yourself from either side. You have to get out of the left versus right paradigm entirely, or you’re not appealing for calm. You’re appealing for victory for your side. “Conservatives have the high-road because conservatives are calling for calm… It’s the leftists who are calling for violence still.”

You made this bed. Either set it ablaze or lie down in it.

Timing is Everything — Media Manipulation Part 2

And the media clearly knows that.

Much of what I hear on Facebook these days–aside from North Korea bullshit–is stuff about families being broken up by Trump’s immigration policy, and his harsh deportations. Yet, in reality, Trump has deported fewer people than President Obama did. In both absolute numbers and averages, Obama deported more people than Trump. But because the media chose not to report on any of that, people now being exposed to it are under the impression that it’s a new thing, and that Trump/Republicans are to blame for this “uniquely” awful problem.

I just watched a popular libertarian page say that they wonder if Trump will claim responsibility for the famine that is going to be caused by the “entire fields being left to rot” because so many people have been deported that there’s no one to pick the crops. I’m not even kidding. Those are the headlines right now: “Entire Fields Left to Rot Because of Deportation of Illegal Immigrants.”

But that’s been the case for years. The corn field right across from me is going to rot again–an “entire field left to rot.” This happens all over the United States, because the government just pays people to plant the crop, and doesn’t really care if the crop is harvested or not. The media didn’t report on it, though. Now they have. The result? Predictably, everyone thinks this is a new thing, brought about by Trump “deporting so many people.”

Two absolute falsehoods. Old news, really. But because it’s only now being delivered, people are manipulated en masse into believing that Trump is responsible, and that his “singularly harsh deportation policy” is responsible.

It’s scary, really, that people are so easy to manipulate. Because, two years ago, fields not being picked wouldn’t have been newsworthy. It still isn’t, really, except that it can be used to promote an agenda.

I would have hoped, and expected, if I had the interest, knowledge, and awareness then, in the mid 90s that the upcoming age of social media would have prevented this sort of thing from happening. It doesn’t seem to have abated, though, because not many people are sharing these experiences, but I know from firsthand experiences, having friends all over the United States and having been across most of the United States, that “rotting fields” are not new, and neither are they caused by a lack of illegal immigrants to be paid under the table for picking the crops. It’s actually quite standard. In the eons of human history, it has never been especially common that an entire society’s fields would be successfully picked–anything from weather to war to earthquakes to wild animals could destroy a crop. Yet now it is Trump’s fault.

I talked yesterday about how the media and the state are able to determine what you and I discuss, and I want to point out that I’m not asserting the state and the media are colluding together to control the conversation. They don’t have to, because the media wants your attention. It doesn’t really matter why they want your attention. They do. To get your attention, they’re going to talk about things most likely to interest you, and those will be the sensationalized things. That lunatic who we have as Secretary of Defense saying that he’s willing to annihilate the North Korean people would qualify, of course.

Another way of manipulating people, though, is to just withhold information. It’s inevitable that information will be withheld, and this is just part of human nature. Right now, your senses are taking in far more information than your brain can process, so most of it gets discarded. This has, on many occasions, resulted in strange things happening. Perhaps the most common is “hitting one’s funny bone,” which occurs when one collides with something and has no expectation of it at all. Psychologists enjoy playing with these quirks of the human brain and nervous system, and there are even a few television shows that exploit it. In one, viewers are asked to count how many times a person wearing blue jumps rope. Viewers, focused on counting, didn’t notice the man walk by wearing a giant chicken costume, because their brain discarded that information.

The media functions the same way, especially in today’s hyper-connected society. I could, if I cared to, find out exactly what conditions are like on the ground in Portland, Oregon, right now. I could find out the weather, the local issues, and could probably peer inside of a local restaurant as though I was there. How many people each day post something on Twitter and hope that it goes viral? How many people have family members killed by cops and attempt to spread it on Facebook and Twitter each day (note: at least three, just in the United States)? Yet these stories rarely gain traction. Just this month, an estimated 30 people have been killed by police officers. How many of them have you heard about? Probably “none.”

This is because there’s just so much stuff happening that it can’t all be talked about. The bulk of it is discarded as uninteresting and not newsworthy. Three years ago, a few rotting fields of crops across the United States was discarded as uninteresting and not newsworthy. But now! Now that the media has spent months telling us the previously-neglected horror stories of families being broken up by deportation, there is yet another angle that can be worked to push that agenda: finally mention the fields that have been rotting for years, if not decades, and people will come to the conclusion that it’s a new phenomenon, simply because they hadn’t heard about it before.

It’s clever, on their part, because they can’t be criticized for choosing not to report on something before. Something has to be discarded, after all, just like police officers can’t chase after everyone speeding on the highway. They can only go after some of the people they see speeding, just like we can only process some of the information our brains receive. The problem with police officers it that they appear to have racist motivations when determining who to pursue and who to ignore, given that a disproportionate number of black Americans are harassed by police each day. The problem with the media is similar: they often choose what to report on and what to discard based on their own agenda.

That agenda is clearly to manipulate Americans into disliking Trump and, in particular, his immigration policy, despite the fact that the numbers don’t bear this out, which even left-wing news sources admit. They’re perfectly free to admit this without hurting their narrative, though, because these are cold, emotionless, facts-based stories of numbers. It’s the personal stories that matter. It’s their focus on Juan Hernandez being deported from his wife and kids after 19 years in the United States that grabs people’s attention and is embedded in their minds. Similarly, news stories that properly cite that more than half of people killed by police are white, and the other half are divided among black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, middle Eastern Americans, and other Americans, have no impact, because the focus on the personal stories of black Americans who are killed by police do far more to construct the narrative than any raw numbers will.

Throw them a personal story that tugs at their heart strings, and it really doesn’t matter how many facts you throw out afterward that refute that personal story as an anomaly, or the agenda behind that personal story as flawed and biased. Once set, the narrative is set, and facts don’t change our minds.

Do I like Trump? No. I can’t stand Trump. Don’t take any of this as a defense of that buffoon.

Take it instead as a warning about manipulation. We must always be on guard against manipulation, because they are always trying to manipulate us.