Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The conspiracy network

I'm still working on the Big Something, and I'm a little surprised to see that no-one has guessed it. There are lots of stories about it on the net, if you know where to look. The stateside media blackout has been remarkably effective.

I've also been reading books about Glenn Beck and Fox News (authored by Dana Milbank and David Brock, respectively). One theme keeps coming up: Conspiracy.

Fox News is Conspiracy TV-- a fact which became undeniable when they decided to promote the rantings of Glenn Beck, kook extraordinaire. Beck's main trick (which he borrowed from the John Birchers) is simple: He takes a lot of familiar conspiracy memes that have circulated on the anti-Semitic far right for decades, lops off the overt anti-Semitism, and sells the results to a huge audience. And I do mean huge: Even after being kicked off of Fox, Beck is still earning $80 million a year.

Most people don't realize that all of the outrageous guff Beck peddles about Woodrow Wilson traces back, ultimately, to various "underground" works written by American fascists. Don't believe me? Check out this blast from the past, which demonstrates that Beck's favorite riffs originated with a notorious bigot named Gerald Winrod. Unless you have studied the history of the American fringe, as I have, you can't understand where Beck-ism comes from.

(I pity any naive kids who listen to Beck's crap. It's all new to them. They might even take it seriously.)

Beck stumbled big time, of course, when he openly acknowledged that he drew from sources like Cleon Skousen and Elizabeth Dilling. Citing Lousy Liz was way, way too obvious: Dilling used to flog the Protocols, for crying out loud. Most Americans would not have known her name, but a lot of Jews -- quite properly -- keep track of these things. Beck, like many another recovering alkie, lacks impulse control, so he was bound to make a slip-up of this sort eventually.

Beck is but a symptom of a larger disease. My point is this: On Fox News, everything is a conspiracy. Paranoia is their product.

There's only one area of conspiracy theory that the Fox-ers consider out of bounds: Anything that has anything to do with the intelligence communities of the U.S., the U.K. or Israel.

This means that Fox has it all backwards. Most of the conspiracy theories that have become so popular in recent times are, in fact, absolute hogwash. But history tells that there have been real conspiracies -- and the genuine ones usually trace back to the spooks. Conspiracy is what covert operatives do.

Did you know that Bill O'Reilly has written (or co-written, which usually means lending his name to) a book about the JFK assassination? I'm sure he's taking the lone nut line, although he may decide to go for the blame-the-commies angle. (Is Edward Epstein still around to offer advice? I think he is.) I'm also sure that the book will get on the bestseller lists and stay there for the anniversary of the assassination. Jim DiEugenio's long-promised magnum opus won't get anything like that level of attention, even though it will contain a lot of bombshell material released via the Assassinations Records Review Board. The very idea of Bill O'Reilly poring through the thousands of pages of new material released by the ARRB is rather amusing.

(Hell, the idea of Bill actually sitting down to read a book is rather amusing. And if Bill-O or anyone else tells you that there's nothing interesting in the ARRB documents, he's fibbing.)

Which brings us back to our larger point. Bill-O, if ever he took notice of a guy like me, would probably make a sneering reference to those awful, awful conspiracy buffs. But his network, Fox News, exists to promote conspiracy theories.

Just to prove the point, here's Bill-O's latest, in which he "proves" -- using the scholarly technique of proof-by-assertion -- that the entire Occupy movement is a conspiracy directed by Evil Soros and the Institute for Policy Studies (a long-time far-right hate-magnet).

It gets worse. When OSHA published a squib recommending that people working outdoors drink lots of water to avoid heatstroke, Fox screamed that this advice was all part of a socialist "Obama regime" conspiracy to control even the most minute aspects of our lives. Of course, as this blogger points out, OSHA offered the exact same advice under Bush (and probably under every preceding president for as long as there has been an OSHA). 

If you're a Fox Newser, it's okay to say that OSHA or Occupy is a conspiracy. But it's not okay to say that spooks killed JFK.

Maybe we should get Glenn Beck in on this. I'm sure he'll find some way to place Woodrow Wilson on the Grassy Knoll.

So what is Fox News? One of the recurrent themes in Brock's book, The Fox Effect, is that Fox is an anomaly in the Murdoch empire. America's most notorious propaganda network is surprisingly independent. Many readers will have a hard time getting their heads around that concept, since we all know that Rupert is a detail-oriented control freak.

(Incidentally, Fox responded to Brock with an absolutely hilarious hit piece.)

But Fox News really is a strange beast, and it gets stranger the closer you look. The rest of the Murdoch empire fears Fox. That's the word Brock uses, and he cites examples.

Let's put it this way: Murdoch supported Obama in 2008. Murdoch has also said that he believes that man-made climate change is a genuine, serious threat. Rupert Murdoch is probably the only human being who might be allowed to express those views on Fox News. And even then, the Fox crew would bring on "experts" from the Heartland Institute to rebut him on global warming.

I'm not sure what to make of this situation. But I can tell you this much: The distinction -- one might even say the rift -- between Fox News and the rest of the Murdoch organization is real. Any Theory of Fox (or Theory of Murdoch) must start with that understanding.


Trojan Joe said...

“History tells that there have been real conspiracies -- and the genuine ones usually trace back to the spooks. Conspiracy is what covert operatives do.”

That's all I was trying to say a few weeks ago, when I defended the generic term “conspiracy theorist,” but I was so chastened by your response that I stopped visiting here for a while.

Obviously, some conspiracy theories are bunk (e.g. the world is controlled by Bilderbergers/Jews/aliens); yet you've recently said that some conspiracy theories have documented validity (e.g., there were spy-agency conspiracies against JFK, RFK and maybe even Nixon).

I've been to Dallas several times, investigating the JFK case for myself, and I've re-read much of Jim DiEugenio's work lately. The difference between the conspiracy theories spewed on Fox and those that you and I investigate is that Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly et al don't seem to actually believe theirs. It may be good for ratings, but I doubt that those rich Republicans feel deep-down that commies are keeping them from getting even richer. Yes, the Fox audience is full of conspiracy theorists--or rather, conspiracy believers—but I can't find a credentialed research community that backs them up. Orly Taitz may or may not be sincere, but she's basically a fringe dweller with a megaphone. I can't paint honorable “conspiracy theorists” like DiEugenio, Harold Weisberg, Josiah Thompson. Sylvia Meagher and John Newman with the same broad tar-brush. Let the best-documented theories prevail.

Oh, and I hope to have my own JFK book ready by the 50th anniversary. I'll send you a copy.

Anonymous said...

I still think it has something to do with his wife that used to work for that Communist run Chinese news network(Star TV was it?). Now you may think that me saying that makes me a rightwinger. Wrong. I am left of center on monetary issues and further left on social issues.

I tend to believe at some level that certain rightwing Russians, certain rightwing Chinese in high places and certain rightwing Americans in high places are COLLUDING.

Why would I think that? History and human nature. American elites and Chinese elites have been doing behind closed doors drug trading since the 1700s. Certain American families made their money that way. Those connections are historical and continue to today. Murdoch is an example of that.

"China has long meant more than business to the Murdoch clan. Mr. Murdoch’s father, Keith, wrote about China as a war correspondent in the 1930s. As a newspaper proprietor in Australia, he collected Ming dynasty porcelain.

When Rupert Murdoch visited Shanghai in 1997, Wendi Deng, then a junior News Corporation employee in Hong Kong, flew up to serve as his translator. Together they explored Shanghai, which was then emerging as a lively center of finance and commerce."

I suspect Murdoch is not really in control. He was seduced and took the bait. The result is a zillion Murdoch news agencies devoted to agitating, muckraking and spying on the citizens in the countries in which they were embedded. Who benefits from all of the Murdoch machine's mindfucking? American citizens? The British? Australians? Fox News loves to bash on "Commies", but never mentions Murdoch's ties to "Commie" China.

Did you know back around 1999-2000, Clinton's secret service detail and apparently some staffers were partying it up in Moscow with hookers at a Moscow club? Russia Today did a story about it. They do stories like that when they are not busy mindfucking Americans with propaganda favorable to the Kremlin(yes RT is run by the Russian gov).

Why do Republicans never attack Russia Today? And why do we always hear stories about Democrats getting tripped up in sex scandals? But never Republicans getting tripped up in Sex scandals?

Why did the FBI allow Russians to get close to Democrats from 2001-2010? Why were the Russians targeting Democrats instead of Republicans? Why is it that America is losing its pants to China and can't seem to stem this wholesale selloff of the USA? What about U.S. politicians makes them unable to do what Americans want them to do? And who are the Americans that prefer it that way?


Anonymous said...

I dont find that Brook hit piece funny. I find it irritating that the Fox people have so much contempt for their audience that they sell them such crude doggie do. Dear lord we really must be sheep.


paul rise said...

Doesn't Ted Anderson's Midas Resources prop up Fox News, Alex Jones and increasingly all of AM talk radio advertising ?

Boilermaker said...

Are you working on the satellite card hacking by NDA, with the possible help of Shin Bet using American technology. James Murdoch was taking over from Dad, but viewed as anti-Israeli. The result is that he is is for all intents ousted based on the phone hacking. But he gets his revenge because somebody releases massive amounts of e-mails showing the satellite hacking.

lastlemming said...

...Folds arms, taps foot impatiently. . ."Come on, come on..."

Anonymous said...

The Joseph Cannon view of conspiracy research:

1. Any conspiracy theory put forth by a right winger is bunk, since that kind of crap all tracks back to the Protocols.

2. The only conspiracy theories with any possibility of being even partially true are put forth by sincere progressives who supported Hillary for prez and knew Obie was in the tank with Wall Street from the get-go.

Joseph Cannon said...

Anonymous...! You GET me!