When You Don’t Make the Cult

Why I No Longer Support Newsbud

Katie Aguilera

Two years ago, I was involved in the early stages of the development of Newsbud, an online news and media platform with the stated goals of being 100% people funded, unbiased, and non-partisan.  My involvement, like that of many others, was short lived.  Recently, I publicly made some comments about my change of heart regarding Newsbud, and I have also decided to remove nearly all content from this blog that promoted the organization*.  As a result, I feel that I should explain why I no longer support Newsbud.

I have been hesitant to discuss my experience with Newsbud, and have told few people the details behind my decision to leave the team.  It is not my intention now to pen a vindictive, personal attack on Newsbud or its founder, Sibel Edmonds.  I know that I have readers who support Newsbud, and I’m not writing this with the goal of changing anyone’s mind based solely on what I have to say.  People need to come to their own conclusions.  I am writing this to explain why I no longer endorse the site, why it has lost credibility in my view, and why I feel guilty for promoting it and supporting it in its early stages.

The Beginning

Several years ago, the research I was doing for the novel I am writing led me to a series of interviews [no longer available at this link] posted on YouTube with James Corbett and Sibel Edmonds.  That was how I first discovered Boiling Frogs Post, or BFP, and Sibel’s work.  Her story in her book, Classified Woman, aligned really well with the sort of things happening in the plot of my novel, and I began to follow the work at BFP.

When Sibel announced the idea for Newsbud, I contacted her and offered to help any way that I could with the project.  I explained that I didn’t have much to offer, I had no related experience, and wasn’t sure what I could do, but I wanted to help if I could.  I knew that I can write, but at that point I had yet to even start my own blog.  I don’t consider myself an expert of any sort, and I had never published anything.

I was surprised by the offer to be a regular contributor to Newsbud, and I jumped at the chance.  First and foremost because I genuinely believed in the idea of what Newsbud was supposed to be, based on how it was presented.  Also, because I was excited to get to know and work with Sibel Edmonds, who I had come to respect and admire greatly.  And, of course, it was an opportunity to get published and earn some extra money.

Newsbud launched a series of Kickstarter fundraising campaigns, the first one on February 14, 2016.  The goal of the campaign was nearly one million dollars, and ultimately it was unsuccessful.  It was during this campaign that I experienced my first hint of doubt about the direction Newsbud was going.

First Doubt

It started with this article in which Sibel makes some startling claims.  I was asked to do some research and fact checking on the suspicious letters discussed in the article after it was published.  I researched, I made phone calls, I spoke by phone with an FBI spokesperson about the matter, I attempted to contact Sheriff Glenn Palmer.  He never returned my phone call.  I found a phone number for the person who sent the suspicious letters, and I passed the information on to Newsbud.  I thought the logical next step would be to contact the letter sender but I was unwilling to do that from my private phone.

In the end, my research led me to the conclusion that there really was no more to the story than what had been reported in the local news, and with no comment from Sheriff Palmer, I couldn’t confirm his reported version of the event.  I was unable to find any evidence that would prove his claims, or that there had been any sort of substance in any of the letters.  I was also unable to find evidence that the letter sender was targeting Palmer specifically.

Pretty quickly I was informed that my conclusion wasn’t satisfactory and to stop researching the story.  Shortly thereafter, this video of an interview with Dr. Fred Whitehurst was released.  When that video aired, initially I felt that what I had reported to Sibel about my conversation with the FBI spokesperson was misrepresented.  Much later, when I watched it again, I also felt as though Dr. Whitehurst was manipulated in the interview because he wasn’t given all the information.  I didn’t understand why they did not mention any attempt to contact the letter sender, or Sheriff Palmer.  So, I messaged my concerns to Spiro Skouras of Newsbud, and asked why they had pursued the story the way they did.  I got no response from him that night.

Not long after, I received a request via email from Sibel to schedule a Skype conference call with her and Spiro.  I don’t remember all of the ways in which I was informed that I had failed during that call, but I do remember the main point, that I had missed the big piece of the story.  Sibel explained her reasons for that, and shared some links, and she was right, I hadn’t found what she had found online.  Upon reflection, I didn’t see it as proof of her claims, though I didn’t say so.

Perhaps I did miss a smoking gun, perhaps Sibel knew much more than she had published in her article and video.  However, what continued to bother me was that there was never any follow up, they never published any further evidence to support her startling claims.  They never informed me, or publicly stated, that they ever tried to contact the letter sender.  While attempts other than my own may have been made to contact Sheriff Palmer, there was no public mention of it from Newsbud.

After what felt to me like sensational claims that begged for further proof, that was basically the end of it.  That left me feeling as though the purpose of the story was to draw clicks, to capitalize on the related media furor occurring at that time over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, and Sheriff Palmer himself.  This would become a pattern I have since noticed repeatedly with stories discussed at Newsbud.

Staying In

Unfortunately, I ignored my instincts.  I still believed in Newsbud, and I didn’t want to admit that my faith in Sibel’s credibility had just taken a significant hit.  I convinced myself that, with my lack of experience, I had screwed up, and I moved on.  Newsbud launched a second Kickstarter campaign for a significantly lower goal, and with a very different team, because many on the original team had already left for reasons I didn’t fully learn until later.  This time it was successful.  This is when I began receiving payment from Newsbud, and I published an article a week for about two months.

Around this time, the attempted coup in Turkey took place, and Newsbud launched its “Confront NBC” campaign.  I was supportive and helped to promote this because I felt (and still do) that it is really important for news outlets and journalists to retract erroneous reporting.  I also agreed that the timing of the false information was suspicious with regards to the coup attempt.  (Not to mention this very real problem.)  But, the entire thing began to feel like a publicity stunt.  Looking back, it felt like a publicity stunt that went too far, and felt uncomfortably too pro-Erdogan.  And, it led to this attack on FAIR.org.

I was asked to email FAIR, and follow up with a phone call, requesting comment from them on the Confront NBC story, and also information about their sources of funding (something I would like to see more transparency on from Newsbud).  I truly did not want to do this.  I have a lot of respect for FAIR.org and other organizations that work to hold news outlets and journalists accountable.  I was embarrassed to be involved in an attack on them.  However, I made the call, and I’m sure I sounded like a complete idiot to the man at FAIR that I spoke with.

A Way Out

This was the point that I finally began to lose, or let go of, some of my belief in Newsbud.  I realized I no longer wanted to tell anyone that I wrote for Newsbud.  I increasingly felt that, in order to fit the mold, I had to find some sort of “conspiratorial angle” to everything I wrote for Newsbud, and even here on my blog.  I was going along with things I didn’t always agree with, in order to stay with Newsbud.  It felt dishonest, like I was putting on an act.  I wasn’t being honest with myself.  I wasn’t being honest to all the people I was promoting Newsbud to.  I wasn’t being honest with Newsbud or Sibel either, because I didn’t address these concerns with them.

The final straw (or straws) came after I published this story here on my blog.  I submitted a shorter version of the story to Newsbud, and initially was told it would be published.  Later, I was told that it wouldn’t be published for several reasons.  I was disappointed, but I understood that Sibel didn’t like the story and she had the ultimate say on what was published on Newsbud.  I moved on.  However, shortly after that, I received an email that finally ended my willingness to remain on the team.

In that email, Sibel questioned my recent sharing of a GoFundMe campaign by someone that she didn’t like, and she informed me that I shouldn’t be following a certain journalist on social media.  Basically, what it came down to was that my behavior was reflecting negatively on Newsbud, and I was damaging Newsbud’s credibility.

I replied that I had no desire to cause Newsbud any harm, and if she didn’t want me on the team that was fine.  It was a way out, and I took it with relief.  I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t hurt by the things Sibel said to me, but I did not, and do not, have any desire to argue with her, or defend myself to her.  It wasn’t worth it to me to be told who I could or could not follow, who I could or could not share support for, who or what I could write about.  I had already watched other team members leave, even just disappear from the team, with no explanation.  What Newsbud had become was absolutely not what I supported in the beginning.

Ironically, after I responded that I didn’t want to harm Newsbud, I was told my behavior not only reflected negatively on Newsbud, but on myself, that it would hurt my credibility.  That was indeed true, but not about the behavior Sibel was referring to.  What would reflect negatively on me would be to continue to support what I no longer believed in.  Continuing to work with and promote Newsbud would hurt my credibility.

It is my opinion that Newsbud has gone the way of another well-known alternative media (infotainment) site that thrives on click bait, unsupported sensational claims, and false information.  I know Newsbud has deleted negative and oppositional comments from their site in what looks like attempts to shield their supporters from anything contradictory.  I know they asked numerous dissenting commenters to unsubscribe.  I see no integrity in this.  There are other things I could point to, but that and skepticism born out of my own brief experience working with Sibel, are the most important reasons why I no longer support Newsbud.

Coming Clean

It has taken me a long time to decide to write about all of this.  It took some time to admit to myself that the entire experience felt very cultish, and even longer to feel ready to admit it publicly.  I held a cult-like faith in Sibel, and that affected my judgement.  I don’t blame Sibel or Newsbud, I blame myself.  At the time, as I was still trying to make sense of the overwhelming information I was searching through online, I was especially susceptible.  But, I know that I have learned a lot from this experience.  In the chaos of today’s news cycle, the fake news, the social media trolling and bot manipulation, and endless sites spreading misinformation for profit, my experience at Newsbud, even though I regret it, does have value for me.

The following, from an International Cultic Studies Association article titled, Characteristics of Cults and Cultic Groups, describes how I feel about my experience with Newsbud perfectly:

“…the group claims to pursue lofty goals (e.g., salvation, bringing enlightenment to the world for the sake of peace, or solutions to specific world problems and injustices), …but a close look at the group’s accomplishments will invariably show that these publicly proclaimed goals are not reached, or that they mask less noble goals, such as massing monetary wealth, gaining power and control over the followers, and feeding the leader’s need for adulation.”

So, when I saw this tweet which reads, “they’ve been throwing fits due to not making the cut when it comes to Newsbud,” I laughed.  I knew immediately that I had the perfect title for this story.  I didn’t make the cult, and for that, I am so thankful.

**********

*This decision was made because I can’t in good conscience keep content posted that promotes Newsbud.  If that bothers you and you want to know what those posts contain, just ask me.  I’ve kept copies of them all.  Also, I recently noticed that all of my work has been removed from Newsbud’s site, for which I am grateful.  I have reposted most of the articles here on Seeking Redress.

Update 4/29/2018: the above link to the Dr. Whitehurst video no longer works.  Here is a link to Newsbud’s report about the video.  The video isn’t available there either.

 

If you liked this article and would like to support the author, click here.

Mueller’s Delivery of Uranium Sample to Russia

Katie Aguilera

As the Uranium One story trickles out in the mainstream news, alternative news sites and social media are jumping all over it, with all sorts of speculations and claims.  One specific claim keeps popping up, ever since this July, 29, 2017 tweet from Wikileaks.  This claim is that former FBI Director Robert Mueller hand delivered a sample of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, to Russian law enforcement.  According to a leaked cable published by Wikileaks, this is indeed true.  However, many in the alt media seem to be suggesting that this sample of HEU given to the Russians is somehow related to the Uranium One deal, which is untrue.

Many alt media sites insert the fact that Mueller gave the HEU sample to Russia while discussing the possible scandals surrounding the Uranium One deal without giving the full story, as if to imply that this sample is somehow related to that deal.  And, of course, people on social media are spreading the rumor far and wide.  But, they aren’t giving the back story, apparently relying on the fact that their audience won’t read the leaked cable themselves.  The following is from the leaked cable:

“Background: Over two years ago Russia requested a ten-gram sample of highly enriched uranium (HEU) seized in early 2006 in Georgia during a nuclear smuggling sting operation involving one Russian national and several Georgian accomplices. The seized HEU was transferred to U.S. custody and is being held at a secure DOE facility. In response to the Russian request, the Georgian Government authorized the United States to share a sample of the material with the Russians for forensic analysis.”

But here is what Wikileaks highlighted in the tweet linked above:

  1. “(S/Rel Russia) Action request: Embassy Moscow is requested to alert at the highest appropriate level the Russian Federation that FBI Director Mueller plans to deliver the HEU sample once he arrives to Moscow on September 21. Post is requested to convey information in paragraph 5 with regard to chain of custody, and to request details on Russian Federation’s plan for picking up the material. Embassy is also requested to reconfirm the April 16 understanding from the FSB verbally that we will have no problem with the Russian Ministry of Aviation concerning Mueller’s September 21 flight clearance.”

The leaked cable makes it clear that the sample of HEU that Mueller gave to Russia was from uranium suspected of being stolen from a Russian facility, and Russia wanted the sample in order to confirm the origin of that uranium.  The cable does not say anywhere that the sample came from any uranium mined in US mines owned by Uranium One.  The cable does not claim that the sample has any relation whatsoever to the Uranium One deal.  But that hasn’t stopped the claims that it does.

Is there reason to question and investigate the Uranium One deal?  Yes.  But spreading false information about the story, whether by directly lying or by omitting important facts, only serves to misdirect attention from the true facts as we learn them.  It also calls into question the credibility and integrity of any alternative news outlet that uses this tactic.

Never Enough Time

It is April already, spring is upon us here in Central Oregon, and it is beautiful outside.  It is the sort of weather that makes it impossible for me to remain inside, dutifully typing away on the computer.  So things might get a little bit quiet around here, and I apologize.  I started several posts here in the past week, only to set them aside after a paragraph or two to go play outside.  And, I confess, I’ve also been pretty distracted by my fictional endeavors too.  I’m increasingly anxious to get this novel finished and published!  There is never enough time to get everything done.

I mentioned starting a few posts this past week, and I decided this morning to just combine a couple here rather than go back to finish them.  As I said, the weather is beautiful, way too nice for me to spend much time here!

First, the Panama Papers, released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) last Sunday.  Everyone is talking about them, there’s plenty of good posts out there analyzing the coverage, and I don’t really have anything to add.  But, I do want to say that there is a lot of speculation being tossed around because the leaked data itself isn’t available to the public.  Of course the leak is being framed and micro-managed to serve someone’s (or many someones’) purposes.  Rolled out like a thriller novel or movie, (I’m sure that’s already in the works) to grab our attention and point that attention in the direction desired by those managing the release.

The fact is, leaks happen.  They come in all shapes and sizes, and for many reasons.  How they are framed and spun can be quite telling.  The very fact that the Panama Papers leak is getting so much media attention is telling.   Obviously it was a ‘safe’ leak in the sense that it is unlikely to make anyone in real positions of western power too uncomfortable.  Here is an interesting perspective by Eoin Higgins on why that might be the case.  Also consider this article on the ICIJ’s website describing what looks like a possible cleaning up of any suspicious evidence in Nevada by a Mossack Fonseca owned company.  And remember that this data was leaked to the journalists a year ago.  That’s a pretty fair amount of time for damage control.

What should be demanded of this international consortium of journalists is a full release of the data to the public, to be searched and analyzed freely.  But so far, we are only allowed to view the information through a certain media lens, just as has often been the case with big leaks in the past.  Perhaps this leak will follow the same course as Edward Snowden’s, with the ICIJ destroying the Mossack Fonseca data to protect the source and the journalists, as was the case with Snowden’s data and the Guardian.  But don’t worry, there will surely be copies of the information safely stored elsewhere, to ensure ongoing reporting, as needed, on things that are useful to serve powerful agendas.

Which leads me to the incredible idea of media that isn’t funded by large corporations and powerful elites.  If investigative journalists could be freed from those ties, they would be free to report information without framing it to fit a narrative dictated by those powerful sponsors.  A leak such as this Mossack Fonseca one could be released to the public, allowing everyone to see the information, and determine their own conclusions.  The reality today is that the media serves only the less-than-one-percent of the population to manipulate and control the rest of us.  Because they own it.

So why don’t we, the people, fund our own source of information?  Of course, there are many great sources for independent news and analysis available for anyone taking the time to find them, and there are plenty of willing supporters supplying well earned donations to those sources.  But why not help fund something even bigger?  Something that might actually give all those independent sources a larger platform in order to reach a much larger audience.  A real chance to counter the corporate owned media and their dictated narrative.  Why not?

The Kickstarter campaign for Newsbud is down to the final six days.  The total amount donated is nowhere near the goal, but the donations have continued to come in daily.  If the Kickstarter campaign had more time, I think the goal would be reached, but it is limited to sixty days by the crowdfunding platform.  There is certainly support for such an idea, as is demonstrated by the nearly $190,000.00 pledged as of this posting.  We may not make the goal in six days, but I hope that the support for this idea will remain strong.  If at first you fail, try, try again, right?

 

Grant County, Oregon’s Sheriff Palmer Has Enemies In High Places

Author’s Note:  I am no longer affiliated with Newsbud and no longer endorse the site.  I have removed most of this post because I cannot in good conscience, promote Newsbud’s work.  I originally posted this with a link to a Newsbud article because I was asked to do so.  I am leaving the link to that article, but I do not agree with the conclusions of that article.  11/2/2017  You can read more about why I don’t agree with those conclusions here.

Sheriff Glenn Palmer, of Grant County, Oregon (the only county in the United States that, interestingly, has declared itself a UN free zone by vote) appears to be in the cross hairs for some of his actions during the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife refuge in neighboring Harney County.  Sheriff Palmer met with some of the people involved at the refuge and also voiced support for releasing Dwight and Steven Hammond (more on their story here and here.) and for sending the FBI packing from Harney County.  Those are two opinions I suspect the majority of Harney County residents would agree with, but the federal government certainly does not.

…The rest is deleted.  The Newsbud article that this post originally linked to can be found here.

_________________________
 Author’s Note: I am no longer affiliated with Newsbud and I no longer endorse the website, or the linked article above.  Additionally, when I attempted to contact Sheriff Palmer to ask for verification of his reaction to the strange letter, my phone call was not returned.

Questioning the News

 

The reporting on the Malheur refuge occupation in Harney County has, for me, been a perfect example of how corporate news networks manipulate the narrative of events to fit their own position on the issues and people involved. Admittedly, I have questioned corporate media for a very long time, for many reasons.  Perhaps it started for me with the way events were covered between September 2001 and March of 2003.  Confusion, lies and omissions, controlling (and co-opting) the narrative, and what do you know, endless war resulted.  There have been so many big events since (and before) then that show the same patterns in the media as the narrative is spun to portray a story a certain way.  So, the way the narrative in Harney County has been spun hasn’t surprised me, but it has been an up close view of the process.

With this situation taking place so close to home, I have had the opportunity to communicate with some of the people involved.  I have had the opportunity to learn about the underlying issues, to try and get a genuine understanding of why the protests and occupation happened.  Now, I certainly don’t expect everyone to come away from this story changing everything about their own opinions on the matter.  I don’t expect people to agree on every aspect of the issues involved.  It is, after all, a tangled combination of complicated and sensitive matters.  But, what I do expect, or rather, what I would like to be able to expect, is some honest reporting.

It has been sadly lacking, both in the mainstream media and the alternative media.  There have been some honest and unbiased stories here and there, scattered throughout a wide range of sources.  I’ll specifically shout out to Oregon Public Broadcasting here who’s reporters have followed the story closely.  But the good coverage was often buried in avalanches of speculation, distortion, name-calling, and outright hatred.  Social media has played an increasing role in this as well.  On one hand, social media has given us a platform to communicate with people involved in these stories and to share what we learn.  On the other hand, in what appears to me to be a desperate attempt to keep their stranglehold on the narrative by the media, it has become a place to whip the hateful and divisive rhetoric into a frenzy.

What is perhaps even more notable to me as I’ve followed the story obsessively, is the meticulous avoidance by the mainstream media of any perspectives that challenge the narrative the federal government has an interest in maintaining.  After all, if it isn’t in the news on TV, we Americans won’t bother to look at or think about it.  On the flip side, what has stood out to me in the alternative media is the sensationalizing and manipulations of the facts, and the constant repetitions of false information.  Again, social media, with all of its clever algorithms, plays a powerful role in this.

How many have taken the time to look beyond our own assumptions about the Malheur refuge occupation and the shooting of Robert Lavoy Finicum?  How many have bothered to challenge the media’s presentation, whether mainstream or alternative, of the story rather than simply allowing it to shape or reinforce our own perspectives?

Can we not see that an inability, or unwillingness to question the distorted narrative handed to us will only lead to more excessive police force, more ambushes conveniently hidden from public view?  More lies about safe drinking water?  More invasions of foreign lands, more slaughtering of countless civilians?  More division, more laws, more repression?  Have we become so hopelessly detached from reality that we can’t see that every American is losing rights?  The front line is different for all of us, but the enemy is the same.

You may not see or feel it yet.  It may not have touched your life yet, and your news might not be telling you about it yet.  I wonder at what point the citizens of Germany woke up to the tyranny of the Nazi regime?  I doubt the media in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s was doing much reporting on all the atrocities being committed by the Nazis.  And the same can be said for our own media today when it comes to the atrocities being committed by the US government.

I’m sickened by that fact.  Rather than bowing to the government’s narrative, or acting as advertising for mega-corporations, the press is supposed to report the truth.  The press is supposed to investigate all angles and ask the hard questions.  The press is supposed to be a weapon for the people to wield to maintain transparency and accountability within our government.

The press isn’t supposed to be info-tainment to benefit corporate or political interests.

We can do better.  We need to do better.  And we can’t wait any longer.  Let’s start asking the hard questions in order to get to the truth in any story.  Let’s push our lawmakers to confront the hard questions in order to make positive changes.  Let’s make the Tamir Rices, Eric Garners, Lavoy Finicums, lead-poisoned Flint families, PTSD suffering Veterans, homeless, under-educated children, victims of wars of aggression, victims of excessive prison sentences…WE THE PEOPLE relevant again.

 

Author’s Note:  this post has been edited from its original version to remove content that promoted Newsbud, as well as to reflect changes in my own perspectives.  If you want to read the original version, contact me.

Tackling the Lies With Newsbud

Author’s Note:  I am no longer affiliated with Newsbud and I no longer endorse the website.  I have thought long and hard about deleting this post.  And, in fact, I have deleted other posts here at Seeking Redress that promoted Newsbud.*  I still stand by much of what I wrote in this post concerning the major cable news networks, and that has only added to the difficulty in whether or not to delete this post.  In the end, I’ve decided to keep it posted, with this note as a prologue, for several reasons.  One of the most important of those reasons is that this post still gets views, and because of that, hopefully it can be a useful starting point for the viewers to begin questioning the sources of their information.  We all get it wrong sometimes, but there are far too many sites out there getting it wrong nearly all the time because wrong information is sensational, and therefore profitable.  Please read my post, When You Don’t Make The Cult for more on why I no longer support Newsbud.

*If it bothers you that I’ve deleted these posts and you want to know what they contained, just ask.  I’ve deleted them because I don’t want to maintain any other Newsbud promoting content here beyond this post.

_____________________

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance about school curriculum that somehow came around to the news.  She mentioned that she doesn’t really pay any attention to news, and with an apologetic look, she said she doesn’t even listen to NPR.  As if I would think less of her for that.  I wanted to laugh.  I wanted to say, “don’t bother.”  Why?  Because the big network news outlets are owned by a very few and controlled by their advertisers’ and owners’ interests.  And because the so-called public NPR has a long list of corporate sponsors who have strong financial interests in suppressing information.

With Dow Chemical on that list, I don’t expect to see a whole lot of investigative reporting on the effects of pesticide use in agriculture is having on our health, and our planet.  With GlaxoSmithKline on that list, I don’t expect to see a lot of investigative reports on pharmaceuticals, vaccines, or alternative medicine.  With General Dynamics on the list, I don’t expect too much questioning of drone warfare.  You get the idea.

I used to be a dedicated NPR listener.  I never bothered to look into their funding, and like many people I know, I thought NPR was the definition of alternative media.  I respected the reporters and commentators, I trusted the information.  But as my questions grew, and theirs did not, I began to realize that, no matter how one feels about the political bias that exists in the mainstream media outlets, it is often the lack of reporting that is most ominous.  Amidst all the left/right squabbling and loud corporate advertising, there is a deafening silence on crimes the US government and its mega and military corporation cronies are committing here and around the world.  There is no accountability as the media carefully avoids biting the hands that feed it.

Margaret Kimberly says it well while discussing the media’s treatment of the situation in Syria.

The degree to which the American corporate media will cover up for American foreign policy atrocities knows no bounds. The country’s leading newspapers and broadcasters have supported every official lie from Lyndon Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin resolution in Vietnam to George W. Bush’s claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

A good example is how we were led to believe Iraq was involved in the attacks of 9/11, and subsequently led into the Iraq war. I found the media’s all-to-successful selling of the Iraq invasion disturbing in 2003.  As this truthout.org article describes:

In the days and weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, corporate media – and even NPR and PBS – were abuzz with the talking points of the Bush Administration, echoing claims that Iraq had its hands on “yellow cake uranium” and that it had a massive arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction.”

Thanks to the media’s repeated claims that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were immediate threats to our nation, in the weeks leading up to the invasion, nearly three-quarters of Americans believed the lie promoted by Donald Rumsfeld that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the attacks of 9/11.

Even more disturbing to me is the lack of accountability for those lies, lies that have led to years of war and the loss of countless lives since 2003.  They peddle the lies, and maybe sometimes they have to say, “oops,” but they are never held responsible for the results.  They just distract us with gossip and move on to the next lie.  And unfortunately, the lies and distractions work to manipulate the masses.  In an article about the writings of Thomas Paine and how the media suppresses such ideas today, Stephen Lendman has this to say:

Today in the US, the major media are nothing short of a national thought-control police. They’re owned or controlled by dominant large corporations (the kind Noam Chomsky calls “private tyrannies”) grown increasingly concentrated over time and having a stranglehold over the kinds of information reaching the public. It’s given them and the interests they represent the power to destroy the free marketplace of ideas essential to a healthy democracy now on life support in large measure because of how effective they are.

and

Uruguayan author and historian Eduardo Galeano cites a large part of the problem saying: “I am astonished….by the ignorance of the (US) population, which knows almost nothing about….the world. It’s quite blind and deaf to anything….outside the frontiers of the US.” They know little inside it as well, and of course, that’s the whole idea to maintaining control. Misinform, distract, and control all ideas and thoughts reaching the public – it’s the key to “keeping the rabble in line.” If done well, it works better than all the might of the most powerful nation on earth.

He’s right.  The power of persuasion through disinformation, misinformation, manipulation, distraction, is remarkably effective at keeping us in line.  Here is an educational read about how media is used to ‘divide and conquer’ activist groups in which Steve Horn describes a long established method by governments and corporations to silence dissent:

[It is a]…three-step strategy to “deal with” these four activist subtypes. First, isolate the radicals. Second, “cultivate” the idealists and “educate” them into becoming realists. And finally, co-opt the realists into agreeing with industry.

Or, co-opt them into agreeing with the next war, the next miracle cure, the next great federal policy that will help us all… (That article is a two-part series, and both are worth the read.)

There are so many examples of lies, distortions, omissions, in the history of our media, I don’t have time to get into them all.  Just do some reading, Wikipedia’s page on Operation Mockingbird is a good place to start, if you’ve never heard of that before.  And check out this video of a speech by Sharyl Attkisson.  The truth is, we the people no longer matter to the media, like our corrupt government, they no longer listen to us.  As Sibel Edmonds says in this video:

The mainstream media, they have made people, us, we the people, irrelevant, we are not even in the equation…”

Even the highly regarded, trusted, ‘public’ media is not as public as we have long believed.  Just take a look at the pie chart showing NPR’s funding.  Sure, ‘Individuals’ make up the largest slice, but if you combine the other slices, slices that have more power than individuals, they far outnumber and overpower the voices of the individuals.  And what of NPR’s public sources for its reporting?  This article about a 1993 study of just how ‘public’ public radio is points out:

Journalists by themselves accounted for 7 percent of all NPR sources. For a public radio service intended to provide an independent alternative to corporate-owned and commercially driven mainstream media, NPR is surprisingly reliant on mainstream journalists. At least 83 percent of journalists appearing on NPR in June 2003 were employed by commercial U.S. media outlets, many at outlets famous for influencing newsroom agendas throughout the country (16 from the New York Times alone, and another seven from the Washington Post). Only five sources came from independent news outlets like the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the National Catholic Reporter.

So, what are we to do?  How can we regain our voices, and take back the control of our news and information?  Well, I mentioned at the beginning of the year a new media project that I am excited about, and I’m happy to introduce it properly now.  Its called Newsbud, a brand new, exciting alternative to the corporate sponsored lies and propaganda.

Solely people-funded media means no corporate advertisement gunk. It means no marketing gimmicks imbedded in the information presented. It means no strings attached to billionaire sugar daddies– be it Soros, Koch, Rockefellers or Carnegies. It means a media outlet only accountable to you-to we the people.  This means integrity. It means ethical and agenda-free journalism. It means making we the people relevant, and taking the 0.0001% out of the equation, thus making them irrelevant. And most importantly, it means that it is up to you and me, up to us the people, to do what it takes to create NEWSBUD-Where Media Integrity Matters.
Newsbud founder, Sibel Edmonds at Boiling Frogs Post
Pepe Escobar, an investigative journalist, formerly with Asia Times Online, says:
It’s financed by the viewers, and readers, supported by the viewers and readers, so it is basically YOU, all of you, who are going to decide if we live or if we die.”
Now, I realize that public television and radio of today was founded with the same idea in mind.  But they failed in that mission, as is so obvious with a look at their sponsors, and biased coverage of events.  Newsbud is not accepting corporate sponsorship, it is not going to allow the voice of the many be co-opted by the power, and money, of a few.  It will do so with a return to integrity in journalism, and a return to accountability.  It will do so with the only funding source that media should ever be held accountable to, the people.
What does Newsbud mean to me?  It is an opportunity to address all the topics the mainstream media remains silent on or skirts carefully around, to avoid losing their funding.  As Peter B. Collins says about Newsbud:
We are going to focus on things that really matter, we are going to continue to honor whistleblowers, and expose government corruption, and conflicts of interest, and outright fraud.

It is an opportunity to talk about how those corruptions and conflicts of interest effect us, the people of this country, and the world, on the ground, in our daily lives.  War, poverty, education, medicine, equality, our food, all of these things effect us every day, and we need the true facts about them.

Also, Newsbud presents an opportunity to high light positive changes people are making.  Large or small.  And to find ways to help support those positive changes.  This is something that is truly important to me as I seek ways to make changes within my own community and the world.

Newsbud will give the audience a voice too, to have some say in what is covered.  Just think about the possibilities!  Together, we can nullify the corporate media, we can make them of no value or consequence.  We can make ourselves, we the people, relevant again in the media.

Newsbud will be launching a crowd-funding operation on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016, in order to generate the funds needed to get started. [Update!  New Kickstarter campaign is launching on Sunday, May 8th, 2016!]  It will be an all-or-nothing campaign, either the money is raised and Newsbud will become a reality, or, if it falls short of the goal, the money that is raised will be returned in full to those who contribute.  Its an ambitious plan, and we need help.  Please join in the conversation, spread the word, lets make this a reality!

If you want to learn more about Newsbud, please go to this information page about it on Boiling Frogs Post, and please sign up for the email list.  Your personal information will not be shared, at all, and you will receive updates and more information as the crowd funding campaign approaches.  Click the link below to go directly to the email sign up page.

NEWSBUD

Bom-Bom, rock the nation
Take over television and radio station

Bom-Bom the truth shall come
Give the corporation some complication!

-Michael Franti, “Rock The Nation.”

Author’s Note:  I am no longer affiliated with Newsbud and I no longer endorse the website.  You can read why here.

 

It’s 2016, And It’s Time To Get Serious

Author’s note:  I am no longer affiliated with and no longer support or endorse Sibel Edmonds’ Newsbud, the media project that I wrote about in this post.  Please see my explanation why for more information.

**************

I can’t believe its a new year again already.  Well, not quite, as I write this while listening to impatient neighbors setting off fireworks a few hours before midnight here in the Pacific Northwest.  Perhaps they didn’t want to stay up till midnight.  I don’t think I will either, but it isn’t for a lack of excitement.  On the contrary, I am very excited for the new year.

2016 is shaping up to be a big year.  Of course, in terms of World events, there’s so much to pay attention to, but tonight, I’m focusing on more personal things.  Here on my young little blog, there is a rapidly growing list of things I hope to write about in the coming year, and I’m looking forward to that.  I do hope you will all keep checking in, and feel free to leave comments.

I’ve got another big ambition for the new year.  I’m really trying hard to have my first novel ready for publishing.  I’ve been working on it for what sometimes seems like forever, and I’m anxious to have it done, so I can move on to the next fictional distraction.  More details about that when the time gets closer.

Even more importantly, I am really excited about a new project that I believe can have far-reaching impacts in the world.  I have become so fed up with the media, at least here in the US as I can’t really speak to media outside this country.  I spend hours each week searching countless sites on the internet, just trying to find out what is really happening in the world, because I can’t get the facts from the big network news stations here.  Its time-consuming, and frustrating.  And I don’t think a lot of people have the sort of time to spend searching the internet for news that I do.  I suppose many Americans don’t have the desire to either.  This means that we are largely uninformed, unaware, ignorant.

What if we can change that?  What if we can create something big enough to challenge the tight hold the big networks have over the information reaching the people?  What if we can create our own news source, truly independent of corporate and government control?  A platform where world news can be presented without fear of being censored by military industrial and mega-corporation sponsors who are unwilling to let the truth of their greed and destruction reach the masses.  Well, 2016 can be the year we make just such a media source a reality.

We are going to form and operate a participatory news and multimedia network created to redefine content-driven publishing through a publicly-funded platform. Our new media platform will provide original investigative news and stories, daily analyses and commentaries, and audio and video podcast productions on significant issues ignored and/or censored by existing media sources.

Unlike many existing online media models, we will abide by a strict code of journalistic integrity, made possible by being independent, advertisement-free, and by being solely publicly funded. Our investigative reports and multimedia productions will be completely nonpartisan, agenda-free, with content free to all subscribers.

Sibel Edmonds,  Boiling Frogs Post

Please take a look here to learn more and sign up for email updates.  This is big, and exciting, and 2016 needs to be the year we take control of the information we have access to.  After all, I don’t think it will be long before we lose even more access to the information we are already struggling to find here on the internet.
I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do whatever I can to help make this project a success.  Please check it out, and share this information widely!  And stay tuned for more updates, especially at Boiling Frogs Post.
Here’s to a very successful new year!  I hope 2016 brings us all blessings, compassion for one another, and peace throughout the world.