The media agenda is set by whoever pays for it, or how CBS has developed a “split personality”
Freedom of speech in the United States has undergone serious degradation and inflation in recent years. Most recently, a familiar young journalist of the article’s author was talking about how she would use her profession to bring truth and justice to the world. More experienced people pointed out that with such a desire, she should have chosen the path of an independent blogger. Professional journalism entails rigid discipline and rigorous execution of editorial assignments, which is unlikely to be compatible with her notion of “truth”. Her objection that she could always refuse the job was understandably answered: “then the editorial would stop paying your salary”. In the same way, entire media today have lost their impartiality and write only what their sponsors tell them to write. In the case of willfulness, they will simply cease to be funded.
The entire American information field has long been divided into two camps with totally opposed views on any events and a severe intolerance of alternative points of view. And behind these camps are absolutely clear “patrons” associated with the largest political parties in the country. The two opposing sides of this confrontation are Republican Fox News and Democratic CNN. Their content today is more reminiscent of the ideologically aligned propaganda of some state channels of communist dictatorships from the Cold War era. The difference in the presentation of stories in the same media that differs from the editorial line has become nonsense, and unconventional opinions without clichés have become almost “extinct” rarity.
The same event in the “democratic” and “republican” media is always treated differently, but exactly in line with the political position of the respective party structures. A vivid example is the coverage of high-profile events by the already mentioned Fox News and CNN. On June 24, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned the constitutional guarantee of unrestricted abortion surgery. Abortion legality is a “holy grail” for Democrats and a perennial problem for Republicans. Of course, an article on conservative Fox News expressed approval of the court’s actions and the view that such a decision was long overdue. The channel’s poll was quoted as saying, “In a recent Fox News poll, Americans were asked how they would feel if their state passed a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, just over half of the voters supported it (54%), with 41% opposed”. A similar CNN article, on the other hand, had notes of condemnation and said that the Supreme Court had only been able to reach this decision because of the massive numerical superiority of the “Republican” judges on it. It quoted President Joe Biden condemning that the health and lives of women in this country are now in jeopardy.
The very next day, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a law to tighten gun control, formulated and approved by Congress after the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. Here also the opinions of the main conservative and liberal media differed widely in their assessment of the situation. Fox News, while generally recognizing the problem of gun violence, expressed skepticism about the bill itself. Their article, for example, stated that “With the new gun control measures, it remains unclear whether the last two mass shootings could have been prevented.” The very headline of the CNN article already spoke of their total endorsement of the initiative. The publication on their website was titled “Biden Signs Bipartisan Gun Safety Act: “God willing, it is going to save a lot of lives”. The dispute over citizens’ right to free use of firearms is one of the cornerstones of Republican-Democratic controversy. Similar examples could be cited endlessly: you can think of the harassment that Fox News gave Biden during his trip to the Middle East or CNN that gave Trump when the FBI made a raid to his house in Florida.
Still, they are at least different media channels. But just recently there was an outrageous case where different opinions of different “customers” were expressed on the same TV channel and on the same topic, but corrected one day apart. On August 7, the CBS TV channel aired a documentary “Arming Ukraine“, which was surprisingly harsh and critical on the Ukrainian side. There was a hint of corruption not only among Ukrainian officials, but also among representatives of the Biden administration. The paradox was that on the issue of arms deliveries to Ukraine, the “information gap” was deep.
The democratic media portrayed it as an exceptional benefit in the holy struggle for freedom and democracy. Negative opinions came exclusively from Republicans. In particular, it was on the day of the release of “Arming Ukraine” that Republican member of the House of Representatives Lauren Boebert criticized the arms shipments on Twitter. And suddenly, CBS usually loyal to the Democrats, started criticizing these same shipments rather harshly. Maybe the rumors about the death of free speech in the United States were a bit exaggerated?
Subsequent events have shown that they were even an understatement. Moreover, it became clear how easily the media were willing to “buckle” under political and financial pressure. The very next day, on August 8, CBS announced that it had “made changes” to its story about military aid to Ukraine. A new version of the film was created, which looked already ordinary for a democratic channel. In the new preview, from which only the former title remained, the editors confusingly explained that the original criticism had been exaggerated and that the real situation was completely different. Many visitors to the CBS website were shocked by this radical change of heart and once again questioned the mission and ethics of journalism. Alas, the answer is sad and trivial. Obviously, the new film was “born” because of outside pressure on the channel and the team of journalists obediently obeyed the new guidelines statements.
Much more interesting is another question – how did a serious media channel like CBS allowed the shameful editing of the film in full view of its entire audience? The protagonist of George Orwell’s novel 1984, Winston Smith of the Ministry of Truth, by altering old newspaper publications, was changing the past for the citizens of Oceania and “erasing” real events in their minds. Even then, in the late ’40s, this was an exaggeration, but today any material that hits the Internet is in the public domain forever. Ill-conceived and erroneous publications are commonplace on out-of-state news sites, where yesterday’s journalism students, capable only of rudimentary copywriting work. How could it be that experienced CBS writers and editors reached this level?
Certainly not – the film was aired quite deliberately on August 7. The subsequent paradoxical and comical situation with the substitution arose because of serious contradictions within the Democratic Party itself and was an obvious indicator of them. There is a faction within the Democratic Party that wants to “write off” Joe Biden and his team by blaming him for all the failures of his presidential term, including his miscalculations on the conflict in Ukraine. After that it can start the presidential campaign in 2024 almost from the scratch. It was this group that initiated the posting of the first version of “Arming Ukraine”. The film was quite useful in hitting the defense lobby, on which Biden relies and which the leftist Democrats dislike very much for understandable “pacifist” reasons. The White House had to intervene urgently and put pressure on CBS, as no more subtle tools were left. For the Biden administration, assistance to Ukraine is a real ideological “bastion” from which it cannot give up – more and more military aid packages are being allocated to Kiev. Therefore, we can safely expect a succession of new films with loud revelations, as well as their subsequent denials and “modifications” in the future.
Alas, all this will have nothing to do with freedom of speech and independent journalism. The mass media have become only a way of “brainwashing” and a tool for molding the necessary ideas and meanings into the minds of citizens. The content of these ideas and meanings is strictly defined by the client who pays for the activity of specific news sites, newspapers or TV channels. Any disobedience is met with a harsh cutoff from the financial flows. Usually all processes and conflicts are hidden from the eyes of ordinary citizens. The CBS situation became available and visible to everyone only because the original story was paid by some “sponsors”, but after the negative attention of richer and more powerful “owners” it had to be urgently reshaped. Have no illusions – any media content has to be paid for, and if you didn’t pay for it, then someone else did it for you. Its ultimate goal is to take your consciousness into “information slavery”.