A side-effect of the coronavirus that nobody speaks about is an obsessive compulsion to watch the news. Since televisual entertainment is getting progressively worse thanks to social distancing, the only channels producing new content on a daily and hourly basis, aside from YouTube is the news. 24-hour news channels are becoming more and more popular, given that they’re the only place to see this unfolding shitshow live. Only a few years ago people were switching away from this non-stop depress-a-thon but now with COVID-19 taking over everyone’s hearts, minds, and possibly lungs, the news channels are everyone’s go-to unprescribed drug, their source of all things fearful and biased.
Switch on any news channel, it doesn’t matter which one; BBC, ITV, Sky, CNN, it’s all incessant scare-mongering. It’s quite infuriating that the news is responsible for many of the recent public overreactions and yet they decry situations they helped create. At the start of this global crisis, the news presenters were telling us that the shops are running out of food and toiletries! Look at this poor nurse with Botoxed lips crying ’cause she couldn’t buy food after her long shift. A few days later this morphed into why is everyone panic buying? Panic-purchasing has increased! 🤦🏾♂️ Like they didn’t help create the situation. You don’t throw a pebble into a pond and then complain about the ripples.
After that moronic example of cause and effect, next they began telling us that the hospitals are over-flowing, that people are dying alone without their families. But after hospital admissions dropped, they then began yelling “why aren’t people going to A&E”? The news went from “The hospitals can’t cope” and “we need gargantuan Nightingale hospitals” to “we’re pausing the Nightingale hospitals” and “hospital admittance is down to record numbers”. Of course all this bullshit is fed to the news by the government so it’s partly their fault, but the way in which this information is conveyed (with fear and panic) I lay the blame of every subsequent reaction and overreaction at their door.
This is similar to the government saying there was a shortage of ventilators, followed by every inventor making prototypes, but then… oh no, sorry, we don’t need them. The news can make any story seem like it’s the end of the pissing world. School children are off school for a few months and they’re referred to as the “Lost Generation”! A few weeks away from those indoctrination centres won’t do anyone any harm.
The newspapers aren’t much better. The red-tops and other shit-rags were as usual, instilling right-wing fear or using doublespeak. Daily Mail’s headline at one point was “Let Our Teachers Be Heroes” which really meant “let our economy recover by sacrificing the ‘low-skilled’ working-class”. Tomorrow’s chip paper-creators wanted certain children to go back to school because they wanted their parents to go back to work. Classism in its purest form.
With words like “taking advantage” or the need for people to be “weaned off” because they’re “addicted to” the furlough scheme, surely everyone has realised what utter pricks these so-called journalists are. They’ll frame anyone as a hero or villain if it helps promote their cause. Similar to Matt “watch your tone if you’re a female and a minority” Hancock who said that you’d be “doing your duty” if you install the contact tracing app, this incessant World War evocation is getting right on my tits. The only thing similar between then and now is the fact that the government want specific people on the frontline; it’s not their posh chums who are expendable, it’s the rest of us. Just wear a mask, you’ll be fine… we’ll be working at home while you get the economy back on track… and oh yes, we’ve reduced the 2 metre social distancing rule to 1 metre… forget there’s no vaccine… go and spend your furlough money or Universal Credit at the pubs and shops!
If people have any doubt that the news is propaganda, just watch it. Stories about the Coronavirus has fed into everyone’s fears, upholding classism and xenophobia. Reporting about Black Lives Matter has been purposely divisive, portraying protesters as violent or historical statues as under attack despite many of them being spray-painted every May Day or pissed on every weekend. And if I hear the term “the new normal” one more fucking time, I’m gonna chuck my hand sanitizer multi-pack at the TV screen! If the lockdown isn’t permanent, if social distancing isn’t indefinite then it’s not “normal” by definition. Bill Hicks’ classic routine about CNN and the rest of the news channels still rings true: “War! Famine! Death! Aids! Homelessness! Recession! Depression! Then you look out your window… [crickets chirping]”.
In case you hadn’t noticed, mainstream news media is a tentacle of the people in charge; if they want the backing of the people, the news will twist the people’s arm. Palestinians celebrating in Palestine or Israelis cheering in New York after the September 11th attack… I wonder which the news will focus on? (And I wonder which of these events Donald Trump and his fans will meld together to create an event that never occurred). Demonising Muslims helped fan the flames of fear and hatred at the time the government wanted it, so the choice was obvious. Having a slant is extremely important: a war is either an attack or a liberation, a mass gathering is either a riot or a peaceful protest. Whatever the news wants to promote, that’s what happened, they’ll simply ignore or edit-out the rest.
Recently, after widespread anti-police protests, the news offered us back-to-back pro-police stories. From the Libyan terrorist knife attack in Reading, a Sudanese asylum-seaker stabbing a policeman in Glasgow, and black, male, British youths attacking the police in Brixton, the corrupt news had everything they needed to swing the nation’s opinion back toward the (white) cops. It was very convenient that every ethnicity but Caucasian were responsible for violence against the police, with one of the hero-victims having the surname “Whyte” to further push their racist, pro-bobby agenda. When the Glasgow attack happened, members of the public were interviewed, and the people they selected said there was too much “hate” toward the police. But what did that have to do with the incident itself? Because of this one story, Sky News was suggesting that all of the protests against police brutality were unneeded. Nope, not propaganda at all.
BBC-Private-Eye toss-pot Ian Hislop had a programme on recently about fake news in which he attempted to go through the entire history of made-up news stories. It was very telling that Hislop was absolutely fine with showing what was faked over a hundred years ago, but when it came to recent times, he was very selective, demonising everyone from conspiracy theorists all the way to satirists (ironically); everyone except modern-day news organisations, oh no, there’s absolutely no yellow journalism going on today. From Hearst, Pulitzer, to the false USS Maine story used to start the Spanish-American war, Ian Hislop relished in admitting to all the fake news from the late 19th and early 20th centuries but the further the timeline went, the clearer this BBC bullshit became. The message was simple: Ian Pissflop wanted the viewers at home to focus on the USS Maine explosion, but ignore the Gulf Of Tonkin and ignore the Twin Towers and Pentagon. When it came to the last two or three decades, the news media is apparently beyond fakery. At the end of the show, Ian stated: “things either did or didn’t happen” adding “be critical of who you trust”. Again, not propaganda at all.
On the topic of historical lies; fake analogue news from the past was in print-form and it was therefore, hard to get rid of since many people had copies. Contemporary digital news is completely different; if a company or journalist wants to retroactively edit a sentence or remove an article, they can, and nobody has any proof that a change was made. This makes anyone who can recall a missing story think they’re suffering from the Mandella Effect (maybe that’s what some of it is?). Take the story of the aforementioned cheering Palestinians. I distinctly recall a news story in which it was clearly outlined that the Palestinians were given candy by a journalist in order to get them to cheer and this was then used as a false reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Search for that story today and it’s nowhere to be found, the only remnant of this I can locate is a distracting, antisemitic “debunking” on the website snopes. Pay particular attention to this closing sentence…
“Subsequent rumors that the “Israeli Defense Agency” sent a film crew to hand out candy to Palestinians in order to induce them into staging a “celebration” for the cameras appear to be equally unfounded. However, this issue does emphasize a point that appears to have been overlooked in the debate over whether video was re-used from a previous year or not: that images themselves are not the whole story. A news report can be accompanied by stock footage and still be fair and accurate, but a news report accompanied by current footage is not necessarily either fair or accurate.”
…So a citizen journalist airing live footage can be a lie, but a story from a mainstream source that uses fake footage can be true. What great spin.
Remember that mainstream news is owned by certain people and certain corporations, most of them concerned with entertainment. Viacom owns CBS News, Warner owns CNN, and Disney owns ABC, Sky, and Vice. If you think your favourite news channel is independent and its journalists neutral or non-partisan, you’re wrong. Remember that Walt Disney Productions, once told the masses that lemmings jump off cliffs to their deaths, even though they were in reality, chucked-off by a bunch of twats more concerned with fame and money than animal rights. But nah, the company who peddled the lemming suicide myth, isn’t fibbing about anything these days.
Take a look around: the BBC is staunchly royalist, Fox News is pro-Trump and anti-everybody else (especially minorities), Russia Today is anti-every-western-government but pro-Putin, and in terms of the workers; 94% of British journalists are white. With these kinds of demographics and political leanings, how can anyone say the news is impartial or indeed truthful? CNN has a tagline “Facts First” and Fox News’ tagline was “Fair And Balanced” but they’re not. If a news corporation can support a specific political party, they cannot be unbiased, and if certain stories can be suppressed whilst others promoted, the news is never neutral. A news story is written by someone with bias and edited by another person with bias, a still photograph is cropped and selected by someone with bias, and a video is shot from a specific angle and is edited by someone with bias. How then, can we say what we’re reading and seeing everyday is the unequivocal truth? Everything is from the perspective of a human and because humans have personal opinions and work for companies with agendas, the news is inherently fake to some degree.
Fake news was something that existed way before Donald “beautiful wall, perfect call” Trump overused the term. The news is basically the propaganda wing of the government. They want to start a war; they’ll demonise a country or its leader, they want to start a panic; they’ll sell you fear and hold off on all the other stories. Coverage of the Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter is no different to what they did with 9/11 and the War On Terror. When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic; the scrolling “breaking news” ticker, the death tally, the Twitter side-bar, the attention-seeking chyron, along with the presenter and the shit they’re spewing, is all intentionally fear-inducing. Watching 24/7 News is brainwashing without the drugs. I’d rather watch re-runs of Christine Chubbuck’s greatest hits than spend one more minute watching Piers Morgan or Julia Chatterley.
Turn On, Tune In, Then Tune Out.