Friday 16th of April 2021

the corporate media war to silence competition or/and dissent...

freedom of the press

Journalists Start Demanding Substack Censor its Writers: to Bar Critiques of Journalists

 

This new political battle does not break down along left v. right lines. This is an information war waged by corporate media to silence any competition or dissent.

 

By Glenn Greenwald

 

On Wednesday, I wrote about how corporate journalists, realizing that the public’s increasing contempt for what they do is causing people to turn away in droves, are desperately inventing new tactics to maintain their stranglehold over the dissemination of information and generate captive audiences. That is why journalists have bizarrely transformed from their traditional role as leading free expression defenders into the the most vocal censorship advocates, using their platforms to demand that tech monopolies ban and silence others. 

That same motive of self-preservation is driving them to equate any criticisms of their work with “harassment,” “abuse” and “violence” — so that it is not just culturally stigmatized but a banning offense, perhaps even literally criminal, to critique their journalism on the ground that any criticism of them places them “in danger.” Under this rubric they want to construct, they can malign anyone they want, ruin people’s reputations, and unite to generate hatred against their chosen targets, but nobody can even criticize them. 

Any independent platform or venue that empowers other journalists or just ordinary citizens to do reporting or provide commentary outside of their repressive constraints is viewed by them as threats to be censored and destroyed. Every platform that enables any questioning of their pieties or any irreverent critiques of mainstream journalism — social media sites, YouTube, Patreon, Joe Rogan’s Spotify program — has already been systematically targeted by corporate journalists with censorship demands, often successfully.

Back in November, the media critic Stephen Miller warned: “It’s only a matter of time before the media tech hall monitors turn their attention to Substack.” And ever since, in every interview I have given about the success of Substack and every time I have written about journalist-led censorship campaigns, I have echoed that warning that they would soon turn their united guns on this platform. Miller’s prediction was prompted by a Columbia Journalism Review article entitled “The Substackerati” which claimed that Substack was structurally unfair because “most” of “the most successful people on Substack” are “white and male; several are conservative” and “have already been well-served by existing media power structures.” 

All of that was false. The most-read and highest-earning writer on Substack is Heather Cox Richardson, a previously obscure Boston College History Professor who built her own massive readership without ever working at a corporate media outlet. And the writers that article identified in support of its claim — Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan, Matt Yglesias and myself — do not remotely owe our large readerships to “existing media power structures.” The opposite is true, as The Washington Post’s Megan McCardle explained:

 

[These Substack writers] got so big by starting blogs that they could sell to traditional publications. They are not monetizing an audience they acquired through larger institutions, but reclaiming one they created themselves…. [O]bviously, one major characteristic of the successful one (wo)man show is the ability to swim against a crowd. Given that, it seems almost obvious that Substack would select people who are not in tune with the dominant views of the establishment media. And that the biggest audience numbers will come from folks who are not in tune with the establishment media….

 

That is precisely why they are so furious. They cannot stand the fact that journalists can break major stories and find an audience while maintaining an independent voice, critically questioning rather than obediently reciting the orthodoxies that bind them and, most of all, without playing their infantile in-group games and submitting to their hive-mind decrees. In fact, the more big stories you break while maintaining your independence from them, the more intense is the contempt they harbor for you: that explains, among other things, their willingness to watch Julian Assange (who has broken more major stories than all of them combined) be imprisoned for publishing documents. 

That they are angry and upset is irrelevant. It only matters because these resentments and fears that they are losing their monopolistic power over public thought are translating into increasingly concerted and effective censorship campaigns.

As it turns out, we did not have to wait long for the initiation of the censorship campaign aimed at Substack. It has arrived. And amazingly, the trigger for it was my criticism of the work of a front-page New York Times reporter which, as I wrote yesterday, is — like all criticisms of journalists in Good Standing and Decent Liberal Society — being recast as “abuse” and “harassment” and “violence” in order to justify the banning and outlawing of that criticism.

A long-time tech reporter at BuzzFeed who was fired by that outlet in June for serial plagiarism, Ryan Broderick, wrote an article on Wednesday night warning that Substack is now dangerously providing a platform to a “cadre of writers” which, in addition to me, includes such societal menaces as “Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, Jesse Singal, and, I’d argue, Slate Star Codex writer Scott Alexander Siskind.” He darkly notes: “There are more.” This group of writers, he says, is “focusing on culture war Twitter drama about being ‘canceled’ and trans people in bathrooms and woke college students.”

Broderick detailed how he had carefully reviewed a prior article of mine, one that examined the emergence of “tattletale culture” in the country’s largest corporate media outlets, to determine — like the good little diligent junior-high hall monitor that he is — whether it ran afoul of Substack’s terms of service rules against “doxing” and “harassment.” 

That article of mine was devoted to a critique of the prevailing journalistic practices at the most powerful and influential media corporations on the planet: The New York Times, CNN, and NBC News. But to Broderick, whether that article should be banned on the grounds of harassment is a close call. While reluctantly conceding that I did not “dox” anyone, he called the article “a vicious screed” and said that the danger signs from my critiques of corporate journalists are clear: “online harassment is a constantly evolving process of boundary testing.” He lamented that Substack’s terms of service are too permissive (“One thing that worried me was how simplistic their definition of harassment was”) and insisted that Substack is soon going to have to step in and put a stop to this

 

Right now most of the abuse being carried out by this group is confined to Twitter, but it stands to reason that it will eventually spill over to Substack. And dealing with people like Greenwald is going to be much harder to moderate than your average troll.

 

[Please permit me to pause here just a moment and marvel at the towering irony that a journalist who spent years at BuzzFeed doing absolutely nothing of value and then got fired for serial plagiarism (again: he got fired for ethical breaches by BuzzFeed) is now, with a straight face, holding himself out as the Guardian and Defender of Real Journalism. Even more amazingly, he believes he is fulfilling that role by demanding that I — not a journalist but just a “troll” who is the enemy of Real Journalism despite having more impactful scoops and journalism awards and, as I detailed yesterday, resulting persecution campaigns from governments than all of these petulant fragile babies combined — be silenced in the name of saving journalism and protecting real reporters like him and his friends from harassment].

In case Broderick’s article was not explicit enough in his demand that Substack start censoring me and others, he took to Twitter to promote his article, where he made that even clearer. He described his article this way: “I wrote about the attacks against @TaylorLorenz and the growing community of right-wing culture warriors and TERFs that are using Substack to network and organize.”

...

... The real division here is between those who believe in a free internet, free discourse, free thought, and those who do not — between those who want corporate journalistic elites to control what people can say and think and those who do not. Some of those who support that authoritarian vision of centralized information control are on what used to be called the left and some are found on the establishment right. But that is not the relevant breakdown. It is really a war between liberty and authoritarianism, and amazingly, it is journalists who have become the leading proponents of repression.

That is why platforms like this one [Substack] that empower independent thinkers and critically-minded dissidents from their in-group repression are so vital: it is what enables a challenge to their hegemony. And they know that it is this important, a threat to their hegemony, or, in the words of Dr. Roberts, “so dangerous.” That is why they are waging war on these platforms and those of us who use them. The way to fight against them and their campaign to stifle dissent is to support these platforms and the independent journalists and commentators who use them.

 

Read more:

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/journalists-start-demanding-substack

 

 

 

 

"wrong" identity...

A Catalan translator says his translation of a poem recited at the President Joe Biden’s inauguration was shelved after he was told that, being a white male, he had the wrong ‘profile’ to translate a black female poet. 

Víctor Obiols, a renowned English-Catalan translator, said his Spanish publisher refused to use his already completed translation of Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb’, ostensibly because his skin color and gender were not appropriate for the task.

Barcelona-based publisher Univers said they commissioned the translation to Obiols because they considered him to be the best qualified. Obiols is well-known for translating the works of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde into Catalan.

However, after the translation was already finished, Univers was contacted by Gorman’s US publisher, Viking Books, and asked to find a translator who is a woman and an activist, preferably of African American origin, instead.

“They did not question my abilities, but they were looking for a different profile, which had to be a woman, young, activist and preferably Black,” Obiols told AFP.

According to Spanish media, Univers editor Ester Pujol said the US publisher has every right to put any conditions in place, describing the demand as “perfectly acceptable.” 


Pujol noted that, although his translation would not see the light of the day, Obiols would be compensated for his work. Univers is currently looking for a suitable candidate to replace Obiols.

Obiols said he was flabbergasted by the US publisher’s stance. 

If I cannot translate a poet because she is a woman, young, Black, an American of the 21st century, neither can I translate Homer because I am not a Greek of the eighth century BC. Or could not have translated Shakespeare because I am not a 16th-century Englishman, he told the media.

Shortly after being given the boot, the translator posted several tweets, calling himself the “victim of a new inquisition.” He later deleted the posts because he didn’t want them to be misinterpreted, he told the media.

Obiols is not the first Gorman translator who has lost the job due to issues of identity. Last month, Dutch poet Marieke Lucas Rijneveld was forced to turn down an assignment to translate the poem into Dutch as the result of a public campaign spearheaded by black culture activist Janice Deul, who argued that Rijneveld (who became the youngest writer to win the International Booker Prize last year and identifies as non-binary) is ill-suited for the job because they are white – even though Amanda Gorman selected Rijneveld herself.

Deul said she is not against white people translating the works of black people, but only “this specific poem of this specific orator in this Black Lives Matter area.”  

Gorman, 23, made waves in January after becoming the youngest poet ever to recite at a presidential inauguration. Her poem, which was influenced by the Capitol riot and referred to the fragility of American democracy, drew praise from President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. She described herself as a “skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother in the six-minute piece.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/usa/517891-gorman-translator-black-poem/

 

 

Amanda Gorman's poem, as great as it was/is, should not have been used for the inauguration of Joe Biden. It has given credence to an administration that is going to annoy many other nations with threats and little bombs and wars, and to a president who has not been exemplary in his past incarnation as senator or whatever... In the words of Cornel West:

 


And when you look at Biden, you know, you say, “OK, the old Biden is tied to three crimes against humanity”: the invasion and occupation of [Iraq], mass incarceration, especially for young Black and Brown brothers and sisters, and then you’ve got the Wall Street greed unleashed. And we haven’t even got to the vicious Israeli occupation. All of those, Biden, the old Biden, fundamentally tied to, used to brag about each and every one of them. We’ll see whether there’s a new Biden. I want to be open. You know, I’m a person of hope. But I wasn’t born at night, maybe — last night. I wasn’t born last night. Let me put it that way. I was born at night, but not last night. We’re going to see.


"a four-year safe harbor from antitrust laws..."

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019 is currently making its way through Congress and if passed, would be a massive blow to small media companies. 

According to govtrack.us, the bill creates a four-year safe harbor from antitrust laws for print or digital news companies to collectively negotiate with online social media companies regarding the terms on which the news companies’ content may be distributed by online content distributors.

A report published by Breitbart this week criticizes the bill, saying it would give Big Media companies a special exemption from antitrust law, allowing them to form a cartel, meaning big companies would maintain prices at a high level while restricting the competition.

“Why should these establishment news companies be given a special exemption from antitrust law to negotiate on their own behalf something that applies only to their select few and not to all news companies and journalists? Of course, they should not,” Brietbart wrote. 

In addition, the bill would allow for bigger media companies to exclude smaller companies from the cartel. 

According to Breitbart, if the bill is passed, there would be nothing to stop the formation of an cartel that includes CNN, NBC, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other big media companies, while excluding smaller competitors in the independent media, such as local newspapers. 

This bill would leave journalism in the hands of Big Tech by allowing the government to give them special exemption from antitrust laws.

 

Read more:

https://saraacarter.com/journalism-competition-and-preservation-act-could-be-a-massive-blow-to-small-media-companies/

 

 

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shutting down dissent...

James Corbett is likely not long for the YouTube world, having received his second warning his channel is on the chopping block.

There are still many platforms on which you can follow his work, most importantly his website. We do suggest you subscribe either via email or RSS. (Also here is a list of Corbett’s videos that YouTube has already removed).

For creators out there, this is a timely reminder: ALWAYS have hardcopy back-ups of your work and sign up to multiple platforms. The indy platforms are growing in both number and size. From BitChute to LBRY.tv to social networks like Gab and Parler.

Corbett is not the only independent media facing increased censorship and denial of service. Whitney Webb, a great independent researcher and journalist who has written for many outlets and runs UnlimitedHangout.com, is also in danger of having her Patreon shut down.

Likewise, in just the last few weeks, The Last American Vagabond has had both its twitter shut down and its Patreon put “on review”.

Worrying signs. It looks like we might be in for a spring cull of the alternate media herd. Rest assured, we at OffG are already looking into alternate options, should Patreon (or PayPal) decide we are also persona non grata.

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2021/03/13/youtube-and-patreon-taking-down-the-corbett-report/

 

 

Gusnote: I record some "contentious" videos on my camera(s) and archive the recordings on various personal USB platforms. I do not use Cloud — certainly not. 

 

Please note that not all dissent is accurate and that we have to be choosy, be alert and critical. Meanwhile, the main stream media have an agenda and are often critical in the wrong direction to support false government narratives. At this level, history as recorded by officialdom is slanted to promote a point of view that is often unacceptable and deceitful. The benchmark for this deceit has been the war on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Since then, more complex sophistication has been used by mainstream media and government to bamboozle us... or keep us in the dark as to what "the empire" is really doing. Is the empire lying to us "to protect us" from dangers? FREE ASSANGE NOW !!!!!!

 

See: http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/11276

 

 

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facebook and google win. TND looses...

The ABC will terminate its commercial agreements with several news websites, including industry superannuation fund-backed website, The New Daily, in a strategic shift that will focus on agreements with aggregation platforms like Facebook and Google.

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, a fierce critic of industry super, passed a Senate motion late last year requiring the national broadcaster to hand over details of its commercial agreement with The New Daily, after claiming it raised questions about the ABC’s independence. He also wrote to the prudential regulator about his concerns. Ahead of Senate Estimates on Tuesday, the ABC has confirmed it will not renew its existing arrangement, putting an end to the seven-year deal.

 

Read more:

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/abc-terminates-new-daily-contract-focuses-on-google-and-facebook-20210319-p57c86.html

 

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free assange, president biden...

 

 

senseless censorship...

 

YouTube has recently deleted the latest channel used by Iranian state media’s PressTV. The move follows attacks on the Iranian media outlet by US-based social media giant Facebook earlier this year.

PressTV’s own take on the deletion in its article, “Google renews attack on YouTube account of Iran’s Press TV,” would note: 

Google has for the seventh time targeted Iranian broadcaster Press TV, blocking the English-language news network’s access to its official YouTube account without any prior notice.

The US tech giant shut YouTube accounts of Press TV late on Tuesday, citing “violations of community guidelines.

 

Iranian state media is only the most recent target of US censorship and information warfare, with YouTube, Facebook and Twitter having also recently de-platformed government accounts in Myanmar as well as a concerted effort by these same networks to either de-platform or undermine the credibility of Russian and Chinese state media.

The use of ambiguous justifications like “violations of community guidelines” which themselves can be ambiguous and open to interpretation, helps demonstrate the political nature of what is clearly a campaign of censorship.

YouTube and other US-based social media platforms, still dominating the global social media industry, attempt to portray targets of what is clearly politically-motivated censorship as “fake news” or somehow engaged in dangerous “disinformation,” while the accounts of Western-based media organizations actually involved in very real disinformation, often times in promotion of sanctions and warfare having a direct impact on millions of lives, remain online and in good standing.

Western Monopoly Challenged 

Beyond social media, the UK had recently ousted Chinese state media, CGTN, which was met by Beijing in turn shutting down BBC broadcasts in China.

More recently, China-based BBC reporter John Sudworth would flee to Taiwan, fearing legal actions for his outrageous, one-sided propaganda regarding Xinjiang.

The BBC’s own article, “BBC China correspondent John Sudworth moves to Taiwan after threats,” deliberately attempts to portray Sudworth as a victim of “threats” rather than a foreign agent involved in political interference under the guise of journalism finally facing legitimate legal actions.

The BBC article laments:

 

The number of international media organisations reporting from China is shrinking. Last year China expelled correspondents for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

And in September 2020, the last two reporters working in China for Australian media flew home after a five-day diplomatic standoff.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) of China says foreign journalists are “being caught up in diplomatic rows out of their control”.

 

In reality, these foreign “journalists” aren’t being “caught up in diplomatic rows,” they are the primary actors helping drive these rows.

It’s worth mentioning leaked documents revealing the BBC, among others including Reuters, signing secret contracts with the British Foreign Office to carry out influence operations both inside Russia and along Russia’s peripheries in Eastern Europe.

It is without doubt that the BBC engages in similar activities inside and along China’s borders as well, with Sudworth’s own work clearly aimed at advancing Western foreign policy, not investigating or reporting actual news.

Years ago, the notion of Western nations fearing alternative media enough to engage in sweeping, transparent censorship against outlets like PressTV or CGTN, or the Western media fleeing or backpedalling in countries they’ve maintained offices in for years, would seem unthinkable.

The information war waged by Western nations is indeed heating up, but it is not the one-sided exercise of monopoly it used to be.

Today, alternative media, both state-sponsored and independent, poses a serious challenge to the West’s monopoly over the creation and flow of global information. Only through the West’s control over a relatively new form of media, social media, is the West’s edge maintained.

For Iranian, Chinese, Russian and the media of many other nations seeking to introduce balance to the global conversation, the West’s hitherto control over social media remains a serious hurdle.

US-based social media networks have been key to advancing Western foreign policy objectives, and perhaps especially in the realm of promoting and executing so-called “color revolutions.”

Russia and China’s recent pledge to work closer together to counter Western-sponsored “color revolution” and “disinformation” might benefit from a multipolar alternative to US-based social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

While Russia and China both have their own domestic alternatives which have proved an effective measure to protect their own respective information space, the creation of a wider-appealing platform for nations along their peripheries, targeted by Western disinformation, could help give state-sponsored and independent alternative media the space it needs to finally balance out the lopsided advantage the West artificially maintains through censorship across its own networks.

The creation of both sovereign information space within nations and shared space between nations but outside of the control of Western censorship would be infinitely useful. When long-standing media organizations like PressTV struggle to reach audiences for a lack of alternatives to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the utility of such space becomes clearer still.

 

Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

 

Read more:

https://journal-neo.org/2021/04/07/wests-information-war-continues/

 

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free assange, president biden...