Mainstream media needs to stick to the facts instead of deceiving Americans
by ALEX NEWMAN | THE NEW AMERICAN | MAY 7, 2015
With preparations being made for the massive Jade Helm 15 military training across the American Southwest —exercises that imagine conservative Texas and Utah as “hostile” and more liberal states as “permissive” — the increasingly discredited establishment media has dishonestly seized on a handful of theories and comments to attack everyone expressing concerns about the drills.
It is true that some unproven and in some cases wild claims have been made by a handful of individuals online, such as the notion that closed Walmart stores are involved in a nefarious plot with authorities to detain dissidents. However, in its deceitful efforts to demonize Americans who are suspicious of the Obama administration and the unprecedented Jade Helm 15 program, the mischaracterized “mainstream” press has seized on those claims as if they represented the primary or even only concerns being expressed. In the process, it exposed itself as a propaganda machine.
It is hardly a surprise that many Americans have expressed concerns about Jade Helm 15. Polls show more than two thirds of Americans believe the federal government is “out of control” and a threat to liberty. The other third must not be paying attention. Plus, just the information that is publicly known about the military exercise is enough to raise alarm bells. Special Forces troops, for example, will be wandering through the streets of American towns with military weapons. Elite soldiers dressed in civilian clothes and driving civilian vehicles, in coordination with local law enforcement, will be seeking to “blend in” with local communities without being detected. The fact that multiple conservative U.S. states are being identified as “hostile,” too, is bizarre, to say the least — especially considering the argument that the drill is to train for “overseas” operations.
All of that combined with recent developments — numerous federal reports identifying conservatives and Christians as extremists or even potential terrorists, Obama’s troubling history and background of anti-American extremism, the White House’s dismal track record on honesty, and more — have sparked legitimate concerns across America and especially Texas about Jade Helm 15. The concerns expressed by outraged citizens in town hall meetings and online were so serious and widespread that Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercise. “During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote in the order to the Texas military commander.
In response to the letter, the establishment press again revealed itself to be little more than a deceitful propaganda organ, distorting Abbott’s words and wildly misrepresenting public concerns about Jade Helm expressed by citizens. Special vitriol was reserved for popular radio host Alex Jones, whose audience dwarfs that of many of the establishment media outlets seeking to dismiss and demonize him. Ironically, though, as the host’s Infowars news service pointed out, much of the criticism leveled at Jones was attacking claims he never made, and conflating them with the concerns he did express. More than a few establishment press outlets, for example, sought to link concerns about the training and the federal government’s broader anti-constitutional agenda with fears of shuttered Walmarts supposedly being used to process captured American detainees.
A CBS News report featured a clip of Alex Jones expressing concerns about what the training was for — practice for future civil unrest, which the military has long discussed openly. Then CBS followed up with claims by others of “martial law implementation,” the Walmart theory that Infowars specifically debunked, and “declaration of war on United States soil,” creating a deceptive mental link in the minds of viewers. “The mainstream media is resorting to its usual tactic of building strawman arguments and then attaching them to Infowars and Alex Jones in order to create the perception that we said Jade Helm would bring with it an outright martial law takeover,” Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson reported in a recent article exposing the deceitful media attacks. But CBS was hardly alone in misleading its audience.
Perhaps the most dishonest reporting on Jade Helm 15 came from Wade Goodwyn at the tax-funded National Public Radio (NPR). In a bizarre propaganda piece attempting to mock popular Governor Abbott, Goodwyn seizes on the Walmart claims, as well as an alleged “whistleblower” claim of shackles supposedly being present on trains to transport prisoners. Despite writing a long article, though, the rabidly pro-Obama “journalist” never once mentions the single most important fact about the story that has generated so much concern: That military documents list Texas, Utah, and part of California as “hostile” or “insurgent” territory, while liberal states such as Colorado and Nevada are identified as “permissive.” What NPR did is known as “lying by omission.” It is a major violation of journalistic ethics.
In addition to omitting the single most important fact in the story to mislead readers, NPR’s hit piece also deliberately seeks to create a false impression. “You see, there are these Wal-Marts in West Texas that supposedly closed for six months for ‘renovation.’ That’s what they want you to believe,” Goodwyn explains in a mocking tone, presumably seeking to sound humorous, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of those expressing concerns about Jade Helm have either rejected or ignored the strange allegations surrounding Walmart. “The truth is these Wal-Marts are going to be military guerrilla-warfare staging areas and FEMA processing camps for political prisoners.” Sarcasm was used throughout the deceptive piece to mock those who raise concerns.
The Washington Post used similar deception, reporting that “conspiracy theorists claim [Jade Helm is] an attempt to institute martial law, possibly in collusion with Wal-Mart.” It also reported, falsely, that “in response,” Gov. Abbott had ordered the State Guard to monitor the exercise. After that, the Post used the same tactic, reporting on Alex Jones’ comments about Texas being hostile to tyranny and defending the Republic before proceeding to discuss the Walmart theories again. Infowars had released a video the week before dismissing the Walmart theories, dubbed “Walmart Death Camps for Martial Law Takeover? (Debunked).” But nobody who relied exclusively on the manipulative establishment press for information would know it.
Of course, it is true that Walmart has ties to the increasingly lawless “homeland security” bureaucracy — a largely unconstitutional outfit that in recent years has, among other idiocy, used hoax websites to identify military veterans, pro-life activists, and tens of millions of Americans with mainstream political views as potential terrorists and extremists. In 2010, Walmart agreed to host TV screens in their stores featuring then-Homeland Security boss Janet “Big Sis” Napolitano urging shoppers to spy on and report each other to the government as part of the “If you See Something, Say Something” campaign. “I applaud Walmart for joining the ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign,” said Napolitano at the time. “This partnership will help millions of shoppers across the nation identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to law enforcement authorities.”
While troubling, none of that suggests that a handful of closed Walmart stores in the Jade Helm area will be used as for “martial law purposes.” In fact, it seems that outside of a few people with YouTube channels, all of the theorizing on Walmart traces back to one radio single host. Yet, from the dishonest establishment press reporting, one could be forgiven for thinking that everyone in America concerned about the Obama administration’s lawlessness and the Jade Helm drill also believes Walmarts will be used to process detainees for concentration camps in the coming months. That was deliberate on the part of the press — yet another reason why less than one in four Americans trusts the national media. Walmart has claimed the store closings are due to “plumbing” issues, while unions suggest the closings may have been a result of labor organizing. Either way, martial law seems unlikely, which is exactly why the establishment press zeroed in on that claim.
Another piece of dishonest propaganda on the issue came from Travis Gettys at the far-left online outlet Raw Story, which at least had the intellectual and journalistic integrity to inform readers early on that “Texas, Utah, and portions of California will stand in for hostile territories” amid the drills. While far better than NPR’s blatant deception, that is where the honesty in Raw Story’s piece ends. In fact, even the headline was false: “Walmart closings ignite conservative fears of martial law and Russian ‘death domes.’” Aside from citing zero conservatives with fears of martial law sparked by Walmart closings, the article similarly takes a few unsubstantiated theories and attempts to paint all concerns about the drill as associated with the theories. Logical fallacies and deception can be found throughout the article.
There are countless other examples of the same sort of dishonesty. Rather than focusing on or at least acknowledging the well-documented concerns expressed by Americans across the political spectrum, or on the reasons why Americans are so suspicious of their federal government, the establishment press would rather cite seemingly outrageous theories and demonize everyone who does not reflexively trust official pronouncements. The irony is that real journalists are supposed to question such pronouncements — not parrot them uncritically and demonize those who do question.
Of course, critics of Jade Helm and the Obama administration should stick to facts that can be proven, rather than speculation. Most have done that, including many of those being dishonestly smeared by the deceitful media. However, the establishment press has an even more serious responsibility and duty to do the same — stick to the facts, do not deceive readers, question those in power, and adhere to basic journalistic ethics. Instead of sticking to the facts and being honest, though, establishment propagandists masquerading as journalists have once again shown the world why they cannot be trusted. As such, it is no surprise that so few Americans trust the “mainstream” press and are flocking to the alternative media by the millions.