The third filter involves the reliance by journalists on representatives of the government and corporate elites as sources of inside information, along with "experts" who often represent elite interests in the tradition of those created by Edward Bernays. As Chomsky and Herman state:
[blockquote] The mass media are drawn into a symbiotic relationship with powerful sources of information by economic necessity and reciprocity of interest. The media need a steady, reliable flow of the raw material of news. They have daily news demands and imperative news schedules that they must meet. They cannot afford to have reporters and cameras at all places where important stories may break. Economics dictates that they concentrate their resources where significant news often occurs, where important rumors and leaks abound, and where regular press conferences are held. The White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department, in Washington D.C., are central nodes of such news activity. On a local basis, city hall and the police department are the subject of regular news beats for reporters. Business corporations and trade groups are also regular and credible purveyors of stories deemed newsworthy. (pp. 18-19) [/blockquote]
With respect to government and military elites, numerous "news" shows allow a bevy of retired military leaders -- many of whom have financial relationships with defense contractors -- to provide commentary and analysis in connection with foreign policy, commentary and analysis that inevitably rationalizes a military solution of some sort with most "debate" turning on just how much military power or which military tactics to use. Very seldom are academics, activists or journalists allowed to air alternatives to militarist policy, despite the availability of people who could articulate the benefits of such policies while providing historical, cultural and geopolitical context that is often missing in a typical broadcast of shallow and self-serving sound bites.
Other pundits and journalists will sound articulate and provide a compelling narrative, but due to the fact that the average American doesn't know much about countries like Vietnam in the 1960's or today's Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Russia, they won't know enough to realize what they're being told is false or seriously distorted.
One case in point is the Ukraine crisis which touched off a civil war in early 2014. The American media narrative relied upon the repetition of two main ideas: 1) the portrayal of the color revolution instigated by the West -- with Neo-Nazis as the muscle and an Association Agreement from the EU filled with empty promises as the catalyst -- as aggression by Russia; and, 2) the demonization of Russian president Vladimir Putin, mostly based upon distortions, exaggerations, innuendo and outright falsehoods. Victoria Nuland and her NED cronies, who helped shape the narrative in western Ukraine during the color revolution and have contributed to shaping it in the western media ever since, have taken Bernays' playbook and refined it.
One of the mass media's favorite authorities on the topic of Russia and Ukraine is Anne Applebaum. By way of background, Applebaum is a widely published author and columnist, formerly with the Neocon think tank American Enterprise Institute, and has worked with NED -- an organization she describes as "independent." She has also taken a position with the Legatum Institute in London where she churns out anti-Russia propaganda with her Neocon playmates Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss. Legatum was founded by Christopher Chandler, who made billions off of the corrupt voucher program in Russia during the Yeltsin years. Applebaum is also the wife of Radoslaw Sikorski, who was the foreign minister of Poland until last year. Sikorski gained notoriety when he told Politico reporter Ben Judah that he overheard a 2008 conversation between Putin and the Polish leader in which Putin suggested that Ukraine be divided up between Russia and Poland. It didn't take long for Sikorski's story to fall apart and he was forced to publicly retract the allegation and apologize to the Polish government.
As Moscow based investigative journalist John Helmer has reported, there is controversy in Poland surrounding Applebaum's income shooting up from $20,000 in 2011 to $565,000 in 2013 with no details provided as to where the surge in income came from and whether it was related to her husband's political activities. Helmer's Polish sources express a suspicion that Applebaum is receiving money from revived US government programs that have as their objective the dissemination of anti-Russia material. Helmer's attempts to find out from Applebaum's publishers and the Legatum Institute if the significant income increase was attributable to their compensation were stonewalled.
Notorious Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky's family nonprofit, Institute of Modern Russia, has admitted that it is working with Applebaum through the Legatum Institute on a "series of studies" on Applebaum's persistent themes relating to Russia, including its "postmodern dictatorship." The papers were used as the foundation for public panels, including one in Washington D.C. co-sponsored by NED. Several scholars and writers who specialize in Russia and geopolitics have expressed concern about one of the papers that was hailed at these panels, "The Menace of Unreality," which attempts to legitimize what amounts to censorship of any reporting or analysis of Russia and related issues that does not adhere to the narrative outlined by government officials and their mass media lapdogs.