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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/6/18

Censorship in the USSA

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On August 30th, 2018, Time Warner Cable (now called Spectrum) removed RT America, Russia's international news broadcast channel, from its broadcast line-up in all of New York State and New Jersey, an area serving over 30 million households and businesses. This action follows on the heels of Facebook's removal of the Latin American news agency, Telesur, and the Palestinian news source, Safa Palestinian Press, from its pages. Telesur reports that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have upgraded artificial-intelligence systems to "repress user content, at the request of the U.S. government and in partnership with U.S. spy organizations." Facebook currently pays 10,000 employees to censor content from its platform. In addition, the latest round of US government sanctions against Venezuela blocks funding to Telesur that effectively precludes Telesur from paying its reporters. Those reporters, including the celebrated journalist, Abby Martin, are now funding their work through donations to Gofundme and Patreon. The actions of the internet conglomerates, all of which are US government contractors, constitute blatant violations of freedom of speech in all three cases. Neither RT nor Telesur could be accused of "hate speech", the excuse seized upon for the removal of Alex Jones' Infowars contributions to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Their "excuse" is that they "pose a threat to US values" by offering coverage that opposes that of US mainstream news. (Pravda likely used a similar argument in the Soviet era of the USSR.) One might expect that RT would be unavailable on cable television in Kansas or Alabama. Removing access to it in the financial center of the world where up-to-the-minute news is vital is inexcusable.

RT broadcasts round the clock in six languages in over 100 countries on both internet and television media and has since 2005. So while the CIA and its media vassals may try to eliminate its coverage from the US dialogue, Americans can still find it online and hear it elsewhere, just as the Russian people managed to find the Voice of America during the Soviet era. The parallels to Soviet-era censorship of the news are stunning and becoming more evident each day, Before the fall of the Berlin wall, the United States waved its constitution in the air like a flag, boasting of civil liberties that were denied in the Soviet Union. When the wall came down and the USSR dissolved, the flag of liberty came down as well, and a slow, steady shift to authoritarian rule began. The move was akin to turning a large ocean liner, so ingrained was the Bill of Rights in the minds of Americans, But those liberties are being ripped away from Americans in increments small enough to escape mass revolt by the people.

In the past few years I have published two articles on RT at OpEdNews. The first noted that while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State she relied on RT as her primary news source when abroad. She stated in an interview that CNN focused on gossip and celebrity trials while RT covered hard news and international events. The second article observed that RT America, which broadcasts from Washington DC, had become the new home of the American Left - a status that continues to this day. In fact it is hard to find much of anything Russian about it. The anchors and reporters are American and British, with programming led by Larry King, Chris Hedges, Thom Hartman, Jesse Ventura, Bart Chilton, and the late Ed Schulz. According to all of the above, RT does not censor or restrict or monitor what they say on air. At all. Ever. American comedian Lee Camp airs a political comedy show, Redacted Tonight, one he opens nightly by saying "welcome to Redacted Tonight -- the program where Americans reporting American news from inside America are labeled foreign agents." As Caitlin Johnstone astutely noted, the US government and the CIA don't have a problem with RT; they have a problem with the progressive views of Americans on RT reaching the US public - views that are systematically banned from all major US print and media outlets. That, folks, is Censorship with a capital C.

I contacted the Press office of Spectrum (aka Time Warner cable) with a short list of questions about the removal of RT and received the following response from their spokesperson, John Bonomo:

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Russia Today was leased access programming, and as of August 31, we no longer are carrying it. Russia Today is already available live both online at www.rt.com, and via the RT Today app, so interested customers will still have access to this programming for free. We are currently in the process of evaluating all of our leased access programming. When the leased access statute was enacted in 1984, leased access channels were one of the few ways third parties could reach consumers with video programming that cable operators chose not to include in their channel lineups. In the more than 20 years since that decision, the media and telecommunications landscape has changed dramatically. Most significantly, the internet provides a powerful distribution platform to literally every content producer.

I explained to Mr. Bonomo that buffering of live news broadcasts made them difficult to watch online. And since a free and open internet is no longer the law, there is no guarantee that American ISPs will continue to carry it. But my main objection was that he declined to answer my key question, which was: Were you or was any executive at Spectrum contacted by any official from the federal government or from the CIA or FBI and urged to remove RT from your channel line-up?

Should I receive an answer to that question at some future point I will add it to this article. But as of now I can only interpret the lack of response as an affirmation that RT was removed from cable access on government orders because it offers views that challenge the American uni-party talking points.

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We read the warnings of Libertarians, "First they came for Alex Jones...." and we know the rest. The speed at which CIA censorship has swept across US media is shocking; both conservative and progressive views outside of the mainstream have been summarily removed from view in all major social media outlets. That includes any opinion that does not comport with official government positions bull-horned by the American 24-hour news channels, CNN, MSNBC and Fox. "Prop-or-not", the McCarthyite blacklist of alternative news sites published by the Washington Post in November of 2016, was the shot across the bow. Constitution be damned. Our rulers would not allow the truth to be read or heard inside the United States.

Conservative employees at Facebook recently posted their own Facebook page criticizing their employer for blanket censorship of conservative views. Opinions of actual Leftists, as opposed to DNC mainstream Clinton supporters, have also been compromised and demoted on Facebook and Google-controlled YouTube, where viewer numbers are erased to create a false impression of disinterest. International affairs and security analyst Mark Sleboda notes that Facebook removed not only Telesur but all archives of British diplomat Craig Murray from its pages, while Twitter permanently banned State Department whistle blower and author Peter Van Buren's postings and deleted seven years of his posts. (Craig Murray confessed to conveying the thumb drive containing the Podesta emails from assassinated leaker Seth Rich to Wikileaks. That fact puts the lie to all claims by the DNC and Hillary Clinton that Russian agents hacked into the DNC server and passed those files on to Wikileaks.) Twitter then suggested to its followers that they "follow the Atlantic Council's recommendations for which news pages they should unsubscribe from".

All of this suggests that the US government is terrified of factual information reaching the American public that does not comport with US government-issued propaganda. Of course when interpretations of the news are hawked by Jake Tapper or Rachel Maddow they are never labeled, "US Government Propaganda" but that is in fact what they are. The CIA holds dictatorial rule over all major print and broadcast media inside the United States, including CNN, MSNBC, FOX, Time Magazine, Newsweek, the New York Times and the Washington Post. If you find that statement incredible, I refer you to the public statement of former CIA director, William Colby: "The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." Equally ominous is this 1981 statement from CIA Director William Casey: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."

We, the public, have limited power to win back freedom of speech in the current environment. But we can try. If you have lost access to RT or to Telesur or to a poster on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube you cared to read, complain. Phone them. Email them. Don't be polite. Show your indignation. Tweet or post or whatever it is you do to tell them you are angry and will not stand for it. My favorite journalist, the Australian Caitlin Johnstone, was banned from Twitter where she reached tens of thousands of readers - for calling John McCain the warmonger he clearly was. The reader revolt that followed got her reinstated within a few hours. Sometimes it works to just say "NO".

(Article changed on September 8, 2018 at 15:45)

 

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Lila York is a choreographer and activist. "The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." -- William Colby (Former CIA Director) "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything (more...)
 

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