It is every human being's right to examine information from any source whatsoever and to critique or be persuaded by that information. This is why freedom of speech and freedom of the press are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. No government or institution has the right to restrict information in order to gain the support for its policies or undermine support for other policies. Governments that attempt to restrict or manipulate information to the exclusion of any and all viewpoints are viewed as tyrannical. We can thus classify the United States government as tyrannical to the extent it carries out deliberate policies to do just that. These policies are too infrequently exposed, particularly in a public forum. But they were in the 1970s in the case of congressional hearings to determine the extent to which the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency sought to shape public opinion. These were the famous Church hearings, named after U.S. Senator Frank Church, chairman of the committee that convened them, and if that was not enough, one of the nation's most prominent journalists at the time, Carl Bernstein, published a lengthy article based on these hearings, which exposed to the American public the extent to which government intervened to deliberately shape public opinion.
It may be argued that the U.S. government has no right to proliferate narratives that promote its policies. But there can be no argument that this government has absolutely no right to stifle the free flow of information otherwise, particularly of viewpoints that contradict the government's various narratives. Yet it has become quite clear, at least to close to a majority of Americans who voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election, that this is indeed what the government sought to do. It is apparent to many in this group that the government had its favored candidate that would have continued the status quo particularly with regard to foreign policy. Any listen in to the mainstream media outlets would have confirmed this sense. To name a couple, CNN as well as National Public Radio, itself a publicly funded entity, were nonstop critics of the Trump candidacy, and aggressive promoters of the candidacy of his primary opponent, Hillary Clinton. These networks threw everything and the kitchen sink at Trump, and yet, in spite of their blatant partisan efforts, failed to derail his candidacy, and in fact may have indirectly promoted it by their outrageous efforts to impose their view on the American public. People who detected biased reportage and suspected a conspiracy within the mass media were determined to move in the opposite direction. And because of the inherent unfairness of the media barrage against Trump and in favor of Clinton, they were compelled to rely on what are generally termed alternative media sources--alternatives to the well-heeled and slickly produced media fare available on radio, television, and to some extent online.
During the election cycle, the Clinton campaign claimed that sensitive and potentially incriminating emails obtained and disseminated to the public by WikiLeaks originated from the Russian government in a deliberate effort by that country to undermine Clinton's chances of winning the election. Pundits throughout the mainstream media, typified by NPR coverage, allowed virtually no dissent. Counter-viewpoints were repressed. And the government chimed in in support of the narrative. As a result, many strongly suspect that the government had a stake in getting Clinton elected, and worked to suppress debate on the charges she made regarding Russia and Trump, these charges even going so far as to say that Trump was Russia's candidate, or that he was a Russian stooge.
Clinton having lost the election, these same forces have recently introduced a new narrative, that Russia tried to manipulate public opinion by influencing what are called alternative media outlets to support Trump or promote a pro-Russian dialogue of sorts. "Fake stories," according to the most recent transformation of this train of thought, were introduced in order to support the candidacy of Trump, and Russian trolls or agents were vigorous promoters of such fake stories. The public, according to this narrative, was hoodwinked into electing Trump president. In order to prevent such from happening again, it is now suggested that providers of internet platforms for human communication weed out "fake" stories that became the primary media force behind the Trump victory. By doing so, however, they would interfere with the free and broad dialogue that is an inherent human right, and that no government save a tyrannical one would attempt to stifle.
What is needed are safeguards to prevent the government from influencing media, either overtly or clandestinely, with emphasis, not on only what the government promotes, but more importantly, on its deliberate attempt to stifle dialogue and the wide range of information sources the public now relies upon. This, and not the imposition of a censorship by media conglomerates, will dry up the necessity of Americans going to the trough of the internet, as the national media recovers from its contaminating relationship with the government. The government and the mass media must hear this cry loud and clear--"Don't mess with my information stream! Don't even think about it!"