Vice President Biden (left) swears UN Ambassador Samantha Power into office as husband Cass Sunstein (center) looks on (2013 White House photo)
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Researchers into the causes of President Kennedy's assassination and the 9/11 attacks hold an advantage over most others in deciphering news about national security intrigues that rely on dubious evidence.
Students of those crimes have by now detected so much media self-censorship or exaggeration in reports about those attacks that it's relatively easy for them to discern similar patterns in treatments of other high-stakes issues.
One is the current alarm by U.S. officials and mass media over "fake news," particularly as applied to propaganda involving 2016 election results. The term "fake news" is being applied primarily to independent websites -- some of which are indeed outright frauds. National Public Radio's Laura Sydell reported one example last fall in We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs. Here's What We Learned.
But other outlets being smeared as "fake" should be regarded as alternative media. Of varying credibility, they sometimes stumble, sometimes serve as propaganda outlets -- and sometimes play brave role in analyzing official reports and other conventional wisdom regarding historically important events. Such events include the 9/11 attacks and assassination of President Kennedy.
We focus below on several recent stories that expose credibility problems with Newsweek, its former owner the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CBS News, and the New York Times. These examples -- including a remarkable screw-up by Newsweek in distributing copies of a magazine showing Hillary Clinton as our elected "Madam President" -- help illustrate the credibility gap that mainstream outlets are inflicting on themselves, whether they admit it or not in their crusades against alternative outlets.
The analysis below comes in the midst of the mainstream media's harsh, sudden, and seemingly relentless campaign currently against "fake news."
We provide today's column as balance because many of the attacks resemble such previous and now-discredited campaigns as the CIA-driven Operation Mockingbird, in which the nation's 40 major news organizations combined to suppress inconvenient news during the 1950s and 1960s. The CIA's Frank Wisner and Washington Post publisher Philip Graham jointly operated the program, which was exposed in the 1979 book Katharine the Great by Deborah Davis.
The current allegations against Russia, including of hacking U.S. election-related sites and blackmailing GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, are beyond the scope of today's column. This editor attended a hard-hitting lecture on that topic Jan. 17 by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who delivered one of her last major speeches at the Atlantic Council's headquarters overlooking the Russian Ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C.
Power's claims that a conspiracy exists to promote fake news and hacking is a topic for another day, particularly because the complexities are intertwined with the role of U.S. government propaganda and disinformation. That inevitably points to important but complex and secretive machinations, including those suggested by her husband Cass Sunstein, a top Obama White House regulator in the Office of Management and Budget during the first term.
Sunstein suggested as a Harvard Law professor in 2008 and then in his 2014 book Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas that the government hire professors and journalists as secret government operatives. Those operatives, he said, could use such professional disguise to disrupt research into such "dangerous ideas" as research that questions the government's account of 9/11 attacks. That is itself a dangerous idea, as Glenn Greenwald has noted in Obama confidant's spine-chilling proposal.
Also a topic for another day is background on the latest developments in studies related to President Kennedy's assassination and 9/11 research. We have published an ongoing Readers Guide To JFK Assassination, and separately reported a comprehensive overview of 9/11 research in Experts Reject Planes, Fire As Cause For 9/11 WTC Collapses. The latter covered the historic Justice in Focus conference organized by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth in New York City on the occasion of the 15th anniversary last September of the attacks.
Today's analysis focuses instead on exploring shocking shortcomings in basic research recently by several of our most prestigious news outlets coupled with a disturbing reluctance on their part to concede the scope of their credibility problems.
Newsweek's Election Day SNAFU
We start with Newsweek, which the Post sold for $1 in 2010 plus assumption of liabilities to entrepreneur Sidney Harman, husband of then-House Intelligence Committee chair Jane Harman (D-CA). Newsweek still retains some of the cachet of its former stature even though almost all of the 2013 staff is gone after multiple ownership changes.