Thursday June 29, 2017
It has become the conventional wisdom that the information world has been forever changed by the advent of the Internet Age. Whereas in the past the established media were the only source of news and opinion, we are led to believe that now, with a virtually unlimited availability of independent voices, facts cannot be concealed and "the truth will out."
Unfortunately, that notion is far from reality, at least when issues of war and peace are concerned. While proliferation of first cable channels and then online publications means the establishment American networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, plus CNN) and newspapers (New York Times (a/k/a, the "newspaper of record"), Washington Post) have a smaller market share than in the past, they still have a near monopoly on the legitimacy and public significance of information. This means that while "alternative media" – itself a dismissive term relating to the presumed unreliability of contents – might report and document information contrary to the official line emanating from prestige media operating in symbiosis with their government sources, they can be ignored.
Despite the ubiquitous accessibility of online independent media, news and commentary about national security issues in the U.S. and Western Europe displays an almost Soviet-style façade of uniformity. Unlike the practice of the totalitarian states of the 20th century, maintaining the credibility of official media does not require the physical repression of alternatives. Instead of suppressing dissent, is it sufficient to maintain major media's role as gatekeeper and certifier of reliability. Information originating in "alternative" circles becomes reliable and publicly actionable only when picked up and disseminated by the "mainstream media" (MSM), thus validating the information and its ostensibly "alternative" source. Unless and until that happens, alternative information and opinion, especially that which runs counter to the MSM/government/corporate narrative, is ignored and relegated to "conspiracy theory," "internet chatter," or even subjected to the dread label of "denier" of some established, obligatory truth, for example the "Bosnian genocide" and Serbian guilt.