Last night before I put down The Star Beast and fell into dreamland I wondered to myself: “What will I write about tomorrow?” There didn’t seem to be anything especially pressing or interesting: and then I thought, “Oh, don’t worry, he’ll tweet something that’ll have them frothing at the mouth before dawn breaks.”
And, lo and behold, I was right! It was 4:30 in the morning, with most of the country asleep, but there was Trump tweeting truth to power:
“The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”
Oh my goodness, how the Fake News crowd hated that one! From left to right, from Chuck Todd to Chris Wallace, how they howled and screamed in pain! Because the truth hurts. Where was Chuck Todd during the run up to the Kosovo war – in a Trappist monastery? He can’t be unaware of the catalytic role played by CNN in ginning up that conflict.
Yet that’s nothing compared to the chutzpah of Chris Wallace, who demanded to know “What wars have we started?” The truth is that it’s hard to list any recent wars Fox News hasn’t had a huge hand in starting, beginning with Kosovo and going on down the line – from Gulf War I to the invasion of Iraq to Libya, Syria, and all the way to the present day, where fresh calls for new conflicts are too commonplace to even be noted.
My favorite response to Trump’s tweet, however, came from Bill Kristol, who tweeted a quote from Thomas Jefferson lauding the freedom of the press – and is anyone surprised that the leading advocate of militarism in the US is hailing the First Amendment because it protects the media’s “right” to lie us into war.
Trump is correct about the dangers posed by our media – not any and all media, per se – which has nearly always been in the War Party’s pocket. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, war serves their purposes both ideologically and in terms of the bottom line.
The same media that lied us into Iraq – the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, etc. ad nauseam – is now telling us that the President of the United States is a Russian asset. Should we believe them? Their record tells us we should turn our backs and cover our ears. In response to the laughable assertion that Trump is “demonizing” the media, some anonymous wag on Twitter – who calls himself/herself “Russian Bot” – laid out the sickening record of our “free” media in the run-up to the Iraq war, arguably the worst disaster in the history of American foreign policy.
Instead of providing a check on power, our “journalists” see themselves in a partnership with the powers-that-be, protecting and validating the privileges and “expertise” of the political class, and generally integrating themselves into the structure of domination that is the American empire.
None of this should be at all surprising. After all, our “journalists” and the politicians and bureaucrats they pander to all live in the same neighborhoods, send their children to the same elite schools, and belong to the same political party (guess which one!). The uniformity of opinion in these circles is hardly shocking, and this has quite naturally led to the inversion of the old-fashioned idea of the media as an adversary of power: instead, these people are the enablers of the War Party and the forces behind it.
In the past, the puffed up mandarins of the Fourth Estate had the field all to themselves. I’m old enough to remember a time when there were only three television networks: CBS, ABC, and NBC – and one viewpoint, the liberal-internationalist perspective, when it came to foreign policy. But that monopoly is now broken – and the Dan Rathers of this world will never reconcile themselves to their loss.
It’s not a coincidence that the rise of populist movements worldwide is congruent with the spread of the internet: unfiltered information that asks the reader or viewer to use their own judgment, without filters or “interpreters,” is now everywhere. That’s why Donald J. Trump is President of these United States: it’s also why Britain voted to exit the European Union. And the political class is determined to do something about it. A global revolt against the regnant elites is giving the Davos crowd the willies – and it’s just begun.
Our whining journalists are right about one thing: a free society requires a vigilant media, one that will hold the politicians and their sycophants accountable. The problem is they haven’t lived up to that task: indeed, they are the last people on earth we expect to perform that vital function.
That’s why we started Antiwar.com: the complete lack of honest reporting on the foreign policy front was so obvious that this web site cried out to be started! And thanks to Eric Garris, our founder, it was started: one day, over twenty years ago, he called me up and said: “We should probably start a web site.”
I replied “A web site? Oh, you mean the Internet! Heck, I don’t care about cyberspace – I want to be published on nice shiny paper! Besides, this Internet thing will never take off.”
Eric sighed, as he so often does in conversation with yours truly, and said: “Well, just in case it does take off, Justin, what would be a good domain name?”
I thought for a minute or two and said: “Antiwar.com!”
And so it was.
All these years later, I’m writing what has to be my 2000th column for this site, and I’m reading multiple pleas for de facto censorship of the Internet. Outfits like the Alliance for Securing Democracy – a coalition of NATO countries led by the German Marshall Fund – are now attacking people like us for spreading “disinformation.” Their close allies, the Atlantic Council – which is basically NATO plus Raytheon-Lockheed-BAE – are now censoring Facebook at that company’s invitation. Twitter is playing the same game of footsie with the War Party and the “intelligence community.” As outright authoritarians like Robert Mueller and Sen. Mark Warner push evidence-free conspiracy theories about “foreign influence,” a corporate-government alliance of convenience is pushing back against the original freewheeling spirit of the Internet, seeking to close off and ultimately crush all dissent.
They won’t win without a fight – and we, here at Antiwar.com, are on the front lines of the battle. It’s a life-and-death struggle against the worst people on earth, and we will neither give nor ask for any quarter. Let them do their worst – and we’ll do our best. I have enough faith in the essential goodness of the universe to think that we’ll come out on top.
But our victory is far from guaranteed. That’s why we continue to ask for your support: because this is a battle that has to be won.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.