How Astroturfing and Different Media Manipulation Compromise Your Means to Get Truthful Info

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How Astroturfing and Different Media Manipulation Compromise Your Means to Get Truthful Info

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Story at-a-glance

  • Ninety % of stories media are managed by six firms. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of what you learn, see and listen to is a part of a rigorously orchestrated narrative created and managed by particular curiosity teams
  • “Astroturf” is the hassle on the a part of giant company particular pursuits to surreptitiously sway public opinion by making it seem as if it’s a grassroots effort for or in opposition to a selected agenda
  • Wikipedia is astroturf’s dream come true. Many pages are managed by nameless Wikipedia editors on behalf of particular pursuits who forbid and reverse edits that go in opposition to their agenda

90 % of stories media, be it tv, radio, print or on-line, are managed by six firms. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of what you learn, see and listen to is a part of a rigorously orchestrated narrative created and managed by particular curiosity teams.

Once you mix that with different astroturf and public manipulation schemes that conceal the identification of those particular pursuits, the tip result’s, to make use of investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson’s time period, a Truman-esque fictitious actuality, the place medical journals, medical doctors, media and presumably impartial client teams all appear to be in settlement. The issue is it could all be false.

Attkisson is a five-time Emmy Award-winning anchor, producer and reporter whose tv profession spans greater than three a long time. In 2009, she blew the lid off the swine flu media hype, displaying the hysteria was manufactured and utterly unfounded. On the time, I interviewed her about these findings. I’ve included that fascinating interview beneath.

Three years in the past, she left CBS to pursue extra impartial venues of investigative journalism, and wrote “Stonewalled: My Struggle for Fact Towards the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington” — an exposé on what actually goes on behind the media curtain.

Why Everybody Should Be Conscious of Astroturfing

The featured video is a TEDx Discuss Attkisson gave in 2015, during which she discusses the strategies employed by particular curiosity teams to control and distort media messages. For instance, astroturfing — false-front “grassroots actions” which might be in truth funded by political events or non-public trade — are actually “extra vital to those pursuits than conventional lobbying of Congress,” she says. She explains the time period “astroturf” thus:

“It’s a perversion of grassroots, as in faux grassroots. Astroturf is when political, company or different particular pursuits disguise themselves and publish blogs, begin Fb and Twitter accounts, publish advertisements and letters to the editor, or merely put up feedback on-line, to attempt to idiot you into pondering an impartial or grassroots motion is talking.

The complete level of astroturf is to attempt to [give] the impression there’s widespread assist for or in opposition to an agenda when there’s not. Astroturf seeks to control you into altering your opinion by making you’re feeling as when you’re an outlier when you’re not …

Astroturfers search to controversialize those that disagree with them. They assault information organizations that publish tales they don’t like, whistleblowers who inform the reality, politicians who dare to ask the powerful questions and journalists who’ve the audacity to report on all of it.”

Wikipedia — Astroturf’s Dream Come True

When you’re like most, you most likely depend on sure sources greater than others in relation to data. WebMD, for instance, dominates for well being data, Snopes for checking the newest rumors and Wikipedia for normal details, figures and particulars.

Attkisson has an amazing deal to say about Wikipedia, calling it “astroturf’s dream come true.” Wikipedia is marketed as a free encyclopedia, the place data is added and edited by the general public. Anybody can add to or edit any given Wikipedia web page. Or so they are saying.

“The truth can’t be extra totally different,” Attkisson says, explaining that many pages have been co-opted and are managed by nameless Wikipedia editors on behalf of particular pursuits. “They forbid and reverse edits that go in opposition to their agenda,” she says. “They skew and delete data, in blatant violation of Wikipedia’s personal established insurance policies, with impunity.”

Even the smallest factual inaccuracies are not possible to right on these agenda-driven pages. As only one instance, in 2012, creator Philip Roth tried to right a factual error in regards to the inspiration behind one of his ebook characters cited on a Wikipedia web page. His correction was repeatedly reversed and, in the end, he was informed he was not thought of a reputable supply!

Worse, a research1 evaluating medical situations described on Wikipedia with revealed analysis discovered that Wikipedia contradicted the medical literature an astounding 90 % of the time. So, remember — Wikipedia is NOT the place for correct and dependable medical data.

Who’s Who and What’s What?

The extent to which data is manipulated is huge. Let’s say you hear a couple of new drug for an ailment you will have, or your physician recommends it, and also you resolve to analysis it to be on the secure aspect. Finally, you conclude it’s secure and efficient as a result of all over the place you look, the knowledge appears to assist this conclusion. You’re feeling good realizing you’ve accomplished your homework, and fill the prescription. What you don’t know is that:

  • Fb and Twitter pages talking extremely of the drug are run by people on the payroll of the drug firm
  • The Wikipedia web page for the drug is monitored and managed by a special-interest editor employed by the drug firm
  • Google search engine outcomes have been optimized, making certain you’ll discover all these constructive sources whereas burying contradicting data
  • The nonprofit group you stumbled throughout on-line that recommends the drug was secretly based and funded by the drug firm
  • The constructive research you discovered whereas looking out on-line was additionally financed by the drug firm
  • The information articles reporting the constructive findings of that research sound suspiciously alike for a cause — they’re reiterating data supplied by the drug firm’s PR division; therefore, you’ll not discover any contradictory data there both
  • Docs selling the drug and making derogatory feedback about those that fear about unintended effects are literally paid consultants for the drug firm
  • The medical lecture your individual private physician attended, the place he grew to become satisfied the drug is secure and efficacious, was additionally sponsored by the drug firm

How one can Establish Astroturf

Consider it or not, that is simply the tip of the iceberg. The extent of the management and manipulation goes even deeper than this. Even the U.S. authorities, regulatory businesses and public well being organizations are colluding with trade in a number of alternative ways.

So, what are you able to do? How are you going to probably decipher the reality when the reality is so effectively hidden beneath layers of astroturf? As famous by Attkisson, recognizing the telltale indicators of astroturf is essential. And when you know what to search for, you’ll begin to acknowledge it all over the place you look. Telltale indicators and hallmarks of astroturf embrace the next:

  • Sure key message traces repeatedly crop up. For instance, the road “speak to your physician” is very suggestive of a PR message for a drug, even when what you’re studying doesn’t seem like an commercial
  • Use of inflammatory and derogatory language. Key phrases to search for embrace crank, quack, nutty, lies, paranoid, pseudo and conspiracy
  • Astroturfers will usually declare to debunk “myths” that aren’t myths in any respect
  • They’ll assault individuals, personalities and organizations relatively than handle the details or issues in query
  • Astroturfers are skeptical of these exposing wrongdoing relatively than the wrongdoers. As famous by Attkisson, relatively than questioning authority, astroturfers query those that query authority

Astroturfing in Motion

An ideal instance of astroturfing occurred in 2015, when the American Council for Science and Well being (ACSH) — a pro-GMO entrance group — attacked Dr. Mehmet Ouncesfor reporting on the now scientifically established hazards of glyphosate. Mainstream media swallowed and regurgitated the vicious propaganda with none vital thought by any means. Slate journal publicized the assault with the headline “Letter from Distinguished Docs Implies Columbia Ought to Fireplace Dr. Ouncesfor Being a Quack.”

The letter accuses Ouncesof repeatedly displaying “disdain for science and for evidence-based medication, in addition to baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of meals crops.” The letter was signed by Dr. Henry I. Miller and 9 different “distinguished physicians.”

What the media failed to deal with is that Miller is a well known shill for the GMO trade. In his capability as its frontman, he was caught misrepresenting himself through the Anti-Prop 37 marketing campaign in 2012, pretending to be a Stanford professor opposing GMO labeling, when in truth he isn’t a professor at Stanford.2 The TV advert needed to be pulled off the air due to this misrepresentation.

Study to Establish Shills and Entrance Teams

Miller additionally has a protracted historical past of defending poisonous chemical compounds akin to DDT, along with defending Huge Tobacco. He’s even penned articles suggesting radioactive fallout is likely to be useful for well being, whereas claiming “Natural agriculture is to the setting what cigarette smoking is to human well being” — apparently momentarily forgetting he’s defended the security of cigarette smoking.three

The newest scandal displaying Miller’s true colours occurred in mid-August, when he was fired by Forbes journal for submitting articles ghostwritten by Monsanto. The prooffour in opposition to Miller emerged through the court-ordered discovery means of a class-action lawsuit in opposition to Monsanto by individuals who declare they developed Non-Hodgkin lymphoma on account of glyphosate publicity (the lively ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, utilized by farmers and residential gardeners alike).

The paperwork, greater than 700 pages in all, have been posted on-line by the regulation agency Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman.5 Confronted with proof they’d revealed materials below Miller’s title that was in truth ghostwritten by Monsanto, Forbes not solely fired Miller but in addition eliminated all of his work from their website. A few of the different 9 physicians that signed the letter in opposition to Ouncesare additionally lower than distinguished. As famous by U.S. Proper to Know:6

“One was stripped of his medical license in New York and despatched to federal jail camp for Medicaid fraud. But Dr. Gilbert Ross performs up his M.D. credentials in his function as appearing president of [ACSH]. Ross was joined on the Columbia letter by ACSH board member Dr. Jack Fisher.

So what’s ACSH? Although some reporters deal with it as an impartial science supply, the group has been closely funded by oil, chemical and tobacco firms, and has a protracted historical past of constructing inaccurate statements about science that instantly profit these industries — for instance, claiming that secondhand smoke isn’t linked to coronary heart assaults [or that] fracking doesn’t pollute water …

These details are related in tales about scientific integrity. The scientific accuracy and motivations of the accusers matter when they’re publicly difficult the scientific accuracy and motivations of any person they’re making an attempt to get fired. We urge reporters and editors to take a more in-depth have a look at the sources promoting them story concepts, and to behave as higher watchdogs for the general public curiosity.”

In brief, the assault on Ounceswas orchestrated not by “involved physicians” however relatively by trade shills whose job it’s to assault anybody who embraces a extra pure strategy to well being and/or elevate damning questions which may harm the trade’s bottom-line.

Company Conflicts of Curiosity Killed Investigative Journalism

Obtain Interview Transcript

I interviewed Attkisson about her ebook, “Stonewalled” and the downfall and deterioration of true investigative journalism in 2015. I’ve included that interview once more to your comfort. It delves rather a lot additional into the problems introduced up in her 10-minute TEDx Discuss.

For instance, direct-to-consumer drug promoting has created a scenario the place drug firms specifically wield huge energy over media. The trade spends billions of annually on promoting, and this monetary windfall is often sufficient for any media outlet to bend to its advertisers’ whims and wishes.

Attkisson refers to this as “smooth censorship.” It’s when a media outlet’s sponsors wield energy on the company stage over the forms of tales and subjects journalists are allowed to cowl, and the slant they have to take when doing so. It is vital to understand that you just is not going to get the reality from the media on sure subjects for this very cause.

My mission is to arm you with data that isn’t simply obtainable within the mainstream media about issues that affect your well being, for higher or worse. All of my articles are rigorously referenced and I depend on peer-reviewed revealed science and firsthand interviews with specialists in numerous fields. My recommendation to you is to develop a eager eye for the hallmarks of astroturfing, and to dig deeper when confronted with claims that “the science is settled.” Most of the time, it’s something however.


+ Sources and References
  • 1 TEDx College of Nevada, Astroturf and Manipulation of Media Messages, Sharyl Attkisson
  • 2 PR Newswire October 16, 2012
  • three USRTK, Why You Can’t Belief Henry Miller
  • four EcoWatch August three, 2017
  • 5 Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman, Monsanto Secret Paperwork
  • 6 US RTK April 20, 2015


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