July 2, 2017

"The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote."

This is a book by Sharyl Attkisson that just came out a few days ago and I'm just starting to read. I should have more to say about it soon. I hope it's the book I want to read, which would reveal behind-the-scenes workings of MSM, things beyond what I've been following day-to-day over the years.

From the introduction:
In my thirty-five years as a journalist, I’ve encountered countless operatives who are pros at peddling smears. They don’t say that’s who they are or what they do. They pose as advocates, watchdogs, tipsters, and public relations agents. They work at global law firms, PR companies, crisis management groups, nonprofits, think tanks, blogs, and strategic communications firms. They send me research, ask to have coffee, press a business card into my palm, whisper into my ear, invite me into their fold, and point me to “sources.” They use tried-and-true propaganda techniques to attempt to persuade reporters like me to further their narratives. In fact, if they’re really good, they convince us it’s all our idea: we’re expert journalists whose connections and skills have gotten us an exclusive story!

64 comments:

The Bergall said...

For a good read consider "The Spike" by Arnaud De Borchgrave

CWJ said...

Wow! That's one hell of an introduction!

EDH said...

Does Attkisson cast this as an ongoing ideological struggle, or perpetual Deep State defense mechanism?

Or is it more competing commercial and electoral candidate interests that hire these people for a specific mission?

Kit Carson said...

Speaking of smears, this is how it will go. the fool deputy atty gen created a special prosecutor and hired robert mueller. mueller has hired a bunch of legal eagles who are intense progressive partisans. they are to investigate the possibility of trump campaign collusion with the russians. the investigators know there is none. but to investigate it they will have to examine all his business dealings, turning over every rock to see if there is a russian there. in the process they believe they will find completely unrelated crimes, a financial crime , a bureaucratic/regulatory crime, a dealing with a mafia controlled union in new jersey. it could be anything. that is how they intend to get him.

Sebastian said...

"expert journalists" Now that's a funny oxymoron. Murray Gell-Mann, call your office.

rhhardin said...

It has to be a story that holds a soap opera audience or it won't run.

It's ratings, not story.

Fen said...

It really is MiniTru and you can't be cynical enough.

What. The most powerful nation on earth with propganda outlets that reach across the globe and influence outcomes in Paris, Bejing, Rome, Cairo. Do you really think the main players are amateurs who ran the drama department in high school?

Mike Sylwester said...

One smear we see in every Presidential election is that the Republican candidate is smeared with dirt from David Duke. Because Duke said something favorable about the Republican candidate, then the candidate and all other Republican candidates are required to disavow Duke publicly.

As I recall, one of the practitioners of this particular smear is CNN -- in every Presidential election.

In the last days of the 2016 election, President Obama smeared Trump with dirt from the Ku Klux Klan. I never will forget that.

This smear tactic reminds me about how Martin Luther King was continuously smeared with dirt from Communists. MLK-haters continually demanded that he distance himself publicly from Communists.

mockturtle said...

In my younger years I worked on--and even chaired--some political campaigns. It was common practice to send favorable 'press releases' to the media.

Fen said...

And the object lesson is right in front of our face. These people - Deep State, Cancer Man, whoever - made a mistake of hubris and grossly under-estimated Trump and the American people.

Let's not return the favor. I think we're only going to get one shot at changing course, and this is it.

Francisco D said...

I have a great deal of respect for this woman. She seems to be an honest broker whose main agenda is getting out the truth.

It will be interesting to see how the usual suspects react.

mockturtle said...

I think we're only going to get one shot at changing course, and this is it.

I agree, Fen. It's now or never.

D. said...

" MLK-haters continually demanded that he distance himself publicly from Communists."

HE marched with 'em.

cf said...

Go, Sheryl, Go, Godspeed! and Godspeed, America -- so grateful for courageous reporting. #Anthropology-of-the-Now #SatChitAnanda

Luke Lea said...

Here she is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHn82hCfz8U

Mike Sylwester said...

D at 9:36 PM

HE marched with 'em

THEY marched with HIM.

So, the MLK-haters demanded that MLK disavow any Communist who marched with him.

That's similar to the current situation where CNN demands that every Republican Presidential candidate denounce Dave Duke for stating an intention to vote for the Republican candidate.

I am pretty sure that CNN has practiced this smear tactic in every Presidential election during the past couple of decades.

n.n said...

It may have started with Attkisson's disgust for Obama's elective wars from Somalia to Libya to Syria to Ukraine, or the social justice adventure "Arab Spring" that seems more terrorist than justice, or the collusion between the press and the DNC to coverup the collateral damage from catastrophic anthropogenic immigration reform, but it did happen, and Attkisson has been exposing inconvenient truths ever since.

Be said...

A major problem is in vetting the self-proclaimed "experts." I have no claim to expertise in any area. Have run into a few folks who've, while proudly proclaiming "expertise," hilariously/sadly proved otherwise.

Mary Beth said...

mockturtle said...

In my younger years I worked on--and even chaired--some political campaigns. It was common practice to send favorable 'press releases' to the media.

7/2/17, 9:21 PM


Isn't there a difference between a press release from a campaign and pointing someone toward "sources"? (I'm assuming the sources present themselves as unbiased while delivering the narrative that the person doing the pointing wants to spread, but that may be my bias talking.)

Michael K said...

I may just buy that book.

Fen said...

I was THAT guy at the 7-11 today. Walked past a stack of Washington Post newspapers with an obnoxious headline that was a gross distortion of the truth.

I barked out something about Fake News and shoved the entire stack onto the ground.

I think I should get help, maybe talk to someone. Like a WaPo or CNN exec. If anyone has their home address, just let me know. I have a really cool baseball bat signed by someone that I would like to show them.

eric said...

Blogger Fen said...
And the object lesson is right in front of our face. These people - Deep State, Cancer Man, whoever - made a mistake of hubris and grossly under-estimated Trump and the American people.

Let's not return the favor. I think we're only going to get one shot at changing course, and this is it.


You're right, and they know you're right. This is why they will do anything and everything to stop us and to stop Trump. Including murder. I fully expect an attempt on Trumps life and probably a few Supreme Court Justices.

I also don't expect this to last. I expect them to eventually crash our economy, blame Republicans, and reclaim power. It'll be the great depression all over again. The only answer will be communism.

mockturtle said...

The only answer will be communism.

The only answer will be fascism. FIFY.

mockturtle said...

Mary Beth asks: Isn't there a difference between a press release from a campaign and pointing someone toward "sources"?

If the releases are about the campaign and the candidate, yes. But they are often smears against the opponent.

chickelit said...

@Be: I thought you were an expert on French wit and wisdom?

Bad Lieutenant said...


mockturtle said...
I think we're only going to get one shot at changing course, and this is it.

I agree, Fen. It's now or never.
7/2/17, 9:32 PM

No, it's even more than that. Let's say by the sweat of their brows 60-something million Americans manage to keep President Trump on top through the full eight years of his well-deserved presidency. Let's say he does the best he can and everybody fights their corner and he gets somewhere.

Still, who takes over when he's gone? People might fight and have a civil war to see him through his legitimately elected terms, but after eight years, he's got to go. Who will carry the torch after Trump is gone with the thanks of a Grateful Nation? Who can take the reins and not give the country back to the people that Trump is taking it away from?

In this sense it is not too soon to start thinking about After Trump.

mockturtle said...

Good point, BL. Ideally, IMO, it would be a third-party candidate. I would never trust either the GOP or the Democrats again. Trump won, as we all know, in spite of the Republicans and got virtually no support from them. Nor does he now.

Unknown said...

A random act of journalism, as el Rushbo might say.

Lewis Wetzel said...

mockturtle said...
I think we're only going to get one shot at changing course, and this is it.

I agree, Fen. It's now or never.
7/2/17, 9:32 PM

Last chance to choose to change course. I can foresee a day when Federal scrip is nearly worthless, and the states use the physical assets they control to back their own currencies.
At some point you can't borrow money because every dollar borrowed increases the interest rate you have to pay. Krugman is committing economic sleight of hand when he says the fed can just print the money that it needs; someone has to be willing to accept the money. If the law says that Americans must accept it as currency, nothing will change hands. Nobody can make you agree to sell for dollars..

Achilles said...

7/2/17, 9:21 PM
Blogger Fen said...

"Let's not return the favor. I think we're only going to get one shot at changing course, and this is it."

The last peaceful chance.

TestTube said...

Read "The Submarine" essay by Paul Graham for an interesting private sector take on PR manipulation of press

"The main reason PR firms exist is that reporters are lazy. Or, to put it more nicely, overworked. Really they ought to be out there digging up stories for themselves. But it's so tempting to sit in their offices and let PR firms bring the stories to them."

Achilles said...

"In this sense it is not too soon to start thinking about After Trump."

The core of the long term problem is school choice. As long as every kid spends a generation brainwashed by the socialist shitheads running our public schools before reality teaches them the truth we will always be losing ground culturally.

D. said...

"Our forces and their forces include both leadership and military formations.

For resistance movements, our people is the population of the conquered nation, and their people is the citizenry of the conquering nation. For revolutionary movements it's more complicated and fluid. Basically, our people are the portions of the nation which are at least mildly sympathetic to our revolutionary cause, and their people are those who generally support the government. (But these things are always driven by specific circumstances; the devil is always in the details.)

Terrorists make their attacks and then fade away into the population. They tailor their attacks to inspire the maximum horror and anger from the enemy's people, bringing irresistible pressure to bear on the enemy's leadership to do something, while depriving the enemy leadership of any obvious target to do something against. If the enemy leadership does nothing or does something token and useless, it will look weak to our people and make us look like winners, increasing support. It can decrease support from its own people.

But if the enemy leadership does respond strongly, we hope it will target our people (as distinct from our forces, which the enemy can't actually locate). That will anger our people, again increasing support for us. In many cases it will also help discredit the enemy leadership, making them look brutal rather than weak. (That depends enormously on who the enemy people are and how they view themselves.)

We also hope that our allies will become more committed, and their allies will become less so. We hope that the world's uncommitted may come to support us.

Which is why propaganda is an essential part of both doctrines. It is not enough to organize, to plan, and to carry out acts of war. It is vital to try to control perception of events. Both sides are fighting a dirty war, but it is vital that they be portrayed as dirtier than we are.

Guerrilla war and terrorist war, when fought according to classic doctrine, are long slow wars. These are marathons, not sprints."

https://erbosoft.com/ussclueless/

Qwinn said...

Mockturtle: fascism would be the best case scenario. Communism is far, far, far worse. Take it from a child of Cuban exiles.

mockturtle said...

As long as every kid spends a generation brainwashed by the socialist shitheads running our public schools before reality teaches them the truth we will always be losing ground culturally.

Culturally, intellectually and morally.

mockturtle said...

Mockturtle: fascism would be the best case scenario. Communism is far, far, far worse. Take it from a child of Cuban exiles.

I agree. I merely pointed out that it was the more likely scenario.

eric said...

Blogger mockturtle said...
The only answer will be communism.

The only answer will be fascism. FIFY.


True. But fascism doesn't sell. They'll call it socialism. They'll say the only way we can survive is if everything is free. Because it's not fair. They'll show some evil rich guy getting good food, or a boat, or medicine, etc, and say, "Don't you deserve that? We will take it from that fat cat and give it to you! Because we love you!"

And people who will be suffering will eat it up.

Mark said...

These people - Deep State, Cancer Man, whoever - made a mistake of hubris

Surely you don't believe that. They didn't start this war, just like the secessionists didn't start the first Civil War. "These people" are only defending themselves and defending their own territory, again, just like they did in defending Fort Sumter against Northern aggression, just like the first Americans did in resisting the British.

At least that was your argument in the other thread.

FleetUSA said...

In the 3 or 4 times I've been involved in any story which however briefly made it into the papers, the headline and the story NEVER got it right. It was always slanted, I assumed to draw readers.

Of course, the stories were small beans compared to what happens in DC these days, but they were always distorted. And of course as small beans, they disappeared just as fast.

Unknown said...

A Trumpski said, "In the last days of the 2016 election, President Obama smeared Trump with dirt from the Ku Klux Klan. I never will forget that."

Oh, poor baby. I mean what about the "birther" smear campaign by the President of the United States, one Donald J Trump.

EMPTY VESSELS MAKE THE MOST NOISE

Unknown said...

TRUMP RUNNING SCARED (via The Guardian):

"Anti-Donald Trump protesters are preparing to spring into action at short notice after it emerged that Downing Street is braced for a snap visit from the US president in the next two weeks."

"In early June, just after the UK general election, it emerged that Trump had told May he did not want to go ahead with the state visit until the British public supported his coming, fearing large-scale demonstrations."

Ah, poor Donny can't take the heat from possibly millions of protestors.

Jon Ericson said...

Good to see you! Back again from rehab?
XOXO

Unknown said...

Btw, why does Trump want to meet with leaders of Poland, France, Germany and UK at this particular time? Well, Trump needs allies for an expanded war in Syria and a new war with North Korea.

The BIG problem is the citizens - left and right - of the UK, France and Germany will tell their government NO WAY, JOSE and they will listen.

Result? Trump will go to war in Syria and North Korea by himself.

The Chinese will of course welcome a war with North Korea with open arms. NOT!

Trump desparately wants a war to distract from the Trump-Russia investigations. Who can he con into partnering with him? Maybe Russia, Turkey, Phillipines, Saudi Arabia, et al.

gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

So Attkisson has met up with this whole passel of non-journalists, so-called "operatives" with nothing better to do than peddle smears. These folks live to lie to innocent journalists (maybe to everyone they meet) but we are then asked to believe that they work every day in select professions at law, public relations, think tanks and communication firms only - except for some bloggers, Ann!

Sorry, but her prose doesn't pass the George Washington honesty test. My feeble mind refuses to contemplate that educated people would do such disgusting things every day throughout their lives. Of course, there are exceptions - like Donald Trump . . .

gadfly said...

@D. said...
" MLK-haters continually demanded that he distance himself publicly from Communists."

HE marched with 'em.


King associated with New York lawyer and Communist apparatchik Stanley D. Levison, who quickly became one of King's most trusted advisers. As a result, the FBI spent a great amount of time bugging MLK's activities.

rehajm said...

I appreciate Attkisson's TED Talk.

Kevin said...

Oh but the birther campaign!

Please. Obama's book release itself said he was born in Kenya. Obama could have ended it at any time by releasing his birth certificate, and did when he finally released it. Obama had complete control over the story from the get go.

You want a smear? Let's talk Dan Rather, forged documents, and a made-up story about Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard. Because the relevant people were dead, there was no one other than Bush himself to refute it. If those bozos had used the right typewriter, it would still be accepted "fact" today.

Birtherism. Pfffft.

rehajm said...

Thinkprogress is the political media arm of The inappropriately named Center for American Progress. Most of the professional smear industry Attkisson refers to can be traced to Thinkprogress one way or another.

Kevin said...

These folks live to lie to innocent journalists (maybe to everyone they meet) but we are then asked to believe that they work every day in select professions at law, public relations, think tanks and communication firms only - except for some bloggers, Ann!

These people pass on tips they have received and rumors they have heard for the journalists to "check out". By checking them out, the reporters believe they are doing actual journalism rather than writing the story someone behind the scenes is feeding them.

The smear merchants need these middle people, who are only trying to help the country or their party or cause, to make introductions and create a sense of legitimacy.

Consider the Trump dossier. The more times people heard about it, from more sources, the more mysterious AND credible it became to the media community. The more people heard what might be in it, the more they wanted their suspicions to be confirmed.

After all, we learned in high school that the more people who've heard the rumor means the more likely it's true, right? How else do we end up with a special counsel investigating Trump's Russia collusion that no one in a position of authority has any evidence has happened?

Kevin said...

The point of the smear is that it's false. The point of the smear is that it might be true, could be true, we'd like it to be true, and in the best cases there's no way to prove it's not true.

Trump is smeared all the time. His responses have been generally shown to be true. Mika did have a facelift. He and his family were being recorded by the Obama Administration. Comey was a self-serving political operative.

The real fight in DC is not between a "deplorable" press and a "deplorable" Trump, but between a press that prints innuendo and a Trump who fires back with things later shown to be correct. It's a fight between how horrible the press and insiders think Trump is, and how horrible Trump knows those press and insiders to be.

Rusty said...

Blogger mockturtle said...
"The only answer will be communism.

The only answer will be fascism. FIFY."

There's a difference? The end result will indistinguishable one from the other.
And
What Fen said. This is it. We will reclaim the rule of law and our constitution or the unknowns of this country will dictate your families future.

Bruce Hayden said...

"You want a smear? Let's talk Dan Rather, forged documents, and a made-up story about Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard. Because the relevant people were dead, there was no one other than Bush himself to refute it. If those bozos had used the right typewriter, it would still be accepted "fact" today."

To be fair to Rather, not only were the memos printed in Microsoft Word default Times New Roman 12 point font, several decades before Word was developed, but text was also properly kerned, which was not available on typewriters of the time, and Army, not Air Force, terminology, rank abbreviations, etc were utilized for the purported Texas AIR National Guard memos.

Ray said...

On MLK and communist. The communist party in the US was very active before WW2 in the civil rights movement / struggle, and had a lot of positive impact.
http://commonplaces.davidson.edu/vol-2/communism-and-the-civil-rights-movement-of-the-1930s/

Etienne said...

That's a very extremely unpleasant depressing introduction.

One of the sermons I remember as a kid, was "Never watch how sausage is made."

One of the things I learned in preventing indoctrination, was to try and distract the indoctrinator. This frustrates them, and their frustration usually turns to violence.

When the indoctrinator begins beating or torturing you, then you know it was indoctrination all along.

If they can't be driven to violence, then you can assume they really believe in what they are trying to convince you about.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger Clueless Unknown said...
"Oh, poor baby. I mean what about the "birther" smear campaign by the President of the United States, one Donald J Trump."

Trump did that as a private citizen. Obama was president. Also, the media mocked Trump's birtherism and reported Trump's 'endorsement' by lunatic fringe groups as Important News That Voters Need To Consider.
No word on Bernie's, then Hillary's, endorsement by the revanchist (and sad) CPUSA.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Oh but the birther campaign!

Please. Obama's book release itself said he was born in Kenya. Obama could have ended it at any time by releasing his birth certificate, and did when he finally released it. Obama had complete control over the story from the get go."

I never understood this. To date, I don't understand why the Obama people tried to hide his birth certificate. And, then the one they finally released was not an exact copy of his original birth certificate, even if it was a legal one. As (former) Sheriff Joe Arpaio pointed out - the BC finally produced would likely not be admitted into evidence by most courts, if its authenticity were challenged, absent certification by Hawaiin officials. Its proponents never answered how the PDF supplied could have two layers, for a document that was supposedly reproduced from microfilm, why it had that color border, or why it was black on white, when the standard at that time in HI was supposedly white on black (which is an easy digital transformation). These discrepancies could probably be easily be explained, but never really were. So, we were left with something that obviously was not an exact copy of his original birth certificate (even if it was a legal birth certificate). It still makes people suspicious of what the Obama people were trying to hide. Clearly not his citizenship, esp with his two Presidential opponents having both been born outside the US. Nothing? Paternity? Likely, whatever it originally was, hiding it cost more than if they had released an exact copy of the original up front. Compounding this, his college transcripts have still never been disclosed. What are they hiding there? Nothing? Claimed foreign origin? Shitty grades (I think somewhat likely given his pot usage of the time, but likely no worse than for GW Bush, AlGore, JF Kerry, or McCain)? Affirmative Action? We are still guessing almost a decade down the road, and whatever they were hiding probably wouldn't have done as much damage as the hiding itself did.

Kevin said...

One of the things I learned in preventing indoctrination, was to try and distract the indoctrinator. This frustrates them, and their frustration usually turns to violence.

That was good. You have accurately described Trump's Tweeting and the media's frustration with it.

The media would like to indoctrinate the country about Trump, but he keeps interrupting.

Kansas Scout said...

It's very good and very discouraging. I think we all knew that what she documents was out there but the depth and money involved was amazing and scary. Everyone should read this one.

gadfly said...

@Lewis Wetzel said...
Blogger Clueless Unknown said...
"Oh, poor baby. I mean what about the "birther" smear campaign by the President of the United States, one Donald J Trump."

Trump did that as a private citizen. Obama was president. Also, the media mocked Trump's birtherism and reported Trump's 'endorsement' by lunatic fringe groups as Important News That Voters Need To Consider. No word on Bernie's, then Hillary's, endorsement by the revanchist (and sad) CPUSA.


New rule now in place: Stupid actions taken before becoming president never happened. Presidents are somehow superior to their non-elected former selves.

And the point about who endorses a candidate is germane to the extent that campaign promises are made by all politicians to attract certain kinds of voters. The actions by candidates to attract fringe voters must be attributed to the candidate. Trump appealed to populists in general and labor unions in particular in his quest for office - which got him the far far right known as the "alt-right."

Hillary, on the other hand had no appeal except to the extreme leftists and party loyalists who were committed fully long before the campaign to such an the extent that they illegally shut loony Bernie out. So comparatives between supporters are fickle at best and we really don't have to determine whose dog is the biggest.

Michael K said...

Oh, poor baby. I mean what about the "birther" smear campaign by the President of the United States, one Donald J Trump.

Obama was the most secretive presidential candidate in our history. Who was he ?

I looked into it in 2008.

Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.'”

“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

“Barack Obama.”

Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.


He had no record.

Reverend Wright was quietly hushed up lest voters learn about the "black candidate."

What were Obama's grades at Occidental ? At Columbia ? What was his LSAT?

The birth certificate is another matter. We have yet to see an original.

My grandkids are applying to DAR and that will require an original birth certificate. Not the duplicate Hawaii put out.

I don't think Obama was born anywhere but Hawaii but why the secrecy ?

Why is the Khalidi tape still hidden by the LA Times ?

The "birther thing" was fed by the secrecy.

Like Warren who claimed Indian heritage for advantage in faculty hiring, I think Obama might have claimed foreign student status.

It will be a long time before we know.

walter said...

Unknown said...Trump desparately wants a war to distract from the Trump-Russia investigations
--
Says the distractor...

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

The Kenyan birther smear would be a great example that I'm sure she must have included in her book.

The Ted Cruz's father Kennedy assassination smear just might be another, right?

Oh, it appears someone is at least as good at this smearing stuff as the MSM!

grackle said...

Still, who takes over when he's … Who will carry the torch after Trump is gone … Who can take the reins and not give the country back to the people that Trump is taking it away from?

There’s some family members who are getting on-the-job training. Ivanka could be our first female POTUS.

The Ted Cruz's father Kennedy assassination smear just might be another, right?

Ted made a bad mistake. He went full sleaze. To get the Mormon vote in Utah Ted’s PAC published a revealing photo of Trump’s wife. You never go full sleaze. That’s when Trump went ballistic. And Cruz fell by the wayside – as had all the others.

And the point about who endorses a candidate is germane to the extent that campaign promises are made by all politicians to attract certain kinds of voters. The actions by candidates to attract fringe voters must be attributed to the candidate. Trump appealed to populists in general and labor unions in particular in his quest for office - which got him the far far right known as the "alt-right."

Naw. No politician is responsible for idiots who want to attach themselves to their prestige and fame. Trump cannot help it that a fringe group prefers him over a Democrat. The alt-right are white supremacists. Trump is no white supremacist. Use better logic. Avoid the fallacies.