Both Donald Trump’s critics and biggest supporters will admit that he is probably the most publicly outspoken President of the US in recent memory, if not in US history. His often foulmouthed campaign rallies became online hits that are still doing the rounds.
But the man who famously stated that he and his country “do not have time” for political correctness (aka censorship) is now overseeing a period in the United States when both the traditional airwaves, the once free internet and even public venues are being targeted with censorship more heavily than at any time in contemporary US history.
In less than a week one has seen RT and Sputnik banned from advertising on Twitter, Alex Jones’ InfoWars have been restricting from livestreaming material on Facebook, and just yesterday, it was confirmed that Roger Stone, a one time Trump advisor and stalwart supporter has been banned from Twitter.
Censorship as a corporate reaction to the ‘candidate Trump business model’
A common denominator between RT, InfoWars and Roger Stone is Donald Trump. Donald Trump was the first victorious US Presidential candidate to be interviewed on RT and InfoWars during his campaign. Roger Stone of course worked closely with Trump during part of his campaign and later became one of Trump’s most colourful supporters.
What started with an enhanced crackdown on political descent among ordinary Facebook and Twitter users is now being used on prominent individuals and media outlets. What’s all the more extraordinary is that this is happening under the watch of a supposedly free speech minded President.
Few US Presidents have benefited more from the US free speech laws which are enshrined as the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution, than Trump. His use of social media to say what he wants, when he wants and most crucially how he wants, has earned Trump both praise and infamy. How is it then that the man who said “pussy” in private and still got elected and who said “motherfucker” on the campaign trail is overseeing the crushing of free speech in a country whose laws are supposed to protect it?
Beware the media-corporate complex
The answer lies in a sadistic alliance between Trump’s political opponents and giant corporations who now control both Wall Street and Silicon Valley. While lower Manhattan and northern California may appear to be very different places, both now have the same attitude and the same agenda. Crucially both make money off of each other, both invest in each other and both are in many cases managed by the same financiers.
Wall Street and Silicon Valley both want to promote a political agenda which is led by candidates that they fund (along with the increasingly un-powerful Hollywood which is now considerably less influential than Silicon Valley or Wall Street). Those candidates will consequently return the favours by promoting legislation as well as so-called ‘grace and favour’ measures for the leaders of firms on Wall Street and Silicon Valley and the cycle will continue for as long as possible. Below the surface, bribes, kick-backs and lump sum ‘gifts’ are flowing in all directions.
This is the real reason why Trump is hated. While Donald Trump’s foreign policy is largely controlled by the military-industrial complex, his domestic agenda is largely free of the media-corporate complex. It is in this way that a Trump Presidency differs most from his predecessors.
In 2017, ideological debates about the future of America are important to some ordinary people, are largely meaningless to objective observers and are incredibly useful to the media-corporate complex.
What better way to justify the censoring of media outlets who challenge the primacy of the media-corporate complex than to say it is being done based on the ideology of ‘not wanting to offend’? The method is both simple and effective.
Just to demonstrate how effective this method has become, below are real examples of censorship by the media-corporate complex followed by the stated reason for the censorship and then the real reason for the censorship.
What they said and what they meant
1. RT and Sputnik banned from Twitter
What they said: RT and Sputnik need to be punished for helping Russia to meddle in US elections.
What they meant: CNN, MSNBC and other giant media corporations are seeing their old captive audience being swallowed up by RT, Sputnik and other international outlets. Let’s retain our unfair advantage by banning their advertisements.
2. Milo Yiannopoulos banned from Twitter
What they said: Milo’s ‘hate speech’ is offensive and should not have a platform.
What they meant: Milo’s brand is becoming popular among the 18-25 demographic and beyond. This is generally spendthrift demographic with time on their hands to consume new products. The cost of Milo making a video rant, speaking before an audience or writing a blog post is much smaller than the cost of the average MTV program or young-adult sitcom and thus Milo’s profit margin is far bigger. He needs to be curtailed.
3. Ordinary people banned from social media for spouting controversial views
What they said: Person X used hateful speech to promote a hateful and dangerous political point of view.
What they meant: All media, including the news is entertainment. The news is just entertainment for people who are stimulated/entertained by factual information and analysis. If someone’s rants on Facebook are becoming overly pervasive, they distract from people discussing the products being marketed to them on social media. Furthermore, if ‘Person X’ has an anti-corporate agenda, he could gradually build a viral cohort of people who conspicuously avoid our products. This will scare away advertisers from our platform if repeated. He should be banned.
4. Roger Stone banned from Twitter
What they said: Roger Stone spewed hateful remarks to a CNN host
What they meant: Roger Stone is highly entertaining. His ‘act’ consists of his personal wardrobe and a microphone. If Stone can be more entertaining by screaming into a microphone while also providing news and views on domestic issues in the US, why bother to watch multi-million dollar CNN? Better cut Stone off from a major outlet of content distribution.
A clear pattern
At this point a clear pattern emerges, one which highlights the similarity of ‘new’ or ‘alt’ media sources and the Trump Presidential campaign. In both cases, a product that costs comparatively little to produce is going head to head with a lavishly funded product and in both cases the inexpensive product is winning.
Trump financed his campaign through a combination of personal funds and individual donations. Most of the individual donations were small pledges from ordinary people. Hillary Clinton by contrast had some of the biggest corporate backers in modern US election history and she still lost.
Likewise, most modern media outlets operate on a far smaller budget than CNN and do not rely on major corporate sponsors to fund their operations. However, the power of the web allows them to reach surprisingly high levels of audience proliferation and even build their own brand recognition.
Is it any wonder therefore that if Hillary Clinton and her compatriots have the same corporate sponsors as mainstream media, that these corporations are trying to stop both Donald Trump’s Presidency and the new/alt media movement? It’s about as surprising as learning that brushes and combs are not marketed to bald men.
While RT and Sputnik aren’t exactly a ‘mom and pop’ operation, they still are run at a fraction of the cost of western corporate mainstream media. What’s more is that their sources of funding are as far away from Wall Street and Silicon Valley as are independent US based outlets which are funded either through donations, subscriptions or comparatively localised advertising campaigns.
In this sense, the idea of a partly ‘state-funded’ media outlet like RT is only important insofar as it means independence from Wall Street. Hence, RT and Sputnik are in the same ‘basket’ as InfoWars or smaller alt-media outlets, simply because they have the same effect of eating into the audience numbers of corporate mainstream media while being outside of the media-corporate funding loop.
If you’ve noticed that I haven’t mentioned the context of the aforementioned outlets, there is a reason for this. Few of RT’s critics ever bother to watch it. They simply adopt a fake narrative about ‘Kremlin propaganda’ in order to keep their shareholders happy. It is all about the bottom line and has little to do with the headline.
Donald’s Trump Card
Donald Trump has shown that he is not afraid to take on any corporation that doesn’t suit his personal tastes. His ongoing showdown with the NFL, a once apolitical sports entertainment corporation, is proof positive that he is very much willing to use his office to make critical statements about a corporation’s product.
Trump also continually berates CNN, MSNBC, CBS, the New York Times, Washington Post and other corporate MSM outlets.
When will he go after social media networks who are part of the same club?
Based on precedent, he may do so in short order, especially if Twitter and Facebook continue to attack public figures and outlets who are supportive of Trump.
When this happens, there may be an even stronger impetus for people to move away from Twitter and Facebook, just as many relate Trump’s attacks on the NFL to declining ratings and audience attendance at football games.
If Trump refrains from doing this, he’ll ultimately be cheating himself. Trump’s corporate opponents have declared war on free speech and Trump frankly owes it to himself and the wider free speech cottage industry, to expose the corporate sham that lies behind the ideological phoney war against fiscally nimble new media outlets.
Products, services or honest ideology?
Some may have been ‘offended’ that referred to US Presidential candidates and news commentators as ‘products’. Of course, they mean much more than this to many people…but so do most products in the capitalist world have a higher sentimental value to the purchaser than to the seller or producer.
In order to understand the thinking the lies behind the media-corporate complex, one must understand their internalised rhetoric. For them, everything is a product and every war they fight, including the censorship war, is about money.
In a society like the United States, everyone has the right to promote a product, but a line is crossed when promoting one’s own product becomes a matter of destroying someone else’s. This is why fair trade practices legislation exists. For example, the Ford Motor Company can say “Buy the new Ford because it’s fast, good looking and fuel efficient”. However, they cannot say “Buy the new Ford because buying the Oldsmobile will cause you to die of the black plague”. The latter would not be allowed.
However, when it comes to the media war, this is essentially what the media-corporate complex is saying. They are saying that Roger Stone’s four letter words, RT’s news and analysis or someone’s political posts on Facebook are somehow bad for society’s collective mental health. This clear attempt to induce mass hysteria is just as unethical as a car company saying that their competitor’s vehicles cause one’s life to deteriorate. Most rational people realise this, but mass hysteria is defined as:
“a condition affecting a group of persons, characterized by excitement or anxiety, irrational behavior or beliefs, or inexplicable symptoms of illness”.
Every time someone actually believes that Roger Stone is causing real social harm with his foul language, someone is being brainwashed by the media-corporate complex into ‘questioning less’ and taking a crude marketing strategy at face value.
If someone really believes the myth that colourful or provocative language actually causes people real harm, then you are a useful idiot, or corporate chump and nothing more. This was true when mostly left-leaning musicians were attacked for using provocative language in the 1980s, a matter which as Frank Zappa exposed, was used to distract people from a tax on blank tapes that was being rammed through Congress.
Donald Trump ought to show the American and wider global public that he is willing to defend free speech as a matter of principle rather than just as a right he has used to further his own political career. If he indeed plans to run for re-election in 2020, he is going to need it.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.