The Shoddiness of ‘Big Think’ Media


by Eric Zuesse, Strategic Culture:

On October 5th, The Atlantic, a pretentious American popular ‘big think’ magazine (selling 552,242 copies per issue), headlined an 8,500-word essay from the New York Times columnist and PBS NewsHour commentator David Brooks, “America Is Having a Moral Convulsion: Levels of trust in this country — in our institutions, in our politics, and in one another — are in precipitous decline.” This article documented that levels of trust in America have plunged; distrust has soared not only between people but against virtually all institutions. Brooks devoted the entirety of his essay, however, not to that well-established fact (which was documented, actually, not by Brooks himself, but by a linked squib that the magazine’s editor added to his lengthy blab), but he devoted it instead to paraphrasing other writers who are favored by the U.S. Establishment, such as Samuel Huntington, Alan Wolfe, Francis Fukuyama, Sisela Bok, Robert Putnam, and Zygmunt Bauman; and, at the end (after all of that Establishment ‘wisdom’), Brooks closed his commentary with 1,300 words on “How to Rebuild Trust,” which finally ended the article with only a one-sentence proposed answer to this “How”: “Trust can be rebuilt through the accumulation of small heroic acts — by the outrageous gesture of extending vulnerability in a world that is mean, by proffering faith in other people when that faith may not be returned.”

His pompous answer came from out of nowhere — not even from his ‘sources’ — because his article hadn’t been saying anything about that, hadn’t said anything at all about it. His proposal was totally unsourced, instead of a conclusion from his lengthy prior blab. In other words: Brooks didn’t have any idea, whatsoever, as to why this “collapse of our institutions and the implosion of social trust” has occurred in America. At the end of his 8,500 words, came that utter cop-out.

How much time are people wasting, to read such stuff? But it’s typical, not a bit abnormal, for ‘Big Think’ media. Vacuous speculative commentaries, which don’t deliver on their promises, are the routine in such media. Truthful, and reliably sourced, analyses, appear there almost never. The function of such billionaires-controlled media is to add yet further to the prestige of their selected team of propagandists (by referring to them as being sources of ‘wisdom’, or by interviewing them on their TV shows). It is indoctrination, not information, that they actually purvey.

Basically, the public who buy this sort of pretense are paying to be gradually lobotomized and robotized. No billionaires will hire writers to think deeply about — and pay people to write or say — anything deep, except about possible investments and future trends; so, the media that they own, the country’s major media, issue writings and talkers only in order not to stir the waves and rock their boat in any way that might cause it to tilt so much as for some of their gold bars to slide off and sink down into the ocean of corruption beneath their yacht.

Mr. Brooks certainly isn’t out to stir any waves, or rock any yacht. So, he has to stay on the safe side — the side that’s safe for the ultimate paymasters. This excludes a writer’s getting into what really has caused America’s collapse. If the public will buy such Establishment pablum, then the public, and not the owners of those huge media firms, will be taking all of the losses — and not only on investments, but on everything. And this is what is actually happening in America.

Therefore, one will have to look elsewhere than in Establishment media in order to find what is causing the decline. After decades of lying to the public, America’s Establishment has naturally become less trusted. It’s plain false to assert that, “Trust can be rebuilt through the accumulation of small heroic acts — by the outrageous gesture of extending vulnerability.” That 8,500-word ‘analysis’ is just another con. It might sell magazines, but it can’t even begin to answer any of the questions. It is part of America’s “Moral Convulsion,” and can only advance yet further the “catastrophic decline in trust over the past few years.” That’s because it doesn’t deal with the problems. It ignores the problems, which are decades of the Establishment’s having been lying to the public.

The best-known of these lies were the ones that deceived Americans into supporting the 20 March 2003 invasion of Iraq. More recently, the long hoax, since 2012, that was ‘justifying’ the operations by the U.S. and UK Governments to take down Syria’s Government, was stunningly described in a major news-report that, of course wasn’t in any of the billionaires’ ‘news’-media, but instead at the Gray Zone, and headlined on September 23rd, “Leaked docs expose massive Syria propaganda operation waged by Western govt contractors and media”. For example: “More than half of the stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained in a joint US-UK government program called Basma, which produced hundreds of Syrian opposition media activists.” It was mainly an astroturf ‘grassroots’ U.S.-UK ’revolution’, to overthrow Syria’s secular, non-sectarian, President Assad, and to install, ultimately, a leadership that would be selected by the Saud family. The footsoldiers in this war were also ones that they considered to be acceptable. Virtually all of the Syrian ‘rebels’ were Al Qaeda affiliated, except in Syria’s far northeast, where they were U.S.-supplied Kurdish separatists. But did this stellar news-report from the Gray Zone get even mentioned on the TV ‘news’ and other mainstream media? Of course not. Americans are instead treated as suckers to be fooled. (Educated ones especially are.) Hiding such crucial truth is the way that it’s done. However, even the major news media can no longer hide America’s economic decline, which blatantly contradicts the American myth. Americans throughout most of the country have been seeing, with their own eyes, the increasing percentages of long-term emptied former mom-and-pop storefronts and shopping-mall vacancies, since well before the coronavirus suddenly struck. For example, on 15 April of this year, the Wall Street Journal reported:

As of December 2019 … households in the bottom 20% of incomes had seen their financial assets, such as money in the bank, stock and bond investments or retirement funds, fall by 34% since the end of the 2007-09 recession, according to Fed data adjusted for inflation. Those in the middle of the income distribution have seen just 4% growth. … Incomes for all but the highest-income Americans have been stagnant or falling for decades. Median household income in 2018 was only about 3% higher than in 2000 after adjusting for inflation, according to the Census. For the poorest 20%, incomes had declined 2%.

That article also vaguely mentioned an important economic study which had been published as a working paper that same month. The paper wasn’t linked to, and even its title wasn’t mentioned. (This is the way to keep the readers away from the facts so that the “news’-medium’s paraphrase will be accepted and believed, even if it misrepresents that alleged source.) It’s “Indebted Demand”, which the study defined by saying, “We refer to a situation in which demand is depressed due to elevated debt levels as indebted demand.” That paper documented the failure — the falseness — of standard economic models, which have been guiding the U.S. Federal Reserve (especially after the costly invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, so as to finance the resultant soaring federal deficits from America’s exploding military expenses):

Popular [among America’s super-rich] expansionary policies [such as “QE” 1, 2, 3, 4, …] — such as accommodative monetary policy and deficit spending — generate a debt-financed short-run boom at the expense of indebted demand in the future. When demand is sufficiently indebted, the economy gets stuck in a debt driven liquidity trap, or debt trap. Escaping a debt trap requires consideration of less standard macroeconomic policies, such as those focused on redistribution or those reducing the structural sources of high inequality.

The three economist-authors knew better than to bite the hands that might feed them in the future, and therefore used only such delicate verbiage to point out the failure of “standard macroeconomic models.” Persons who read or listen to heavily promoted writers such as David Brooks won’t see any such discussion, at all, because the reasons behind the things that the ‘intelligentsia’ are complaining about need to be hidden instead of exposed in the media which are owned by America’s super-rich (who employ this same ‘intelligentsia’ to generate and spread their propaganda).

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