Introduction: Mickey Huff is Associate Professor of History at Diablo Valley College and a Director of Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation. He has been interviewed by many radio stations and news sources throughout the country, including NPR, Air America, Pacifica, Republic Broadcasting, Progressive Radio Network, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, New Standard News and others, and has been published on numerous media and news websites from Global Research, Buzzflash and Counterpunch to Z Mag, Truthout and even a few corporate media outlets(which he routinely critiques). He is co-author with Peter Phillips on a number of academic articles to be published throughout 2010-11 and co-edited two books with Phillips over the past three years. His latest work with Project Censored, the book Censored 2012: Sourcebook for the Media Revolution, is out now on Seven Stories Press. When he has time he blogs at http://dailycensored.com. Mickey is also a musician and composer of over 20 years and lives with his family just outside Berkeley, CA.
Daily Bell: Thanks for sitting down with us. Let's jump right in. What is Project Censored? Can you give us a background, some history?
Mickey Huff: Project Censored (PC) is a media research organization that operates on a growing number of college campuses. With the oversight of the Media Freedom Foundation non-profit, the Project engages in media research that works toward establishing a truly free press. The Project was founded at Sonoma State University (SSU) in 1976 by communications professor Dr. Carl Jensen. Top censored stories in the US corporate press were highlighted in annual reports. After 1993, the Project published an annual book about its findings. The Project is now in its 35th year, and Seven Stories Press in NY still publishes our annual book. We now work in conjunction with dozens of colleges and universities across the US and in several European and South American countries. Our main objectives are to train students in media literacy and First Amendment issues while bringing to light information that has been under reported or censored in some way. We think that free press rights are imperative for a democratic culture to function and, with the students, faculty and community members, we work to advocate for those rights and really be a model for media democracy in action.
Over the past three decades, we've trained over 2,000 students in investigative research and media literacy. PC student interns, currently about 60 of them, come from the Sociology of Media and Sociology of Censorship classes at SSU; these students get credit for their work with PC, doing research and writing. There are also many more students across the US at places like Diablo Valley College, San Francisco State University, and many more (all listed in our annual publications and online at projectcensored.org). The students and faculty have also organized public events through lectures called "The Modern Media Censorship Lecture Series" during fall semesters and work on up to date media analysis for our websites and blog. Currently, we get several million unique views a year at the site and that number is rising.
PC's former director, Dr. Peter Phillips, and I also speak to diverse groups quite often about media censorship and First Amendment issues, and the role of PC in advocating for free press rights.
Every year we receive as many as 1,000 article submissions, all of which must be read and considered for inclusion at the PC website and, ultimately, for the annual volume of the year's top 25 censored stories. We review submissions for coverage, content, reliability of sources and national significance. Our group of 200-plus expert reviewers is made up of student interns, faculty and community members. Those articles chosen for the annual volume then go before our national judges who rank the stories in order of importance. Many prominent people from academic and journalistic arenas have made up this panel, including Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to name a couple.
As for a brief history, again, PC was founded in 1976 and our first director was Carl Jenson. Peter Phillips became director when Carl retired in 1996 and I took over from Peter as director in 2010 after being associate director for two years. Peter and I continue to work together very closely, and he remains on the board as president of the Media Freedom Foundation, and is integrally involved with PC.
Daily Bell: How did you first get involved with Project Censored?
Mickey Huff: I've been following the work of Project Censored for almost 20 years. In 1993 I began reading the annual books, and I became a faculty evaluator for submitted stories in 2004. I co-authored two chapters, one with Dr. Paul Rea, for Censored 2009, then co-authored and co-edited Censored 2010 and Censored 2011 as associate director working with Peter Phillips, and I was the sole editor as director for the 2012 book just out. But, to go back further, I became fiercely interested in censorship in news and the arts as a teen, and really followed up on that in college and beyond. I have always been interested in pursuing the truth and strongly believe in the rights of all people to have access to accurate information, factual news, about which people can freely organize their lives in the best manor seen fit. This process must be based on factual reality, not on half-truths and establishment propaganda.
In addition to directing Project Censored, I and an associate professor of history and teach courses at Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay area on US history, critical reasoning, sociology of media and propaganda studies, with special topics courses on "Money, Power, and Politics" and contemporary historiography, more specifically on America, 9/11 and the War on Terror: Case Studies in Media Myth-Making and the Propaganda of Historical Construction.
I'm also on the board of Media Freedom Foundation and No Lies Radio, was previously a co-director at the alternative polling organization Retropoll, and gave presentations last year at the Kent State Truth Tribunal and keynoted the Northern California 9/11 Film Festival, I also present on panels at numerous academic conferences. So, I'm involved in a pretty broad selection of efforts, but at the core they're all about propaganda and censorship. I'm not going to run down a list here, but Peter and I speak all over the country regularly, we sponsor many like-minded authors and activists for talks and series in the Bay area, and have a weekly radio show on KPFA, Pacifica radio our of Berkeley, CA which airs Friday, 8 A.M. Pacific time. I have a wonderful family and try to spend as much time with them as I can as one of the reasons I do all this is for them, for my kids, to try to make the world a better, more informed place. I was a professional musician for over 20 years, and that also is a big part of who I am, how I see things, part of my creative outlook on life.
Daily Bell: Give us some personal background, if you would. Why do you feel so strongly about these issues?
Mickey Huff: See above, and please read the intros and preface to Censored 2012 for more detailed responses. But really, a free and vibrant press is the life's blood of democracy. Without access to accurate information, people cannot successfully be their own governors. That said, our current system in the US is quite off the rails in terms of being a functional democracy, but perhaps we can get into that later.
Daily Bell: What's your definition of censored? Is it mostly government censorship you're after? Do you believe that private entities can "censor" or that the word strictly implies government activities – as has been pointed out to us several times.
Mickey Huff: Our definition of censorship is the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in our mass media outlets. Basically, decisions as to what subjects are included in the corporate media (or any other media for that matter), or not included, is media censorship at work. We focus on news censorship; of course, there are other forms of censorship in life that are not our focal point which are also important. But, we state, "… censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story – or piece of a news story – based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth." Simply put, censorship takes many insidious guises outside of outright redaction or cutting room floor antics. Censorship uses framing, slighting of content, attacking, labeling, false balancing and more (as political scientist and former PC judge Dr. Michael Parenti has pointed out in many books).
Certainly, private entities can be and are involved in censorship, evident in that definition. When one compares those news stories that reported by various media outlets and those omitted, there is often glaring inconsistency. If we look at the patterns of these inclusions and omissions it often becomes quite clear that it depends on who owns or significantly financially sponsors these outlets, and what entities influence that decision.
Naturally, Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp comes to mind immediately, because of his recent scandal with cell phones, spying, etc., but another good example of this kind of corporate censorship emerges when we look at ownership of channels viewers think of as offering documentaries, a term that implies accurate or truthful in most people's minds, such as the History Channel, National Geographic, Discovery, and so on. In reality, these offer mainly a sort of "authorized history" or the "official narrative" so to speak.
So again, consider who in society own these media outlets and thus influence what is and is not presented. It's hardly a radical notion, nor an outlandish "conspiracy theory," to state such, which I do state quite purposefully here given this all is a conspiracy quite literally by definition. It's not an accident some things get reported and others do not. The term "conspiracy" has been used – especially since the 1960s in America where the term was born out of CIA efforts to taint critics of the Warren Commission about the JFK assassination – as a pejorative label aiming to dismiss arguments that run counter to official narratives of current and historical events a priori. That in and of itself is a form of censorship. It is a technique aimed at preventing open discourse about events that matter most for society and aims to cover state crimes against democracy.
Several organizations have highlighted the problems of media ownership consolidation. Columbia Journalism Review, NYU Prof. Mark Crispin Miller, FreePress.net have all put together charts (your readers can view one at freepress.net or at the CJR site here) that show who owns the leases to the so-called "public" airwaves. Ownership of the US corporate media has been concentrated into a handful of companies like General Electric, Walt Disney, News Corp., Time Warner, Viacom and the like. Keep in mind, this refers to ALL news media in the US – television, cable, books, magazines, newspapers, radio, even telecommunications companies. So yes, censorship is definitely carried out by corporations, not just governments. Often those in government regulatory posts, which are cast as prime culprits of intrusion in society, come directly from the private industries they are then tasked to oversee in government and thus do not actually represent a public voice.
An example of direct government censorship would be the directive to news outlets prohibiting them from photographing caskets of dead military service members being returned to the United States. Of course, we know the government censors news through more covert means, especially by advocating propaganda by placing CIA agents or taking on journalists as CIA assets in news offices which began in the 1960s under Operation Mockingbird (and recently there's been a spate of articles revealing CIA agents working on the New York Times staff and CNN, for instance). Publishers are privately "requested" to not cover certain stories or forced to run others written and/or approved by the CIA. Also, retribution for coverage of "off-limits" issues would be another obvious instance of censorship and the price of not following the top-down, managed news protocol. Dan Rather's dismissal from CBS following his coverage of George W. Bush's no-show National Guard service comes to mind, and Rather himself has come out about this, about what happened. Greg Palast of the BBC had already covered the story, but Rather didn't use it. Apparently he couldn't. He was attacked and sacked for daring to state inconvenient facts exposing the lies of the establishment.
Daily Bell: How would you characterize yourself – as a Libertarian, a Progressive, … or do you?
Mickey Huff: I find that to be a false paradigm … really, I could go off on this for some time. At the risk of oversimplifying given the constraints here, Left, Right is an illusion hiding the real problem of the top and the bottom. I'm not trying to be dismissive here. Again, books have been written about this, I teach courses on it, there isn't space here to elaborate in the time I was given. Basically, I disagree with the premise of the question in terms of conventional establishment labels. If I were to come out and say I lean toward libertarian socialism, that likely wouldn't help most people as again it doesn't fit neatly into the prefabricated constructs that act to winnow American ideologies. At PC, we favor a truly free press, free speech, and support an active and informed citizenry. I'm not sure what character that may be.
Daily Bell: We believe that there is an overarching power elite – a group of banking families and their enablers and associates, including religious, corporate and military leaders, who are trying to move toward one-world government. We think they're based out of the West but have cooperation around the world with other political leaders and top businesspeople in most countries. Do you agree? Disagree?
Mickey Huff: Absolutely there's no question that there exists such an influence – an incredibly strong influence, in fact – and media censorship, as I discussed earlier, is a perfect example of this group's reach. We refer to it as the Global Dominance Group and have written about this extensively. Peter Phillips has studied under William Domhoff and has specifically written about the Power Elite, as exposed by C. Wright Mills in the 1950s, and we are currently updating our list of top corporate board of directorship overlaps, and their connections to Congress, further illustrating the small cabal of people who dominate decision-making posts in our society. We have written of this at length over the past decade in our books. Again, Peter has written of this at length, and we touch on it in our Truth Emergency publications as well, which are in our books and other academic journals and publications.
Daily Bell: We think a lot of the authoritarianism we're seeing these days comes from a speeded-up effort to consolidate power in countries so as to make world governance an increasingly viable option. You need to control countries and populations before you can manipulate them into a global community. Agree? Disagree?
Mickey Huff: I'd refer readers again to our writings on the Global Dominance Group for our position on this issue.
Daily Bell: Can you sum up YOUR paradigm? And Project Censored's? You must believe there is some sort of pattern to all these stories – or don't you? What's your criteria, in other words?
Mickey Huff: Again, look at corporate ownership and influence of those in the Global Dominance Group. The pattern is simple in terms of what information the public is and is not given ready access to in a system that masquerades as a free press. Stories about wrongdoing by government and corporate entities are typically not "allowed" unless in "bad apple" fashion, which reinforces establishment biases that the system "works," i.e., works for the people. It doesn't. But the private sector is clearly part of this establishment, especially the biggest corporations and banks, not so much the small businesses, certainly not the co-ops or collective ones.
We are trying to change how this bias permeates the media landscape through Project Censored and Media Freedom International by making people more aware of what is going on in the US, in the power structures, in the media. Our criteria for what's included, if that's what you meant, is defined at our site as important national news stories that are underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or censored by the US corporate media. Of course, we validate accuracy, sources, as I mentioned before, as students and faculty read and research the story submissions. The pattern continues in our Censored News Clusters this year in the 2012 book where we group the top censored stories by theme, or subject, which include the Human Cost of War and Violence; Social Media and Internet Freedom; Economics and Inequality; Power, Abuse, and Accountability; Health and the Environment; Women and Gender Issues; and Collaboration and the Common Good. These illustrate a clear trend in stories that expose the powerful, that call out the hypocrites and charlatans, that give the people news they can use to empower communities to uphold principles of liberty and justice.
Daily Bell: Do you see censorship getting better or worse?
Mickey Huff: Because of efforts of organizations like Project Censored (and many others that we highlight in our book and online) and the many alternative independent news sources we highlight and often work with, and because of broader access due to the Internet, people particularly in the US have a wider selection of non-corporate sources now. Our efforts also include a blog called dailycensored.com, which is run by our webmaster, and a non-corporate RSS daily news feed site censorednews.org. We continue to educate about censorship in the corporate so-called "mainstream" media and why people should consider other sources so that they become aware of and eventually begin to turn to these better outlets first. That's the focus of our Media Freedom International newswire and Daily Independent News Feeds list. We vet the sources included in those so that people can feel comfortable and look to those first when they look for news, rather than the controlled sources that used to be considered "news." You'll also note I used "mainstream" in quotes. We the people are the mainstream, not corporate pseudo persons. And, another major problem is the proliferation of Junk Food News (titillating tripe that fills the airwaves about celebrities, sex scandals, etc., that really is not news). Also, News Abuse as framing, or propaganda, is a contributor to the worsening of censorship and I discuss this with colleague Adam Bessie again in this year's book. As media scholar Neil Postman of NYU said over 25 years ago, America is the most entertained, least informed society in the modern world, and that trend has sadly continued.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the warfare in the world? Do you have an explanation for why it's increasing?
Mickey Huff: Treatises have been written about this. I can't get in to that here other than to say our goal has been to inform the public about the realities of war, oft hidden by the war makers in the military industrial media complex. The second most decorated marine in US history, Smedley Butler, said in his 1935 book, "War is a Racket." And it is just that. Wars are fought oft for industrial capitalism, its resources, including subjugated labor. It is the most destructive force on the planet, and media propaganda furthers the ends of the war makers, while ignoring the increased civilian casualties of such wars of conquest. In WWI, 15% of casualties were civilians, and now the number is over 75%. That's barbarism, not progress, and any free press ought to call it just that. The media function, as some in the CIA hoped, as a Mighty Wurlitzer, playing the people, constructing public opinions in effort to support state and major corporate agendas. This is hardly news and began in earnest with the Hearst papers and the outbreak of Yellow Journalism in the early 1900s, but was institutionalized by government in the Committee on Public Information in the US. It was the propaganda arm of the government tasked with building support for American involvement in the Great War, WWI. Virtually every war we have been in involves this propagandistic element, not only in government agencies, but the corporate media as well. They work in concert creating a literal Truth Emergency in our culture, distorting facts and manipulating the public mind in effort to create the illusion of democracy. It's all based on cajolery and outright lies. From the Gult of Tonkin to WMDs, all lies to serve the interest of the warfare state. Enemies can be made out of thin air, and oft are, and the people are governed by fear. That's no way to have democracy, but the elites in this country have been running it that way since the McKinley and Wilson years. Somehow, we need war for peace, which Orwell later remarks upon after WWII as being tacitly absurd. The power elite need to manipulate and control the language and images we the people see in order to preserve the illusions of participation and freedom in the US as a means of fulfilling their objectives, which so often are not those of a vast majority of citizens.
The grandfather of spin, public relations, Edward Bernays (Sigmund Freud's nephew) summed it up best in his 1928 book Propaganda when he wrote (and this is a long quote with ellipses, I strongly urge people to read this text), "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country . . . We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society . . . In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." That was the plan and the status by 1928 and we have well established and honed this structure of propaganda by now. Again, this is the subject of tomes, not really well suited for interviews I suppose.
Daily Bell: How about the economic downturn?
Mickey Huff: I'm not an economist, so I think I'll mainly leave that for others to explain (Ellen Brown, Stephen Lendman, Dean Baker, Michael Hudson come to mind), other than to say centralized control of monetary and economic policy leads to centralized money and top-down control (like with the Fed) – this creates more for a small group and less for everybody else. That kind of wraps it up in its simplest form, in my mind. There really is no downturn for the 1%, is there? It's for the rest of us. That is all part of the corporate media propaganda. The under reporting of unemployment, which is closer to 20% in the US and varies by community, is another part of this story. The top-down government and corporatist cries of austerity for the public ring hollow as the military budgets and bank bailouts tally into the trillions of dollars. This austere tightening of the belts is more analogous to a tourniquet for democracy than some return to fiscally prudent times.
Daily Bell: Are the manifold disasters afflicting our world the result, in some sense, of a pattern? Is the idea that the elites can so damage the world of human affairs that people will beg for more centralization – and ultimately world government?
Mickey Huff: This sounds like a great topic for a dissertation, which I'll let go for now. Really, I don't think that question can be summarized in a paragraph or two. I do think there are problems with terms that are used equivocally. We have centralization already, under the Fed, banks, the state and federal government. We have a type world government already that touts its interests as the interests for all. It's called globalization; but its real goals are just concealed by its many propagandistic outlets of departments of state and organizations like the IMF, WTO, World Bank, some parts of the UN. I mean, the US and G20 nations themselves act like a global government. I don't know why some warn of Obama's "socialist" global government agenda, as they have long been realized under America's two party duopolistic façade. I use the word "socialist" in quotes as the way the term is used in the US is laughably inaccurate. And in some cases, people that decry that term interchangeably used other terms that have totally different meanings, but one would never know it as unlike terms are used interchangeably (Nazism, socialism, Marxism, communism– the one real descriptive phrase that applies to US government is almost never employed, that of corporate state capitalism). But, again, I digress, as so much of this really depends on agreed upon definitions, so I refer to my original reply.
Daily Bell: Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic these days?
Mickey Huff: Optimistic. I just had a new baby – I have to be. I do remain optimistic that we will make a difference – in fact, that we are making a significant difference right now – and that our work has real value and potential to change the global dynamic through limiting the reach of this censorship. It's gradual but definitely the impact of people telling, talking about and acting upon "unacceptable" or "under reported" issues will change the world. We need to do this collectively and we must not rely on so-called "reform" measures. Attenuating the current forms of control in our society is not going to solve the problems of our decaying republic. We, the people, the public, must act to create the kind of world we want to live in, not politely ask politicians or government or CEOs to do it for us. Kenn Burrows, of San Francisco State University, writes a great chapter for us each year on signs of real hope and change, not the faux elixirs peddled by lobbyist-owned politicians on the campaign trail.
Daily Bell: We think the Internet, like the Gutenberg Press before it, is causing a kind of 'Net Reformation around the world. People are waking up to their manipulation and beginning to fight back. We think movements like Occupy Wall Street are evidence of this – though we believe both OWS and the Tea Party are manipulated movements at the moment, at least at the top. However, over time we have hope that they won't be. What's your take?
Mickey Huff: I certainly agree with you that the Internet has opened up a whole new world of information to people and they are able to make better choices because they've begun to see, as you said, how so much of their lives is being manipulated. And yes, beginning to fight back is inevitable, especially when so many people now have so little to lose.
As for Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party being manipulated, I might agree that some elements at the top of these are trying to manipulate those 'on the street,' but as for OWS, there's no way that will work. OccupyTogether.org lists occupations happening now on all seven continents in something like 2,600 cities. The thought that this disparate group of "the 99%" can be somehow managed is ludicrous, in my mind. History shows that truly leaderless peoples' movements have succeeded throughout the world in creating change.
We talk about the astroturfing of the Tea Party by the Koch Bros. in our new book, Censored 2012, in a chapter by a great scholar, Anthony DiMaggio, who has a book out on the topic – it's another great example of "managed" news reporting. The Tea Party phenomenon is money and big media-driven based on co-opting local populist ideals, which in turn render them impotent politically as they are subsumed by the Republican Party (and further manifest by how more actual libertarian concerns raised by Rep. Ron Paul are ignored or distorted by corporate media as they are not interested in libertarian politics anymore than Karl Rove was interested in evangelical Christians – other than for the vote, or for manipulating public opinion).
My understanding is the concept actually began, recently, when 9/11 truth groups across the US re-enacted the Tea Party by dumping copies of the 9/11 Commission Report into harbors, rivers, etc., and that Restore the Republic followed up on that with some concept of Tea Parties. That group was quickly usurped by the right wing and corporate media outlets (having people like Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck, in particular, speak as if they were part of the movement). And what happened to the original people's movement after that, well, the corporate media sure didn't look into did they? They took the theme and ran with it, and many politicians followed suit running on Tea Party tickets only to sell out their constituents in large part when they got to Congress. Hardly a change, is it?
Corporate media tried to ignore Occupy Wall Street, denigrated it, attacked it, and still tries to marginalize it, regardless of its real nature. The OWS movement has been depicted in the corporate media as a bunch of hippies, socialists, sex offenders, drug addicts, homeless, violent criminals, degenerate campers, jobless sloth, and recently FOX claimed they were a front group for Islamic jihadists, and then claimed OWS was an ACORN conspiracy. All I can say about that is WOW. No evidence required, let's just over generalize and negatively label people without actually looking at what's going on seems to be a dominant approach. That's because corporate media, the mouthpiece of the 1%, are alien to and likely afraid of the 99%. The OWS has not been co-opted yet, but keep watching as we near the 2012 election. The Democrats will do what they can to be sure to try to sympathize with the movement, all the while not realizing they are part of the problem. The Tea Party has been co-opted. There is no real party or organization overall. If three people show up with media announcements, a hundred corporate media people are there to film it in total disproportion to real numbers (meanwhile, other protests about war, torture, and other issues, even when well attended, are ignored or downplayed by the corporate media – I could go on with examples here, but again, this is getting long as it is). It appears to me that the Tea Party is now definitely being manipulated – otherwise, corporate news wouldn't be focusing on it so much, I don't think (and note that instead of focusing on average Americans, the corporate media began focusing on so-called Tea Party leaders, wannabe elites) – but again, we need access to accurate, uncensored information in order to make that determination. It exists, and DiMaggio points it out well in our book, and in his most recent one.
The entire section on propaganda studies in our book this year is instrumental in understanding these problems, and we have great contributors in that section including Randal Marlin, Jacob Van Vleet, and Elliot D. Cohen among others.
Daily Bell: How do you see the world evolving in this decade? For better or worse? More freedom or less? More censorship or less?
Mickey Huff: Well, it depends upon who one asks. The 1% are reeling in massive amounts of wealth while everyone else floats, languishes, or declines. It is not a sustainable economic model and it is antithetical to democratic principles. The economy, the media, they are managed top-down, and the way things have been going the past few decades have continued the past ten years where the commonwealth of people has been systematically stolen, Of course, this has been happening over the last century, but it's been exacerbated as of late. We have more access to information if we know how to find it, but we also have more and more top down propaganda and managed news from the big media players and government, which is like a big PR machine. We live in interesting times to say the least.
Daily Bell: OK. Thanks for these answers. Now we'd like to list your choices of top ten censored stories of 2010-11, as you've compiled for the recently released annual volume – Censored 2012: Sourcebook for the Media Revolution. Why do you feel these are so important and is there an overarching theme that draws these together?
1. More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat
2. US Military Manipulates the Social Media
3. Obama Authorizes International Assassination Campaign
4. Global Food Crisis Expands
5. Private Prison Companies Fund Anti–Immigrant Legislation
6. Google Spying
7. U.S. Army and Psychology's Largest Experiment–Ever
8. The Fairytale of Clean and Safe Nuclear Power
9. Government Sponsored Technologies for Weather Modification
10. Real Unemployment: One Out of Five in US
Mickey Huff: The short answer is buy the book! It's pretty evident why these stories were considered to be so important when you read each one. They really are riveting. More soldiers committing suicide than dying in combat? Obama assassinating America citizens in foreign countries rather than arresting them and putting them on trial? Google spying on people and the CIA manipulating social media sites? These are big stories the corporate media don't oft discuss (though the Obama one was discussed recently as it actually happened, but the story was ignored when the policy came about allowing it). We could have another interview just about the stories. As I said, we review stories submitted throughout the year to determine the 25 most important to be included in the book, according to the criteria I mentioned earlier. Then a panel of judges, media experts and academics, determines their ranking.
Do they reveal a pattern? Yes, they do. I mentioned this earlier. And, I deal with that extensively in the introduction, so again, I encourage people to read the book. I'd love to take time to address each of these but honestly, I spent the better part of half a year writing, compiling, and editing this book that has so many wonderful contributors, so it's difficult to do here briefly and under such time restrictions.
You'll notice in this year's subtitle it's called the "Sourcebook for the Media Revolution." As it's compiled, all the people here, the story authors and everyone working on the process, are pieces of a mosaic working toward a truly free press in the matrix of maintenance of a truly free society. This is a step in working toward that goal.
Really, Project Censored and the annual volume are a response to the current, top-down model of control, a concerted effort to conceal information that would be empowering to the public or would expose the corruption of people in power. That's a simple pattern, but that's what all the stories expose.
This mosaic I describe is about moving beyond reform, beyond attenuating the switches of our culture, believing that will fix the situation. It's the system itself that is not in sync with the common good of the people. We must have free access to information as we discuss things like our right to health, our right to life – and part of that is the right to access information about the maintenance of life, education about what's a good life, a healthy life, etc. – education, a place to live, food, the ability to make a contribution to society outside one's own myopic interest. As we consider these things, part of this conversation must be about media freedom, about our right to know, to express our views, to disagree when that's the case. The current mass media system is not that.
With the Internet Reformation, as you've called it, more people have access to such information now. And with more access to communication tools we see more clearly the massive private sector collusion with government – the same people within the Global Dominance Group who are in the communication industry, the military-industrial complex, pharmaceutical and prison complexes, HMOs, etc. Individuals representing the interests of these groups dominate government and government regulatory agencies to benefit themselves at the expense of the public. When we look at this collusion it's pretty easy to understand why they wouldn't tell people what's going on, why they wouldn't reveal their actual interests, their own ideologies – it doesn't benefit them to do so, and in fact, would be counterproductive for their interests.
Information, knowledge, respect for expression, speech, assembly – these are the core of civil society and we should do a better job of maintaining our society and put these at the center of our discussion. We shouldn't just be talking about economics – we need to be talking about political economy, access to the "system," how people have access to information, how free or not they are to act on the system in meaningful ways, in such a way that what they do and how they contribute can have real impact. All these issues are critical but omitted from the "mainstream" communication industry's dialogue and so inaccessible to people who turn to that for information, which is still where most people turn on a regular basis, but we are working to change that.
With the Occupy Wall Street people "on the streets," for example, we're seeing a large group, with very diverse backgrounds, all noticing similar problems with the current system. The biggest problem is that they're not part of it, other than as widgets or bystanders. The current structure is not a recipe for a pro-active, robust democratic culture. It's spectatorship, oppression – and it's degenerative, authoritarian, fascistic – it's the opposite of the direction we'd need to go for robust democratic culture. We currently have the hallmarks of a fascistic culture. No, there aren't jackboots or the same kind of "holocaust" people think of in fascistic Europe, but the US did wipe out millions of indigenous peoples, the US has been responsible for over a million deaths in Iraq over the past eight years, and has something like 1,000 military bases in 130 countries, outspending all other countries combined in military expenditures. That's an empire, not a robust democracy. And even if the US does have relative democratic trapping compared to some places in the world, that does not address the utter lack of democratic tendencies when it acts as an empire around the globe.
These issues are all in the book. When you look at all these stories, summarized in the first chapter, with what we've done in the propaganda section, we're talking about a Truth Emergency – about connecting dots. Project Censored has connected dots for years that corporate media refuse to acknowledge.
And as Emma Goldman said, "The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought." We don't want people to read Censored 2012 and say, "Now I know truth." A substantial portion of those seeking knowledge are left out and don't have access to information. Without information one can't even begin to connect the dots, or participate in this dialogue that's critical to a civil society, as I said. As a country that has a supposedly "free press," people have a right to know, and to agree or disagree freely. Each of these chapters – the entire book – contributes to that dialogue in a powerful way. That's a somewhat rambling summary of the "overarching theme" of what draws these stories together, but the book speaks for itself.
Daily Bell: Please take the opportunity to make a final statement about Project Censored. Do you need donations or interns? Resources? Maybe some of our viewers can help.
Mickey Huff: Well, of course we're grateful to receive support in any way readers wish to help. We're in a fundraising push right now and have offered Censored 2012 as a gift to supporters who subscribe to a $5/month donation. We are a non-profit and we don't take corporate money. We have gotten grants in the past, but mostly, we rely on individual donations. We would appreciate such financial assistance greatly as it's how we are able to continue the work we do.
Our interns come in the form of students mostly, and we work with many faculty members around the country, but we are always welcoming people from all walks of life who are interested and have skill sets to share. We can be contacted via our website.
Daily Bell: Any other points you want to make? And how can people get the book, Censored 2012?
Mickey Huff: I think this has been a pretty far-ranging discussion and I don't think of anything else to add here. Censored 2012 can be ordered from our site, at the store page.
Daily Bell: Any other material, resources or publications you want to point to?
Mickey Huff: We've been publishing the annual Censored volume in one guise or another for 35 years now. The stories in previous years' editions are, sadly, still mainly censored from general knowledge so we encourage people to look back at these. Of course, all the stories are published at projectcensored.org, which is a great resource for 35 years' worth of information. And our compilation of investigative research articles, including some of the topics we've talked about here, are also there.
As mentioned already, Project Censored manages a daily news site called "The Daily Censored: Underreported News and Commentary," which readers will find useful. I'm on the board of Media Freedom International, so obviously I think that's a critically important and valuable resource as a newswire from validated independent news sources. And we have a list called "Daily Independent News Feeds We Trust" at censorednews.org. We are now also working on restoring the commons, highlighting the historical importance of the commons in our society. More can be seen at fairsharecommonheritage.org.
In December, 2010 Peter Phillips and I began hosting a weekly radio show on Fridays called "The Morning Mix: The Project Censored Show" on KPFA community radio in Berkeley, also carried on Progressive Radio Network. We are also working with Aby Martin of Mediaroots.org on various projects with common goals and she is a recent member of our board.
Daily Bell: Thanks, again, for sitting down with us and keep up the great work.
Mickey Huff: You're welcome. Thank you for allowing me to share Project Censored and our other work with your readers. We hope people will pick up the book Censored 2012, as there is so much in it we couldn't get into here. We greatly appreciate it, and will definitely keep doing what we can to fight censorship and support a truly free press as long until we are no longer needed!
Thanks, Mickey and Project Censored! This is such a comprehensive interview that we don't have much to say. Mickey Huff is perfectly capable of speaking for himself and does, as you can see. We would only note that in this Internet Era, there are many good people out there working on projects to enlighten us about the Way the World Really Works. Mickey Huff is one of them (though not every libertarian may agree with all his views or sources), and so are others who contribute to the great project that is Project Censored. Support them. Buy the book!
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