Western Mainstream News; Mythic or Meme-Based?
By Staff News & Analysis - August 14, 2014

All the myths that are fit to print: Why your news feels familiar …. Has some wise guy flipped a switch and thrown the news into summer reruns? Everywhere you look in your news feed is a story you've seen before … There are two reasons we shouldn't automatically reject news that's dressed up as myth by our favorite publications, websites, and TV channels. Used judiciously by the press, the master myths and their codicils can help readers and viewers tackle the world's complexity efficiently — it makes for excellent shorthand — especially if our news literacy rises to a level that we can identify the news myth that is being served. Just because the press packages a news figure as a hero or a villain doesn't mean he is one. The other reason we shouldn't automatically reject news myths is more simple. After relying on the master myths to guide us for millennia, they've become engrained in our psyches. We shouldn't give them up, because we can't. – Reuters Opinion

Dominant Social Theme: The news may be phony, but it's the best we've got.

Free-Market Analysis: This article is written by the hard-bitten media reporter Jack Shafer who was fired by Slate in 2011. His firing caused a fuss in the journalistic community that takes such things seriously, as we can see from a report posted several years ago at The Wire:

Reuters' Anthony De Rosa tweeted, "I hope we hire Jack Shafer, cause somebody sure as hell will."

Choire Sicha of The Awl said, "I'd get rid of all of you before Jack Shafer," while retweeting recently semi-retired Jim Romensko's Poynter post about the Slate layoffs.

The Daily's Hunter Walker called it, "the end of journalismism as we know it!"

The end of journalism as we know it!

Yet, it was not. Mr. Shafer would continue to be published and contributes to Reuters as a press and politics columnist.

It is in this capacity that he has published this article on the myths propagated by the media. It naturally caught our attention because The Daily Bell itself regularly covers media myths, only we call them dominant social themes and argue that they are purposefully disseminated in order to frighten people into going along with globalist solutions.

Shafer doesn't seem to see it that way, though. Here's more:

Sometimes the news actually repeats itself, as in the case of Clinton. Such man-made cycles as elections, the Olympics, and wars lend themselves to retreaded coverage, as do the natural cycles of hurricane and tornado seasons, droughts and floods, and summer forest fires. Reporters and editors pack new events into old, familiar templates.

But the periodicity of the news has another cause, as press scholar Jack Lule discovered more than a decade ago in his book Daily News, Eternal Stories. Lule proposed that the news was less a pure journalistic creation than it was the modern expression of ancient myths. Like many all-encompassing formulas, Lule's reduction of news into myth suffers by attempting to explain too much.

But after reading his book, you can't help but notice how many front-page stories collapse into the seven master myths he assembles (which will sound familiar to anybody who has brushed up against Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces): the victim, a casualty of randomness or a villain; the scapegoat, who is punished for straying outside the social order; the hero, who smites evil; the good mother, who "offers maternal comfort and protection"; the trickster, the rogue who disturbs the social order; the other world, typically foreign countries; and the flood, or any other disaster.

Few, if any, journalists would confess to consciously calling myths to convey the news, perhaps in part because so few of them are aware of the mythic thrust of their work. Instead, the ancient outlines express themselves spontaneously in copy, as reporters, who are usually voluminous readers, seek to infuse higher meaning to the disparate facts they've collected in their notebooks, even if they're covering something as prosaic as a funeral or a legislative battle.

… What are people seeking? They're not going to use these stories to vote for a candidate. They want compelling dramas. They want satisfying stories that speak to them of history and fate and the fragility of life. They want myth.

Among top media executives, CNN President Jeff Zucker seems most comfortable with exploiting the mythic properties of the news. As much an entertainment guy as a news hand, Zucker has aggressively pursued—some would say flogged—such myth-rich stories as the Carnival "poop cruise" and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

… Now and again, a unique event that fits no template arrives to unsettle editors and reporters. The Edward Snowden affair is one such example. There have been whistleblowers and leakers before, but no government contractor has ever stolen and spilled operational spy data on such a scale to journalists.

Snowden's leaks make those of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg seem tame by comparison. Complicating the telling of Snowden's story has been the inability of the press to reach a consensus about which myth Snowden's story should ultimately be poured into.

Is Snowden a whistleblowing hero, a traitor for alerting our foes to our capabilities (and for fleeing to Russia), or just an egomaniacal fool? At one time or another, the media has dressed him in all three outfits — sometimes in combinations of the three — but it still can't make up its collective mind over which story he represents.

We can see from this last paragraph that Shafer is trying to live up to his reputation as a reporter who pulls no punches. Unlike many in the mainstream media, Shafer is not wedded to a narrative that calls Snowden a traitor or "egomaniacal fool." Instead, he allows that Snowden may be a "whistleblowing hero as well."

The trouble with naming these three alternatives is that in doing so, Shafer makes the omission of a fourth alternative glaringly obvious. That fourth alternative is that Snowden is part of a larger "limited hangout" orchestrated by the CIA, NSA and other shadowy Western intel agencies.

Press TV, Iran's major media operation, puts it this way:

The operations of secret intelligence agencies aiming at the manipulation of public opinion generally involve a combination of cynical deception with the pathetic gullibility of the targeted populations.

There is ample reason to believe that the case of Edward Joseph Snowden fits into this pattern. We are likely dealing here with a limited hangout operation, in which carefully selected and falsified documents and other materials are deliberately revealed by an insider who pretends to be a fugitive rebelling against the excesses of some oppressive or dangerous government agency.

But the revelations turn out to have been prepared with a view to shaping the public consciousness in a way which is advantageous to the intelligence agency involved. At the same time, gullible young people can be duped into supporting a personality cult of the leaker, more commonly referred to as a "whistleblower." A further variation on the theme can be the attempt of the sponsoring intelligence agency to introduce their chosen conduit, now posing as a defector, into the intelligence apparatus of a targeted foreign government. In this case, the leaker or whistleblower attains the status of a triple agent.

Is Snowden part of a larger intel gambit? We've advanced this theory in the past and may have been one of the first alternative media outlets to do so. None of Snowden's revelations are Earthshaking, in the sense that there are other whistleblowers who have supposedly come forth to share the same kind of information.

The theory is that Snowden, like Julian Assange, is shaping news coverage by releasing information that Western intel powers want released. That's why he gets so much coverage. The most obvious example of this would be Snowden's emphasis on the infallibility and monstrous proportions of the NSA's data-gathering operation.

In shaping his revelations to emphasize NSA data collection, Snowden makes it clear that not a single phone call or confidence is truly guaranteed to be private. He also seems to accept uncritically the NSA's ability to monitor, track and trace the trillions of data points it is collecting.

Both of Snowden's main narratives, then, are actually positive from the standpoint of his sponsors – if we can agree he has sponsors. Many will not, but there are certain elements of his story that make such suspicions warranted. Snowden, for instance, has admitted he spied proactively for both the CIA and the NSA. In other words, before he turned against his bosses, he was a valued corporate employee.

Snowden's admissions reached the mainstream in May of 2014, when he agreed to an interview with NBC. An International Business Times post reported on these admissions as follows:

Edward Snowden, former contractor at the US National Security Agency who leaked top secret documents about massive surveillance programmes conducted by the US government, said he "was trained as a spy" and rejected claims that he was a low-level analyst.

An excerpt from his interview in Moscow with NBC showed Snowden claiming that he was a spy assisting US agencies CIA and NSA in undercover operations overseas. The interview will be aired at 10:00 pm ET on 28 May.

"It's no secret that the US tends to get more and better intelligence out of computers nowadays than they do out of people," Snowden told NBC news anchor Brian Williams.

"I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that I lived and worked undercover overseas – pretending to work in a job that I'm not – and even being assigned a name that was not mine."

If this is the case and if the Internet is alive with reports that Snowden is part of a "limited hangout" operation, why wouldn't you include the alternative in a hard-hitting media report you're writing for the biggest wire service of them all?

The answer, again, is two-fold. First, admitting the possibility that Snowden is part of a limited hangout blows up foundational elements of Shafer's story, reported throughout the mainstream media. In other words, it brings the entire mainstream journalistic edifice into question. Second, if one did report the possibility of Snowden as a double- or triple- agent, then Shafer would likely have to re-examine his initial premise or at least modify it.

In fact, we don't accept the paradigm that news simply gravitates to elements of human mythos. It is true that people self-identify with mythic promotions, but that's much different than the argument that the news is ORGANIZED around those promotions.

From our point of view – and we write about it every day – Western news especially is organized around "memes" that reinforce various narratives, often scarcity based. These narratives in turn bolster globalist ambitions by offering internationalist solutions such as those provided by the UN, IMF, World Bank, etc.

Are all memes mythic? Leaving that aside, Shafer's deliberate – we assume it was deliberate – avoidance of the issue that Snowden is working for the people he claims to want to expose, simply alerts us to the sensitivity of this matter.

Of course, Shafer may have reported on the "fourth option" and had it sliced out by his editors, but that scenario seems more far-fetched. Another possibility is that Shafer really had never run into the idea that Snowden was running a "limited hangout." But what does that say about Shafer's thoroughness? Either he's not aware of the issue or he doesn't want to deal with it. Either option is depressing.

We have nothing against Mr. Shafer who seems in many ways a top-notch journalist in his field. But the issues we are bringing up cut through the entirety of Western mainstream reporting. There are certain areas where mainstream reporters simply won't go, it seems. (Perhaps he's gone there in the past, but we're not aware of it.)

Unfortunately, ignorance and self-censorship – if that's what it is – can lead to faulty conclusions as evidenced by this article, which concludes that the news is shaped around humankind's eternal affection for certain mythic stories.

Maybe, maybe not. But what we are relatively certain of is that modern news is a kind of elaborate promotion funded by a Western power elite with access to literally trillions in central bank supermoney. Only with the advent of the Internet are we now able to see the patterns that allow us to make this suggestion.

After Thoughts

We'll stick to our conclusions. They make sense to us, even if they'll never see the light of day at Reuters.

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