The Internet is an interesting place to be. It's a digital landscape where anyone can publish their thoughts and share information freely. But what if that information is false?
Over the last four years, the term "fake news" has been on headlines weekly, almost daily. Former President Trump labeled various media companies as "fake news" propagators after they published stories that claim his statements hinge on false information. But what does it truly mean to suppress truth? Are those with money and agendas working behind the curtain to curtail what is the truth and what the general public believes in?
The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who previously worked for CBS News, shared in a pair of independently organized TED Talks "how political and corporate interests manipulate mainstream and social media to influence opinion along desired lines," The Stream reported. The way these narratives are promoted are through a grassroots campaign, oftentimes called "astroturf."
Attkisson explained that those with money and agendas use these astroturfs "to give the impression there's widespread support for or against an agenda when there's not." An example given by Attkisson is taken from her personal experience, when CBS News gave her an assignment to investigate if Americans were indeed facing an epidemic of sleeplessness just as a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation had found.
Attkisson's research later found that what they called a study was merely a survey which was sponsored by the manufacturer of Lunesta, a sleeping pill. This is obviously a case of conflict of interest. What was more concerning is how those with money and agendas, in this case the Lunesta makers, were using the idea of a sleeplessness epidemic to encourage the public to believe in it and then offer a solution in the form of their product.
The same is occurring in the media today. Those with money and agendas work to suppress truth and create a narrative that benefits them. Take for example the fact checking propaganda that began when the term "fake news" was popularized during the Trump administration. Attkisson warned that astroturfers often controversialize people or organizations surrounding an issue instead of addressing the facts and "question those who question authority" instead of questioning authority itself.
The way those with money and agendas suppress truth is often by funding them. Take for instance the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provides over $250 million in grants to media companies such as NBC, BBC, Financial Times, and Gannett. The Columbia Journalism Review reported that throughout the pandemic, Bill Gates was seen as some sort of a public health expert despite having no medical background or previous experience in public service.
News outlets such as PolitiFact and USA Today both benefit from funds from the Gates Foundation through the the Poynter Institute and Gannett, respectively. Both have defended Gates from "false conspiracy theories'' and "misinformation," claiming that the foundation has invested in companies that are developing COVID-19 vaccines.
However, a quick look at the foundation's website and most recent tax forms show investments in American biopharmaceutical company Gilead and German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, the latter of which is developing a vaccine alongside GSK.
It's also worth noting that some fact-checkers, particularly those founded by above mentioned Poynter Institute, receive an undisclosed amount of money from certain sources, namely Google and left-wing billionaire George Soros, the Epoch Times reported previously. These fact-checkers work for Facebook, which along with other Big Tech companies censor conservative voices, including that of President Trump and his supporters.
Big tech companies are also working on manipulating the information the public receives.
Poynter itself is "closely partnered" by Chinese company TikTok and refuses to say just how much it receives from the Chinese Communist Party.
China Aid founder Dr. Bob Fu, a Chinese Christian who works to expose the CCP's abuses against people of faith, recently said some prominent western news companies -such as the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the Associated Press-- receive a lot of money from the CCP's "Department of Propaganda."
Fu, citing a BBC report, said the department has dedicated at least $10B for "overseas propaganda." The CCP uses the funds to pay the aforementioned media outlets to promote the communist party's agenda:
"You will see every morning that subscribers will receive inserts with full and several pages of news from China--it's all propaganda, painted very fake news picture of how beautiful the Chinese government is and how democratic the Chinese Communist Party is, and how lovely and free-kind-of-life the Chinese's 1.4B citizens are enjoying," Fu said.
So what can readers do in the face of the "fake news" era? Readers need to be more discerning and acknowledge the type of language news outlets used in astroturf. When information is tagged as "conspiracy," "pseudo," "lies," or from sources that are called "paranoid" or "quack," this is a sign that astroturfers are trying to suppress truth and encourage a narrative that benefits them.
It's also good to know who is behind the companies that deliver the news to the public, as they are often the ones who want to suppress truth or claim a skewed narrative.